a brief history of fear
I really had missed him.
After he helped me get an A in that awful French history class, and we were friends, and then he was away in Lyon for a whole year, I missed him and I told him that.
So when he came back, we were hanging out a lot, and of course we kissed. And then we hung out a few times in restaurants, just the two of us. So, sure, we were dating. But then we were walking one day, by that bar where you had to be 21 and water burst through the ceiling that night with Harper and I was too drunk to stop playing pool and notice, and he said,
“Can I ask you a question?”
And I just knew it was going to be The Talk I had been dreading so much, but you can’t really say that someone can’t ask you a question. So I started to prepare my oh-it’s-fun-but-I-value-your-friendship-so-no-you-can’t-be-my-boyfriend speech and said yes.
“I just wanted to make sure I was being a good boyfriend.”
That wasn’t actually a question, but that’s not the point. The point is that I was shocked and the words I had ready piled up in my throat like when a train slams on breaks because there’s a cow in the way and the cars go all sideways and off the tracks, and I was so unprepared that I said yes again.
And then he was my boyfriend for a while even though it was sort of an accident. And one night he took me to dinner and said it was to celebrate our month anniversary, but I’m not sure what it was the anniversary of. And anniversaries should only be for years because of the etymology. But anyway, it was after the whole boyfriend thing but before the month-iversary when this awful thing happened.
I was sitting quietly waiting for him to get off the phone. And he just handed it to me, and said, “She wants to talk to you.”
It was the most terrifying thing; I had to talk to his stepmom, and I’m pretty sure she told me not to break his heart, which is a promise I’m not usually prepared to make.
So I’m a little scared of moms. I mean, moms are almost always nice and cute and they make you dinner, but there’s just something about boys’ moms in this context that makes them frightening. My high school boyfriend’s mom was so scary-- confrontational and unwilling to listen to logic and seemingly the type who would scratch or bite you in a fight. I hid from her at the grocery store once less than two years ago. David’s mom was scary in a different way-- smug and disapproving with her lips all pressed together. I’m pretty sure she never spoke directly to me, and she might never have even looked at me even though I always tried to fix my hair before I saw her. But for the most part, I never meet moms because I never get that far into things, and even if I do get that far I’m rarely dating a boy whose parents live in the vicinity so I just don‘t have to deal with it.
Ted had a really lovely activity planned, but mentioned that we’d have to see his mom, just for a moment. It’s purely logistical, and the words “quick” and “painless” might have been used, but that’s hard to believe.
I am so so bad at this sort of thing. Tell me you need to introduce me to Brad Pitt or the Dalai Lama or Martha Stewart, and I’ll be fine. But this-- this is something different altogether.
“If I have to cancel tomorrow it’s because I’m sick; my tonsils are enormous. For real. It won’t just be because I’m afraid of your mom.”
p.s. i named him ted. and this is more how i sound in real life.