So, I’ve got this best friend, right? Her name is Janna, and she’s dating this rather geeky but nice enough guy, Sam. Now, Sam has this fabulous eggplant Karman Ghia and lots of geeky friends. So Janna, in the grand tradition of best-friends-with boyfriends-who-have-cars-and-friends everywhere, decides that we must double-date.
I, being new to town, and fourteen, have never dated. I had that smooch-fest with Mark in the eighth grade you might recall, but a date, an actual date? No. So, this is really very cool. There are many, many decisions to be made. Criteria must be met. Like, it should definitely be a boy. And he should be older than me, no freshmen. And while I appreciate geekiness in all its various forms, I really don’t feel like talking about D&D all night, thanks. Final item on the checklist, he must fit in the backseat of a Karman Ghia, so we’re going short.
Now this is not that bad a list, right? I’m feeling pretty confident that someone can be found who meets the criteria and who is willing to buy me some fried mozzarella and a Coke. Hell, I’ll even go dutch. And yet Friday arrives and nobody’s giving me a name. Janna reassures me that they’ve narrowed it down to two: Tom and Nick.
Tom I’ve met, but at about seven feet tall he does not meet the requirements. But there’s some sort of plan to make him ride around with his five foot legs stuck out the window or something. Nick I’m more intrigued with, simply because I’ve never met him. But I am assured that he’s short, so, you know, picky gal that I am, I’m in.
So I’m home from school, I know what I’m going to wear (something with wide horizontal pink and gray stripes, I imagine), and I’m waiting on that phone to ring. I need to know WHO and I need to know WHEN. But I have a dilemma. You see, this is the eighties, and my hair has lost an inch or two of its glorious height and width, which means I need a shower. And this is long before cell phones, and a couple of years before cordless phones. And for whatever reason there is nobody home except me on my First Date night.
So you KNOW that as soon as I get in that shower the phone (the one phone that’s in the kitchen, which is as far away as you can get from the bathroom) is going to ring. This is simply a universal certainty. But there’s no way around it. I carefully calculate the very last minute I can get in the shower and still be ready, and sure enough, that minute comes without a phone call. So with a heavy heart I get in the shower. I leave the door open (nobody’s home, remember?), and I leave the shower curtain open, and I have the finely tuned hearing of a cat–do cats really hear that well, or am I thinking of seeing in the dark? No matter, I’m listening hard.
Sure enough, just as I’m all lathered up, that phone rings. I leap from the shower, snag a towel and run for it, suds streaming behind me. The entrance to the galley kitchen is narrow, but I take it at full clip like a racecar, and as soon as I, in all my half-naked soapy glory, hit that linoleum… I start sliding. There’s no shortage of shampoo and water, and boy, do I sliiiiiiiiide. I slide unimpeded past the refrigerator, past the stove, past the sink and just as I pass the end of the countertop, I reach out, snag the phone, and very calmly say, “Hello?” just as I go down, hard, on my right side and slide the rest of the way into the kitchen table and chairs, which come crashing down on top of me, like massive bowling pins. It’s a strike, people, a wet, soapy, painful strike.
But my mission is accomplished. Nick, the unknown, short, slightly-less-geeky guy is the winner (?!). We fit in the backseat. He buys me Coke and fried mozzarella, and he kisses me at the end of the evening. Later that month I wear his letter-jacket (in stifling 95 degree heat) and we hold hands in the hallways. And he never knew (er, unless he’s checking up on me 24 years later: Hi, Nick! I had fun, hope you’re happy [and not in a snarky way, I really do hope you’re happy]!) that I nearly died a tragic, naked, soapy death just to go out with him.
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