All I want out of life is an endless supply of Glossier Cherry lip balm and a decent meet-cute before graduation.
I mean sure, acceptance into an Ivy was also high on my list before I received the “I am pleased to inform you” email, but the balm and the meet-cute are my number one must-haves.
Mom says I have an addiction to romance novels, but I disagree. An addiction implies a loss of control, and yeah, no. That’s not me. I have taken full control of this goal, and I own it like the boss babe I aspire to be. I would categorize my reading habits more as art appreciation. It takes skill for a love-at-first-sight story to ring true. I admit, however, to spending an inordinate amount of time reflecting on when and if this serendipitous run-in with my future prom date will happen.
Prom is a week away.
I have the dress. I have the shoes. I even have the tickets. The only thing lacking is a plus one.
After an entire semester passed without anyone sending my heart thumping like a club remix, I decided to give fate a nudge. I worked New Year’s Day developing a spreadsheet of the most common meet-cutes along with locations and situations most likely to encourage them and have spent the last four months ticking each one off my list. Public transportation: check. Coffee shops: check. Bookstores: double-check.
Now I’m getting to the crumbs at the bottom of the proverbial cookie jar, and I’m desperate.
“Dog park?” Aidan, my best friend and partner-in-crime for this mission, stares at me like I’ve grown a third eye. “But you don’t have a dog.”
We’re standing at my locker between homeroom and first period.
“No, but you do.” Apropos to everything, I give him my best puppy dog eyes. He’s a total sucker for them.
“No, nope,” he says, “Absolutely not. I am not pimping out Sir Barks-A-Lot.”
Aidan and I met the first day of preschool at Landstown Montessori. While most of the other kids were fine with playing solo through the activity stations, he and I immediately paired up. At the homemaking station we played family: dad and hungry baby. After mixing up a bowl of pretend mush, he proceeded to shove the real silver fork into the back of my throat, slicing through my palate. All I remember after that is having the worst sore throat ever; all he remembers is a tsunami of blood spewing from my mouth.
Our parents met while picking us up and clicked as quickly as Aidan and I had. Through the years we’ve become our own little family, spending most holidays and summer vacations together.
“Aidan, I’m so close. Please?” I clutch my hands together in the universal sign for begging.
“Maddie, no. Just no.”
I snatch the spreadsheet from his hands and lead the way to our next class. We have AP physics together next, which means I have 50 minutes to win him over.
As soon as roll is taken, I power up my iPad, and open instant messaging.
I give him serious side-eye, and he rolls his in response. Grr.
with sugar –
No. No. No!
I minimize the IM app and take a few deep breaths to temper my frustration. Our teacher is going over the solutions to last night’s homework, and I bring up the problems on my tablet.
Aidan has been 100% in this with me, serving as my personal bodyguard: Sitting a few rows behind me on the bus and subway to keep an eye out while I waited for my soulmate to ask if the empty seat beside me was available. Going coffee shop to coffee shop with me, watching from a separate table as I waited for a tall, dark, and handsome stranger to come in and ask if I was his blind date and decide to sit with me even when I said no. Even trailing me in various independent bookstores as I strolled the aisles – primarily sci-fi and manga, the boy magnets of literature – hoping to accidentally touch hands with my ultimate meet-cute partner while reaching for the same book.
He even tried asking me to prom himself, but I didn’t want his pity, and said no before he could complete his impromptu invitation.
So what is up with him now? It’s not like I’m asking him to sacrifice his first born or his Vans Old Skools or anything.
My IM flashes.
k, barksy and I will go to the dog park with you.
My smile stretches into a dumb grin, and I do a little happy dance in my seat. “Really?” I mouth to Aidan.
He smirks and shakes his head, then nods.
i love you, i love you, i lo –
I begin typing, and then a flash of lightning blindsides me. I feel like I’m dying as my life with Aidan flashes by. His generosity and kindness. His brilliant brain. His amazing smile. It’s in this moment I realize how much I mean these words I’m writing to him. I delete my message and begin again.
i know this isn’t much of a prom-posal, but would you like to go to the dance with me? you know, as friends?
I add the last bit just in case.
as friends? no.
I turn towards him, and our eyes meet. It’s not love at first sight; it’s not a traditional meet-cute. But the connection is real. Does he feel it too? I make a mental sign of the cross and walk to the edge.
aidan, will you be my date this weekend? And next weekend? And, um, maybe every weekend after?
I hit send and hold my breath.
took you long enough, but yes, mads. yes to all of it.
Her work has previously appeared in Short Stories for Women and Golden Visions Magazine. She is currently working on her first novel.