It was a sunny, but cold Sunday morning along the Penobscot River. The wind was blowing wicked fierce (as the locals might say) so it wasn’t exactly the kind of day to be outside.
However, Aaron and Holly were seated on their usual bench and enjoying the view.
“I want to tell you something even though I consulted the user’s guide and it did not recommend such a course of action,” Holly confessed and then took a sip of her coffee to ward off the chill.
“What are you talking about?” Aaron countered with a hint of bafflement in his voice. “What user’s guide? Did I walk into the middle of another conversation where you didn’t realize I wasn’t there, but just kept talking like I was?”
Holly rolled her eyes, but really couldn’t say anything because she knew the scenario he had just described had happened on several occasions.
“The user’s guide for you, smart guy,” she replied with a sly smile. “Being your best friend is not easy, but it would be impossible without my trusty copy of your user’s guide. Luckily, I was able to track one down through the manufacturer years ago.”
Realizing that he wasn’t going to say anything, Holly pushed forward. “When I first got it, your user’s guide fit into a small, three-ring binder. Over the years, however, there have been so many updates and additions that it now resides in four large binders. I guess that’s progress.”
She flashed a brilliant smile that made her beautiful face even more attractive.
“So what did this user’s guide say in relation to whatever point you’re trying to make this morning?” he asked like he really didn’t care.
But Holly knew him well enough to understand he was deeply intrigued by this conversation’s potential.
“According to the guide, and I’m paraphrasing here, While it helps to compliment the Aaron 6000 from time to time, be advised that too much flattery could cause that oversized, oddly shaped head to explode. Remember, the head is packed with countless bits of useless trivia, snarky comebacks, and memories of every mistake you’ve ever made. If any of that gets on you in the explosion, your clothes will be ruined forever.”
Aaron let out a heavy sigh, but did have to fight to hold back a smile.
“So I’m the 6000 model?” he asked dryly.
Holly nodded as she sipped her coffee. “I find it interesting that you questioned that, but had nothing to say about the comments related to the size, shape, and contents of your head.”
“Oh, those are spot on,” he replied without hesitation. “Since you clearly put considerable effort into that witty set up, I will politely take the bait and ask about the potentially head exploding compliment you want to give me.”
He took another hit of Snapple to brace himself for whatever she was going to say.
“You had a very rough week, which I know about because you actually called to talk to me about it. Thank you for doing that, and allowing me to be there for you,” she said sweetly.
Aaron shrugged. “You seem to like it when I open up to you, and it helped to get it off my chest. So I should be thanking you. See? No head explosion.”
Holly reached across the bench and slapped him playfully on the shoulder, which sent goosebumps running up and down the length of his entire body.
“That wasn’t the compliment, silly,” she clarified. “I was impressed by how you dealt with the adversity. Rather than your usual sinking into a fit of doom and gloom, which according to the user’s guide, is your original factory setting, you did something that completely surprised me. What did you do, Aaron? Please share it with the class.”
She smiled and he rolled his eyes.
“Instead of bitching about how much I hate my life, and ranting and raving about how things will never change, I decided to try to initiate change,” he reluctantly confessed.
Holly smiled emphatically. “Yes, you did. You sent out a couple of emails about the brilliant TV series you’ve written, and tried to reignite interest in getting it made. And what came of that action?”
Aaron smiled ever so slightly. “The producer in Los Angeles initiated a video call about the project that lasted almost forty minutes. The TV exec in Maine wrote back the next morning, and we had an intriguing exchange after he confirmed some new information I’d learned in the video call.”
“Which was?” Holly prodded because Aaron hated talking about his writing career as he was superstitious and believed it jinxed things to discuss good news.
“The independent producer in LA, is currently working on his third project with an up and coming production company in Atlanta, and he plans to pitch them my TV series. That company in Atlanta also happens to have a working relationship with the parent company of the TV station in Maine.”
“Bingo!” Holly announced as she pumped her fist in the air. “So now your two little irons in the fire can combine to be one much larger iron since two big companies might now be interested in your series.”
“The key word being ‘might’, Holly. I can’t caution you enough how bad it is to get your hopes up about anything related to my writing career,” he advised. “While this might seem like awesome news, I know from decades of coming this close that the safest thing to do is to remain calm and assume that nothing positive is going to happen.”
Holly shook her head emphatically and slid a little closer to him on the bench.
“I am not going to play this down,” she disagreed. “I’m always going to be your biggest cheerleader, and even if this deal never happens, I’m proud of you because you didn’t wallow in self-pity. You took charge of your life, you showed some ambition, and you reminded the world that the real you isn’t just a desk jockey wasting his life in an office.”
Aaron blushed ever so slightly. “Apparently the Aaron 6000 is capable of some functions that are seldom used.”
“I think you’re capable of incredible things, and I look forward to being around to witness them all as they happen,” Holly said sweetly as she flashed her million dollar smile.
In response, Aaron crossed his eyes, and then raised his arms and feigned the act of his head exploding, after which he slid off the bench and onto the ground.
Holly laughed hysterically.
“Stick to the writing, and leave the acting to the actors,” she suggested and then laughed even harder as she took his hand and pulled him to his feet.