Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Charm Caster

This one time I was really upset. Things were simply not going according to plan. My life was morphing into a major hub of procrastination and lethargy. 

There I was sitting at my favourite table in the restaurant near where I lived, analyzing other possible alternatives for my career. A plump man walked in, closely accompanied by a young, attractive girl. Her face appeared astonished, just like a five year kid who had just stepped into Disneyland, yet she charmed a cloud of mystic beauty as she walked by. He reached for her hand, (to which she grasped rather frantically) and signaled the waiter, probably for the usual. They occupied the table next to mine, enabling me to eavesdrop on them. The pretty girl went on blabbering how grateful she was to have met him, to which the man just gave short grunts of acknowledgement. 

This went on for a while after which the waiter showed up with the order, a glass of champagne and a peg of what looked like the finest scotch, The girl excused herself for the restroom, enabling me to steal a glance at the supposed-tycoon, to which I was quite taken aback. He was smirking at me beckoning to join him. I hesitated for a fraction, but then obediently walked over. He smiled and his shinny white teeth gleamed in the evening light. He asked me if I was confused and curious. I hesitated again and then blurted out, “Who are you?” He raised his eyebrows and chuckled. I explained I was a regular in that shop and never had I seen him any time before. “Are you somebody rich and famous?” I asked stupidly. “I’m nobody”, he said as he took a sip from his drink. My first impression was modesty; all celebrities were when quizzed about their achievements are. I laughed sarcastically and urged him to reveal his identity. The truth was bizarre. He confessed he was no Bill Gates, but pretended to be one since the day he lost his job three summers ago. He had worked as a chef in a rich man’s kitchen and awoke one pleasant Sunday morning with the news that he was fired. The abrupt dismissal was brought about due to the incident at previous night’s dinner. The millionaire’s daughter had fumbled while eating, staining her expensive gown, and blamed the fish gravy of being too thin which prompted her to err. 

However bizarre the acquisition, he was made to quit. He worked between jobs since then, all in some money man’s house. He had developed an unusual trait of stealing his bosses’ tuxedos, renting expensive cars in his masters’ names, and driving to well known pubs in the area and that is where his true talent emerged. A bureaucrat from Canada or an Italian Pizza Giant, he would say.  Amazingly his acts assured a very high success rate, so high I was beginning to doubt him. Believing was entirely my own opinion, he convinced. He winked and sank back to his chair. But then, the girl? Just someone he met at the bar, there were loads of pretty faces waiting for rich guys just to slide into their arms and be rewarded with expensive gifts and probably even being sponsored to exotic holidays over the weekend. After a while, his date returned and I left them to their privacy. They finished their drinks and the bloke tipped the waiter handsomely as he left, too much for a person claiming to be a part time apprentice. I marveled at his undiminished confidence and silently applauded at his supreme dedication to his acts each time he performed them, if he was indeed such an illusionist. He left in a flowing black limo and as I sat there sipping the remainder of my coffee.

Suddenly life seemed to open new doors for me. I felt livelier. This total stranger with his crap story had something more. I was surprisingly able to infer a moral from him. No, I wasn’t going to steal laundry or rent a chauffeur, but he showed that I could be anyone I wanted. It was just the ambiance I would provide after I had changed, that would determine my outcome. Confidence was a skill far more superior to talent, and worked as a chisel perfecting the latter’s quality. I finished the cappuccino, just as the waiter handed me the check and reached for the day’s newspaper. A few glances and I found the perfect job, wondering why it was so difficult to locate that advertisement just a few minutes ago.

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