Somedays I wake up wanting to write the Great American Novel. Most days I’m just too lazy and untalented, so I’ll settle for a decent short story. I don’t know if this is decent, but it’s at least short. And I think it’s a story.
She smelled familiar.
It hit me, or rather, quite literally, my nose, while sitting in a movie theater, sharing a box of Sour Patch Kids. She didn’t like the green ones. Or maybe it was yellow. One of them, even though I’m not sure I can tell a difference; to me, they all taste like sour, if that’s even a flavor. Probably not, I guess.
We’d been hanging out for a few weeks by then, spending as much of our days together as possible. Same with our evenings. I held out hope for our nights. Until then, though, the hours of 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (maybe midnights on the weekends, if lucky) would suffice, the non-date dates ending with high-five or a fist bump, anything for physical contact, desperate as that might seem. Some nights, when caution found itself out of mind/out of sight, we’d shake hands, the unspoken agreement being that our hands could linger a bit longer than necessary, our fingers anxiously feeling out for each other, grasping for signs that the other was just as nervous (or, hopefully, excited).
But at least we were together, which is the primary part of the dating battle — finding someone you can somehow convince to do something with you somewhere at sometime. She enjoyed spending time with me, and I with her, so the “someone” part proved relatively easy. The trickier subjects were the other “somes.”
It should have been easy, and under other circumstances, well, I guess it would have been, but it’s never been that way for me. There’s always a catch, always a caveat, always a fine print. For her, it was me. Or, more accurately, it was my ex-wife. Actually, it wasn’t the ex-wife so much as it was the fact that I had an ex-wife, one, I might add, whom I had only been divorced from for a matter of weeks.
I didn’t want a girlfriend. Girlfriends only lead to fiancées, which only lead to wives, which only lead to ex-wives. I tried that route. Didn’t like it. Instead, I wanted companionship, and that she provided.
“She” was Angela.
Only I didn’t know that at the time. What I knew then was that we were two people fast becoming best friends who kept finding ways to make our schedules intertwine, finding excuses to visit each other, finding ourselves running out of reasons and no longer caring.
She was my girlfriend. I just didn’t know it. Hell, I didn’t even know I liked her.
She knew, though.
She just didn’t tell me, figuring I’d eventually figure it out on my own.
What she didn’t know, however, is that I’m a slow learner.
This should have been abundantly obvious, it would seem, as we sat in the theater, waiting for the previews to start prior to a discounted mid-day showing of Peter Pan. Instead of worrying about important matters, like finding clever ways to touch her hand, which could, should God decide to smile upon me that day, lead to small bouts of intense hand-holding, I obsessed over trivial matters, mainly the origin of her odor.
I shouldn’t say “odor” because that implies stinkiness, which she most certainly was not. She smelled sweet, almost a bit chocolatey. In fact …
“You smell like cookies,” I told her.
She turned her head, cocking it almost imperceptibly to the side, trying to figure out an appropriate response. I doubt there’s a predetermined Mars/Venus retort for that one.
“No, really, you smell like cookies.”
She laughed, the best of the true reactions, the moment when you’re the most honest with yourself and just share the joy of the moment with someone else.
“I think, maybe, that it’s my lotion,” she told me.
I considered this, weighing the potential impact such a discovery could have on our relationship, despite one of us not admitting that’s what this was and the other waiting for the first to come around. Mere lotion, store-bought in some large chain or specialty boutique, could in no way be responsible for this scent, this capturing of her essence, her entire being encapsulated by one whiff of sweet goodness. I refused to believe it came at price.
“No, I think cookie is just your natural smell.”
She smiled and nestled in beside me, the first open recognition of some sort of feelings of attraction toward me. We didn’t hold hands, but our legs touched some, and that was enough for the time. Let’s not rush things. Slow and steady. We had forever. We just didn’t know it.
And to think it all might have started simply because I have a bit of a sweet tooth.