That Elusive First Word

Prelude: This narrative poem is about Matt and his friend, Steve, who are at a coffee shop. Matt wants to talk to a waitress he finds attractive, but his social anxiety makes it quite difficult. Steve tries to get Matt to get over his fear and talk to the waitress.

“Hello! Anybody home? What on earth are you staring at?”
“You’ve been acting strange lately; this is so unlike you, Matt.”
“Oh, sorry, Steve, I wasn’t paying attention.”
“I was staring at the food, I just thought I should mention.”
“Trust me, Matt, I love food as much as the next guy,
but by the way you were staring, I know something even better caught your eye.”
“Damn your acuity! Fine, if you must be aware,
I was observing that attractive waitress right over there.”
“Wow, she is pretty, that much I am sure;
I’ll save you some fries, now go get up and talk to her.”
“You don’t understand, Steve. Her beauty is far too powerful for me.
If I went to talk to her, my limbs would stiffen up like a tree.”
“Give it a try, Matt, you never know.
If it goes well, you might end up getting married in the snow.”
“Oh, come on, Steve, take a good look.
She would rip my heart out like a page in a book.”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself; you gentle, kind dove.
Get up off your butt and show her what you’re made of.”
“Look at her, Steve. Her curly brunette hair makes my heart flutter.
Her soft brown eyes make even the strongest men shutter.
Her gorgeous, curvy body makes my legs feel weak,
Her childlike smile begs me to kiss her cheek.”
“For heaven’s sake, man, please stop talking!
Don’t even think about it, just get up and start walking.”
“You don’t get it, Steve. Girls want tall, manly, sexy, and thin,
I am none of these things; how am I supposed to win?”
“You know what, Matt? I’ve been patient enough; I’m giving you your shot.
I’m forcing you off your chair, whether you like it or not.”
“Fine, you’re right, Steve, I’ll do as you say.
I’ll go and talk to her before she walks away.”

As I’m walking towards her, my heart begins to race.
And that’s when I begin to slow down my pace.
I can’t do it, I’m way too scared. Oh, God! I’m going to throw up.
My head begins to pound, and the room becomes blurry.
I need some water, I think I’m going to faint.
Where on Earth did my legs go? I definitely thought I had them earlier.
I can’t do it. I’m not good enough for her. She’s going to laugh right in my face.
Spin, spin, spin goes the room. Beat, beat, beat goes my heart.
Oh, God! Why is she so pretty! Why can’t I be a smooth talker like Steve?
Alright, calm down. You can do this, you’re one of the nicest and most respectful guys in town.
So long as I stay true to myself, I can never let myself down.
Okay, it’s no or never, just try and be mellow.

I gather up all my courage, tap her on the shoulder, and say, “Hello.”

— Matt is a junior honors student


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