Mr. Green Jeans

There was this quiet, polite guy at my school who was really involved in the recycling club, the environmental club, etc. I liked him because we had classes together and he spoke a lot, but thoughtfully and not show-offy. And even though he was quiet he seemed to want to share what he knew, especially about nature, and was curious about what other people knew. So, shy but smart. He was a little scruffy looking for me, beard, wavy hair tied back, and he wore earth tones, mostly greens and browns, very casual and down to earth, with sandals and socks, the whole nine. Anyway, out of the blue, after one class in which I had participated a bit, he asked me if I wanted to go for coffee after school sometime. I said yes, and we met the next day. He looked like he usually did, with earthy colors, and wore green jeans and a brown sweater. I was beginning to think I should like him since he was so nice and smart and seemed to want to get to know me, so I complemented his clothes and he smiled warmly at me and complemented mine. We talked a lot, about all kinds of things, movies, classes, etc., and he had a really soothing voice, like a book on tape reader, so I was surprised when his tone changed as soon as we got to the counter at the coffee shop. He became much firmer and asked them if their coffee was "green." They didn't seem to understand, (we were at a coffee house franchise). They tried to sell him a frozen mint coffee drink, so he said we were leaving and that there was someplace else "green" we could go. We went to a smoothie counter in the mall and he asked if they were a "green establishment." They said they could make him a green smoothie, but he said that "looking green and being green are not one in the same." He then looked at me and said not to worry, we were going elsewhere. He was very firm yet confident. He was holding his head up very high. I was a little embarrassed, but I was impressed that he was committed to his beliefs. I told him I was a vegetarian and he praised my "green ways." The last place we went to was a locally owned sandwich shop. He asked them if they were "green" and they looked at him for a few seconds and then said "yes, we are green." He spread his arms wide and said to them and me, "I am in the right place!" and then ordered a sandwich that had a lot of different kinds of meat in it. I guess I was surprised that he was so immediately "OK" with this place and not the others just because they said they were green but didn't say anything about their ingredients. He then asked me what I would like, and when I ordered a vegetarian sandwich he asked me if I was sure that it would be enough nourishment for "the journey ahead." I was getting to be a little concerned by his erratic behavior, but he usually addressed me calmly and warmly, so I thought maybe he's just shy and doesn't know how to be confident in his ethics without changing his tone of voice and sounding angry, or sounding silly when he was trying to be nice. Anyway, we began to eat, and resumed talking. His voice was soft and lilting, and his smile was very deep and warm. Then when I said something innocently about him being very committed to being green, he said that he has never seen a color with so much vibrancy. He quoted Walt Whitman the poet about grass being the hair of dead people. He said that even Kermit the Frog had the sense to be green. Then he began to sing the "it's not easy being green" song! I laughed, and tried to make it not seem so strange to the sandwich shop owners (who were watching us) by saying something like yeah, it's not easy recycling, etc., but it's worth it. And he reached over and clasped my hand and said that being green was the hardest thing in the world, but the most important. Then - he began singing again! I was trying not to laugh at him so I closed my eyes as if I was listening. I must have hit my cup or something because I all of a sudden hear, "Oh, no you didn't! Oh, no you didn't!" in a faster, more streetwise kind of manner and I look up and he is pushed back from the table. He started repeating, "Oh, no she didn't!" He was looking at me and wiping his pants with a napkin and moving his head from side to side. I apologized a lot for getting my coffee on him, because I didn't mean it at all. But looking down I saw that most of the coffee spill was in the middle of the table and that only a couple of drops got on his pants. I said, "Did I get it on your pants?" And he said, "I'm all like, here she is feeling the music and then she's all like, here's green coffee on your green jeans!" I wasn't sure what on earth was going on, so I just said I'm sorry again. He then repeated the same thing, moving his head from side to side. After that I just got up and left. It was getting too weird for me. It's not easy keeping green jeans clean!

— Stella, 33

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