“It was so completely humiliating,” she groaned as she slumped onto the couch. Still reeling from Wednesday night’s date, she wiped her face with both hands. All she could see was the look on his face as she pulled away from their almost kiss.
“Don’t worry, your dating muse is here to help you break down the situation.” Bethany approached with two glasses of Malbec in hand, offering her friend one with some insistence. “You need to chill the eff out girl. It’s only been one day since the date.“
“In which time I’ve heard nothing from him,” the fiery redhead pointed out.
Bethany sighed before planting herself on the sofa cushion directly to the right of her guest, nestling herself into the nook formed by the back cushion and arm of the couch so she would have easy access to her wine without needing to turn away from the conversation. Effortlessly, Bethany slid a crunchie into her hair and began knotting a bun as she responded.
“Okay, once again, how long was this awkward gaze?”
“Like…half a second.”
“You’re not sure?”
“No, Bethy, I didn’t have my stopwatch going during the awkward post hug ‘are we gonna kiss now moment.’”
Bethany rolled her eyes, a true talent she had acquired after years of listening to her college beau, Sam, drone on for hours about why Peter Frampton was the most underrated musician of all time. She looked her friend dead in the eyes before saying, in a matter-of-fact way, “okay, show me.”
“What do you mean?”
Bethany shifted in her seat, bringing both legs under her butt to sit cross-legged on the couch. “Hug me, and then stare into my eyes for about as long as you think the moment was last night.”
The redhead looked around, in a mock bout of confusion. “Are we in your little brother’s fantasy right now?”
Bethany laughed, but also recoiled in fake disgust. “Ewww, Kyle would never include me in one of his little dirty fantasies.”
“Sure, keep telling yourself that Bethy.” She took a hearty swig of wine before brushing her wavy, auburn hair out of her eyes and leaning in towards her best friend. “Okay, let’s do it.”
The two friends embraced in a decently long hug before beginning to separate. She held Bethany’s head in place as she waited for a moment, and then pulled away.
“One and a half seconds,” Bethany said with a nod as she reached back for her wine. “Okay, that’s not too bad.”
“Are you sure? I feel like it was longer.”
“No, look,” Bethany said as she grabbed her friend’s wrist. “One hippopotamus, two hipp–that’s it done.”
She cocked her eyebrow. “Why do you count with ‘hippopotamuses’ instead of ‘Mississippis?’”
“You count with ‘Mississippis?’ Are you trying to be the most basic betch in the world?”
“It’s now basic to count with ‘Mississippis?’”
Bethany nodded with a slight smirk, confirming she was playing with her friend.
“You are so full of shit.”
“‘Mississippis’ and ‘one thousands’ are both basic AF. They had this comedian guest on ‘Radio Lab,’ I forget her name, and she was counting with ‘watermelons’ and it was the most adorable thing ever.”
“Was it Amy Schumer?”
“It most definitely was not. Might have been Whitney Cummings but don’t hold me to that.”
Considering if she should switch from “Mississippis” to “watermelons,” she drained her glass of Malbec at the same time as Bethany, who grabbed her empty glass as she went to refill her own. While her friend was in the kitchen, she unlocked her phone once again and checked to see if he’d texted. Still nothing. She also took the time to check his Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat to see if he’d had any activity recently or was truly busy. There were a couple of Snaps on his story at work and then at the gym, as well as a Tweet about the Logan Paul drama from earlier that day.
So he might still be busy and not had the time to text you today.
As Bethany returned with two full glasses, she asked her friend the one pressing question that has been eating away at her all day. “How do I fix this?”
Bethany said nothing for a moment. She just handed her the wine glass, took her spot on the couch, and drank silently with a contemplative look on her face. No sooner did she replace the glass on the coffee table that she swung her hips to face her friend and began speaking at a rapid-fire pace.
“Okay, well the first thing you need to do is decide whether you even want to fix this in the first place. I mean, yes, you’ve always had a little crush on him since college even when you were dating Kenny, and don’t get me wrong your whole ‘will-they-won’t-they’ was fantastic to watch, better than any reality show on TV really. But the fact of the matter is that there’s a reason that the two of you never hooked up in college, even on Beach Week when you were single and all but sitting on his D 24/7, and that is that he is a giant wimp who N-E-V-E-R took the initiative. I mean, maybe you like your guys to be a bit more demure or whatever, but at some point, he’s gotta be the man and make a move–”
“But he did make a move,” she protested. “He’s the one who asked me out, and he was clearly going for the goodnight kiss before I basically wormed my way out of his hug like a magician getting out of a straight jacket.”
Bethany held up her hand to stop her. “The dating guru is speaking now, there will be a question and answer segment at the end of the speech, thank yoooooou.”
She grinned, despite herself, and grabbed some more wine as Bethany continued her diatribe. “The point is, you think you’ve completely ruined it by this one awkward move and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Look, I’ve been on a lot of first dates. If a guy likes you he won’t give a shit if you don’t kiss him on the first date. And you know that he’s not the kind of guy who is going to judge you for it. The fact that he hasn’t texted you yet, yeah it sucks. But would you rather him just be all over your D, texting you non-stop? No. The fact is, if he does feel like you shut him down, he’s going to play this slow and cool, and end up texting you tonight or tomorrow.”
“And what if he doesn’t?” she asked quietly.
Bethany shrugged. “Well, then I guess you know that he wasn’t as into you as you thought.” She reached out to grab her remote and unmute the TV just as a new episode of Law & Order was beginning. “Or you could put on your big girl panties and text him first.”
* * *
By noon the following morning, she had reached her limit. From a very early age, her mother had told her to never let her feelings be dictated by anyone else, especially a boy. Now, she was feeling tense because he still hadn’t texted almost two days after their first date. Even when she was dating Kenny, she wasn’t content to sit around and wait for him to make a move, so why should this be any different?
“Hey,” she finally texted him. “How was the rest of your week?”
She exhaled deeply as she pressed “send,” but no sooner had she drawn in the next breath that her phone buzzed with a response from him. “Hey there! Rest of my week was pretty brutal tbh. Had to stay late both Thursday and Friday to work on a proposal for a client first thing Monday morning.”
The lie caused her to shake her head and grit her teeth. Was he trying to save face by pretending he hadn’t been at the gym the night before? Or perhaps he wanted to put this early meeting out there as a pretense to ditch her for a second date? Maybe it was both. In any case, she was resolved to find out where she stood. She plunged forward.
“Oh no that’s too bad. Maybe I can take your mind off the stress tonight and we can grab dinner?”
This time, he took longer to respond. She spent that entire fifteen minutes convincing herself that she didn’t really care about the response. She knew she’d wasted that time once she read the first line of his response.
“I’m not sure. I mean, it seemed like we were both feeling a little awkward about the whole thing on Wednesday. It’s totally cool, and I get it. But I don’t want to put you in a position where you feel uncomfortable.”
God dammit, could he not be the nice guy for once? Just say what you’re feeling dude!
She left the phone sitting on her desk for a few minutes. The read notifications were on, and she wanted to let him stew on the fact that she’d seen his text but hadn’t responded. Make him sweat a bit, play that she was considering what her response would be when she’d had it ready before they’d even started texting.
“Like I said on Wednesday, I don’t date much. I know I made it a little weird at the end, but I really had a good time with you. I thought you, of all people, would understand not being comfortable in situations you’re new to. If you’re not the same guy I thought I knew, and you’re not into me, whatever. But, if you’re game, I want a redo.”
“ChurchKey at 8?” He’d responded in thirty seconds flat, making her giggle like she was a stupid college freshman again.
“See you then.”
* * *
She made the decision to Uber, rather than Metro due to the freezing cold that night. She was wearing a light Patagonia Tres Parka, her cutest coat, which would only keep her warm for a few minutes in this weather. And although her Coach boots were (supposedly) made to handle snow, she felt a bit off balance when walking in them on patches of ice, which there were plenty of that evening. A long stroll was not in the cards for her that evening.
Raji pulled the Escalade up to the corner outside ChurchKey at 7:58. She thanked him with a smile before sliding out, wincing as the frigid wind slapped her face. As she ducked into the nearest alcove outside ChurchKey, she made sure to give Raji five stars and an extra tip, hoping he would preserve her stellar 4.92 rating.
She whirled around at the sound of his voice. He was walking down from the corner, waving enthusiastically with that same crooked smirk. She studied his face as he grew closer, noting that he had actually let his stubble grow out since she last saw him, which was a major turn-on for her. He was wearing a down coat, henley, and jeans, nothing particularly special, but he ambled towards her with an extra pep she didn’t remember from Wednesday.
As he grew closer, she saw his eyes. Deep brown, round, and wide like a deer’s. There was still that same kindness in his gaze, but she also saw that he was looking at her with purpose and determination that was new. When he looked at her right then, it felt as though he was measuring her up. He was almost demanding an answer. Wanting to know “what is this whole situation all about? What are we doing here?” And until that moment, she wasn’t sure of the answer.
“Well that is some really fortuitous timing eh? This place has really good drafts and nice bar food. I didn’t want to make it a whole big deal and do some fancy sit-down thing but we can do that later if–”
She cut him short there, mid-sentence, as he got to within three feet of her. That’s when she, in one smooth motion, reached out, grabbed his coat, pulled him right in next to her, and kissed him. .