Sunday, June 1, 2008

What are we doing here if Romance isn't Dead?

I'd been listening to Peter Gabriel's hit "In your eyes," repeatedly while dancing in my underwear. Gazing at myself in the mirror, faux microphone in hand, I was trying to master a succulent, vixen image. We'd recently had a dance party at my house. I was basically the only one dancing. My friends Liz, and Anne were there but they didn't deliver the moves like I thought they were gonna, they mostly just looked at me like I was crazy. I wanted to make sure that for the next dance party I would burn the kids out the room with my sweet moves.

It was during the 10th rotation of "In your eyes" that I heard the phone buzzing on my bed but I missed the call. I jammed on the buttons and saw that Neil had called. "Shit," I said aloud. I threw on some pants, my black flats, a t-shirt, and a blue American Apparel sweater. I ran down the stairs and saw Neil standing outside. He had his usual forlorn look. His brown hair, even though it was only an inch long, seemed to be downcast, giving him a mopey look. He was wearing his usual outfit of jeans, a t-shirt, converse, and a black hoodie.

"You ready," I asked him. He nodded as a reply and we made our way to Tuk Tuk Thai. Our walk there was in silence. He'd invited me to dinner a couple days ago. I said yes hoping that something interesting might happen. Despite being in a band, which my friend Liz said was uber mopey Joy Divisionesque trash, he was an utter bore.

I used to frequent Dolores park with my friend Anne. We'd go there to see and be seen by the hipsters. Actually that was just our joke between the two of us. The two of us would sit on the lawn and read books. After hanging out there on the daily, we acquired a flock of admirers. At some point Neil and I met. I didn't really see him that much at the park. Once in a while I'd see him in the city. When I moved to the east bay a few months ago I ran into him more. It was at Reel Video where he asked me out.

"Hey, Courtney," he said to me as I was looking at a video. I turned around not recognizing the voice.

"Oh, hey Neil. How's it going," I replied.

"Okay. What are you getting?"

"Well I was thinking about this movie "The Orphanage," its by Del Toro. He was the guy who did "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Devil's Backbone." Those moves were tight."

"Yeah. I saw them. They were good."


"Uh so what do you think you're going to get?"

"Didn't you ask me that already?"

"Uh, I guess I did." He looked around for a minute and I wondered if I should just walk away. "Have you seen that movie 'Teeth,'" he asked barring my escape with more conversation.

"My roommate got it a week or two ago. Its so great. That was the best climax for a movie ever."

"When I saw the girl drop the guy's wiener, and then the dog ate it, I got phantom pains."

"Ha. Phantom pains."


"Yup." I stood there for a second or two then started towards the counter. "I think I'm gonna get this one." I waved the dvd copy of "The Orphanage" in my hand.

"Yeah, that's a good one. Hey, do you want to go out to dinner or something, sometime, maybe?"

"Uh, sure." I took a receipt out of my wallet to write on. "Do you have a pen?"

He shook his head and went to the counter and got a pen. He came back a second later. I decided I'd give him my number because it took him so long to finally ask me out that I bet he wouldn't give me a call for months. By that time I'd probably change my number at least three times in order to evade Sallie Mae, my college loan collection agency. I scribbled down my number on the receipt and said goodbye. It took him a week to call me. By that time Sallie Mae had called me four times and I was on the verge of changing my number or moving to Thailand to shake the bastards. Our conversation on the phone was just as stilted as the one at Reel Video.

The dinner at Tuk Tuk was mediocre. I asked him about his band but he didn't elaborate much further than saying they were getting a new bassist or something. He paid the bill and we left. Our walk home was in silence and I gave him a half of a hug than ran up to my room. As I was running up the stairs I thought about how he should have played "In your eyes" on a boombox from the street.

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