The Literary Girlfriend: Small Talk
Despite being a writer, I’m not a good conversationalist. Talking to regular strangers is difficult enough for me, but this situation was really awkward. I’d been holding on to this hot chick’s underwear for almost a month (not literally holding it), and she was walking with me to my apartment to get them. In the meantime, I had to talk to her.
Politics and religion were out of the question. We’d already discussed football a few weeks ago. I refuse to talk about the weather. That left… silence?
I figured the hot chick in her clingy black t-shirt would want to keep a slight distance from me as we walked through the apartment complex parking lot. After all, I was a strange guy (from her point of view) with her undergarments. If I had been her, I would have thought of myself as a strange guy; I would have kept myself a couple arm length’s from me. But she strolled right next to me. She walked so close to me that our arms touched. I didn’t mind. It was a cool feeling, her smooth brown arm brushing up against my sleeve, but I thought she’d want her space.
When we reached the sidewalk, I stepped to the right edge, and she took the center, and our arms kept brushing. This couldn’t be right. I thought about moving off the sidewalk altogether, but that seemed too much. If she were determined to brush up against me as we walked, then that was her issue, not mine.
“I’m really glad I ran into you,” I said. “It will be good to get your undergarments off my hands.” I paused. “Not that I ever had them on my hands… or on any part of me. I mean that I want to be absolved of all responsibility for your undergarments.” I paused again. “I don’t want to feel responsible for your clothes.”
“I know what absolved means,” the hot chick said gently.
Ouch! Sometimes I over-explain things that don’t need explaining. Here I was worried about the hot chick thinking I was a pervert, and instead she thought I was condescending. At least that was the lesser of two evils, but not by much. I needed to change the subject.
“Hey, thank you for running my clothes through a second cycle in the dryer,” I said. “That was very thoughtful of you.”
“Oh, that,” she said, lowering her voice. “Some fat mom was giving me the evil eye when I took my clothes out, so I started a new cycle just to piss her off. I hope you made her wait.”
There had been only one working dryer at the time, so starting a new cycle would have meant 40 more minutes of waiting for the mom.
“Yeah, I got there late,” I said. In reality, I had taken my clothes out maybe five minutes after the hot chick had left, and the fat mom had grabbed the dryer right away, but I didn’t have the heart (or fortitude) to tell the hot chick in a clingy t-shirt that she had paid for the fat mom’s dryer cycle. She was better off not knowing.
“I probably shouldn’t have done that to her,” the hot chick said. “My friends say that I’m too vindictive.” She nudged my ribs with her elbow. When I made eye contact, she gave me a toothy smile, the first real smile of our conversation. “That means evil.”
I couldn’t tell if she was kidding or not, so I just nodded. “I don’t see you around much. Do you live here?”
“Kind of,” she said. “But I’m moving out. Like I said, some crazy shit’s going on in my life.”
“Crazy shit?” I asked, fishing for clarification.
“Crazy shit,” she repeated, meaning that she wasn’t giving out any more information.
“Crazy shit,” I said, acknowledging that I understood.
I thought she was going to say “Crazy shit” again, but instead she said, “You live in one of those two-bedroom apartments?”
My place was in an eight apartment unit with four apartments on each side. My apartment was an upper level, and we had just reached the stairs leading up to my entrance. “Yeah,” I said.
“How much do these run?”
After I told her my monthly rent, she asked, “How do you and your roommate split that? Those second bedrooms suck.”
“I don’t have a roommate,” I said, motioning her to walk up the steps before me.
“Interesting,” she said as she brushed her arm against me again. “What do you do with the extra room?”
I kept my answer as vague as possible as I followed her up the steps. “Storage. I have a lot of stuff.”
“What kind of stuff?” she asked.
We had just reached my door, and I wasn’t ready to answer her question yet. “Hey, I usually introduce myself before I let strangers come into my apartment,” I said. “My name is Jimmy.”
‘I’m Danielle,” she said, extending her hand. We shook. Her grip was firm and dry. Mine was a bit clammy, so I kept the handshake short and hoped she didn’t notice.
I unlocked the door and let Danielle enter first. I was about to explain why my apartment was so sparsely furnished when Danielle exclaimed:
“Jesus Christ, that’s a big roach!”
At least I wasn’t going to have to explain my furniture situation. And I didn’t have to worry about making small talk anymore.
To be continued in… The Literary Girlfriend: The End of the Story?
And to read “The Literary Girlfriend” from the beginning, start here.