We both knew that I was lying but it’s one of those excuses that people allow. I really didn’t know what was wrong with me but I felt like I was misfiring. So, instead of taking an introspective and honest look at myself to discover what was going on, I lied. I always lie.
The truth, I think, is that I’m terrified of this woman. She’s beautiful and not in a boring, flawless but in a really intriguing way, lose-sleep-because-you’re-thinking-about-her kind of way. I found the whole thing disturbingly attractive and was unable to remain neutral. I like neutral or, at least, a version of neutral. When you blow it as often as I do, it’s good to have a degree of objectivity.
“Yeah, I’m kinda’ tired too.”
We both knew she was lying but it’s sort of the proper response to my earlier lie. Her shoulders drew up in that cute gesture that I imagine she invented just for me. She was wearing a light blue (I’ve heard it called ‘North Carolina Blue’), sporty sweatshirt that she had just bought a few minutes before. Her hands were in her denim lap and her dark lashes were pointed downward. Without even looking up, she was seducing me and I was terrified.
I put my hand on her knee with uncertain lightness and her attitude softened. I didn’t know what I was doing. I never do and this was a perfect example. She was the kind of girl that was outside my expectations for girls. I never really held out hope that I would meet someone like this and here she was, riding shotgun in my car and I think I want to go home. The last time that I was in this sort of situation, it was probably High School. That’s not to say that I hadn’t had romantic encounters since those awkward years, but they were somehow different. On top of that, I’d been with my last girlfriend for over a year and we’d been apart for over a year. So much of my recent thoughts on women and relationships come from her and that whole – thing, that this beauty in the light blue sweatshirt was a breath of fresh air. Those romantic encounters that I was talking about earlier were more adult - mature. They lacked the giddy taboo that I remember from High School. That’s what made this situation so terrifying.
I’ll explain why “terrifying”.
I think that I could really like this girl. I can’t remember the last time that I met someone that was as interesting as she was and the fact that she was drop dead gorgeous only made it scarier. I’d always found it easier for me when the really pretty girls were boring and the interesting girls were unattractive. It was safe and I was used to it. And she was ruining everything with her dark blonde hair and perfect teeth.
Allow me a paragraph to sing her beauty?
She had dark blonde hair and perfect teeth, like I said. Full lips that curled themselves into an expressive smile with a thousand different looks. Her height was perfect for me and, from the moment I met her, I had imagined our compatibility with kissing. When she got cold, her hands turned red and she was embarrassed over them but I found it unrelentingly cute. Her eyes were blue which, I know, is not really special or interesting but hers had a way about them. It was a blue usually reserved for clear skies and swimming pools and she knew how to use them. Her skin glowed and she came across as a lot taller than she really was because of how confidently she carried herself. And she fucked with me. I love it when a girl calls me on my bullshit and isn’t scared to get in a few shots.
Alright, enough of the sonnet. She was great and, I think, I’ve made that clear.
With my uncertain hand on her leg, I became acutely aware of her perfume. Now, I’ve never been a big fan of perfume because it’s usually so unnatural and flowery but hers just smelled clean. When she looked up at me, her hair was catching on her eyelashes when she blinked and it took everything in me not to brush it away. In hindsight, I don’t know why I didn’t but, at the time, it felt like it would’ve been a bit presumptuous. So I didn’t but I had the thought.
The look that she gave was a new one; one I hadn’t seen yet but I liked it. It was a cross between a mild hope, determined control but vulnerable advancing and it should have worked except no one look can overcome the out-of-your-league fear that I had. I felt like I was getting a taste of a world I would never again know or glimpse and that everything after this would seem dull and routine. In an effort to protect myself from this fate, I suddenly got tired and wanted to go home. Now, I didn’t do any of this consciously but it was happening nonetheless and I was just trying to come out alive. I was using up all available brainpower with fascination and falling hard for this girl, I didn’t have any room left to think about why.
So, she started to get out of the car and I realized that I was about to lose her to the rain. I know that I was the one that was ending this moment but, let’s face it, I’m an idiot. If left to my own devices, I’d ruin every situation. So, I had to act fast.
“Wait,” I stalled and tried to think of something to say next, “I want to tell you something.”
That much was true. I probably did want to say something. Something meaningful and deep. Something true and witty that would humorously express my feelings in a way that wasn’t uncomfortable while, at the same time, making an impression as someone deep but safe. I guess Freud was right – I’d slipped and said what I actually meant in an effort to avoid what I thought I wanted.
She had already opened the car door and the interior light clicked on. Earlier, with the door closed, the streetlights and headlights had illuminated her face in angelic perfection. You know that blue light that makes everyone look good. Now, with a dome light on us both and that pleasant ding from somewhere in the car indicating that the door is open, I felt sober. Not that I was drunk before but the magic of the moment had been lost. So I did what anyone like me in my shoes would have done.
Growing up in a generation of James Bonds and Romantic Comedies, we’ve been conditioned to act like someone out of a John Hughes movie. But they had a team of writers, make-up, mood music and a numerous takes. I had one shot and I was in no state to be smooth, remember I was still terrified. I tried to think of what Lloyd Dobler would have said or what Meg Ryan would want to hear but all I could think of was her. The one about to leave because I was “tired”.
I don’t remember exactly what I said but it wasn’t spectacular. It wasn’t heartfelt or sincere, it was lame. It was surface-level and anyone within earshot could've heard the backpedaling in my voice. The defeat.
The look on her face was not what I expected. It wasn’t even really all that disappointed although you could tell she had been hoping for something better. She held my stare for a moment and then closed the car door.
Click. The dome light went out and once again we were covered in bluish light.
She sat for a moment and the rain on the windshield made trickling shadows on her face which was getting closer. She was leaning in with another look. This one I hadn’t seen before either but I knew exactly what it meant. Somehow, with all my stammering and cryptic nonsense, she understood. She knew what I meant and not even I could stand in the way of that.
As her smile pressed against mine, I felt that electric surge from someplace in our bodies that isn’t listed on an anatomy chart. I’m not going to say “soul” but it’s got to be in the general area. Everything fit the way it should from our noses to our foreheads and I don’t even remember if my eyes were open or not. That’s when you know you were really lost. And I was lost. Lost to someone who could understand the language of a terrified idiot and still kiss him for it.