“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” Jasmine groaned as she dashed up to the nearest Departures screen. Her carry-on began to slip toward her elbow and she hitched it back up onto her shoulder. Her black bowler hat fell over her eyes and she pushed it back to see the screens. Her eyes zipped across the lines of departures as another woman came up behind her.
“Looks like that layover is going to be longer than we thought,” the woman said. “Well no matter, we can grab a bite to eat. Correction, you can eat anything while I-”
“I know Mom, you’re trying to eat healthy,” Jasmine groaned. “You were practically a saint when we visited Grandma. I think you made her feel uncomfortable with the measured servings of unsalted nuts and pieces of roasted chicken.”
Her mother gave her an exasperated look. “I told her that I was trying to eat better before we came out here!”
Jasmine shrugged her shoulders and moved toward the directory of businesses in each terminal. Her eyes lingered on the Japanese fusion bistro but her mom hated most of the cuisine.
“Jazzy, how about this place?” her mother asked as she pointed out a seafood place. “We can both eat there.”
“Yeah sure Mom,” Jasmine replied.
They began heading over to the restaurant and waited for a hostess to bring them to a table. Jasmine couldn’t help but notice how crowded the bar was and not just because it was Happy Hour. There were swarms of people crowding around one area of the bar and she saw lots of camera flashes going off. She didn’t have any time to look closely as the hostess came over and guided her and her mother to a table close to the kitchen doors.
“You’re busy tonight, aren’t you?” her mom mused to the hostess.
The hostess handed them their menus and leaned close to them. “Well people found out that Tyler Desmond and some of his teammates were eating here before their flight, so its been nuts. And you know that with all of the Olympic coverage recently…yeah its been crazy. But your server will be right over.” She hurried back to the front of the restaurant and Jasmine tried not to roll her eyes under her bowler hat.
Tyler Desmond. Poster boy for Team USA swim and ladies’ man. Jasmine didn’t get what the big fuss was about him – heck he wasn’t that good looking in her mind. Almost every girl at college talked about him and his toned body, flashy sports car, and accomplishments in the pool. But then again, he did graduate from the same college she was attending, meaning he probably had a brain under that mop of chlorine-soaked hair. That or someone probably scouted him for his swimming talents.
“Isn’t that the guy-”
“Yeah Mom, he graduated from my college,” Jasmine grunted. “Can we not talk about him? I’m sick of hearing about him.”
“Hi there ladies! I’m Christy and I’ll be taking care of you tonight,” the waitress said. “Can I start you off with some drinks? A beer? Our house-made Bahama Mama?”
“Club soda for me, please,” Jasmine’s mom said.
“Water please,” Jasmine said.
Christy nodded and pulled out her order pad. “Can I suggest any appetizers to start with? A cup of New England clam chowder? Fried calamari?”
“No thank you,” Jasmine’s mom replied.
“Okay then, are you ready to order or do you need some time to decide?”
“Uh I’ll need some time,” Jasmine said.
Christy smiled and told them to take their time before leaving to check on another table.
“So Jazzy, why do you not want to talk about Tyler Desmond?” her mom asked.
Jasmine brushed a strand of her hair away from her face and sighed. “Mom, everyone talks about him non-stop at my school. I just need a break from it, okay?” She turned her attention back to the menu and her mom followed suit.
No Fuss Salmon………………………………$17.95
Have it Your Way Filet………………………$15.95
Fish and Chips………………………………..$11.50
Fish of the Day………………………………..$18.95
“Do you know what you want Jazzy?” her mom asked.
Jasmine nodded and craned her neck to find Christy. She scanned the restaurant for her and paused when she felt someone looking at her. She turned toward the bar area but saw no one looking in her direction. Odd.
“Have we decided yet ladies?” Christy asked as she came up to the table. She plunked down the drinks next to their respective owners and pulled out her order pad.
Jasmine snapped her head back to the table and looked at her mom. Her mom held out the menu to Christy as she ordered the salmon with broccoli and brown rice.
“I’d like the Creole Codfish with fries,” Jasmine replied as she handed her menu to Christy.
Christy scribbled down their order and promised to put it in right away. As she left, Jasmine took a sip of her water and adjusted her hat. Her mom rolled her eyes and muttered that Jasmine shouldn’t have worn this hat today. The security personnel at the Newark Airport had given her a hard time about the hat – heck one of them insisted on checking to make sure that Jasmine wasn’t trying to hide something in it. If that wasn’t enough, a little boy had pointed the hat out to his mother on the plane and loudly said it reminded him of this creepy hat in a Disney movie that possessed people.
“Her? But she’s already-”
“I just have this hunch, okay?”
Jasmine raised her head from checking her phone for texts when her hat was lifted off her head. The dark felt that once sat low on her forehead was replaced with a white cabbie/golfer hat. She was almost afraid to look to see who it was, since she had a bad feeling who it was. But she took a deep breath and turned to see who it was that swapped her hat out. She had to look up at the guy who had the bowler perched on his head because he was so much taller than her.
A strong, square jaw. Dark brown hair that stuck out at different angles. Dark eyes. No it wasn’t poster boy Tyler – not by a long shot. He looked familiar but she couldn’t place where she had seen him. He smiled sheepishly at her as he looked at the white hat on her head.
“Sorry for taking your hat,” he said. “But I was trying to tell my friends that the closing ceremony hat looked better on a girl than on me.”
Jasmine felt her face flare up as she touched the sides of the white hat. One side had diagonal stripes of ribbon sewed on and it clicked. This was the closing ceremony hat from the Olympics and that meant that this guy was with Tyler’s crew.
“Hey Paul! Are you done with your food or what?” Tyler yelled over at him. “We’ve got a flight to catch!”
Paul? Oh he meant Paul Wilson, the up-and-coming swimmer who had won his first gold medal this summer! Jasmine had seen him prior to his entry into the Olympics and thought he was handsome. They both came from the same hometown and he was only 2 years older than her. Was this a dream?
Paul jerked his head back toward Tyler and said yes. He removed Jasmine’s bowler hat from his head and handed it back to her. “Although I do like your hat on you. It works for you.”
“Thanks,” she said as she pulled the white hat off her head. She started to hand it back but he placed his hand on top of hers.
“No I want you to keep it,” he said. “It looked weird on me and I think it looks nicer on you.”
“Wait I don’t want to take your hat!” Jasmine protested. “It should be a memory of your first Games.”
He shook his head and adjusted his jacket collar which was sticking up. “Nah I don’t need it to remember the Games. I’ve got a medal which is awesome in itself. And I’ve got a good memory of a cute girl I just met rocking my hat.” He turned to leave the restaurant and looked back with a small wave.
“Hope to see you again soon,” he said as he left with his teammates.
Her mom couldn’t help but smile knowingly at her daughter. Jasmine took her bowler hat and stuffed it into her carry-on bag. She replaced the white cabbie hat on her head and fixed her hair to lie smoothly under it.
The food arrived and Jasmine ate but she couldn’t even think about how great the fish tasted. Her face was still pink from meeting the guy she thought was cute and she still couldn’t believe that he gave her his hat.
“Well that was exciting, wasn’t it?” her mom said as they found their seats on the flight. Her mom slid into the window seat and Jasmine took the middle one.
“Yes, yes it was,” Jasmine said as she buckled her seatbelt. “It was really nice of him to give me his hat but he didn’t have to. Well, we live in the same hometown so maybe we will see each other around.”
Her mom nudged her and pointed to the hat. “I thought I saw something written on the inside of it when you took it off.”
Jasmine frowned and she pulled the hat off her head, turning it upside down to see inside. Inside the brim, close to the manufacturer’s tag was a string of 10 numbers written in small, black ink. He had given her his cell phone number.