Hey, how was the test? the message said.
Almost didn't make it, I replied. Roads are awful, took me almost two hours to get there and another two to get back. It's terrible out there!
Looks alright from my couch, he replied with a smiley face.
My phone beeped again. How was the test? it said. But it was from Luke, this time. I sighed. Were we really going to play the game where we pretend they weren't both texting me from the same apartment, and probably from the same room, if not holding their phones up in a side-to-side comparison of responses? Apparently, we were.
It was fine, once I got there. I replied. I think I did pretty well.
Congrats! he replied.
So how do you think you did on the test? Kevin said.
I sighed again. Pretty well, I think. I find out in about a month.
At this point, Luke seemed to drop out of the game, while Kevin stepped it up a notch or ten. So do you have roommates? he asked, which began an epic six-hour-long text messaging marathon of sorts, filled with the same kinds of questions and get-to-know-you banter typical of a first date. While normally I would prefer to have these kinds of conversations in person, and over an alcoholic beverage or three, I decided to go with it. After all, it couldn't hurt to know a little bit about him before we went out.
He asked if I had known anyone when I moved to Mythaca, or if I had moved here by myself. I told him I had moved here by myself, and that after moving to Boston and France on my own as well I supposed I was getting used to it, though it didn't always make it easier. He told me he had moved here by himself too, and to Michigan before that. I find it hard to meet people here, he said. It seems like everyone is already married with kids. I couldn't believe it--this guy was singing my song. So cute guys have trouble meeting people, too? I wondered to myself. Truly, the world was a baffling place.
Then he asked me how old I am. Not that it matters, he said; I'm just curious. I groaned. Earlier secret reconnaissance on my part revealed him to be a youthful twenty-seven years old, whereas I, of course, have passed the 3-0 mark. Living in this town full of college students has made me more sensitive about my age than I ever thought I would be, and so I wondered to myself if I should even answer his question. I decided that not answering would make me look even worse, and so with a sigh, I replied, Can you even ask a girl that? I'm thirty.
How old do you think I am? he replied.
I'd say you're probably about twenty-seven, I said.
You're exactly right! he replied.
I guess I'm just good at guessing ages, I said with a smile.
So, is a twenty-seven year-old with no cultural experience off your radar? he asked.
I blinked. Blink, blink. Wow. How could I respond to a question like that? And over text, no less? I replied the only way I knew how--I turned it into a joke. That depends, I said. Do you have any skills?
Well, I am really good with a bow staff, he replied back.
See! I said. I can't handle a bow staff at all.
Sounds like you might need me, he replied.
At this point Luke made a brief resurgence, asking me about my plans for the day. Up until this point I had assumed that, given Kevin's initiative, Luke had served as a sort of wingman in this scenario, providing his shyer friend with encouragement and support, something along the lines of, "Just ask her out dude, it's not that hard. Look, I'll show you..." But now I wasn't sure. Although it seemed most likely that this was still the case, and he was just continuing to make polite conversation. I answered, and then returned the question.
Just hanging out with Kev and some friends, he replied. Waiting for my brother to get here, and then we're going to get a late lunch.
Kev and friends? It was worse than I had thought. Not only were they both in the same room, as I had suspected, both tapping away on their phones to me, but now there were friends to witness the spectacle. Egad.
Now it was Kevin's turn. So, are you just staying in tonight? he asked.
Maybe, I replied. Vacation just started so I think a lot of people from school may have left town already. (Oh, the lies of the friendless and unpopular!)
Well I would invite you to come out with us tonight, he replied, but a few of my high school friends are visiting and they're a bit rough around the edges, and I wouldn't want you to judge me.
I read and re-read his message, unsure of how to respond. Did he want me to come but needed to warn me about his friends, or was this actually an unvitation? I'm not sure how to respond to that, I said. Just because I speak French doesn't make me a snob!
No, I don't think you're a snob, he said. It's just, these guys make me blush sometimes, and I would be embarrassed to expose you to them.
I wasn't going to fight him on this one; it's not like I wanted to meet his high school friends at the same time that I was meeting him for the first time.
That's fine, have a good time with your wild boys, I told him. Sounds like you'll have a fun night.
We continued the conversation for a while longer, discussing this and that. We joked and typed out smiley faces and bad puns until eventually the texts tapered off, and I assumed he had gone out for the night. Though we hadn't made any concrete plans, I felt fairly certain that I would be hearing from him again soon. And after that epic text conversation, how could I not? Though he didn't know I was leaving for Philly the next day, and I practiced my breezy response to what was sure to be his next text: Oh, I'm actually in Philly for a few days, but I'll be back Wednesday. Yeah, sure, let's definitely hang out then.
Sunday came and went without a single text, and I didn't think anything of it. Then all of Monday passed, too, and I started to get a bit nervous. Then, on Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m., my phone beeped. It was Luke.
Hi Rachel, the text said.
Hi Rachel? Seriously?
To be continued... (again)