The mall kiosk was laden with dangling, glittering things. Blown glass in forms of both achingly beautiful simplicity and fantastical detail, all clearly wrought by skilled hands. A fledgling collector of unique glassware, I stared in unabashed awe as I walked slowly around the display, hands clasped firmly behind my back to avoid the temptation to touch. “Look with your eyes, not with your hands,” I recalled reading on a sign somewhere once. Advice worth following. I would not want to break any of these masterpieces.
The artist approached me with glowing eyes and warm smile. “You like?”
“They’re great,” I replied truthfully. I was 16 and as shy as shy gets, but I could admit that much before retreating back into my shell.
“I am from Ukraine, and these are all made by me with my two hands.”
I nodded politely, suitably impressed. “Wow. Well, they’re gorgeous.” I turned my attention back to the glass, but The Ukrainian Glassblower’s eyes stayed on me.
“You are from here?”
Sigh. Please just let me look at the pretties. “All my life.” I forced a chuckle.
“Your city Vancouver, it is gorgeous as well. I have not been here long, but what I have seen, it is beautiful.”
I smiled and nodded again, not really knowing what to say. I’ve never been a good acceptor of compliments, even when they’re not about me.
“Tell me, what is good to see here? Someone yesterday tells me I should rent a bike and go around the Stanley Park seawall. Have you done this?” He reached up to adjust the position of one of his glass pieces and used the motion to casually move slightly closer to me.
OH SHIT, IS HE FLIRTING WITH YOU? HE IS DEFINITELY FLIRTING WITH YOU. ABORT. ABORT. “Um, no, but I know people who have and they say it’s great. You should definitely do it!” I began inching backward in the direction of the food court. “Anyway, uh…”
Too late. The Ukrainian Glassblower was already leaning in and turning up the smolder. “But this is perfect, you can come with me then! Are you free next weekend? Saturday, Sunday? We can get lunch, spend whole day in the park!”
Oh man what have I gotten myself into I just wanted to look at the pretty glass I can’t afford and now this guy wants me to be his tour guide slash date and okay so he’s cute and has an accent and he smells good but he’s like thirty and I’m only sixteen and- “Um, well, actually I have a boyfriend and I’m pretty sure he’d rather I didn’t go off cycling around the seawall with every Ukrainian glassblower I meet. But, uh, thanks for asking?”
The Ukrainian Glassblower’s face instantly fell. “Oh,” he said sadly. I thought I detected the slightest hint of a pout. And I was just starting to feel irrationally guilty about how crestfallen he looked, when suddenly he shrugged, beamed at me and said, with a wink, “He can come too!”
So much for guilt.