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The Great Date

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Pools of clothes covered my cream carpet as I huffed in annoyance. Why do clothes even exist? All they do is confuse me and make things, like dates, even more complicated to get ready for.

    "Blue sweater or white? Or will white stain easier?" I mumbled to myself. "But doesn't everything stain? Brown doesn't, right?" I picked up sweater after sweater, trying to find the perfect one. To no avail, nothing seemed good enough in my eyes.

    At this point, I was willing to go to my date with Nate naked. I mean, not actually. Deciding the perfect outfit for a first date with a cute guy out of my league was too challenging and complex for my simple self. What does one even wear to dates? In the movies all of the girls wear these cute but sexy clothes that seem to come out of a magazine. I wish I was a girl in a movie who had cute magazine clothes.

    "Dani!" My mother called. "It's almost five! When are you going to leave?"

    Crap! I wish I could freeze time so I could endlessly fret over my lack of magazine clothing. Panicking, I threw on my knitted brown sweater, paired with my favorite ripped skinny jeans -- which I did not buy that way, I'm clumsy -- and my battered converse which had seen better days.

    "Coming, coming," I panted as I almost fell down the wooden stairs. "I'm ready." I looked up at my mom, a lovely lady of 48 golden years, who had graying brown hair with dark eyes. Sometimes, late at night, I curse her for my inheriting her brown eyes. I could have had eyes like Zooey Deschanel, but no.

    Mom smiled, wrinkles forming, and sighed happily. "My little baby is growing up." She sniffled a little and used her hands to wipe at her nose.

    Oh no, not the waterworks. I swear, my mom cries at everything. If someone accidentally broke a pencil in front of her she'd probably cry at the obvious misfortune that was bestowed upon the stranger. I love my mother and all, but sometimes it gets to be a bit much. "Mom, don't cry, please," I begged, "It's just a date." My words seemed to break the dam of my mother, as tears began to stream down her face.

    "Honey," my mom sobbed, "It's just- you're-," she stammered, her tears choking her up, "you're my baby and you're growing up!"

    I awkwardly looked at her, unsure of what to say, "Yeah," I quietly responded. Looking at the clock, I realized the time. "Crap, mom! It's 4:51, I better go!" I decided to walk to the coffee shop, where my date with Nate was, instead of my mom driving me because if she drove me, we'd probably get into a wreck because of her blinding tears.

    My mom looked as if she was going to say something, but I walked out of our house before she could mention anything. "Love you!" I yelled as I quickly walked away. I heard my mom incoherently shout something, probably something along the lines of how old I was getting and to not perch my elbows on the table.

    The coffee shop that Nate wanted to meet at, The Rise and Grind, was only a couple of minutes from my house. That was another reason why I decided to walk instead of have my mother drive me. If the walk was longer than that, well, that was a big pile of nope. I'm not a huge fan of voluntary exercise.

    After awhile, I began to sweat. I probably shouldn't have worn a sweater since it was the middle of summer, but I like sweaters and I thought it'd be cold in the coffee shop. I didn't really think about the walk there, I was too busy trying to find something to wear. Sweat started to roll down my forehead, and I wiped at it in a frustrated manner. I rolled up my heavy sleeves and tried to distract myself from my discomfort by thinking about Nate.

    I wonder what he's wearing? Will he wear a sweater like me? And then we'll joke about ourselves being stupid and wearing sweaters in the middle of summer? Then, in the future, once we're married we could tell our children that the moment we realized we were meant for each other was when we both wore sweaters. It'd be a love story for the history books. Or will Nate wear short sleeves and make fun of my poor clothing choices? If that happened I'd probably run out of The Rise and Grind in complete embarrassment and change my name and face to save myself from accidentally seeing him in some store to only have him tease me again.

    I started panicking in the blistering heat, which only made me sweat even more. Oh no oh no oh no. This date was already a bust and I wasn't even there yet. Wait, was it even a date? Nate never specifically said date. He could just want to hang out or do something that guys do. Am I overdressed? Am I-

    "Dani?" I heard a recognizable voice call. I turned my head towards the voice to see Nate in a blue pickup truck. "Hey!"

    I froze, unsure of what to do. Nate looked at the road, and seeing no incoming cars, he stopped fully. He smiled at me, expectantly. "Uh, hey." My voice quiet, hoping he couldn't see my sweat from here.

    "I didn't know you were walking, I could have picked you up," he scrunched his dark eyebrows, "Do you want to hop in? I'm legally allowed to drive people now." He smiled, perfect white teeth glistening.

    "Uh, well, no thanks," I stammered, "I can walk." I felt my face heat up, and it wasn't from the sun.

    "Are you sure?" Nate asked again, bringing up his dark-skinned hand to scratch at his hair. He seemed confused, but what would I know? Boys confuse me. Just like clothes confuse me.

    "Yeah, yeah, I like exercise." I said quickly. Crap, why did I say I like exercising? Now he's going to want to go running together or whatever exercising people do.

    "Really? Oh, well, okay," Nate said, looking a little disappointed, "I'll see you there." Way to go Dani, you made one of the happiest guys sad. I simply smiled at him as he slowly started driving his truck again.

    Once he drove off, I groaned. Why do I seem to mess up every time he's near me? It's like I can't function. I mean, I've never been that great of a functioning human, but he makes it worse. Plus, now when I finally made it to the coffee shop it'd be awkward. More awkward than it would have. I started shuffling my feet, completely and utterly done with myself. This moment was the moment when I realized how hopeless I was and nothing could save me from myself.

+-+

    I was an utter mess by the time I reached the coffee shop. What was I going to say? Should I say hello, or is that too formal? Should I dive into conversation, since I literally saw him less than five minutes ago? What if he left? If he left, at least I'd be saved from future embarrassment. For today, that is.

    I opened the rustic door -- typical for coffee shops -- and hesitantly walked in, dragging my converse clad feet along the way. I bit my lip as I scanned the shop, looking for the source of my nervousness: Nate. My eyes settled on him, his back toward me, sitting close to the back. Well, at least if I do something horribly awkward, like trip on my way to him, he won't see it.

    I walked up to him, taking in his presence. "Hey," I said softly, Nate turning is head towards me once he heard my voice. I smiled, teeth not showing, as I slid into the booth opposite of him. Nate wore a dark blue t-shirt -- go figure -- that complimented his dark caramel skin. His brown eyes shined with light and happiness and his hair was closely shaven to his head, though not close enough to hide his evident curls. "Did you get a haircut?"

    "Hey, Dani. And yeah, earlier today. My grandma cuts my hair for free." He grinned and looked around. "So what are you planning on doing for the rest of summer?"

    "Probably hiding in my room while I play video games." I said in a deadpan voice.

    Nate chuckled and his wide smile went crooked. "Blunt, now are we?"

    It's not that I was blunt, it was just that hiding in my room and playing video games was all I ever did so it wasn't really a hard question for me. Wait... what if Nate hates video games? What if he's one of those people who enjoy going outside and experiencing the world just to get sunburnt? Worse, what if he exercises? And I told him that I liked exercise earlier, so what if he's on to my lies? "Um, yup," my voice cracked, and I cleared it, trying to hide my evident nervousness.

    "I don't play video games much," Oh no, he hates video games! Therefore he hates me! Abort date. Abort. "Mainly because I suck at them," he threw his gorgeous grin my way, calming me down. A little. "Maybe you could help me out sometime?"

    Was that an invitation to... go to his house? I mean, I could help him from my house, like we could use skype and use those fancy headsets I've always wanted to talk while playing video games. "You mean through skype?" Crap, Dani. That probably sounded so weird and random to him.

    "What?" He blinked his beautiful brown eyes a couple of times. "No, uh, I meant at my... house?" His face seemed to turn slightly red, those his dark skin masked it pretty well. "I, uh, mean, if you want to? Of course if you don't that'd be okay and all." Nate rushed out, scratching his head.

    "No, I uh, I mean yes. I'd love to help you out. I'd also kick your butt." I slightly smirked. Nate doesn't what's coming for him. I'm not good at many things, so when I am, I take full advantage of it.

"I accept the challenge," Nate's eyes crinkled, and I felt my heart flutter. Is that healthy? "I guess we could order now?"

  I simply nodded, suddenly shy. Here Nate was, this gorgeous guy who was my complete opposite. I'm awkward, he's easygoing. I'm reserved, he's extroverted. Our differences made me wonder why he'd go for a girl like me. Whatever the reason, I decided to accept it rather than mull over it for eternity. Plus I had more pressing matters to think about, like what drink to choose.

    He led me to the counter, where I saw a chalkboard hanging on the wall covered with a list of different drinks. There were a bunch of different coffee flavors -- of course, it was a coffee shop for goodness sake. I've never been the one to enjoy trying new things, as they always turn out bad for me. So, looking at the board filled with a plethora of coffee names I've never heard of, I panicked.

    "Are you ready to order?" A brunette woman, seemingly in her 20s, asked boredly. Her intimidating stare didn't help my nerves. What if I picked the wrong type of coffee? Would she judge me? Would Nate judge me? Was this a test? What if I failed?

    "Um, the chai... latte?" I stammered, quickly picking a random drink.

    "That'll be $3.50." She stared, yet again, her blue eyes digging holes into my inexperienced coffee-drinking soul.

    I gawked at her until I realized she wanted my money. I scavenged through my jean pockets, pulling out a wrinkled five dollar bill. I was about to place it onto the counter until a warm hand stopped me.

    "No, no, no. This is a date, Dani. I asked you out, so I pay," Nate explained kindly, his ever-so-famous grin appearing. My heart jumped. I really don't think it's healthy for my heart to be moving around so much. "I'll have a caramel macchiato."

    The woman kept her fixed eyes on us as she held out her hand as she waited for the money. "That'll be four dollars more." Nate handed her the exact amount, something I've never had the patience of doing. I usually throw down a five or a ten and hope that the cashier doesn't hate me for all of eternity.

    As we walked back towards our booth, I glanced at his profile. He had a strong nose; it seemed to bend in the middle. His eyelashes were dark, and  long enough to be noticed by me. Though there was a light line running near his right eyebrow -- probably a scar -- the rest of his face was enviously smooth.

    "It's not kind to stare." Nate craned his head towards me as we scooted into opposing sides of the booth.

    "You're just so perfect," I blurted out before I could stop my mouth from spilling out my private thoughts. "Crap, I mean-"

    Nate started laughing, and everything was awful. This was what I feared. My date, a guy who I viewed as perfect, laughing at my feelings. I took a sip of my latte to make myself seem more at ease and almost coughed. That chai stuff was strong. After almost hacking out my lungs, and Nate staring worriedly at me, I started to pull my hand towards me until another hand stopped it. Nate's.

    "Hey, no, I wasn't laughing at you," Nate seemed to know what I was thinking. Probably because I'm an open book. "I was laughing at how adorable you are." His hand squeezed mine. My heart started jumping and fluttering all over my chest. My face flushed and I could feel my eyes widening.

    In my shock of Nate's... whatever that was, my hand seemed to shoot out from underneath his and hit my cup full of chai latte, spilling all over the table and onto Nate in the process. Brown liquid covered his lower abdomen and seeped onto his pants.

    "Oh my gosh Nate! I'm so so sorry!" I gushed, completely embarrassed. "I'll, uh, I'll go get um, get towels!" I stood up in a rush, bashing my knees against the table.

    I ran into the bathroom, completely freaking out. Why? Why world? Why must I be like this, all awkward and clumsy and... me? I grabbed more brown paper towels than what I should have while and older lady stared at me with widened eyes as she washed her frail hands. I smiled -- a grimace, really -- hoping that she would think of me as a good kid rather than the quintessence of evil. The lady continued to stare as I turned around and tried to dart out of the bathroom, only to run into an incoming woman who was trying to get into the bathroom. I muttered incoherent apologizes as I weaseled around her and finally out of that treacherous room of horror. Public bathrooms and strangers freak me out.

    I reached Nate, who was trying to dab at his blue -- now tie-dyed with brown -- shirt. I silently walked up to him, shyly offering the scrunched up paper towels to him. He smiled, his beautiful teeth gleaming, and started to use some to clean up whatever he could. "I should have worn brown like you," Nate started to speak, "Then the stain would have blended in." He let out a small silent laugh.

    I let a smile grace my face as I started to wipe up the chai latte on the wooden table. "I am really sorry, Nate. I don't know why... I'm just so clumsy and... well, around you..." My face started to heat up, and it wasn't from walking in the blaring heat while wearing a knitted sweater and jeans. I wanted to tell him that I liked him, but I didn't think I could say it.

    "It's okay, you make me awkward too," He admitted, his dark brows scrunching up. He looked at me and saw my confused expression. "You make me laugh like an idiot all of the time, Dani," He said softly. "Well, I think I've gotten as much as I could." He pointed at his now semi-dry shirt. Luckily Nate wore dark blue jeans, so the stain wasn't as noticeable.

    But what was noticeable was what Nate said to me. I make him laugh? I thought that he laughed all of the time? "Nate, I, I thought you laughed all the time?" I blurted out.

    He let out a small smile, hand scratching is head. "Well, you've only known me as you, you know? What I mean is that you only know me when I'm around you, and around you I laugh. I... like that about you, how you make me laugh."

    I didn't think my face could redden anymore, but it did. I didn't know what to say. Thanks? Awesome? I already told him he makes me more awkward. Nate was looking at me expectantly. Gosh dang it, Nate, don't you realize that I'm socially awkward and whatever I say next will probably offend you and that old lady I saw in the bathroom who is just now coming out? "That lady just came out of the bathroom."

    "What?" Nate was confused, obviously. I don't know why I say the things I do, I just saw the lady, thought about her, then spoke about her.

    "When I went into the bathroom, she, uh -- when I got the towels -- she was washing her hands and she just now came out," I rushed, trying to fit everything that happened into one sentence. "She stared at me."

    I heard Nate's trademark laughter --trademark to me-- and he shook his head. "You're great, Dani."

    Yeah, Nate, you're pretty great too.




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