I couldn't possibly wrack my brains to figure out who Gentleman J could be. I asked around everyone if they possibly had a clue, but most were either oblivious or disinterested, and those who did know, refused to tell me. But I had an inkling. Recently, I'd met a whole bunch of rookie American Footballers out on a team social, and one named Jack had later messaged me saying he'd read Scarphelia, and the entry 'The Darkest of Days' had made him cry.
Finally, the truth came out, and Gentleman J turned out indeed to be, rookie footballer, Jack. He was a charmingly befuddled and an overwhelmingly sweet boy, and along with thanking him profusely for his unbelievably sweet words, I realised I needed to perhaps explain my views. In the most cringe-worthy and awkward message ever, I explained my perspective on love and relationships.
"You don't need to apologise - I feel perhaps I got a little too caught up in the moment when writing that letter, and perhaps came on a little too strong. I completely understand though, but it would be nice to just spend some time in your company. Maybe we could get lunch this week?"
Feeling a little more reassured that he wouldn't think I'd lead him on, we set a date for lunch.
In the meantime, our house got robbed, but we all know how that went.
Two days after the robbery, I headed toward the campus restaurant. To be honest, I was nervous as hell. I'd barely spoken to the boy and one of my greatest fears is awkward social situations. And although I've said before how I believe I am amazing, I always feel apprehensive when others insinuate this same sentiment toward me, because in reality, I'm a totally anti-climactic human, and I'm scared they'll see just how average I actually am.
I met him and we sat down to eat. At first indeed it was pretty awkward, neither of us really knew what to say, and the Valentines gesture kind of hung in the air like an awkward taboo. Eventually he broached the subject, and after we got that out of the way we slipped into casual friendly conversation.
He was quite remarkable. I didn't really know what to expect from him, but he spoke to me of the universe. He spoke about his frustrations with normality and the mundane, how people without passion aggravate him more than anything, and how he has discovered this new found yearning within him, to take on the world. We shared our mutual aspirations and sentiments about life, passion and curiosity, and I felt thoroughly invigorated by our conversation.
I smiled, because without even meaning to, I'd found another. Right where I least expected it, was a brightly burning silver.
About an hour into our lunch, he excused himself to go to the toilet. While he did so, I sat alone, looked out of the window and noticed my Web Design lecturer walking past. His name is James and he's the perfect 'nerd' stereotype, straight out of an American High School TV series. I've always said, to a chorus of 'oh yeahhhh!'s, that he's the perfect cross between Dexter from Dexter's Lab and Gus Griswald from Recess.
There was something quite intriguing about the way in which he was walking. He was walking very, very slowly, head up, face expressionless. It made me start to think. There's something quite inherently sad about someone walking slowly. Everyone these days is always rushing off somewhere, walking fast, weaving through crowds, chattering away on their phones or rifling through their bags, that you when you see someone walking so slowly and so delicately, it just seems wrong. Because they are walking without purpose, without direction. I looked at the other people walking around him, and you could clearly tell where they were going and what they were going to do. But I just couldn't imagine where he was headed.
It then got me to wondering about his life. If he was going home, where was home? What was his house like? What did he do in his spare time? I just stared at his small delicate frame, walking without direction among this crowd bustling crowd of humans, and I didn't even know why... but I just felt such pity.
I decided I really wanted to write this down, so pulled out the Little Orange Notebook. As I did so, two things happened simultaneously. Gentleman J returned to the table, and a leaflet fell out of the notebook. I picked up the leaflet.
It was advertising an Enterprise talk on self-employment, hosted by the founder of the MOBO awards, Kanya King. Seeing how wonderful and beneficial the previous talk with famous blogger Zoe Griffin and Blake Samuels had been, it really excited me. I looked at the date, it was today. I looked at the time, it was in an hour. I turned to Gentleman J.
"Are you busy?"
"In an hour."
"Uh... don't think so... why?"
I pushed the leaflet across the table to him. He looked into my eyes and I could see the little spark of silver light up behind his eyes.
"What have we got to lose? It's free and so are we. Like I said, when you're brave and take random chances, fate rewards you. I'm going to go. Come with me?"
And so we did.
When we arrived there, we realised this was kind of a bigger deal than we'd anticipated. We were surrounded by people in suits, and there was an open cocktail bar and huge snacks buffet. We exchanged a look of 'well, holy shit' and headed towards the bar. We grabbed some cocktails and I saw some people I'd met at the previous conference. They were members of the Young Entrepreneurs Society and the Enterprise Team. I told them how much I'd enjoyed the other conferences and decided to take a chance and come to this one.
Then, the head of the Entrepreneurs Society came up to me, expressed how much he'd enjoyed reading Scarphelia, and asked me to speak at the next talk.
I genuinely could not believe it. I'd been blogging for a month and a half and I was already being asked to be a guest speaker at a blogging conference? I quivered inwardly as I realised that things were starting to change.
We entered the auditorium for the talk, took our seats and listened to Kanya King telling of how she rose out of the shallow depths of nothingness and constructed an empire. It was inspiring to listen to her, and I was thoroughly entranced.
When she'd finished, the host of the event returned to the stage, thanked Kanya, and said that before the Q&A session, they were going to announce the winner of the prize draw. Gentleman J and I exchanged a look of moderate interest, we hadn't even been aware that there was a prize draw. They'd taken down the names of everyone who had attended, put them in a hat, and were to draw out one at random to win an iPad.
I turned to Gentleman J.
"Wouldn't it be funny if it was me who won the iPad, two days after my laptop got stolen?" I whispered. Then, I felt the most inexplicable swirl in the depths of my stomach. Becuase I think a split-second before it happened, I knew what was just about to happen. I felt the cool hand of Lady Fate on my shoulder, as I heard three words boom across the room.
"Congratulations, Katie Oldham!"
I gasped aloud and a small laugh tittered across the audience. I turned to Gentleman J who was staring at me with an expression of mixed horror, disbelief and awe.
"I told you... things... happen to me..." I whispered.
"...That don't happen to... people." He whispered back. "I never... I never would've believed it if I wasn't here, I..."
And while applause echoed around us and the host instructed me to stay behind at the end, Gentleman J and I just stared at each other, shaking, mouths agape, goosebumps tearing across my skin. And somewhere deep in the back of my mind I saw the smirking silver face of Lady Fate give me a little wink, before disappearing again back into the swirling silver mist.