Tuesday

Ted+Kelly, Part 7: Feigned Disinterest

It's been so long, I barely remembered where I left off.  But we're back in the saddle now.  This is a calm "episode" of Ted+Kelly but it leads up to a whopper in the next chapter.

In case you're new to this fun:
Part 1 (In which you wonder how this story could end the way it did.)
Part 2 (In which I'm suddenly available.)
Part 3 (In which the descriptions of bowel issues leave you dumbfounded.)
Part 4 (In which you're suddenly as in love with Ted as I was.)
Part 5 (In which I send signals so mixed, they should be canned and marketed as nuts.)
Part 6 (In which Ted begins to become a fixture in the life of Kelly)

*****

I stared down at my planner in disgust.  I had so much going on the next several days and a line of tasks crossed off, completed in the previous two days, yet today was virtually empty.  I had gone into my office for an hour that morning to do what needed to be done.  My class that morning had been cancelled to work on a group project my group had already completed.  I had a deluge of exciting tasks and responsibilities coming up in the next couple weeks and days but today, for a while anyway, was blank.

It would be the perfect day to do something fun.  My thoughts immediately turned to Ted.  Ted... I hadn't heard from him in the past day or so.  It was a strange gap in communication.  Why hadn't he called or sent a text message recently.  Odd.

I knew he was home.

Well, I mean, he would normally be home now.  While I'm in class.

I mean, he'd be home.  Unless he wasn't.  Unless he was with someone else.

I had to stop that sort of silly thought process.  He wasn't with another girl.  And even if he was, so what?  I was going on a mission.  And I was busier than a one-armed paper hanger.

But still, he hadn't called in a while.  So why didn't I just send him a text to say hi and see what he was up to?  No harm in that.

"Hey :)  How are you?  What's going on?"  Light.  Friendly.  Playing it totally cool ... No, ACTUALLY AM totally cool.

He answered a few minutes later. "Hey.  I'm good.  I'm watching a movie."

He was watching a movie.  Oh.  That's fun.  What, like, at home?  Or at a theater? Was he with people or just hanging out alone... not inviting me to join him?

I decided to just call him.  He answered after a few rings. "Hey, Kelly.  What's going on?"

"Oh, nothing really.  My class got cancelled and I'm surprisingly unbusy right now.  Just hanging out at my apartment."  That (silently) screamed "INVITE ME TO WATCH YOUR MOVIE!" ... right?

He took no cue, though. "Niiice.  I love when there's nothing going on."

"So what movie are you watching?" I asked.

"Um, I think it's called 'My Fair Lady.' It's a musical or something.  It's Ben's and I've never seen it before so I thought I'd see if it was any good." He laughed at himself a little.

He was either truly at his apartment, dozens of yards away from mine, watching a musical, or he was messing with me because he knew I enjoyed musicals.

"Really?  I love it!  It's so good.  Do you love Audrey Hepburn in it?  She actually kind of annoys me in it at times, which is basically sacrilege to admit, but she's supposed to so maybe it's OK."  I decided that came out too excited but whatever.

Ted didn't seem to notice my fervor of words. "It's pretty good.  I'm not following it perfectly but it's aight."

Did he? - did he really just say "aight" like a gangster, as if it's appropriate to say ever, let alone in regards to Audrey Hepburn?  And WHY wasn't he inviting me over to watch with him?!

"Yeah... well, cool."  I paused.  He didn't say anything.  The moment hung like droopy wallpaper in need of more paste.  "Sooo," I found myself saying, "aaare you going to ask me to watch it with you or what?" There.  Take that!

He sort of laughed to himself.  Was this a laughing matter? "Oh, yeah.  Yeah, of course," he said in a mock-cool tone.  "Hey Kelly, want to come watch 'My Fair Lady' with me? I'm already like a half hour into it but you're welcome to come over."

Did he really want me to come or was he saying this because I basically told him to?  I didn't care.  It was Ted, I didn't think he would say something he didn't mean or invite me to do something - no matter if he was coerced or not - if he didn't really want to.

"Oh, watch with you?  Well, yeah, I guess I could come watch with you.  Interpret.  Make sure you're not lagging behind on the plot," I replied.

I'm in!

What was the DEAL?  He hadn't called me in like EIGHT DAYS (exaggeration, but still!) and then he didn't even come right out and invite me to watch a movie with him that he obviously knew I'd adore?  Ew.  Boys are weird.  And inconsistent.  And... YAY!  I was going to spend the morning watching a movie with Ted rather than being at work or class.

I put my phone and chapstick into my pocket and walked past the 3 buildings separating mine and Ted's.  I climbed the stairs and took a breath outside his door.  I knocked.  Waited.  I knocked again.  Nothing.  So I balled up my fist and pounded with the fleshy end of my hand.

"It's open!" I heard Ted call from the kitchen.  The kitchen! - right inside the door.  Was he DEAF?

"Hey," Ted said warmly, as he stood at the sink, filling his cup with water.

"Heeey," I replied, skeptical.  Who was this stand off-ish man?

We exchanged small talk and eventually plopped down on the couch, in movie mode.  I was excited to see Ted's impression of "My Fair Lady," but mostly I was ready for some chill time with this guy who, though currently seemed aloof, I really enjoyed spending time with.  And as he hit play, I smelled it.  His cologne.  It smelled fresh.  Maybe he wasn't so unaffected after all.

Around intermission, Ben came home with a couple of grocery bags.  "Hey guys.  You look awfully cozy there.  How about a tomato sandwich?"  Ben was also so kind and willing to share.  But, why tomatoes?

Ted responded eagerly. "Heck yes!  That sounds awesome."  Of course.

"Um, I'm not really a raw-tomato person." I squeaked, with a grimace, knowing to expect backlash.

"What is a raw-tomato person," Ben asked.

The imagery of a person made entirely of raw tomato bits was humorous but it was not at all what I intended. "You know, one of those people who just, eats tomatoes... on things or just, like an apple or, like... ever." I explained that to the best of my ability and as thoroughly as I could.

Ben smiled greatly and Ted looked rather appalled. "You don't like tomatoes.  At all?" Ted was flabbergasted.

"No, I like them a lot.  Cooked. Stewed.  In things. Soups. As sauce.  Ketchup even, on occasion.  Just not... uncooked."

Ben wasn't convinced. "OK, but raw tomatoes are taken to an entirely new level when sandwiched in between two layers of eggy challah bread.  I'll make you one and if you don't eat it, I know someone else will.  Me. Or Ted.  Or Ted and me." Ben chided me gently and I agreed.

Moments later I stared down my first tomato sandwich with apprehension but a gut full of good intentions.  I had once hated zucchini and  made up  my mind to eat it every chance I had until, eventually, it became one of my favorite vegetables.  Just behind broccoli.  And why - WHY - was Ted finding out all my least favorite foods? Spicy anything.  Raw tomatoes.  I was not a picky person but I surely wasn't showing well.

A drip of tomato-watered-down mayonnaise escape from the corner of Ted's mouth. He caught it with his knuckle and licked it off.  "Mmm, Ben, this is so good.  You're so awesome."

I picked up the sandwich as I was gaped at.  I cautiously opened my mouth and proceed to take a hearty bite, as anything worth doing is worth doing well.  I chewed through the dense, sweet bread and it mingled effortlessly with the fresh, aromatic tomato.  It did not do bad things.  I didn't want to chuck it or spit it out.  I wanted to swallow it.  And I wanted another bite!

"Benjamin Peterson," I exclaimed before swallowing. "This is the best tomato sandwich I've ever had." Swallow.  "And the first one.  But the best!" Ted had another.  I did too.  But, half, because, still, it was raw tomato.

We all laughed and after his sandwich making skills were put aside, Ben excused himself as Ted and I refocused on the movie, closer and cozier on the couch than before.  All too quickly, the movie was over and I knew it was time to return to 100 other things.

"Thanks for having me over for some Audrey Hepburn and tomato goodness.  Who knew the two were such a delightful combination?" I meant it, too.

"They wouldn't have been, without the perfect company," Ted said with his patented corny smile. "Are you going to be at LFAB at the institute?" Lunch For a Buck?  Yes, I told him, I would of course be there.

Ted hugged me on the door step and, I was certain, watched me until I was out of view.  I didn't see him so much as felt his gaze until I knew I was out of sight.

For a girl who had been pulling teeth to get invited to watch a movie, I was sure that had turned out better than I had thought it would.

2 comments:

Heather said...

You are a good writer!

Jewel said...

Hahaha I know I'm late to comment, but I had to come back and reread this because it's so fun!!! It's even better the second time around!