Monday, August 2, 2010

Waiting for the train

I just got to thinking about that time I didn't lose my virginity to the guy who works at blockbuster. Maybe I should say “worked,” since I don't live in Brattleboro anymore, but I have a weird feeling he's probably still there. He had really great skin, which was the odd part of the whole thing, because usually the guys that work at movie places have a lot of acne. This might have been the thought I was having when I gave him that second look. I can't pretend I regret that glance, because Ruby was waiting for me in the car when he followed me out.
Ruby was always telling me that I “needed to carpe diem more often.” She got her driver's license earlier than me, not because she was older but because I'd had to wait for my permit until my dad decided my parallel parking skills were satisfactory. Anyway, he came rushing out after me as I was getting into Ruby's station-wagon. “Dude,” she said, “go back to work.” As if he'd heard her, he turned, defeated, and walked back into blockbuster. “Loser, she said, scraping the car's low engine on a speedbump. She turned to me. “Good job anyway. I told you that you should wear that purple eye shadow more often.” I didn't even bother to protest with my normal argument, that my mother only approved of makeup with “neutral tones.”
I was pretty surprised when he popped up in Wendy's half an hour later. But I don't really know why I was so surprised, because we went to the Wendy's right across the street from blockbuster. The guy who served us stared at Ruby the whole time, which made everything feel normal again. I was stirring my frosty so it would melt faster when the guy walked in. “You,” shouted Ruby in his direction before I could say a word. “Come sit with us!” So he did, without ordering anything, but he kept looking at our food like maybe he was really hungry.
“I'm not gonna finish my fries, if you want them,” I said. Well, he clearly thought that I was offering him something else, because immediately I felt his sweaty hand come to rest on my knee under the table. I had jeans on, so I guess I can't really say that it was sweaty. But I had a feeling that it was.
The next part could only have been more painful if his fifteen-year-old voice had actually cracked while saying it. “Can I talk to you for a sec?” he asked me. Ruby kicked me under the table before I could craft my refusal. Miserably, I followed him out the door of the wendy's. When I glanced back at Ruby, she mouthed “Do It!” to me. I rolled my eyes. When we got outside, he avoided the chewing gum on the sidewalk so carefully that his walking looked like hopping around. I sat down on the curb, unwilling to leave the immediate vicinity.
“I just wanted to know if maybe I could get your phone number or something,” he said, a little more bravely.
“You couldn't have asked that in front of her?” I asked, before I could stop myself. He looked embarrassed.
“Is that a no?”
“Yes,” I said, not meeting his eyes.
There was a long pause. Then, “yes, like yes I can have it, or yes like, yes that was a no?”
“Um,” I said, “the second one.”
“Well, do you at least wanna talk or somethin'?” he asked me. I didn't, but the idea of saying so felt so cruel. I couldn't quite get it out, despite the fierceness with which I wanted to escape this clear-skinned but nevertheless dorky blockbuster employee.
“Do you think my eyeshadow looks good?” I blurted out. It was the only thing that had been on my mind in the moments before he'd come in. He didn't say anything. “It's just that my mom thinks I only look good in neutral tones – that means like brown and white and stuff – but Ruby – that's my friend in there – she likes purple because she says it looks pretty...”
“I think it looks beautiful,” he said sincerely. “You are just very beautiful.” Between cringes, I realized that he must mean it. Unable to help myself, I grinned, glancing at my reflection in a nearby puddle once, and then again.

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