Ketchup and Blood part one.
“So,” I said again, “do you remember…” there was a pause here because I was having the hardest time catching my breath, “do you remember…that time we sat at lunch together? During orientation?”
“No, I don’t.”
There’s this scene in Superbad where Michael Cera, playing a character named Evan, is walking down the hall in high school talking with a girl he likes. Their conversation comes to a natural end, but there’s still a lot of hallway left. So Evan, horrified, picks up the pace and trots away from her, even though they’re heading in the same direction. In that moment, Evan staked his claim as the most awkward romantic lead in film history.
No one ever wants to realize that they are a real life Evan. I always believed I was somewhat suave. I wasn’t awkward—I was just shy and slightly mysterious. I believed this despite all evidence pointing to the contrary. One time in high school, I stood by the locker of a girl I liked while she put books into her backpack for five minutes. The conversation went like this:
*Five minutes of silence*
Twist ending: Alyssa and I didn’t work out.
Even in college I believed I was somewhat suave. I believed it when I made the “ketchup and blood” joke. I believed it when I stared at the back of Trisha’s head for two weeks before sitting next to her and talking to her. I believed it when I turned to her with my red turnip face, without introducing myself, and asked if she remembered sitting next to each other at orientation. I believed it when she turned and gave me that wide-eyed stare.
I stop believing it as she says, “No, I don’t,” and every word, literally, every single word in my mind melts out my ears.
My mind freezes in distress. I gurgle something at her—a word: “oh,” maybe—and stare back at my notes. My red face, already burning, flushes so hard that the weight pulls my face closer and closer to my notes. Class goes on, it ends, we go our separate ways.
It seemed like a good time to Facebook friend her. She accepted that very night. I might be mistaken, but I think this means she reciprocates all of my feelings.
Trisha’s Facebook is filled with loads of information. She recently saw How to Train Your Dragon. Her friend posted a picture of Toothless smiling his goofy dragon grin. This is all good, all good. I saw that movie too. Loved it. I can call it How to Ride Your Wagon, because it makes no sense and she’ll think it’s quirky that I make up names for things.
She likes Mario Kart. I like Mario Kart, too. I haven’t played it in a while though… I think I’ll start playing it every day.
What’s this? She likes Spongebob? That just so happens to be my favorite show of all time. Only seasons one through four, of course. She must feel the same way.
The next day in class, she comes into class five minutes before it starts. I had previously been praying hard that this wouldn’t happen. If I had the ability, this is the point where I would pick up my pace and scamper away from her. But we’re sitting down. So, unfortunately, that means five minutes of dead silence.
It also means five minutes of me dreaming about our future together. When we start dating, we would play Mario Kart together. We’d laugh when we get hit by shells and brush shoulders as we get competitive. After a few rounds, we’d collapse back, lean into each other, kiss a little bit. Maybe put an episode of Spongebob on. Then go for a walk around campus, fun and carefree. God, she’s got beautiful eyes, especially when she’s smiling at my jokes. “I can’t believe you thought ‘ketchup and blood’ was so funny!” She’d say. “Whoda thunk we’d actually get together, huh?”
Never mind how in real life we’re sitting right next to each other, not talking, and I’m rage sweating, breathing heavily while casting her brief, startled glances over my shoulder. What is that? Is she doodling? What is she doodling?
When the professor starts class, I finally take a breath again. I’m free. No pressure. All I’ve got to do is sit here and not fart.
When the break finally comes, I start drawing Musclebob Buffpants into my notes. Only a true Spongebob fan would get the reference—when Spongebob buys a pair of inflatable muscle arms to look strong instead of working out with Sandy the Squirrel. I had practiced all the previous night, getting all the details right. Where the anchor tattoo sits on the arm. What Spongebob’s face looks like. How to draw his massive sponge pores, which are trickier to do than you might think. All for this moment. I can barely control my hand as it shakily etches Spongebob onto the page. I’m almost done when I feel her eyes look over.
“Heh.” She grinned at my drawing.
“Heh,” I returned.
Back to silence for two minutes. I had to finish the drawing.
“So,” I said, grabbing her attention. She turns around again, giving me the wtf-deer-in-headlights look, the very same look she gave me the first time I spoke to her. Ah, memories. “So,” I said again, “do you, uh, do you like Spongebob?”
“Yeah,” she said.
Finally. Finally. Finally, a foot to stand on. I went back to my floor after class, ecstatic.
“Guys! Guys, Trisha liked my Spongebob drawing. We actually talked a little bit in class. It was really nice.”
“Yeah. I’m making some progress.”
Stay tuned for part three.