The Man Who Accidentally Wandered Into Love, Actually

No big description this time. I think the title covers it.

He met her at the dry cleaners, where they bumped into each other reaching for two adjacent suits of clothes.

“I don’t think I’ve seen you here before,” she said. “I’m Emily.”

“Steve,” Steve said. “I’m new to town. Don’t really know anybody.”

“Surely not; you know me now!”

“I’m pretty sure that’s not true,” Steve said.

“I’m Emily,” Emily said. “And I’m incredibly English!”

“Right,” Steve said.

“Would you like to meet for coffee? I mean tea! I’m so English, of course I mean tea!

Steve smiled, taken aback by her whimsy. “Um… sure? That place across the street?” He took his dry cleaning to his flat, with an extra spring in his step.

Emily watched him leave, then walked away, running straight into a mailbox. “I don’t think I’ve seen you here before,” she said. “I’m Emily.”

“Oh, Steve!” Emily said. “I told my father about you, and we’ve consequently reconciled! All the dreams I told you about are starting to come true. Just when I was at my wit’s end, everything’s coming into place!”

“Hi,” Steve said, having just sat down to the table. “Was this a conversation you were having with someone else? We never talked about your father.”

“My cousin is in America, having lots of sex,” Emily said.

“I’m sorry?”

“It’s vitally important you know that I’m connected to him and his arc, tenuous thought it may be.”

“Right,” Steven yawned pointedly. “You know, I’ve been working hard lately, maybe I should call it a…”

“I’m English!”

“Of course. As am I. We’re all English here.”

“Not true!” Emily said. “One of us is Portuguese!” She frowned. “But that may be in France.”

A very intense middle-aged man leaned over from another table. “I’m Irish,” he said, making unblinking eye contact with Steve. “Also, my wife is dead.”

“I’m sorry to hear–” Steve started, but Emily interrupted.

“Oh, Steve! To think, tomorrow is Christmas Eve!”

Steve laughed nervously. “That’s not right. It’s the 19th. In fact…” He looked at his watch. “When did that happen. Why is it the 23rd?”

“It’s snowing,” Emily said, without looking at a window.

“I have to go,” Steve said.

When he got to his apartment, Emily was there.

“Why are you here?” Steve shouted when he got over his shock.

“Because I haven’t given up on us,” Emily said.

“What do you mean ‘us?’ This is exactly my third interaction with you, and they’ve all had decreasing rationality. There is no us!”

Emily giggled nervously, her smile tight and forced. “Silly Steve! Can’t we just focus on these emotionally charged, significant moments, and let the progress of our relationship be implied?”

“I’m really not comfortable,” Steve said. “I think you’d better go.”

Emily stood still, blankly smiling into the middle distance.

“Did you hear me?” Steve said. “I said–”

“Shh,” Emily said. “It’s someone else’s scene.”

Steve ran downstairs, onto the street, toward his car–which he now regretted having parked so far away. The snow fell heavily on the lantern-lit street. It should only be two in the afternoon. He knew without checking the date on his watch that it was Christmas Eve, just as he knew Emily was behind him–even though he couldn’t hear her forced mirth over the terrified percussion of his heartbeat.

He put her out of his mind. He ignored the snow. He bobbed and wove through the carolers. He ran past the merry diners in the open-air bistro. Then he got distracted by a needlessly sexy Christmas music video and slipped on the ice.

Emily landed on top of him, still laughing. “Oh, isn’t this all so charming?” she said. “Isn’t it just the right blend of personable and dreamlike?”

“Gronnnnkk,” Steve said, trying to refill his lungs.

“Oh my!” Emily said, suddenly sitting up. “We’re going to be late to the Christmas pageant at the school!”

“Don’t let me keep you,” Steve said.

“We’re going to be late to the Christmas pageant at the school!” Emily said.

“Right. Have fun with that.”

“We’re going to be late to the–” she began again.

“Why would I go to that? I don’t have any family in it. I didn’t go to school there.”

An old man dining at the bistro leaned over the side of the table and glowered at Steve. “You’re going to be late to the Christmas pageant at the school!” he said.

“Why is everybody so…” Steve began. But all the diners were speaking in unison.

“You’re going to be late to the Christmas pageant at the school.” They said. Their eyes were dead and their faces blank. The carolers stood around him and joined the chant “You’re going to be late to the Christmas pageant at the school.”

“Okay,” Steve relented. The carolers and diners breathed visibly easier and went back to their business. “But let’s take seperate cars,” he said. That was when he saw a suspicous Mister-Bean-looking motherfucker slashing his tires. “Or I can ride with you, apparently.”

“Oh, Steve!” Emily said, eight minutes into watching the Prime Minister make out with a woman half his age.

“Hardly!” Steve said. “Think of the power imbalance. Why, it wasn’t too many years ago, in America, that…” He heard the dull pop before he felt his thumb being pulled out of socket. Instinctively, he stifled his cries of pain.

Emily smiled up to him, her face an unconvincing rictus. She spoke without moving her lips, panic in her eyes: “You have to play along, or the corn won’t grow.”

“The what?”

She pulled his hand, just shy of dislocating his wrist. “Please,” she said, tears forming in her eyes. “You aren’t my first Steve.”

Steve giggled shrilly. “Ha ha,” he said between sobs. “So romantic. It’s all so romantic. And look!” he pointed at a random man in the crowd–a tall, deep-voiced fellow who seemed to be apologizing to his wife. “That’s my uncle!”

“You’re getting it,” Emily said, relaxing. “You’re getting it. Now let’s go to Heathrow. We have just enough time for you to have a humorous, self-deprecating interaction with my father.”

This odd thing was an attempt at Christmas parody. Feel free to take a look at this one (which attempts to solve the mystery of the doll from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer), or this one (letters from a chorus girl in White Christmas).

2 thoughts on “The Man Who Accidentally Wandered Into Love, Actually

    1. Hey, Brittny–

      Thanks! I didn’t have a plan for this one as I did for past parodies. I guess it’s because I hadn’t been watching a lot of Christmas media this year, apart from reruns of Bob’s Burgers. So this one was just a bit of free association. Maybe it treads a little close to the Misfit Toys piece, but I had fun goofing around with this one.


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