"So how did we end up eating pie for breakfast at five o'clock at night?" asked Freya - the Girl - who had long, dark brown hair, olive skin, dark blue eyes, long legs for five feet five inches tall, and who wore her roommate Caroline's second favorite sundress - the red one. "Good stuff" always happened when she wore this dress or so she thought - as it made her waist look extra small. She continued, "They'll be closing soon, and we've just had our first coffee. You're in the same clothes as you wore last night and your face is kind of scruffy. I'm sure that pastry chef behind the counter suspected you of an illicit or illegal act. Like he had seen your face on a wall at the police station while reporting the theft of his expensive Dutch bike" said the Girl, airily, as she liked to prove her wit.
"We're hungry. And you love pie" said the Boy, whose tenor voice was grounded and reassuring without having to try. His name was Jerome and he was what you might call, an old soul. He had dirty blonde hair, longish, choppy with some streaks from swimming and biking on the lakefront that summer. Swimming and biking made him feel young. He had brown eyes, and stood an inch above six feet. He had yellow skin, from Scandinavian blood in the sun, and long hands and fingers. He had a lot to drink the night before, there was some kind of drink special at the bar the night before, but could not recall what it was, and he was lacking sleep. His feet were filthy, and without socks, in his Converse low-tops. He hoped his feet didn't smell. Jerome was always conscious of his odor(s).
"You do, too, don't you?" she flirted back, with her indistinct Yankee accent, which sounded a lot higher this morning - nearly first Soprano - perhaps due to the Boy.
"Thank you" they said together and looked at one another strangely. Stranger than the first moment their lips unlocked and they took a good look at one another under the porch light where the mosquitos were gathering.
"For what, the pie?" he asked, wrapping his hands around the hot ceramic cup of coffee. The air conditioning was on arctic at the pie shop this late August afternoon/early Saturday evening. All Jerome could imagine was a warm fleece blanket and snuggling - with her. What were the chances this spontaneous date would continue past sunset?
"No, for exfoliating my face."
"Sorry, my scruff," he said.
"No, no, actually you saved me a trip to the salon for a facial. By the way...you're a good kisser" she said, avoiding his eyes. WHAT DO I HAVE TO LOSE AT THIS POINT? WHY NOT PUSH HIM? She thought.
He smiled. Hearing this made him happy. He wondered how badly he needed a shower.
"You sound like you're shocked," he began, "funny, how you're not hung over...when you're happy. And you smile a lot. The face gets numb."
"Well, we've known each other for years and now we're eating pie...for dinner," she explained and wondered if leaving the house without her panties on was a good idea or not. Was she asking for more of his attention? Was she willing to reciprocate?
"And I've exfoliated your face" he confirmed.
She waited a second, mulled over a few ideas and fears.
"I forgot how much I like kissing" she told him, again, not looking into his eyes, but at the slices of pie before them - one triple berry, the other chocolate pecan. She feared a blueberry skin or blackberry seed on her teeth, so she kept her lips squarely over them. She told herself she would keep rinsing the inside of her mouth with the ice water on the table, until she could excuse herself and go to the restroom and smile before a mirror. She didn't want to leave in the middle of this conversation. It was kind of...liberating.
"Me, too" he answered. It wasn't that he missed kissing, it was that their kissing felt different, and that was what he missed...feeling.
"Do you think everyone in here knows what we've been up to for the past twelve hours?" she asked as the Boy shrugged his shoulders and leaned back into the wooden chair and put his arms behind his head, hoping his arm pits didn't smell too bad. He sweated up a storm at the concert the night before.
"You mean, why now, all of a sudden?" said the Boy, asking the question that she had wanted to ask. That was it, really. Why does it take years for friends to see you as more than a friend?
"You offer to walk me home, and then..." she began, "It's on the way, you tell me. You've walked me home before, so many times before."
"It was..." the Boy interjected.
"And then...I get to the door and you stand there speechless, staring at me..." the Girl explained, remembering and refeeling it all, from just twelve short hours ago.
"I was nervous" he said.
"But, you're Jerome, you're NEVER nervous."
"You could have said no," he responded, "you could have pushed me away."
"But I didn't"
"You're my best friend's boyfriend's best friend. It's like we're related. In-laws."
"I've seen you date some real freaks, too. Remember the girl...with the piercing...down below?"
"That one had a mean left hook," he added, "pretty sure she'd rather see you naked than me."
"What's it like?" she asked, shoving a giant piece of the berry pie into her mouth, too big, and regretting this decision immediately. It was so large that she had to lick her lips and wipe her mouth with a napkin, and she could feel the sugary berry juice sticking to the side of her mouth.
"To see me naked?" the Girl asked and swallowed painfully, afraid she might cut her throat on the giant slab of crispy pie crust.
She swallowed water and hoped she wouldn't choke. The Boy did know a lot about her, but perhaps not her proclivity for calling ambulances(yet.)
"Oh...that...," he answered, so fucking glad that she asked him this question ,the best question ever, "Oh, that...Quite...nice...what...about me?" the Boy asked bravely. Why have I never asked this question before??? he thought.
The girl swallowed and finally removed the pie debris from her airway, sending oxygen back into her brain and her saliva down her sore throat.
"Surprising," she answered," in a good way."
The Boy lifted the thumbs of both hands up, under the table, and tried but failed, to hold back a smile. I've got this...he thought.
"Three years," he began, "three years and now we've..."
"Kissed, just kissed," she interrupted.
"More than our mouths" the Boy reminded the Girl.
"And snored. I'm pretty sure I snored." the Girl admitted. I'm going to be self-aware. Wait, I'm already self-aware, she thought, maybe too self-aware.
"I'll match your snore with my drool! Too many shots," the boy laughed. Snoring, drooling, okay, we've survived this, he thought. A Duece at both our houses and we can call this one...
"Last night...I know we didn't...you know...but it was still good, wasn't it?"
"What will our friends think?" she asked. Not once had their friends even attempted to make this love connection. Not once. Maybe they thought it was a bad idea. Maybe their friends knew things about the two of them, dark dark secrets...buried bodies...poor credit scores...
"They'll be pissed" the Girl said.
"For once they won't be the center of attention!" the Boy said.
"Please, Jerome. Why now? I mean we already know so much about one another..."
"As friends," the Boy finished.
"Like you know I get pissed when Caroline clogs the drain with her gobs of long hair. Or smokes cigarettes in the house when I've asked her a thousand times not to....Did you also know I'm afraid of being in the house alone without the lights on?" The girl rambled on, mentally trying to hide her manic side, which she remembered was fucking useless.
"Okay, so you're afraid of the dark?" he said, "I'm scared of Ewoks. Can't even talk about it with anyone other than my therapist."
She laughed. She thought "Return of the Jedi" sucked. A fear of Gremlins, perhaps, but cute little Ewoks?
"Did you know my first kiss was a boy named.."
"Ethan," he answered.
Great memory, she thought. He had an eye and an ear for details. Jerome's eyes and ears brought her joy - and made her feel - important.
"But it was much later and had nothing to do with you. But you learned how fragile people are from that experience."
He does have great eyes and great ears, she thought. He listens.
"How did I flip your switch, so to speak? You made some serious statements last night." And no, she wouldn't bring them up in the daylight, wouldn't embarrass him in the pie shop in case he had said them only in a moment of passion. If he were to ever say those things again, they would emerge from his mouth first, not hers. They were such lovely and special words. She did hope - fingers crossed - under the table - that she might hear them once more.
"Well, Miss Analytical," he began, hands on the table now, his body facing forward and deep toward her across the table, a predator eyeing his prey, assuming the dominant position, the higher ground just like Obi-Wan Kenobi warned Darth Vader at the end of Star Wars Episode Three. He considered grabbing her hands and holding them, but didn't want to scare her, "when I arrived at your apartment last night to meet Jeff for some beers before the show, well, you offered to make me a cup of coffee."
"That's it? Coffee?"
"And then you asked me about my mother," he said, quieting the room while they both started to feel things, awkward things, but loving things, at the same time, "you knew she was having a check up and you followed up."
"Of course," she answered seriously, "I'm so glad she's healthy."
"No, you don't get it," he argued, like this was the whole point, Freya, "every time I come to your house, it's welcoming, its safe. You offer me a cup of coffee, something to eat, like it's nineteen goddamn fifty. And you ask me about my mother..."
"My grandmother always did that..."
"It's like you know that there's this piece of me, inside of me, that's always scared about it - my mother - and you know that - you observe that - its like you know my secret. And you ask me, and you smile, and you listen. You're a stand up girl, Freya Louise. You're a stand-up woman...And I can't believe you said yes...to me."
"I said yes."
"Say it again"
"I want to be...good...like you. I just want to be near you...and your goodness."
The Girl took a forkful of pie and quickly put it in Jerome's mouth to hush him up. It was hard for her to hear so much about herself. She was supposed to be self-deprecating.
Then he kissed her, with the purple colored pie stuffed in his mouth, on her cheeks...over and over again...moving from her cheeks, to her soft neck, which smelled liked magnolias and reminded him of college down south. He felt young all over again. Still young.
The shop was closing. The suspicious, now annoyed pastry chef began to lift chairs and drop them loudly on top of the tables to get the (now)and (new)couple's attention.
A Pool Hustler's Daughter grows up in subterranean America. She dreams big, hustles daily and loves her Daddy. With empathy, fascination and grace she navigates and inhabits every tier of society; sees beauty and hope and magic in all things; respects and lives by the "mitzvah."
A Pool Hustler's Daughter calculates the trifecta payout at the racetrack, hides money on three parts of her body, has an arsenal of "Uncles," and keeps a baseball bat by the front door. She values friendship, loyalty and experiences over "things." Like her father, she seeks to learn "The secrets of the universe" and believes "Life ain't on the square." She applauds the self-made and those who learn to "overcome" their circumstances. Her door is always open for a sofa to sleep on, a hot meal, or an eager listener for a life story.