Wow. Just wow. That was not what I expected. That was an amazing night. When I look back and tell my grandchildren about life I’m going to tell them about that night. Grandchildren. Heh. A guy can hope. And I’m hoping. Not about grandchildren but about the future, the future is getting brighter. And all because of tonight.
When I called him my hands were shaking so badly I couldn’t hit the right buttons. I dialed three wrong numbers before Jen stole the phone away and did it for me. And I hung up four times before waiting for George to answer. I thought there should’ve been some sort of music of momentous life change backing me up so I’d turned on the Counting Crows CDs Joey had dropped off a few days before our shopping trip.
Weird how she did it too, all manic. Eyes shining like she’d been crying, smile stretching her face in the way that let me know my new friend Pacey was gonna get lucky soon. And some cock-eyed, fragmented story about Dawson and boredom and being in love with Pacey. I couldn’t make it out. Something about Dawson and her talking about things by trading CDs. And then the kicker. She handed me the CDs and said “Won’t be needing these anymore.” Then she smiled again and ran out the door. I’ll have to grill Pacey about that later. But now, to relive my phone call, my date.
Jen thrust the phone in my hand with an eyeroll, her other hand holding the other half of the phone to keep me from hanging up again. She’s a little tired and angry now, not that I blame her, this phone call has taken all afternoon to make. I hear the phone ringing and tense. Ring. Ring. Ring. Taking a deep breath I wait and panic. I try to remember why I’m making this call. I picture the gold flecks in his green eyes and wait another ring. And then there’s the click of someone picking up. “Hello?” It’s a woman’s voice. I was not expecting this.
“Um, hi. Is George there?” I can’t breathe. I need a paper bag. I stare at Jen and she smiles back, placing a reassuring hand on mine.
“Yes he is. May I ask who’s calling?”
“This is Jack McPhee. We met today. The mall.” I’m not sure what I’m saying, my tongue has gone numb.
“Oh, George told me about you. I’m his mother. I’ll go get him for you sweetie,” and the kind voice is gone, replaced by the distant sound of footsteps. I hear two voices, too far away to discern the owners, and then a soft breath into the phone.
“Jack? It’s George.” He sounds happy. Or surprised. I don’t know. It’s been a very long time since I’ve called anyone up like this. “I’m glad you called.”
“So am I,” I answer truthfully, not knowing what to do and seriously considering ways to get off the phone. Maybe I could tell him my house is on fire? “Your mom seems nice.”
“She is. I told her about your friend Pacey. She thought it was a riot.”
“Yeah. Um, so I called.” What?
“Yes, you did.” George’s voice is warm, low, and deeply amused. “Have anything particular to say Jack?”
“I-I-I...” I’m sounding like the Taco Bell chihuahua. Jen pinches my arm. “I wanted to ask you out.”
“When?” I expected some long conversation on what this means to me. How this is a big step in my life. How I’m finally taking some action. Then I realize I spent way too much time with Ethan.
“How about tonight?” Shit. I just said that, didn’t I? You don’t call someone the very day you met them and ask them out for that very night. Desperation, thy name is Jack McPhee.
“Tonight?” George laughs a little. “Yeah, I’d like that.”
“Really?” My heart just dropped into my feet.
“Yes. When do you want to pick me up?”
“Seven alright?” I’m picking up George. Tonight.
“Seven is great. You have my address, right?”
I look at the little piece of paper with George’s number and address scrawled on it in large looping cursive. “Yeah I do. I’ll see you then.”
“Good. See you tonight Jack,” George murmurs. He sounds happy. I’m floating.
“See you tonight.” And I hang up with a softly mumbled goodbye. Jen smiles and ruffles my hair. She turns up the music in angsty celebration.
So I called him and I took him out to dinner. At a small cafe. I was afraid that I’d spend the whole time watching people stare at us, watching the world judge me. I didn’t. I had a nice date. We talked, we laughed, George rested his hand on mine halfway through dinner. I stared at that hand for most of the night. I told him about Andie. George told me about his mom, his dad. We laughed about school, about not seeing each other despite how small this town is. He’s in one of Jen’s classes. Not that either of us noticed. Jen probably was busy angsting about the freshman or taking care of her dysfunctional circle of friends.
The date was nice. Not scary, not worthy of any John Williams movie score. Just really nice. We walked along the docks after dinner, we talked some more. I told him about Ethan. He told me about his first few boyfriends. We sat on a bench and stared at the water as the moon lit the choppy waves with silver. The moon lit George’s hair to full fiery blaze. He looked at me out of the corner of his eyes. Just stared thoughtfully. I stared down at my dark green sweater, my black suede gloves that Jen got me for Christmas. I think about how many sweaters I tried on before this date. And I swallow a laugh thinking about Joey and sweaters. My hand rests on the weathered wood of the bench. I glance down and see George’s hand, barely a breath away from mine. And I move my hand over his. He looks down at our joined hands, lets out a little sigh, smiles and stares out at the water again. “We could kiss at my door or right now, Jack,” he whispers.
“We could.” I admit softly, my heart pounding. I look at his lips and wonder what he tastes like.
“I only mentioned it because it is our first date and I’m not easy. I only give one kiss on the first date.” He says, turning to me with a small laugh. His eyes are darker now, more alive. And my fingers shake, my lips burn.
“That seems fair,” I answer levelly, with calm I have yet to feel. “How about we do the kiss now? I don’t want to have your mother flicking the porch lights on us.” George had mentioned she did that sometimes when he was past curfew. She’d wait for him and flashed the lights, a warning sign that he was in trouble. I already like George’s mom. She met us at the door and pronounced me “very cute.”
“Okay,” George says taking an unsteady breath. He moves towards me and rests his lips against mine for a split second. Starting to move away I put my arms around him and pull him to me. He puts his hand on my face and I understand why Joey likes Pacey so much. He opens his mouth to mine and I run my tongue along his, tasting the orange juice he had with dinner. We kiss for what seems like forever and when we pull away it’s only a minute later. A lot can happen in one minute. We smile at each other, holding hands now, and then staring out at the water again. “That was nice.”
“Yeah it was.” I smile. That was better than nice. The sky brightens and my future seems distinctly less dismal.
Now as I sit on my bed and think about tonight, I feel warm and happy. And wow. I wonder how Pacey’s night went. George and I are going out again next week. Maybe tomorrow I’ll call Pacey. Jen already got the scoop, I just finished talking to her. She called three times while I was out, thinking I’d chicken out and head home early, I guess. I told her tonight was, well I told her “Wow.”
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