Two teenage girls, naïve and excited, climbed into the back of an ugly green van (affectionately called “The Sweet Pickle Bus”) with 6 teenage boys, not once considering the potential danger. This was about love, or their conception of it, which did not include “News at 11” type headlines. Fortunately, these were nice boys. Relatively speaking.
One girl was on a “date”, the other one was me. My not-so-secret crush was in that van and it was my intent to steal him away from his rather pretty girlfriend. Not schooled in the art of flirting, I had no idea how to do this. I simply trusted Fate to do its work. Fate did not disappoint.
Seated in the passenger side of the careening Sweet Pickle Bus (it careened everywhere it went), was the most annoying guy I had ever met. He insisted on speaking with a fake Scottish accent and playing “Today” by Smashing Pumpkins ad nauseam. I’d seen him in school–tall, hulking, shaved head, brown corduroy jacket, dark-colored chucks–and thought him the quiet and brooding type. So much for first impressions. He was loud and obnoxious. I turned my attention to my crush, willing him to love me with my penetrating stare. He didn’t even look at me.
The Sweet Pickle screeched to a halt in the movie theater parking lot and we stepped out of the van, met by a largish group of even more teenage boys and a few girls, including the rather pretty (and unfortunately nice) girlfriend I intended to grind beneath my Pumas. We filed into the theater and I found myself seated beside, not my crush, but faux-Scottish Billy Corgan. My crush was on a completely different aisle, cozying up to his girlfriend. I prepared myself for a long and disappointing night.
We were watching a cheesy horror movie, the name of which escapes me. I was watching my friend’s date doing the exaggerated yawn-so-you-can-put-your-arm-around-girl move and I heard a snicker. Mr. Obnoxious had seen it, too. We made eye contact and laughed. Then we started cracking on the movie and talking. Flirting. Schooled or not, I had mastered the art. When the movie was finally over, we walked back to the van, together. Instead of taking his former seat, he climbed in beside me. Where my crush sat, I have no idea.
On the way home, The Sweet Pickle Bus broke down. We were freezing while my friend’s date tried to figure out what was wrong. I shivered. Suddenly, a toboggan was on my feet and a brown corduroy jacket around my shoulders. Mr. Obnoxious had become Mr. Chivalrous. The flirting continued and I didn’t want the night to end. But soon we were careening on our way again, and my friend and I were dropped off safely at home.
A few days and a few phone calls later, I had a boyfriend–my first and last. I married him 4 years later.
A lot has changed since then. A lot hasn’t. He’s still hulking and he’s still got a bald head, though not completely by choice anymore. He’s still, without a doubt, the most annoying guy I’ve ever met, though he hasn’t spoken with a Scottish accent in years. We still crack on bad movies and on days when we aren’t too tired after work and dealing with five kids, we still flirt.
And when we’re stranded in the freezing cold, I can still depend on him to keep me warm.
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This post was written for the RemembeRED writing prompt via Write On Edge.
The prompt went like this:
As a writing teacher, I often have my students write memoir/nonfiction pieces. In the beginning, most students want to write strictly about themselves.
One of the lessons I teach them is that other people help shape who we are through their words to us, their actions, or their lack of action.