This is Women’s World reject. I did get a personal note of rejection: It’s not believable a grown woman would be so hung up on a name.
Have You Hugged Your Teddy?
Teddy felt a flutter in her stomach as John entered the café. His timing was perfect, as usual. The mid-morning rush was over; she had just finished wiping up the accumulated spills and drips and was ready for a short break. John visited every day for coffee and a muffin; often he came in a second time for iced tea and a scone. They had been making conversation for a couple of months but it had recently become a little more playful. They might have progressed to flirting.
“I’ll get this one,” Teddy said to the counter staff as she began to steam the milk for John’s customary latte. He paid the cashier and moved to where Teddy placed his drink.
“Hi,” John said. “How’s it going today?”
“Fine. Busy. You know, the usual.” Could this be any more inane? She didn’t say the last sentence out loud.
“Do you have a minute to chat while I eat my muffin?”
“Hmm, I think so,” Teddy answered, her stomach’s gymnastics belying her calm voice. She joined him at a table for two.
“I’ve been wanting to ask you about your name,” he said. “Teddy is unusual, especially for a girl. Is there a story?”
“I was named for my great-grandmother, Theodora Johnson. That’s a mouthful for little kids so my sister shortened it to Teddy and it stuck.”
“You’re lucky you have an ordinary last name to go with it. When a name is also a noun, you can end up with something really bizarre. I went to school with a kid named Rusty Horne.”
“Oh, I know. I had to break up with a guy in high school. His last name was Baer. I got tired of all the jokes about being his Teddy bear. We went on a cookout once with friends who started singing ‘The Teddy Bear Picnic’ song. It went on and on.”
John chuckled. “Why do parents give their children names like Candy Kane or Dusty Rhodes? There are a few of them in every school. Along with the Tommy Thompsons and Eddie Edwards.”
“You’re right. I used to know a Paige Turner and a Sandie Beach. I guess sometimes, the parents think it’s cute. But they forget that kids grow up. And a name like Bubbles may haunt a girl forever.”
“Yeah, especially if she grew up to marry someone with the last name Divine or Galore.”
Teddy laughed. “You, on the other hand, have a pretty common first name, so it can go with lots of things. I don’t know your last name though, what is it?”
“Oops, look at the time. I have to get going, I’m late for work. I’ll see you later.”
Teddy watched in surprise as John strode away and out the door.
Dusk had turned to night when Teddy turned off the highway onto her street. Expecting a call from her sister about their weekend plans, she was in a hurry to get home as she pressed the accelerator. Remembering that she’d been seeing more patrol cars on this stretch of road lately, she decided to slow down. Too late - a red light lit up her rear view mirror.
“Great.” She pulled over. As she waited for the officer, she found her license, registration, and proof of insurance. And wondered if he’d be a donut-friendly cop that she could bribe with an offer of coffee – on the house, of course.
“Miss, I stopped you because of your speed,” a familiar voice said after she rolled down her window.
“John!” she exclaimed, “I didn’t know you were a police officer.”
“Teddy?” The light tone he normally used was gone, replaced by a somber and official one. “Do you know how fast you were traveling?”
“No, but I probably was over the limit. I was in a hurry to get home and….” Her explanation trailed off as John’s expression remained serious. He must hear a dozen different excuses every day from speeders, she thought. He probably flirted with lots of girls, not just her. Undoubtedly, there was some other coffee shop girl to whom he told all his funny traffic-stop stories. She didn’t want to become another anecdote. “Well, anyway, I was in a hurry. I’m sorry.”
“Do you live in this neighborhood?”
“Yes, in the next block.”
“Then I’m sure you’re aware of the recent accident with the young boy chasing his ball into the street. You don’t want to be involved in something like that, do you?”
“No, of course not. I’m really sorry, John. I wasn’t thinking, I was just in a hurry. Are you going to give me a ticket?”
His face remained impassive. He examined her license and other paperwork. Finally he leaned down to look in her eyes.
“No, Teddy, I’m not. I am going to give you an official warning. And if I see you speeding down this street, or anywhere else, I will write you a ticket. I want to keep you and the children of the neighborhood safe.”
“I understand.” Her heart dropped as she accepted the flyer he handed her. It probably had residential speed limits and statistics about accidents in housing areas. She mumbled her thanks and drove sedately to her driveway before cramming the leaflet into her purse along with her license.
The next day Teddy kept working when John entered the café. Her cheeks felt hot but she forced her eyes to remain on the gallons of milk she was stowing in the refrigerator.
“Teddy?” She turned around and saw his usual smile. “Can we talk?”
She sighed. “Sure.” After a lecture on speeding, he would probably want a cop discount on his drinks and muffins. Remembering her thoughts of bribing him with free coffee, she couldn’t meet his eyes as she sat.
“John, I’m really sorry about last night. I just wasn’t paying attention; I promise it’ll never happen again. And I didn’t know you were an officer, we offer a discount to police in uniform, but you never wear yours in here, so I didn’t know.”
“Whoa, slow down. I didn’t come in to bawl you out. I just wanted to explain.”
“What do you have to explain about? I was the one speeding.”
He grinned at her and Teddy relaxed. She took a deep breath and prepared to listen.
“I’ve wanted to ask you out for a long time. Do you think I’m so addicted to your coffee and muffins that I have to come in twice a day? I’ve had to increase my workouts and add another mile to my run to keep off the weight all those goodies are putting on me. I come to see you.”
She smiled. “Really?”
“Well, it’s sure not your scones. Anyway, there’s a department policy about not developing relationships while on duty. I’ve been very careful to only come here on my own time and out of uniform. Last night, I had to keep everything official. I could have written you a ticket, but I didn’t because I want to date you, not cite you.”
“Well, why haven’t you? Asked me out, I mean.”
“I was going to, yesterday. But we started talking about funny names and you asked mine. I panicked.”
“Why? Is it something like… Funkelmann or …or Spitzem?” Teddy paused as she tried to think of another odd one.
“You don’t know?”
“I wrote it on the flyer I gave you last night. I thought you’d see it and then you could decide if you wanted to date me or not.”
“I don’t choose my dates on the basis of their names. Yes, I’ll go out with you.”
“Teddy, after our conversation yesterday, I’d like it if you knew my name before you accepted. I want to pursue a relationship. But only if I’m sure you feel the same.”
“I’ve already said yes. What’s the problem?”
“Do you still have the flyer?”
“I think so. Let me go look.” Teddy disappeared behind the swinging doors to the kitchen. She soon returned with the paper and stared at him.
“I don’t believe this,” she said.
She looked into his eyes. “Yes, I will go out with you.”
John leaned over the table and took her hand. The flyer fell to the ground but neither of them noticed. It did indeed contain information about accident statistics in residential neighborhoods.
And it was boldly signed in red ink: Officer J. Roosevelt.