The Literary Girlfriend: The End of the Story?
I knew I had no chance romantically with Danielle, the hot chick in a clingy black t-shirt. She was way out of my league. So when she unexpectedly said she was coming up to my apartment, my goal was simply to not embarrass myself. I had been sick when we first met and hadn’t made a good impression. I had fumbled through my explanation when I told her why I had her undergarments. And now when we walked into my apartment, the first thing she saw was a giant roach on the wall.
It was the cockiness of the roach that ticked me off. Here it had two humans staring him down, and it just stood in place as if it had paid the rent.
“You going to do anything about that?” Danielle asked quietly.
I sighed and strode to the kitchen, grabbed a can of bug spray from a cabinet, and shook the can as I approached the roach.
“You know you can just use a shoe,” Danielle said.
“That’s for savages,” I proclaimed, aiming the can at the arrogant roach who hadn’t yet moved. But when I pressed the nozzle, it bent to the side and released no spray. It was too full to get nothing. If there had been nothing, it would have a sppfffft sound. I didn’t even get the sppffft sound. I would have peeked inside the nozzle to see what was going on, but I’d watched enough cartoons to know how disastrous that could be.
Danielle pointed to my feet and mouthed the word “Shoe.”
Instead, I smashed the can against the roach. It dropped to the floor and remained still.
“You still should have used a shoe,” Danielle said, her arms folded.
“I spent my own money on this,” I replied, dropping the can into my waste basket in the kitchen. “It’s going to kill a roach one way or another.”
Now that the roach was gone, Danielle looked around the apartment. She glanced at my television and vcr sitting on a low wooden table. She eyed the two bookshelves filled with hardcover classic literature bought from used bookstores. She shook her head at two old couches that I had purchased from some guys moving out just as I had been moving in. This looked like it was an apartment for a college student, not a young professional.
“What do you do?” Danielle asked, looking at my shoes again. There was a contrast between my clothes and my furniture.
I started walking down the hallway to my bedroom. I hoped Danielle would stay in the living room, but she followed me to the end of the dining area. I really didn’t want her to see the bedrooms.
I told her what I did for a living. It was a boring job, and people usually yawned or nodded while saying something like “That’s nice.”
Instead, Danielle said, “You must make pretty good money.”
“Yeah, I do.”
“Then what do you spend it on?” Obviously, it wasn’t on furniture.
“My student loans are paid off. My car’s paid off. So now I’m saving for a house.” I was talking loudly because I thought she’d be hanging back in the dining area, but then I realized that Danielle was a couple steps behind me, so I lowered my voice. “You can stay right there while I’m getting your stuff.”
“But I want to see what’s in your bedroom,” she said, tilting her head and sticking her lips out.
“A bed and a dresser and a walk-in closet.”
“No, the other one.” Ah, the second bedroom was a mystery to her. Really, it was just stacks of books piled up because I was too cheap and lazy to buy more shelves, and there were a few thousand comic books in long white storage boxes.
“I’m sorry,” I explained, shutting the mystery bedroom’s door just in case Danielle got too bold. “Even I don’t want to look in there most of the time.”
“Not even a peak?” she asked with a whisper.
“Just stay right there,” I said as I went into the main bedroom. I left that door open so I could see out of the corner of my eye if Danielle got too curious. I stepped into the walk-in closet and grabbed a shoe box from the corner shelf. When I presented the shoe box, Danielle was where I had left her in the hallway and the second bedroom door was still closed.
“Shoes?” she said, but the box was too light and when she shook it (I laughed when she did that and she frowned at me) there was no sound. Then it dawned on her. “Are you serious?”
“I’m sorry. I thought you’d want me to keep them seperated from my stuff,” I said. “Maybe I should have had them gift wrapped.”
I hadn’t wanted to simply hand Danielle her three undergarments back. That would have just seemed classless. She scooped the panties out of the shoe box and handed it back to me. For some reason, that almost offended me. “I’ll… I’ll walk you out,” I said.
“Thank you,” she said. I didn’t know her well enough to judge, but she sounded sincere. She walked slowly so that I couldn’t help but almost catch up, and her arm brushed up against mine again. My imagination had to be messing with me.
When we reached the living room, Danielle stopped and faced me. “Have you read all of these?” she asked, pointing to my bookshelf.
“Yes, of course,” I said. I had read a few of them completely, but I had at least glanced through all of them. I had read enough about each one to hold a quick conversation before I’d need to change the subject.
“You’ve read Moby Dick?” she said.
“Yes. I didn’t enjoy it, but I read it.”
“You’ve read…” She squinted at a large volume at the top of the shelf. “You’ve read The Brothers K… The Brothers K….”
“I don’t know how to pronounce it either,” I said. “When I get to those long Russian names, I just change them to Smith and Jones in my head.”
“I like books,” Danielle said. “But I didn’t go to school… college.”
“So, what do you do?” I asked.
Danielle paused and narrowed her eyes at me. “I dance at Nero’s.”
I didn’t know why, but I knew this was a pivotal moment. Nero’s was a topless club, one of the most prominent in the city. It wasn’t as sleazy as most, but still, it was a topless club. Danielle studied my face, probably judging me by what I was about to say. Mentioning Nero’s would usually bring a smirk to my face, but I quickly tightened my mouth. I had to think of the right response, nothing too patronizing. The silence was about to turn awkward as I thought about what to say. I really needed to think of something to say.
“You probably make more money than I do,” I declared, somehow maintaining my straight face.
Danielle gazed out the patio window to a view of the apartment across the sidewalk. It looked exactly like mine.
“I have some good nights,” she said quietly. Then before I could change the subject, she turned to me again with a startlingly wide smile. “Jimmy, it was nice to meet you.”
She extended her hand (the one NOT holding her undergarments), and I was relieved that she wasn’t going for the insincere hug. I hate the insincere hug. As we shook, she said, “You’re cute. And you’re fun to talk to.”
“Thanks,” I said. She called me cute? And fun to talk to? I get complimented for several things, like being cooperative, reliable, and a good listener, but being fun to talk to was a new one. I had such a difficult time grappling with that that Danielle was out the door before I could get an appropriate response out.
I muttered a lame “It was good to meet you too” but I don’t think she heard. She was already halfway down the steps. I watched as she power walked in her tight jeans and black t-shirt down the sidewalk back to the parking lot. I couldn’t even enjoy the view because I kept wrestling with the last part of our conversation. Nero’s? Cute? Fun to talk to?
Once I cleared my head, I realized that she talked to guys for a living. She probably told every guy she met that he was cute and fun to talk to. I told myself to get over it. I might have been cute on a good day, but I probably wasn’t fun to talk to. Besides, I wasn’t going to see Danielle again. I didn’t go to topless clubs. I didn’t have anything against them except they were expensive. I couldn’t save my money if I was blowing it on strippers and overpriced beer. Danielle was a hot chick who wore clingy t-shirts (when she wasn’t working), and we weren’t going to see each other again.
As far as I knew, that was the end of the story.
To be continued in… The Literary Girlfriend: Football Season.
Or to read “The Literary Girlfriend” from the beginning, start here.