A few weeks ago, I told you about how Nate and I met. He even chimed in with the story of our first date and his attempts to woo me with Baja Fresh. Well, much to my surprise, there was a second date! And it was just about as awkward as the first…
I showed up at Nate's dorm a couple hours before his afternoon practice, so he took me to the athletics office to show me around. I should mention here that I'm not a sports fan at all. I was totally uninterested in all the trophies, medals, and NCAA championship awards displayed throughout the offices. The thing that amazed me most about the athletic department was their golf carts. Oh glorious golf carts. We attended a really, really big school – both in terms of population and actual distance. The campus was so spread out, it took me a good 20 minutes to walk from the dorms to any one of my classes. So anyone with access to one of the highly-coveted facility golf carts was like royalty around this place. You can imagine my glee when Nate slyly pulled out a key and got the nearest cart going. In that one instant, I understood why girls always follow the athletes around, drooling as if they're giant cream pies. These guys had the hook up.
He took me on a little tour of the campus, making up odd and completely untrue trivia for each building we passed. “Bunche Hall used to be right next to the freeway, but its mirrored windows were so distracting that it caused dozens of accidents. So they attached four massive helicopters to it, airlifted the entire building to the other side of campus, and plopped it down right here.” I'm not gonna lie; it was actually incredibly romantic. Until we smelled smoke. Turns out, Nate had forgotten to take the parking brake off and we stopped just in time to be engulfed in a thick, billowing cloud of brake death. Coughing weakly, Nate said he had to head to practice and we should meet up after.
A couple hours later, we'd both nearly recovered from the smoke inhalation. Undeterred, we continued our campus adventure and headed to the pool. Which was locked. Of course. Nate got that sly look again (at this point I should have been afraid of those looks, but I actually found it incredibly sexy) and started walking to the dumpsters on the other side of the rec center. “Um, why are we walking through the trash?” I questioned.
“This,” he explained, “Is not only the trash area. It's also the service entrance…which apparently someone forgot to lock.” He gestured at a gate behind the trash bins, which stood completely ajar. “Ladies first.”
I entered and found myself standing in a scene right out of a movie. The moon was full and glinting off the dark pool, and two empty lawn chairs waited right across from where we stood, looking out onto the manicured lawn. I sat in one, suddenly aware of the romantic turn this date was taking. I contemplated if perhaps he would confess his undying love for me. Maybe we'd talk about our hopes and dreams and he'd slowly make his move. Surely, sneaking into the campus pool late at night wasn't something that two completely platonic friends did, was it? And then Nate did something incredible. Something I will never fully understand.
He walked up, grabbed the lawn chair that was touching mine, and dragged it about four feet away.
He plopped into the chair as I stared, baffled. Wow, I thought, this guy is so afraid to make physical contact with me that he had to haul his chair halfway across the yard. Obviously he just thought of me as a friend. I was mystified and contemplated what it was about me that so repulsed him. Was my breath bad? My teeth yellow? I'm too much of a tomboy? (Much later, Nate would explain that he yanked the chairs apart because he thought I just wanted to be friends, and he didn't want me getting annoyed by the romance of the situation). We did end up talking a bit about our backgrounds, our families, and what we wanted to do with our lives, but the mood was definitely changed. I was frustrated with myself for misinterpreting things.
He walked me near where my car was parked afterwards and I turned to say goodbye. I remember thinking that I absolutely should not look like I wanted him to kiss me. I'd already probably made a total fool of myself flirting with him, keeping him on the phone for hours at a time, and likely making him think I was obsessed with him. Give him a casual hug goodbye, I told myself, but do NOT linger awkwardly.
Well, I certainly did not linger. Not at all. My nerves got the best of me and I ended up cutting him off mid-sentence, blurting, “Well-I-had-a-great-time-so-nice-to-see-you-again-okay-bye!” and thrusting myself into his arms for the fastest, most bizarre speed-hug in the history of the world. And it didn't end there. Totally aware of how neurotic I was being, I abruptly turned – not lingering! – and bolted in the direction of my car. I literally ran, sprinting away from him. You're such an idiot, oh my god, where did you even COME from?! I beat myself up under my breath, turning just in time to see him laughing out loud, looking totally confused.
To my utter shock and surprise, he called the next day for a third date friendly get-together hang out session undefined rendezvous.