First installment: Man Voice and the Water Heater
Previous installment: Wordsworth's First Name Is Not Joey
Previous installment: Wordsworth's First Name Is Not Joey
“Good grief!” shouted Lia. Those boys needed to open that door right now. This moment. Last moment. Two moments ago.
This is one of the most awkward moments of my life, Lia thought as the two girls stood in front of the door to the boys’ apartment. Amber was glaring a little bit. It’s not like I’m going out with HER man. But gee whiz, I sure wish they’d open the door now.
It had been a long walk down the hall to even get to this door. Amber had come over to show Lia her outfit, and ask if she looked alright. This was the long awaited, the anxiously awaited, the overly awaited, the loudly awaited date. It was finally here. Lia looked at Amber’s cute dark curls, striped shirt, and pink jacket and gave her seal of approval. Amber did have some pretty dark eyes, and freckles on her nose. Yes, Joey should be rather pleased with this.
Amber smiled at Lia’s compliments. Life was good for a moment. All tension between the girls was gone, forgotten in favor of the happy present. But from there, things grew rather strained rather quickly. Lia did not go back into her apartment when Amber moved to leave. Lia stepped out into the hallway and shut the door behind her.
“Are you going somewhere?” Amber asked.
“Oh, just strolling down the hall a bit,” Lia said in a rather noncommittal way.
As the two continued further down the hall towards the boys’ side, Amber began to assess Lia out of the corner of her eye. Lia could feel the assessment happening, and wished she looked less nice. She had stuck with a simple outfit of her dark goddess jeans and a plain long sleeved white shirt with a pink cami underneath. She hadn’t done anything spectacular with her hair. In fact, she had done hardly anything at all with it. Lia hoped that Amber would notice that her own curled hair was much classier than Lia’s untouched locks.
“How far are you going, exactly?” Amber inquired with suspicion, if not in her voice, then very much in her face, posture, and the air surrounding her.
“Just far enough to meet my friend for lunch.”
“And who are you meeting for lunch?”
Lia had no time to think of an elusive reply. Just then Brandon walked into the apartment complex through the door on the right and said over his shoulder, “Hey, Lia, I’ll see you in a bit,” before continuing out the door on the left.
Now that former tension levels between the two girls had been fully restored, Lia realized that maybe this lunch was going to be even longer than she had previously envisioned. Amber and Lia reached apartment 9 and knocked. There the tension mounted with increasing force until it became practically palpable.
Lia didn’t get what the big deal was. If anything, Amber should be grateful! Lia was the reason Amber was going on this date today. She had bothered Joey into action, and Lia was sick of Joey, and Brandon, and this whole thing, and if those boys didn’t open this door right now they were going to find some molasses all over---
Joey opened the door. He took a small step back- it must have been the great waves of simmering unrest that went crashing into to him- before he opened the door wider to allow the girls entrance. “Hello, Amber. How are you today?” Joey was always very gentlemanly.
“Good.” It was a short, clipped response.
“Oh... Good,” Joey said slowly, sounding unsure. He turned to Lia. “And you, Lia?”
Joey had made a mistake. At his recognition of Lia’s existence, Amber glared like mad. All of that socio-hormonal tension that Lia had been desperately pushing away came careening into the room. It came in strong and fast, as if it were riding on the backs of the wildebeests that stampeded Mufasa to his death. Lia was beginning to feel like Mufasa’s fate might be her own. She desperately hoped they were taking different cars.
They were not taking different cars. The hoping had been in vain. Brandon had come back to the apartment to meet the others, and, completely oblivious to the chaotic state of social politics, happily ushered the little group out to the street where Joey’s car was parked. Joey and his date were to sit in front, with the other two in back.
Lia noticed that the car was old, but very stately in its large size and gray-blue color. It was a gentleman’s conveyance, she decided as they rode along. The ride was smooth, with a skillful driver who managed to make even sharp turns feel like the gentle yet suave bounce of a boat on the swell. Lia was glad to note that she was not actually out on a lake in a boat at this time. It didn’t look very warm out on this December day.
Joey was making some sort of conversation with Amber up front. Lia and Brandon didn’t talk much. Lia was disgruntled, though not upset, with Brandon for putting her in this situation, and peeved at Joey for speaking to her earlier when it was obvious that Amber wanted his eyes solely on herself. It was a short ride to the sandwich shop, though, and Lia was glad to get out of the car. Even the stately Buick was beginning to feel confining.
The little restaurant itself was a nice place. It had an old time kind of feel, with warm colors on the walls and Beatles posters, and a variety of table setups around the dining area. After ordering, the group sat around the table sipping their drinks. And staring in opposite directions. And sipping their drinks some more.
Lia felt that she had the best seat. The table was next to the window, which meant it was colder, but it afforded Lia with a lovely view of Main Street. Instead of sitting across from her date, she had wound up next to him, and across from Joey and the window. Whenever things got a little too strained to look at another person, and looking at her straw just wasn’t entertaining anymore, Lia just gazed past Joey’s head.
Brandon seemed to have been broken somehow between his congenial greeting in the hallway and lunch. He was certainly lacking his regular jolly and exuberant air. Lia missed his plump little Italian ways. Especially his ability to just talk no matter what the conversation may be canvassing. Right now there was a definite lack of conversation. All attempts were brutally shut down with monosyllabic returns.
“So do you like the snow, Amber?,” Joey struggled on, in what was turning out to be more of a filibuster than a conversation.
“Yes.” Another curt reply from Amber.
And not for lack of effort on his part, either. “I didn’t grow up with it, so it it’s a new thing to me. What do you like about it?”
She chewed her sandwich.
Poor Joey, thought Lia. I go over and harass him into this date, and then Amber won’t even talk to him. She’s just poking at her food.
“Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I happen to find this sandwich an absolutely delightful experience for my taste buds,” said Lia. “The slightly spicy mustard and the subdued flavor of the provolone work in sync to create a pleasant harmony.”
“Harmony of food?” asked Joey, an eyebrow raised.
“If pressed, I would tell you that the cheese and mustard are harmonized in thirds.”
“And what richness might the meat be adding to this edible chord?” returned Joey.
“I would have to ask my sister. She’s the one that knows everything about music theory.”
“You’re not educated in theory?”
“The kind of theory I study would tell you that the author is dead, that words denote what the object is not, and that Freud is seriously frightening.”
“I beg your pardon. I will rephrase. You are not a theorist of music?”
“My theory of music is this: Music is good.”
“Just good? You study words and complex sentences, and all you can give me is ‘music is good’?” Joey inclined his head towards her, encouraging her to answer.
Amber’s eyes were flicking back and forth from Lia to Joey. Oh snapdragons!, thought Lia. Don’t get jealous. I’m having a conversation, but I’m no threat. And to prove that silent point, Lia stuffed a huge bite of sandwich into her mouth, chewing somewhat ferociously. Joey sat back, looking amused at Lia’s sudden enthusiasm for eating her food instead of having conversation about it. He then looked to his right at Amber.
“Do you enjoy music, Amber?” Joey asked.
“Do you play an instrument?”
Silence. The sound of chewing. Lia started to think of “Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. Who would have thought that the sound of silence would be the sound of teeth working through fat sandwiches of juicy meat, creamy sauces, and crisp lettuce? And who would have thought that such a traumatic event would have inspired such a mellow song?
“What genre do you prefer?” Joey pressed on.
Lia took pity. “Classics. British Romanticism. Jane Austen.”The whole table looked at her. “I just thought that since the music conversation wasn’t working for anyone, we might consider branching out to books.”
Next Installment: Socially Interesting Malfunctionings