All the girls were ready to go. Now it was the waiting time. We crowded into the dorm’s common area and fidgeted and primped, using one another’s faces as mirrors. The unasked question – Do I look all right? No. Do I look good? That was what we all wanted to know, but were afraid to ask.
Thursday night Must See T.V. provided the background to all the nervous activity. Cosby, Family Ties, Cheers….After Cheers ended, we would shift, anxious and anticipating, toward the door. It was almost time for the Thursday Night Club.
As a college freshman, I was being introduced to all kinds of new social activities. This was no longer my small hometown where I had to forever worry about getting caught by someone who would tell my parents. Caught doing what? Anything. Everything.
I sat, a little distracted, facing the television. Through the slotted wall behind the t.v., I saw the door open and in he walked. Ethan. I'd been watching for him.
I can’t remember now if we made eye contact and, damn it, I can’t find any journals from that time (I think I’d briefly stopped writing), but the minute he walked through that door, I felt electricity. I knew it was silly, this guy was just some kind of player, a lady’s man. When he sang Foreigner’s I’ve Been Waiting (for a Girl Like You) to me the night before in this very room, he was just goofing around, right?
I sensed him somewhere behind us. I peeked over my shoulder and saw him standing behind the row of seats, his eyes on the television. He glanced my way and snapped a grin. He may have wiggled his eyebrows. I’ll never know for sure because I whipped my head around to face the t.v., my face burning with embarrassment. Caught looking!
The show ended and we stood and stretched and collected our coats from the table where we’d stacked them. Ethan joined our little group and asked what we were doing next. Someone mentioned the Thursday Night Club. Did he want to go with us? I think it was Melinda who asked.
He said sure. My breath caught in my throat, but I still was not going to let myself hope. What was the point? Our gaggle of coeds included Melinda with her long legs and auburn hair. Deirdre with her China doll face, blond hair and perfect breasts and Cat with her exotic Asian beauty. This guy who would have had his pick wasn’t interested in me.
I’m that girl. You know the one. Cute, not pretty or stunning or unique in looks. Easygoing until you scratched beneath the surface and found a basketful of barely-controlled compulsions. Humorous as a defense more than anything. Accommodating. Too much so. Nice. As if it isn’t enough to be a middle child, I’m a Libra, too. I’m the Rodney King of birth order and astrological signs. The world can be crashing down around us and I’m wondering aloud if we can’t all just get along.
I’m just nice to be around, but I'm not going to make your heart beat out a symphony, I'm not going to inspire poetry or wild flourishes of affection. I’m nonthreatening and non-confrontational. I don’t make sport of contradicting people. I'm neither ornamental nor darkly compelling. I'm the classic girl next door. You'd do her, but you wouldn't die for her.
Someone once described me as the best girlfriend ever. In fact, that someone was Ethan, but he used the description about twenty-three years and five months after....., but now I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I?
Anyway, I was that girl. Never the drop dead gorgeous one, never the unattainable ice queen. I was never the Queen Bee for that matter. I wasn’t exactly the side kick either. I was usually the third girl from the left with chestnut hair, friendly smile and large tits (not necessarily noticed in that order by the opposite sex). I just looked…nice. And maybe easy. None of this mattered because I was convinced that I was not the reason Ethan was joining us.
I repeated this to myself during the frigid walk to the house where the Club was in full swing. I thought it over and over as I flowed in and out of little knots of students talking, played drinking games in the breakfast nook, smoked weed from a one-hitter in the basement, and danced to the Psychedelic Furs, if you can call it dancing. It was more like dreamy swaying at that point.
This guy Ethan - tall, handsome, charming Ethan – was not interested in me. And then we were standing together making small talk while we waited for our turn at the keg. He smiled right before he leaned down and kissed me.
I awoke facing Ethan and was engrossed in memorizing his face when his dark eyes flew open startling me.
“What are you doing?”
I acted coy. “Nothing.”
"What were you doing?”
I watched his perfectly formed eyebrows knit together as he schemed to get me to tell him the truth. His skin was pale, his eyelashes framed his brown eyes giving them a wide-eyed appearance. “You were staring at me.”
I pulled back so I get a better look at him. His almost black hair was cut short and preppy, he had a long, straight nose and a strong chin that reminded me of Cary Grant’s with its subtle cleft. Without thinking I put my fingertip onto the cleft in his chin. “So what if I was. You’re not bad looking, you know.”
He tickled me until I squealed and then we settled down remembering that females weren’t supposed to spend the night in that wing of dorms.
“I’ve only been here a couple of weeks. You’re going to get me kicked out of here.”
I turned my back to him and curled into a fetal position. “Oh, well, I’ve had my fun with you….”
He tickled me again and then pulled me close.
We fell asleep again. A little later, I lay with my eyes closed and felt his warm breath on my neck as we spooned together. I became curious about the sounds outside and rose up on one elbow to look out the window. Moving the curtain aside, I squinted in the morning light and wondered what time it was. The snow that had been on the ground for a few days was shrinking back, giving way to the dead grass and mud of the worn paths around the dorm.
“The whole world is melting.”
I could feel his weight shift. “Mmmmmm. That is the cutest thing I’ve ever heard anyone say.”
I let the curtain drop back in place and turned to him.