by jamesmerolla

Emily is beautiful. She is every bit a woman, fully bloomed into the comfort of her body, with a sparkle of innocence in the corners of her smile. In her life she has probably seen more men make fools of themselves in front of her that she believes all men are naturally clumsy.

And I’m a 32 year old man about to ask a 19 year old girl out on a date. And not only did I have a pretty good idea of how old she was, but I thought I had a good chance with her.

If you’ve ever met someone who thought they were righteous, you’ve probably met someone who was too stupid and desperate to even notice they’re wrong.

In reality it was more likely she had already mistaken me for that friend of her dad’s she met that one time and never heard from again, than she’d say yes to anything I asked.

But, I had convinced myself that in all our prior minglings over a counter there were shared moments when we stopped everything to recognize each others presence. These were the smallest of sparks, but no less significant. I figured I’d make her day by asking her on a date.

I paid for my ticket, and watched her bite her lip as she waited for it to print out. She tore it off the printer, then handed it to me with my change. It was her routine. She has it so well memorized she didn’t even lose her mark in the thought I interrupted. She’d forget what I look like the moment she sat back down and stared at a comic book she’s only half reading.

But, just as she was about to sink back into her uncomfortable chair the words left my mouth in one crowded sentence.

This is kind of weird but do you want to go out some time.

She didn’t actually hear what I said. She merely heard a jumbled string of sounds in varying pitches, that to her ears, was enough of a resemblance of the English language to get her attention.

Excuse me?

This was a problem because I had memorized exactly how I would deliver that line, and I was prepared for a wide array of responses, from the one where she kisses me through the glass of the ticket booth, to the one, where she says no, but finds me so charming, what the heck, decides to go out with me anyway.  I had not prepared for her actual response in rehearsals.

I was getting more and more transparent with every second that limped by, until finally I forced it out. This time it was delivered with all the grace and confidence of a grade school choir.

This is weird…um… you want to do something some time….like go out or something?

A brief look of confusion flashed across her face, before she tilted her head and smiled at the fool.

Aw… I’m sorry, I have a boyfriend.

I grew more nervous, and my hands started to want to talk for me. I folded them and unfolded them. She noticed.

Oh, that’s too bad.

                Yeah, sorry.

                Okay, well, have a good night.

                Enjoy your movie.

In hindsight, there was a light wisp of sarcasm in her voice when she said “enjoy your movie.”

Emily later admitted to the sarcasm, though I suspect she didn’t remember.

The sarcasm was a subtle way of telling me I’m an idiot for thinking I should ask her out, but I didn’t hear it until the next day.

A few days later I went back to the movie theater. She was there again.

She looked up at me with a Mona Lisa smile that’s only seen when a girl knows something about you that you wish she didn’t.

I paid for my ticket. She ripped it off and handed it to me with my change. I thanked her and walked away. I felt a light spring in my step as I started thinking I had won part my dignity back by looking her in the eye, when her voice cut through me.

Enjoy the movie.

It made me like her more.