Homecoming came and went without any interaction from me, which was fine, I got asked and I ruined it. I had accepted it. My relationship with Ben went back to normal, we would talk in the hallways when we saw each other and we were French friends like always.
Ben did a great job at treating me as though nothing happened, and I appreciated it. I was embarrassed that I basically screamed at him in the middle of the walkway for just liking me, and I was even more scared that we wouldn’t be friends anymore, but that wasn’t Ben. Ben was understanding, kind hearted, and didn’t take things personally. His friendship with me never skipped a beat, and I was thrilled.
Naturally, I heard all about homecoming, the dinners, the dresses, the dancing, the after parties. It sounded amazing, but at the same time I was ok that I missed it. I had gone last year and it was boring and I had been miserable, I knew it was because of the company, but it still felt like a party that I didn’t mind missing this time.
As the school year carried on the tradition of Friday night football games carried on as well. All the junior high school students went, I had gone in junior high, the underclassman went, and some upperclassmen went before going off to a big party. Every Friday I went to the games and would meet up with a couple of friends. They weren’t friends that I hung out with anywhere else, although they were a tight knit group, on Friday nights I joined in and it seemed natural. Our team was, putting it nicely, bad. We didn’t win and it wasn’t very entertaining to watch, but the cheers were fun and spending a night away from my home was wonderful.
I had been going to games like this for a couple of weeks and soon was looking forward to every Friday night. Then one day, one of the football players in my class asked me to go to lunch. He had sat at the same table as me and my new “group of friends”, and was extremely quiet. I wasn’t sure I had ever heard him speak, but he worked up the courage to ask if I wanted to go to lunch on Friday. I agreed and suddenly, Friday was looking better than ever.
He was tall and built like a football player with strawberry blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. Attractive on all counts. That Friday we walked to his silver car, which was hysterically small for him and went to get lunch. We went to classic – Yakitori, where everyone went, and made small talk on the 5 maybe 10 minute drive there. We walked into the restaurant, sat down and I quickly realized, we had exhausted everything there was to talk about that we had in common.
His parents were together. He liked football. He was Christian. He had no siblings. He didn’t think about college yet. He liked his math class. He was really smart.
My parents were divorced. I didn’t understand football. I was raised Christian but was unsure why/what God would let the last year of my life happen. I had a brother. I only thought about college and getting out of Colorado. I didn’t have a favorite subject. I wasn’t that smart, I worked really hard.
It was going to be a long lunch. He was nice and tried to understand me and make small talk, but I was more amused by pulling my pork off the skewer than our conversation. The lags between us talking were excruciatingly long, I was sure we had been at the table for hours and would surely be late for class the first time I checked the time. Nope. It had been 10 minutes.
Lunch drug on and on until it was finally time to go back to school. THANK GOD. We piled into his small silver car and he started driving. I noticed a Flounder, from The Little Mermaid on his dashboard.
“Oh, you like The Little Mermaid?”
“Yeah. Flounder is my favorite.”
“Yeah, I like him too.”
We were pulling into the school parking lot. THANK GOD.
Almost as he soon as he parked the car, he was turned behind him and pulled out his white football jersey, the away jersey. Tonight they would be wearing maroon.
“I thought maybe you would want to wear it” his ears were almost as pink as his hair as he pushed the jersey towards my face.
“I mean.” How did he possibly think this went well?! “I would love to support you. That’s what friends do!” I thought that was a nice recovery. Because obviously we would NOT be going out again, but when we were with our friends at the lunch table we got along. We could be friends.
“Yeah” he stammered handing me the jersey.
“Thanks!” I said.
“And maybe we could go to dinner sometime.”
I was stunned. Had he just been on the same lunch excursion I had? Was I in some kind of warped reality were my time moved really really really slowly, but his moved at a normal pace and so our conversation flowed.
“I mean, I-I-I, I think that we could go with all our friends, that would be really fun. I just don’t know that we have anything in common.” I stammered it out, but I was honest.
“Yeah, that would be fun.”
“I’ll still wear your jersey though. I like supporting you!”
“That sounds great.”
We got out of the car and walked back to the school. Somehow still with time to spare.