A First

All week, I think about the weekend. Even on days that go well, during lessons that rock, I think in the back of my mind, I can’t wait til the weekend. I can’t wait to hang out with friends. I can’t wait to do my thing. 

I think this every week, and then, on Friday night, all I can think about is sleep. And movies. And reading. and not seeing anyone.

What is wrong with me? It’s been over two months, now, and each weekend that comes up, I find myself at home again, doing quiet, contemplative things.

But every Monday morning, I think, shoot, I didn’t go out again. I stayed home AGAIN.

This weekend was different.

I went out with my sister and her friend, met them late after watching Argo with a boy I grew up with (it was so fun, chatting, nearly getting lost driving streets I’ve driven since I was sixteen, having him lean over and say, “We didn’t get nearly as much talking time as usual, watching this movie. We need to go out again soon.” Old friends are great.)

Later, when I met up with my sister, the place was crowded, the music was way too loud (as soon as I thought this, I cringed at my oldness), and the girls had already finished their drinks when I got there. I was wearing a sweatshirt and jeans, since I hadn’t planned to go out at all. I was not looking my best, but I was feeling particularly happy.

The woman working at the bar came over, slid three cinnamon whiskeys towards us, and said, “These are from the three guys over there,” with a nod.

It was totally flattering, and after we drank the delicious cinnamony-delight, we let them sidle up to us and chat for about half an hour. It was fun, learning their names, talking about where we went to college (“Isn’t that super Christian?” they asked. “Yeah, it’s a Christian college.”). I was a little separate from the other girls, so most of the time I watched them interact, watched them laugh and flirt. It was almost more fun than doing it myself – no pressure, no assumptions.

Then my sister and her friend got up to go to the bathroom, leaving me alone. The boys were further away, but the dark haired one came up, smiling, saying, “Don’t want to leave you all alone.”

He told me he was going to college – for the first time at age twenty-four – to study Mechanical Engineering. He saw my VW key and made fun of me for having a “chick car.” I pointed out that I was, in fact, a chick.

The girls were only gone a moment, but it was long enough to feel good chatting with a stranger.

And then, as he was about to leave, he said something that normally would’ve shocked me.

“You’re really pretty,” he said. But then he went on: “I hope you get laid tonight.”

I couldn’t even react. It was like I didn’t really hear the words.

He wasn’t even being crass. He wasn’t trying to be insulting or embarrass me. His voice was low and kind, and his eyes were soft. He could’ve been my mother, saying “Honey, you look so beautiful!” Or my friend K telling me, “You deserve an amazing man, Cath.”

I couldn’t slap him or chastise him or say anything that would’ve told him I was a prude.

He was merely giving me a 21st-century compliment.

It’s not his fault, I guess. That’s what our culture tells us is the highest prize: laid-worthiness.

When I came home and told my mother, she looked at me, shocked. And then she laughed. She kept laughing all day, whispering the phrase under her breath.

He didn’t know who he was talking to. But still, I think there’s a soft spot in my heart for him. His dark hair, his Greekness, his easy way of talking. The compliment that flattered me and shocked me at the same time.

We are looking for such different things.

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