Second Author's note: This is just a part of the story, albeit a sligtly fictionalized version, of how I met Justin, my husband. I hope I have an opportunity to write more of it.
Third Author's note: I really do love pineapple and chicken pizza. It's delicious.
“We’re here,” Kat said. She pointed to the building in front of us. It was a two-story brick building, lanterns with electric tea-lights hung from the ceiling of a covered porch. There were a few wooden tables there. A few were occupied by people sharing pitchers of beer and thin crust pizza. “This is Boondoggles.”
There were a small group of us. Kat and her boyfriend Chris, there was also a couple, who had introduced themselves to me when we had first met them in the parking lot. I forgot their names already, All I remembered was that they liked roller coasters, and were planning a road trip this summer, where they planned to drive from state to state, go to amusement parks, and ride the popular coasters, make vlogs for YouTube, and rate them on their blog.
And then there was him. We had met at the New Year’s Party a few nights ago. I wasn’t really sure what I thought off him. We had played a few board and card games together, but he had been drunk. We had “talked” a little bit, if by talking, you meant I wrote words down on a yellow legal pad, he read them and responded, and then I would write more words. I had had laryngitis that night. I remembered he liked Doctor Who and had never seen Firefly.
We walked into the bar. Kat and Chris waved to the bartender, who waved back. The hostess nodded at them. It was obvious that they were frequent diners. They led our group to a tall wooden table in the back. White fairy lights hung all around the bar, and various animal heads hung on the wall next to lit up oversized beer bottles. Kat and Chris sat at the head of the long vertical table, I sat next to Kat, he sat across from me, and the nameless couple sat to my right. The hostess handed us menus.
“It’s not New Jersey pizza,” Kat said, “But it’s not too bad for Texas.” She shrugged.
“Do you want to share a pizza?” he said, “The pizzas are pretty big here.”
“That depends… how do you feel about pineapple and chicken on pizza?”
“I hate pineapple pizza.”
“I don’t think this is going to work out,” I said, half serious, half joking, and not sure if I meant sharing a pizza, or having a future.
“Half pineapple? Half bacon? I’m okay with the chicken.”
“I can work with that,” I agreed.
The waitress came and we placed our pizza order. I also ordered a cider and a cup of maraschino cherries on the side.
“Cherries?” he asked.
“They’re good,” I said.
Next to us, the couple were having a conversation about whether or not they wanted to add Disney World to their road trip plans so they could blog about Splash and Space Mountain, for any possible families, who subscribed to their blog and or YouTube channel. On my other side, Chris and Kat were talking to each other in baby voices.
I could either… stare at my cell phone, and hope one of my friends from NJ would answer one of the frantic texts I had sent several hours ago or I could try talking to him… I hate blind dates; I have no idea why I let Kat set me up with one of her “friends.” I wasn’t like I lived here, I was from New Jersey, and I was only here for the week. I stared at my phone for a few more minutes… why did my friends at home choose tonight to have a life?
“So, what do you do?” he asked.
“Can you be more specific? Like what do I do as a job? Or what do I do in my spare time?”
“Both, I guess,” he shrugs.
The waitress comes to the table with our drinks, and a Jell-O shot sized container of cherries for me. I eagerly take the first cherry and put it in my mouth.
“I’m in school,” I say, after I swallow the cherry. “I graduate this May. I’m studying to become a special ed teacher. I also tutor and babysit almost every night.”
“Cool, I’m a teacher too.”
“What do you teach?”
“I hate math.”
“Most people do.”
“I had a lot of bad math teachers in school. I also have dyscalculia. I think my teachers focused more on my disability and because of it I didn’t really get any confidence in my math ability. I’m really good at statistics though, and I took some weird advanced math like factorials and truth tables and I was pretty good at it… So sometimes I wonder I’m actually better at math then I was left to believe.” I shrugged. I really didn’t want to talk about math all night. I needed to change the subject. “I also like hiking and camping. I like to visit national parks.”
“I’ve never been to a national park before. Which one is your favorite?”
“I’ve only been to Acadia National Park in Maine. I was in middle school. I don’t remember very much of it except there was this island. You could walk to it when the tide was low, but you had to get back before high tide came in or else you’d be trapped there.”
“That sounds pretty cool.”
“I’ve always wanted to visit Olympic National Park. That’s in Washington state. When I was in sixth or seventh grade, we had US history, and everyone was assigned a national park. Our social studies teacher had a baseball cap and everyone randomly pulled the name of the park out of the bag so people wouldn’t fight over a park. I got Olympic. I don’t remember much about my report, but I remember looking at pictures of it in a magazine and there were these beautiful waterfalls. I love waterfalls.”
“I’ve never seen a waterfall before…”
“Not even Niagara Falls? It’s like a rite of passage for every high school on the east coast to take a trip to Niagara Falls. You poor deprived thing.”
The conversation continued. More national parks were discussed. Favorite bands were compared. Embarrassing stories about our mutual friends were shared. I wasn’t sure if this was the start of a relationship, but at the very least, it could be the start of a friendship, and at that moment in time, that didn’t seem like the worst thing.
This was written for week 20 of therealljidol if you enjoyed my story, please consider voting for me, as well as for any of the other talented writers in the competition.