Saturday, August 24, 2013

Julie Kuralt

Four Years

I wasn’t expecting the phone call around 7 p.m. from Sara requesting for me to go to the mall with her. I hadn’t heard much from her since we’d graduated a few months prior, even though we used to be best friends. I told her my family and I were about to eat, but when I told her we were finished, she said she would come and pick me up. I wasn’t expecting her to still be interested, because that was her way, but I shrugged it off, thinking, “at least it will be an exciting night.”

We drove off to pick up our friend Katie, and then we were off to the strip mall. Our first stop was Barnes and Noble, where we perused the various books and bought pastries. Sara suggested we go and see the new Transformers movie that had just come out, but I was not particularly interested in seeing it. Being the introvert I was, rather than telling them I didn’t want to see it, I slid out of the conversation and went to look at the stuffed animals in the back.

They eventually found me and announced that we were going to walk down to the movie theater to see the Transformers movie. Defeated in the battle I’d chosen to not take part in, I obliged and walked down the long way with them. By this time it was around ten o’clock, so when we reached the theater, it was pretty much deserted. There was only one person in the main lobby of the theater: the ticket guy. He looked about our age; he was tall with curly dark brown hair, wearing the required black vest, bow tie, and pants of a movie ticket clerk.

We walked up to him to inquire about movie times. He was more than willing to tell us what movies were about to start and describe what they were about for us. I wasn’t too thrilled to be there, as I didn’t want to spend ten dollars on a movie I didn’t even want to see, but I tried to be polite and smile at him. He informed us that the Transformers movie was going to let out at around one in the morning, which deterred Sara from wanting to watch it in a way that I would never be willing to.

So, we decided, or rather, Sara decided, that we would watch The Hangover instead, because it would get out more around 11:30 or midnight. I handed my ten dollars to the ticket guy, still unhappy with having to pay for a movie, but at least now it was a movie I had kind of been interested in seeing.

We found our seats in the back row of the theater. I sat between Sara and Katie and we waited for the movie to begin. A few minutes into the film, the ticket guy from earlier walked into the theater. I watched as he came closer to the back where we were sitting, and I knew that he was there for one of us.

He walked up to us and asked if we would mind if he sat with us. Sara answered that it would be fine, but I was thinking it was pretty weird. A guy wouldn’t ask to hang out just because he thought we were cool. I also thought it was a little creepy that he was the one who gave us our tickets, so he knew what theater we would be in and he found us after he got off his shift. I was glad I wasn’t sitting on the end.

A few minutes passed and he just watched the movie with us, laughing at some of the same parts I did, I noticed. Finally, he turned to us and introduced himself.

“I’m Jeff, by the way.”

He shook Sara’s hand, then looked to me and shook my hand. I expected him to then move on to shake Katie’s hand, but he didn’t. Instead, he stopped at me and said,

I'm sorry, I never do this and it's going to seem really nerdy, and it took a lot of guts to come up here and say this, but I think you're really pretty and I was wondering if I could have your number…”

I was completely caught off guard, because in all honestly, I was half paying attention to him and half paying attention to the movie (at this moment, the men had discovered there was a tiger in the bathroom, which was a part of the previews, so I wanted to see what would happen).

I turned to him, stupidly, and said, “Wait, what?”

Sara took the reins for me again and told him that I was taken. It was more or less true; I was in a relationship, if that’s what you’d call it. It wasn’t going well, and in a few weeks’ time, the relationship would be over.

Jeff said, “Oh okay, sorry,” and got up to leave. Sara commended his efforts—having the guts to come up to ask me out—to which he said thanks, and left. Because we were in the back, I had to watch him walk all the way down the aisle from the top of the theater and then all the way across the front to the exit, doing something of a Charlie Brown walk. I felt bad for him. He did seem like a nice guy, but I didn’t like that he would come after me based solely on my looks, not who I was. That’s just how I felt about guys.

But as I watched him walking away, a thought flashed through my mind. Even though I was in a relationship, failing as it was, I still thought, “Wait! What if he is my soul mate?” I couldn’t explain it, even now.

After the movie, the theater was completely empty. Not a soul to be found. It was pitch black outside, save for the streetlights, and we had a long walk back to the car, which was still parked at Barnes and Noble. We began the trek back to it, but Sara and Katie began to become uneasy about how late it was, and suspected that the people ahead of us were doing some sort of drug deal, because “there is no reason for anyone to be here this late at night.” I thought they were being silly, but they were convinced we would get shot if we progressed any further. Their ideas started getting to me, and I wished Jeff was still there to protect us, as silly as that sounds.

Sara called her stepfather to come pick us up from one side of the mall and drop us off at the other, as ridiculous as that sounds (but better safe than sorry, right?), and then she took us home.

It would come to pass that about a month later, I was looking through Facebook and came upon a photo my friend Laszlo was tagged in. I hadn’t heard from him much since high school, so I clicked on it to see how he was doing, what he was up to. But when I clicked on the next picture, I came across a surprise. There was a guy in the background, and he looked oddly familiar. Then it struck me who he was. It was Jeff, the ticket guy. It looked like he and Laszlo had attended a party together.

I sent Laszlo a text, asking him who that guy was and if he worked at the movies. He promptly responded. Not only did he confirm that it was him, he also told me that Jeff is his cousin. I was dumbfounded; what a small world (or at least a small town).

I jokingly told him to tell him I said hi, if he remembered me, and Laszlo told me that I should send him a friend request, because he was standing right behind him. I was a little embarrassed, but I figured if I didn’t, it might seem rude, so I did.

I was glad to find that there were no hard feelings. He light heartedly asked me how I’d been since he’d creepily hit on me. We actually got to talking quite a bit, and I even tried to visit him at work one day. I wanted to go up and talk to him, but I didn’t have nerves of steel like he did, and couldn’t even muster up the courage to wave, let alone follow him to ask him out.

I would later tell him this, and he thought it was cute. He thought I was cute. He helped me feel like I had something to offer to the world. And, well, we have been dating for four years now.

Long Sentence

In terms of video game jargon, of which we were of course well versed, being teenage boys, we staggered into the 8 a.m. classroom meeting with 1HP, bearing two of the largest and strongest coffees known to man, having stayed up until past 3:30 a.m. the previous night cramming for the huge, cumulative history test, written by the most notoriously known demented and twisted professor at the establishment, only to learn that it had been postponed until the following Thursday, rendering us irritable, confused, and slightly hysterical for the remainder of the day, which consisted of the two of us laughing at the most mundane of things, struggling to walk straight, and constant trips to the bathroom due to the large intake of caffeine in our systems, which, incidentally, with the combination of coffees and energy drinks, caused us to become violently ill over the course of the next few days, leading to an inevitable absence on the day of the actual exam and, consequently, a failing grade of zero.

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