We met at the bus stop.
Well, we didn’t meet, exactly. But that’s where I first saw her. Similar, really.
She was very pretty. Her unnaturally bright red hair hung low over soft brown eyes, and a little curl at her mouth’s corner suggested she was far more entertained by Monday morning than the rest of us. I was intrigued, but although she seemed approachable it was early and I’m only loudmouthed on paper.
Still, as we got on the 10 a.m. W line together, I started to think.
“Hey,” I pondered to myself, “precious few classes start at the half hour, and only some of those take place on the southern end of campus. Perhaps she’s in my lab?”
To my sleep-addled brain this seemed perfectly reasonable, and was an awesome possibility. A whole host of daydreams took shape.
I decided I’d make sure to be in her group. Partners, perhaps. We’d get to know each other during the class – a fate difficult to avoid in a five-hour lab. Based solely on her hair color, I’d decided she must be my type: a fun outgoing girl, someone who might be equally at home in an Experimental College dance class, on the ARC climbing wall or playing beer pong on a Friday night. And of course she’d be smart – her predicted presence in my course essentially guaranteed that. In my head, I’d found the perfect woman.
Bear in mind that, fantasies aside, I still hadn’t even said “hi.” But as she stayed on board while we passed several campus stops, it all seemed more and more likely.
We’d start talking about her cartilage piercing, I reasoned. I’d been thinking of getting one, and I could use it as an “in.” I’d show her my tattoo, she’d explain hers, and things would flow wonderfully as I asked her to grab a cup of coffee after a couple days.
As far as I was concerned, I’d woo her with remarkable aplomb. I’d toss out a joke here and a story there, all painting a portrait of an easygoing dude, but hinting at a deep ocean of melancholy just beneath the surface. By the time she realized it was all a sham she’d have gotten to know me, and she’d be hooked.Back in the real world, Wondergirl and I had gotten off at the same terminal, and were headed for my lab building. The future was as good as written.
A second date would lead to a third, fourth, sixth, tenth. She’d meet my roommates; I’d charm hers. I’d get the all-important tentative friend-approval. Months later after a particularly raucous party, she’d look me in the eye and politely decline my offer of a ride home. The next morning she’d see flowers and breakfast-in-bed along with the requisite Advil. We’d meet each others’ parents, and hers would be mighty impressed with my Ph.D. plans. It would all flow so smoothly.
Things were looking up. My red-headed dream date had taken all the same turns I had, heading toward an out-of-the-way neck of campus. I was almost smug. To where else but my class could she be aimed?
We’d date steadily until graduation, then head south to fulfill our mutual post-grad aspirations. Perhaps we’d get a small studio apartment and decorate it with the paintings I was now so sure she could produce; surely a girl with such thoughtful eyes must be artistic. We could marry during grad school – I pictured a service on the beach followed by a reception located directly west, in the warm waters near San Diego.
As we neared my classroom my mind’s eye produced our children, Jessica and Anubis. My career in biotechnology could support them through college while the redhead and I grew older together. As we gathered gray hairs we would retire to the North Coast to enjoy a peaceful retirement. It all made such perfect sense to me, that day at 10 a.m.
I was feeling pretty happy as we approached the door. I darted ahead and held it for her, and she walked right on past, headed for the room down the hall. I was crushed.
I hate the first day of class.
Cade Grunst The California Aggie University of California – Davis