“How do you know? How do you know something bad isn’t going to happen?” – Marlin (Finding Nemo)
I was really nervous about meeting Crystal again….I mean, I’d never been on a real date before. I walked to her dorm which was not far from mine and she drove.
“You don’t drive, Nick?” she asked. She looked so pretty, and I wanted to tell her but I was too shy.
“No, my uncle brought me to campus. If I gotta get somewhere I walk or take a bus.” I explained.
Me and cars don’t get along, but that’s a story for another day. I didn’t want to bring THAT up. Especially because it had been a while since I thought about that night.
“That makes sense. When I came to campus I brought this with me. I don’t like to walk anywhere unless it is close by. Do you have your license at least?” she asked. I thought about what she’d asked and told her that I did, I just chose not to drive because it would be less pollution or some crap. I don’t remember but a white lie never hurt anything, did it? We haven’t known each other long enough to be telling our life stories.
“So where are we going, Crystal?” I asked, hearing my stomach growl. She had talked about getting food and I was looking forward to it.
“I thought we could go somewhere simple. There’s an IHOP not far from campus, I figured we could go there and have some dinner.” she said as I smiled.
“IHOP is so good. I am in the mood for pancakes.” I laughed, rubbing my stomach. I had made a big effort not to wear any Disney stuff on this date, at Brian’s advice. I didn’t want to look like a dork in front of her, although I wasn’t sure how I could make myself look any worse than getting my arm stuck in a vending machine.
“I like the stuffed french toast.” she said as we pulled into the parking lot. We walked into the IHOP and I immediately noticed Howie and AJ were there sitting in a corner booth with two girls. Fuck. I hoped they hadn’t seen us.
The last thing I needed was Howie to see me and start shit.
Crystal and I ordered our food, she got french toast with bacon. I ordered scrambled eggs, bacon and a side of pancakes because I was hungry. She laughed at the waitresses’ reaction to my order but didn’t judge me.
“You weren’t kidding when you said you were hungry, were you?” she giggled as I took a sip of orange juice.
“I like my food.” I replied flatly with a grin. We seemed to be getting along, this was a great sign.
“So what music do you like?” she asked. I wasn’t sure how to answer, I didn’t want to start overloading her with my Disney obsession. I liked show tunes but I also liked my rock and heavy metal.
“Um….I like Nirvana….Metallica, Journey. I like my rock music.” I said, and that was the truth. I loved Journey a lot, something me and my dad had shared together.
“Nice. I’m the same. I like the pop scene happening right now. Britney Spears, NSYNC….98 Degrees.” Crystal told me as she stirred her coffee.
“Who?” I asked.
“You mean you don’t know NSYNC? Justin Timberlake?”
I made a face. I’d heard of them, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. I preferred music that had a story behind it, not a group of pretty boys dancing and singing about love. You’d never catch ME doing that.
“I just learned what a New Kid On The Block was, don’t get me wrong I like music….but do I look like someone who listens to them?” I chuckled.
“True. So how about movies?”
“Movies….I like comedy. Science fiction….but I will watch anything.” I said. That answer seemed good. I really wanted to tell her my favorite movie was Peter Pan but I thought that wasn’t good enough.
“Huh, that’s funny. I thought you’d say Disney or something, I’ve seen you around campus. I like that Mickey shirt you have.” she said. I sat back in the booth, blinking at her. Did I hear her right?
“I thought you would answer something else. It’s ok to like Disney, Nick. I like it too. I like that you are a kid at heart. That’s why I asked you out.” she replied. I was floored.
“I loved Peter Pan growing up. I always dreamed of learning how to fly. For a while I wanted to be a flight attendant before I started in nursing.”
I couldn’t believe how much we had in common and felt I must be dreaming. I was so distracted that my hand knocked into her coffee and spilled it right onto her lap.
“Oh!” she exclaimed, jumping up. I saw some people turn around….including Howie. I tried to make myself inconspicuous.
“I’m so sorry.” I muttered as I sopped the mess up with some napkins. Our food hadn’t come yet so it wasn’t too bad. I just apologized over and over, feeling like an idiot.
“Don’t worry about it, Nick. I’m just gonna go clean up in the bathroom.” she said, smiling at me. I felt horrible after she’d left so I wondered how I could make it up to her.
A while later, I wondered if she was all right, but I saw Howie hanging over by the women’s room. I was about to get up but I saw him talking to Crystal, whispering and pointing at me. She had a coffee stain on her pants but it wasn’t that noticeable. All of a sudden she came storming over….her face twisted with rage.
“HOW DARE YOU?” she shouted. I looked at her, raising an eyebrow. I couldn’t say anything….I simply shrugged.
“I….uh…” I stammered.
“Nick, I thought you were a nice guy….” she said, her eyes swimming with tears that were about to be shed. I went to stand as the waitress came with our food, but I tripped over my own shoelace.
“Watch out!” the waitress yelled. I saw it happening in slow motion, the tray going flying……I put my hands over my eyes, peering through my fingers.
My mouth hung open in shock.
I didn’t want to look. I could hear Crystal fretting but I didn’t want to look, yet curiosity got the better of me. Her red hair was covered in my scrambled eggs. Pieces of pancake, bacon….hash browns…..splashes of butter and syrup dripped down her face. I winced. It had also gone down her top and she was just covered…..covered. I got up and tried to comfort her, but instead her hand came across my face.
It stung like ten bees……damn this girl has an arm.
I didn’t know what else to say. The only thing that came to mind was-
We were silent during the ride back to the dorm, she was so furious with me. My face had a bright red handprint on it.
“I know I said this a million times, but I’m so sor-”
“Save it, Nick. I don’t want anything to do with you now. So you can tell your little friend that you lost the bet and we can move on with our lives.” Crystal hissed, her foot slamming on the accelerator. This made me very uneasy as she was speeding…
But I would have been very foolish to tell her to slow down. Kevin always said to never piss off a woman when she was driving.
“What bet?” I asked, realizing what she had said.
“The one you have going with your roommate to see if you could get me laid by the end of tonight. Nick, I can overlook the Disney stuff. I can overlook being clumsy and socially awkward. But this…..I don’t like being used. Get the fuck out of my car.” Crystal yelled as we pulled up by my building. She still smelled like pancakes and had egg in her hair.
Again, I wasn’t about to tell her.
“Listen, let me explain…..Howie….” I started, but she slapped me again.
“GET. OUT.” she said, and I got out of the car, watching her speed off. She rolled her car window down and flipped me off as she left. I stared in surprise, rubbing the side of my face absentmindedly. She looked like Ariel, but she sure was a moody bitch. At that point I didn’t care about her anymore. Howie had ruined something yet again and I wondered if it would ever stop.
It was then that I reached down and realized I had french toast stuck to my ass the whole time.
At least I’d have a fun story to tell Brian tonight.