All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
Dreams and Popcorn
I could smell the popcorn from all the way outside. That's the thing about movie theaters. You pay twenty or thirty bucks to watch a predictable chick flick--and bonus, you smell terrible for days afterward. So naturally, that's exactly where I wanted to go. I was hanging out with my best friend, Robby, for an entire rainy Sunday afternoon. We hung out all the time at school, and our group often went places together after school, but it was the first time we had hung out by ourselves... and it was weird. I shivered slightly as we stood outside the theater, waiting to buy tickets in the long line that wrapped around the queue several times. I had thought jeans and plaid shirt would be casual enough to look like I wasn't trying too hard, but the shirt was much too thin for the bipolar weather in Atlanta in the winter. Apparently Robby saw, even though I wasn't going to mention it. He slipped off his letter jacket and smiled as he handed it to me, revealing his black club soccer hoodie. How do guys manage to squeeze on so many layers? I gratefully pulled the jacket over my shoulders as we examined the "Now Showing" board. "Hm, 'Rolling Hills?' Noo.... 'Glory Moment?'" Robby looked hopeful. "What's it about?" Robby raised one eyebrow. "Glory Moment? You never read the series?" "...Nope. I've heard of it, but my parents don't let me read them." My overprotective parents had heard about the "violence," but from what my friends said, it was pretty much just one scene. I was planning to borrow the books from my friend Abby, anyway. He raised the other eyebrow. "Well, any other ideas?" I thought about it--for half a second. "If you promise not to tell... we can go see Glory Moment." He smiled excitedly. "Sounds good to me!" We scrunched closer together as we waiting a while longer, to conserve heat. I caught a whiff of his Axe (definitely NOT overdone) and found myself relaxing against his chest... Stop it! He's just a friend! He's your best friend! That's weird! I shook my head to clear my thoughts. "You okay?" I hadn't realized Robby would be able to feel that. But, logically, he would--I was leaning on his chest. "Oh, yeah, just chills..." Oh gosh, ticket lady, please hurry up... Robby tugged on my arm. "C'mon, it's our turn." He stepped up to the window. "Two for Glory-" I tried to butt in. "Oh, no, just one-" and held up my wallet. He gently pushed my arm down. "Nope. Two." He slid his card under the slot. The old lady's voice rang through the speaker so shrilly that several people in line turned to stare at us. "Young lady, you should know better than to refuse a gentleman the privelege of paying on a date!" Robby's ever-sarcastic sense of humor kicked in (albiet much more quietly)," Yeah, young lady! You know this is a date and all!" He winked, and I remembered why I'd even talked to him in the first place, way back at the beginning of freshman year. His eyes. As we walked toward the door, I playfully grabbed his hand. "So, this is a date, huh?" He surprised me by squeezing my hand back. "Only if you want it to be." Yes! Of course I do! Why has it taken you so long to figure that out! Are you so blind that you haven't noticed me flirting with you for two years? Do you have any idea how much I'm freaking out right now? "Ha. Do you want it to be?" He shrugged. What? That's all I get? Just because I didn't spill my feelings out loud doesn't mean you can't! ...Okay, so it wasn't exactly his fault. But still. "Wanna get a soda? I'm paying, remember," He did such a good job of imitating the crabby old ticket lady that I burst out laughing. "Thanks, I'll just have a water bottle." "Ack, girls and their health trends..." Robby teased me for the hundredth time. Since volleyball season started back up, my coach has ordered the whole team to stick to carbs and water for the next three months, so Robby gets a kick out of teasing me when I can't drink soda. "I'm your best friend! I know you're addicted to Coke!" Besides drawing weird stares from parents who were now dragging their small children away (don't adults realize that there are actually some teenagers that aren't druggies?), his comment brought on an outburst from the man behind the counter. "Ha, girls... always trying to impress guys. Acting like junk food is the most repulsive thing ever invented. First date, right? Or second? I see it all the time here. Tough luck, dude." Thank you, fat man. I do have ears. And feelings. I saw Robby's eyes tense up, and I squeezed his hand and shook my head slightly. It wasn't worth making a scene, especially after the lady outside yelled at us. Embarrassed, he quickly paid for two water bottles and led me down the hallway toward our theater. As we walked, he slipped one arm around my waist. "For what it's worth... I don't think you're tough luck at all." Okay. Maybe, possibly, that patched my feelings up. And blew them up like a hot air balloon. And shot up a million feet high. "I'm really sorry it all got blown out of proportion... I owe you a soda as soon as the season is over." No longer a hot air balloon. A blimp. How can you be mad at a guy for being so sweet, especially when the whole scene was mostly that fat guy anyway? "It's not your fault; it was that dbag. But what is with everyone thinking we're dating today?" He laughed and leaned in closer. "What if we pretended it was a date? Like, acted like we were dating and told everyone we were dating?" I thought it over. For about two seconds. "That would be hilarious!" Relieving. Wonderful. Delightful. Not hilarious, not annoying. He still had his arm around me as we found our seats. The movie was just starting, so we didn't have time to talk. Fortunately, the theater was warm, so I gave Robby his jacket back. We settled back and watched for a minute, when I realized the movie was very familiar. "Hey, I've seen this," I punched Robby's arm. "What? I thought you weren't allowed... you sneaky girl." "No, no, that's not what I meant. This isn't Glory Moment; it's Drama High." Robby glanced at the screen again. "So it is... well? We paid, do you want to stay?" I'm not much of a chick flick girl, but I agreed to stay. I had been dragged along the first time by my sister, but I didn't mention that. So I shrugged--give him a taste of his own medicine. "Might as well." I checked my ticket--sure enough, it read "Adult- Drama." Weird. We watched for about ten minutes before the kid behind me started screaming. Incoherent words. At the top of his lungs. I rolled my eyes and Robby cracked a joke about couples always having the worst luck on first dates. We kept turning around every few seconds, but the oblivious mother was too engrossed in her movie to care. Suddenly, the toddler stopped. I turned around one last time to see him sneakily stealing popcorn from the lady next to him, who obviously didn't know him. Awkward. I settled back to watch my movie in peace, when I felt Robby fidgeting next to me. I knew he was about to jokingly make "The Move," and I giggled. He wiggled his eyebrows, and looked so goofy that I almost burst out laughing. I say almost, because the laugh was interrupted. By hot liquid coursing down my back in waterfalls. I jumped and twisted around in my seat, to see that dumb toddler. Apparently the lady had finished her popcorn and set the container on the floor, because he was happily dumping the remaining puddle of "butter-flavoured topping" down the back of my shirt. It was a crowded theater, and I'd had enough drama for one day, so I didn't try to catch the still-engrossed mother's attention. Robby leaned forward to survey the damage. "Ooh... you might wanna go change. Here," He pulled off his hoodie and put the letter jacket over his plain white t-shirt. He pulled a few kernels out of my hair as he helped me find the door. "I'll meet you outside." I dashed to the bathroom, clutching the sweatshirt. I quickly wriggled out of the sticky, smelly, adorable shirt and ran some water over my ponytail to wash some of the butter out. Fortunately for me, it was an infrequently used bathroom, and no one had to come in and wonder if I was a psycho. About ten minutes later, when I was sufficiently cleaned and perfumed, I went to find Robby. He was waiting next to the door. We agreed to find something else to do; chick flicks were bad enough, and going back into the theater with that kid would NOT be a good idea. We sat in the back of his truck and tried to think of something to do. Finally, Robby came up with the best idea. "Let's go try that new ice cream place by the park!" I stashed my shirt in the trunk of my car and followed him a few blocks to the park.
What everyone calls "the park" is really just a public domain field, kind of separated from the road by trees and with a meandering sidewalk and long split-rail fence running down the middle for no apparent reason. We each got an ice cream cone--I got strawberry and he got chocolate chip cookie dough--and we started to walk down the sidewalk near the trees, but we quickly got bored and just sat on the fence on the far side of the park, talking.
"So, you never answered my question. Do you want it to be a date?"
I laughed nervously. I'd hoped he'd ask, but at the same time, I didn't want him to. "Yes I did--I said only if you wanted it to be."
He ate the point of his cone and flopped down on the soft grass. "No, silly, I said that. You just reciprocated the question."
I threw my napkin at him, and it landed on his face. "Same difference!"
He laughed and twisted his head around to look at me. "Now. Answer me seriously. Is this a date?"
Oh, shoot. Why was he getting so serious about it? Did he suspect me? I tried to dodge the question again. "Well, generally a guy will officially ASK a girl on a date..."
Robby didn't seem to catch the hint. I scarfed down the last of my ice cream and laid next to him on the grass.
"What's the best date you've ever been on? Ever?"
I sat up quickly to look him in the eye. "What kind of question is that?"
He shrugged. Again. "I dunno. Just curious."
Oh. I giggled nervously. "Robby, you know I've never had a boyfriend. Come on, you woulda had to check him out for me!" I nudged him playfully and he laughed again.
"I guess that's true... But how does someone as pretty and smart and nice as you never have a boyfriend?"
What? "Um, I'm not quite sure how to answer either of your questions..."
He looked thoughtful for a second. "I can fix the first one--we'll say this IS a date, and then it HAS to be the best one ever!" He smiled proudly, like a five-year-old who just used a really long word.
I pretended to roll my eyes. "Okay, this is the best date ever." I kept a completely straight face. Robby sat up and leaned back on his hands.
"No. Like you mean it." He looked serious, but I could see the twinkle in his eyes.
I smiled and then said with as much inflexion as I could muster, "This is the best date ever!"
"Good," he said simply, grabbed me in a hug, and laid back down. I wound up with my head resting on his chest.
I tried to stay calm, but my mind was anything but. "C'mon, he's just a friend. He's your best friend... who happens to be extremely attractive. And funny. And sensitive... but that's just how he is. He would probably invite any girl-friend to a movie... But he might not play this dating game... but he DID say "pretend"... so why is your heart beating so fast right now?"
We laid there a long time, watching the clouds move in on the overcast afternoon. After fifteen or twenty minutes, Robby sat up, forcing me up as well, and leaned against the fence. He laughed quietly-- "my arm was falling asleep."
Oh shoot. Note to self: make sure the guy is actually comfortable next time.
I turned his earlier question back on him: "Have you ever had a girlfriend?"
He let out a deep breath. "Well. In first grade, there was this girl who told everyone I was her boyfriend. But I didn't actually like her that much. But one day on the playground at recess, she dragged me under a slide and kissed me. And I'm kinda annoyed about it ever since, because I kinda wanted my first kiss to be with someone I really liked." My keys had fallen out of my pocket and he picked them up to fiddle with them.
"Well," I asked. "Did you kiss her back?"
He thought for a second. "I mean, she kissed me on the mouth... but I didn't try to hug her or let her get her tongue in my mouth or anything...?"
"So, no." He nodded slowly. "Would you have ever tried to kiss her if she didn't first?
"No!" came the immediate answer.
"Then," I concluded. "I say it doesn't count. You can still have your first kiss."
He looked at me out the corners of his eyes. "You really think so?"
I nodded and he leaned his head on my shoulder. "I like having you as a best friend... you're so logical." I giggled. "So what do you want your first kiss to be like?" He continued.
I hardly had to think. "Unexpected. I wanna just be hanging out, alone, with the guy I like, when he just... wraps his arms around me and kisses me. Preferably in the rain. On the first date if I know him well, later on if not... or just whenever it happens to rain."
He rolled his eyes jokingly, but smiled. "Ahh, girls and rain... some things guy don't even try to understand."
"What about you? What's your fantasy?"
He sat back up and laughed. "Well, I don't know that guys would call them fantasies... but mine doesn't have that much detail. Guys don't exactly start planning their weddings at age four, ya know?... Wait, you're blushing. Yours is already planned out, right?" I nodded sheepishly. "Ha, I thought so. Anyway, I know I want it to be with someone I like. And I guess since first grade, I kinda want to be the one that decides when it's time. And... I dunno, I kinda want to make out... I know realistically a girl might not like it, and I don't know the first thing about it, but still... not all guys would get excited about standing out in the cold rain but you can still want it." He stared out at the field ahead of us. "So who's this 'guy you like?' I promise I won't tell," he winked.
"Oh, I don't know... to be a hundred percent honest, I'd never go out with a guy who wasn't my friend first. Like, I have to be able to love and trust him as a friend before I consider more in a relationship. I guess I've thought about all my guy friends at one point or another...
"But there's one I keep coming back to; the rest just don't feel right, ya know?"
Robby raised his eyebrows. "Well? Who is it?"
I decided to flirt. Just a little. To see how it felt to purposely flirt with a friend. "Who do you think?"
He pretended to stroke his non-existent beard. "Well. You text Brent a lot..."
I giggled. "Eew, not Brent!"
"Well, I know who I HOPE it is..." he muttered.
"Well, I'm not saying in case I'm wrong... But I think you two would make a great couple... would I be gay if I said you would be cute together?"
"Not at all... but who??" I leaned against his arm. Suddenly, the clouds decided to finally burst. There was no sprinkle leading up to rain; it was a full-blown thunderstorm within seconds. Robby quickly helped me hop the fence and we dashed to our cars. He jumped into his car, but mine was locked. I felt in all my pockets-- keys, come out, come out wherever you are! I jumped as Robby honked his horn. I spun around to see him holding my keyring-- of course! He'd accidentally stolen them when he was playing with them earlier. I put the hood up on my sweatshirt--his sweatshirt--and jogged over to his truck. He jumped out to give me the keys and I just stood there, soaked. My phone rang loudly in my pocket, and I stuck my hand inside Robby's car to check my text. I shouted to him over the rain, "My brother's stuck at the skate park, I gotta go get him! I had fun!”
Robby was staring at me strangely for a second, but then he cracked a smile. "Me too! Drive safe!" I gave him a quick hug and ran toward my car, keys in hand.
A few steps away from my car, I felt a strong hand grasp my wrist. Startled, I turned quickly, the hood slipping from my head. I tried to pull it back up with one hand while trying to simultaneously shield my eyes from the rain and see who was there.
It was Robby, still wearing the same expression. Like he was trying to read my mind or something. Before I could even take a deep enough breath to yell and ask what he needed, he had grabbed my waist, pulled me close, and kissed me. I dropped my keys, bewildered. He hugged me close so his mouth was next to my ear. "Was that good enough?"
I gently pulled back a little and stared into his eyes. "That was... perfect." I closed my eyes and leaned back in.
I don't know if it lasted a minute or an hour, and honestly I don't care. I could have kissed him all day, but the unfortunate ringing of my cell phone snapped us both back to reality just as we were getting started, it felt like. I was going to ignore it, but Robby stopped. "Your brother! You better go before your mom gets mad, I don't want to get you in trouble."
I pecked him one more time on the lips. "Okay, we can talk later." He nodded and walked back toward his car, when I remembered something. "Wait!"
He jogged back over.
"I'm so sorry... I would have made out with you..."
He smiled softly and pushed the hair back from my face where the rain was plastering it to my skin. I closed my eyes again, and suddenly he pushed my waist against my car and firmly kissed me. I hesitantly, quickly licked his bottom lip and he responded by gently slipping his tongue next to mine.
It didn't last long, because a minute later he pulled away. "I don't want you to get in trouble, so that'll work until next time." He winked again.
I flirtatiously raised one eyebrow. "Next time...?"
He thought for a second. "Okay, next time you talk to me, you have to kiss me." He opened my door and kissed my forehead as I climbed inside.
I didn't see Robby until the next day at school. I couldn't find him anywhere, but just after third period I felt strong arms embrace me from behind as I tried to open my locker. I remembered my promise and didn't make a sound as I turned to hug him.
I smiled shyly and shook my head.
"What? You're not going to talk to me?" He feigned shock. "Why not?"
I was saved by the bell. During fourth period I wrote him a note-- "You know the rules! We can 'talk' after school :)" I slipped it in his locker on the way to lunch.
I found a reply just before last period-- "Oh, fine... but I bet I can get you to talk next period!"
Shoot. He DOES sit next to me in math.
I tried to not even look at him, but I noticed his mischievous grin the second I entered the classroom.
"Hey, Sugar... what's the matter, not gonna talk to your boyfriend?"
I scrawled out a note on his homework-- "No... and you haven't officially asked me out yet."
"Hm. So I haven't. Well, will you be my girlfriend?"
I just winked and stared straight ahead.
I walked toward my car after school to drop my books off, but Robby's voice summoned me to his truck a few spaces down.
"C'mere, I need to talk to you."
I silently dumped my books in the bed of the truck and smiled at him expectantly.
"Well? Aren't you going to say something?"
Part of me wanted to drag this on for days, but I remembered how he'd given up his first kiss for me yesterday. So I slipped my arms around his neck and rested my forehead on his. "What do you want me to say?" I whispered.
He look away, but only for half a second. He looked slightly cross-eyed as he locked his gaze with mine and whispered back, "Nothing." And just like yesterday, but much more slowly, he leaned me against the car and kissed me. And just like yesterday, I held on like I never wanted to let go.
He walked me to my car almost an hour later. When I opened the trunk to drop my books, we caught a whiff of buttered popcorn from the shirt that sat there all yesterday afternoon. Robby hugged my waist. "Ha, popcorn... the theater's where this all started, huh?"
"Oh, I don't know... you know I liked you long before yesterday, right?"
"Ah, but I think it WAS a theater... yeah, I didn't know for sure if you liked me until yesterday... but I remember I started liking you way back freshman year, when our group went to the movies and we sat together? And you dropped your popcorn and ate some of mine without thinking?"
I was laughing so hard I could hardly compose myself enough to tell him. "Then it WAS a theater... Robby that was the day we met, and you liked me?" Of course I remembered. I was new at the school, so Annie (who was dating Robby's best friend Brent) invited me to tag along with the rest of her group after school, so a group of about ten kids trouped to the movies together.
"What? You don't believe in love at first sight?" He let me go and leaned against the car on his elbow.
"Of course I do! I... told Annie I thought you looked like a fun guy, so she... arranged for us to "just happen" to sit next to each other, so I could have an excuse to get to know you... I liked your eyes. And I dropped my popcorn because I was so nervous to talk to you. But I never thought you liked me until yesterday."
He laughed and looked out at the road in front of the school. "I... kinda knew about all that. Brent had a sleepover that weekend with the other guys in that group... and they were all teasing me for sitting with you. So I said I thought you... were cool... and Brent told me that Annie set it all up." He must have seen me blushing furiously, because he quickly added, "I thought it was cute."
Okay. Good. Calm down.
"Well, dang it, we've wasted two and a half years, haven't we?" he laughed. "We'd better start making up for it."
And with that, Robby kissed me. Just as it started to rain.