A continuation of previous 'crush' episodes...
I accumulated the nerve. It took a long time, some serious counseling with my male friends and a little Red Bull, but I picked up my shellular phone and pressed the appropriate speed dial button to call Luce. I'd only called her a couple of times - certainly not often enough to deserve one of my nine prized speed dial buttons - but with some people you want the facility of dialing to be so pronounced that you haven't a chance to think twice.
As the phone rang, I began to think that maybe I should have thought better. I thought twice about thinking twice. My mind raced with questions as difficult to answer as they were relevant. What should I say? Why was I calling? Why should Luce care? What if she told me to go moon myself? What does it mean to moon oneself? Is that even appropriate?
I wished for a piece of paper just so I could scribble or make a snazzy notation or do something intelligent. Absent a writing utensil, my hands were left to tremble, exposed. Like an Alfred Hitchcock movie. My throat felt dry and clearing it made an unmanly gulping sound. I made a mental note not do do that while talking with Luce.
I heard a clicking sound, like someone picking up the line and then, with a background of several voices forming a cacophony like that of a party or other large gathering, I heard Luce's voice.
"Hello?" Boy, it was good to hear her voice again.
"Hey, Luce, it's me. You know, the guy, well, the guy you have a crush on." I scrunched my face in frustration. That was lame! Maybe I should start writing for the next Lindsay Lohan movie. My dialogue skills had to improve if I wanted to get anywhere. The guys around me shook their heads. Move on! "Anyway, I --"
"Wait, I can't hear you, let me move away..." Luce interrupted me, and I heard the voices in the background fade away. "You were saying?"
Grateful for the chance at redemption and eager to show Luce that I could conversate without making myself into a total beast of burden, I began again.
"Hey Luce, it's me, the guy from school. We went out and it didn't go so well, remember?" More scrunching. More shaking. Why did I have to bring that up?
"My reception here is awful. I've got, like, no bars. Say again?"
Sigh of grateful providence! Another chance.
"Luce? Luce?" I waited for an answer. After a fair pause I thought maybe the call had been dropped. Only a trace remnant of background voices kept me from hanging up and redialing. Then I heard Luce's voice again.
"You've just been punked. Leave a message at the tone."
The beep of her voicemail was like a buzzer on a bad game show. What did it mean to be punked? Was it an overt reference to "punk" rock or "punk" fashion or maybe something Ashton Kutcher would think up? I may not have known what a "punked" was, but I knew it hurt to be punked.
My fumblings continued despite the fact that the voicemail was now recording. For all of you who have never witnessed me thinking - which is probably all of the faithful few, especially those of you who know me best - when I am pensing through difficult questions, I tend to make unpremediated mumbling sounds, like a culinary connaisseur at a buffet line.
I stopped the involuntary thinking noises and left a message:
"Hey Luce, it's me, the guy you have a crush on. Well, used to have a crush on before you blew your top in the restaurant. But we're cool, right? Well maybe? Like Brad and Jen? Anyway, I'm calling to see if you want to go out again, with me. I mean, you probably want to go out again - I didn't scare you that badly, did I? - but would you deign to go with me? I promise not to lecture you or look dumb, although it will be hard, because looking dumb is what I do best: I get paid to do it at work and it's state of nature at school. Um. [EXTENDED PAUSE] Anyway, I thought we could go to the movies, just you and me. It would be a date. Not a friend date, but a romantic one. Like, a guy and a girl going to the movies together so they can sit next to each other for two and a half hours but never have to make conversation. Does that sound terribly incongruous or do you think you could swing it? You have my number, please call me."My male advisors who were listening in as I left the message, making emphatic hand gestures I'm sure they thought were helpful, rushed to give me feedback the moment I hung up.
"OK, solid, a little sappy, but solid."
"Dude, what were you thinking with the 'Um...' routine? There's no way she'll get that!"
"Next time, just leave your number."
Luce called back a few minutes later and said she loved the message. I stuck my tongue out at the guys and figured they were just jealous because none of them have been on a date since Chuck Heston became president of the NRA.
We're on. Our date will be at the theater next week. We are catching the Bourne Ultimatum premier, and I am more than a little nervous. I'm nervous about Luce, too.