Archive for the ‘Section 7: Winter Break’ Category.

99 Lost and Found

As we pulled up to the restaurant, I started getting self-conscious. I had no idea how I looked, now. Surely I owed it Jeremy to put at least some makeup on, didn’t I? It would have been so much easier if I had just done it from the start, where Mom and Tina could have commented. This whole makeup thing was such a pain! I was starting to appreciate how much better I looked with it, but I wished there was an easier way. As soon as we got to the restaurant, I excused myself to run to the ladies’ room to see what a mess I had made of myself, and what I could to fix it.

The first person I noticed in the bathroom was Maddy, who was at the mirror, fixing her own makeup. She automatically turned to see when I opened the door and did a double take when she saw me.

“Marsh! Are you here with Dirk?”

“Um, no,” I said. “I’m… here with another boy.”

“Marsh is here?” I heard from one of the stalls. Then the toilet flushed, and Cherise came out. “Hey, Marsh.”

“Another boy?” Maddy echoed, ignoring the other girl. “You said you weren’t dating anybody.”

“And what happened to your makeup?” Cherise asked.

“One thing at a time, Cherise,” Maddy snapped. “What about it, Marsh? Why did you lie to me?”

“I didn’t! Go ask Jeremy; this is our first date, and he asked me after I spoke to you.”

“That’s some coincidence; Dirk said when he called, you already had a date. So he just happened to call you in between you talking to me and Dirk calling?”

“And why aren’t you wearing makeup?” Cherise repeated.


“This is important, Maddy. Have you ever seen Marsh without makeup? On a date?”

The two of them turned to me. “That is a good point,” Maddy conceded. “What about it, Marsh?”

Oh boy.

“Well… I was upset at Tina and I didn’t think it was a real date and I was really starting to feel sorry for myself, and…” and I had had that fight with Chad, but after Mom’s reaction, that didn’t seem sensible to mention.

They shared glances and then Maddy pressed me again, “You’re going to have to explain that one.”

So I explained how Tina had set it up, and how I’d been feeling bad about it and how it turned out that Jeremy and I had really liked each other and didn’t know it. By the time I was done, they were laughing. Laughing!

“Marsh, you are incredible,” snickered Cherise. “How do you get yourself into these situations? All you had to do was ask your sister to ask her friend who Janine was.”

“And how do you go from a boy who is too aggressive for you, even after two years, to one who’s afraid to ask you out?” Maddy asked.

“I didn’t say he was afraid…” I protested, feeling I needed to defend him from my friends.

“Marsh, you said his sister had to hit him to make him ask.”

“He was… shy.”

“As opposed to you?”

“Do you guys even talk to each other when you’re alone? Or is it all, ‘er,’ ‘um…’”

I felt my face growing hot, and I didn’t even have the protection of foundation to conceal the redness of my cheeks. That reminded me why I had come into the ladies’ room in the first place. Besides it served to change the subject.

“I look kind of pale, don’t I?” I said, staring in the mirror.

“Seriously,” Cherise said. “What do you have with you?”

“Um…” I opened my purse. “Lipstick, pencil, eyeliner, blush, and powder,” I said, taking them out. That’s just going to have to do.”

With the two of them offering advice, I managed to do something I thought sensible; remembering how Lee Ann had put powder on my face without foundation, I did the same now, since it was all I had. I added lipstick, blush, and liner, and thought the effect reasonable, under the circumstances.

And Jeremy didn’t even notice! Not that I’m saying it was my main focus, but given how foreign all of this was to me, and how much of an effort I was putting in to be a girl on a date with him, it would have been nice if he’d found a way to compliment me.

Cherise and Maddy had insisted on meeting him, so I pulled him away from the table he had found for the two of us, and dragged him over to meet the girls and their dates. And then of course, we had to sit with them.

Jeremy was really a good sport, considering that he had obviously expected to be alone with me. He didn’t say a lot at the table, but he made up for it on the dance floor. In the first place, he had been modest about his abilities – he was a wonderful dancer, and I actually felt comfortable with his arms around me. Well, not just comfortable; I was definitely a little bit turned on by dancing with him; if I had had music, I might well have started singing – if I’d known what to sing. But I definitely felt like a heroine in a romantic musical.

And… I got my good night kiss. Jeremy walked me to my door, as I tried to remember all the strategies I’d known about walking a girl home – and then tried to reverse them. So I took my keys out of my purse, and said, “Thank you for a wonderful evening, Jeremy.”

“Yeah, you, too,” he said, and he gave me one of his incredible smiles, but he didn’t kiss me. I was about to give up, when he said, “I’m sorry we didn’t get to see Avatar. Would you like to go see it tomorrow?”

I was so surprised, that it took me a moment to respond. “Tomorrow?” I said or, I guess, squealed – another first for me.

“Well, I did promise you a movie,” he said.

“And I made you take me to a restaurant, and you had to pay a cover charge, and you wound up spending more already than you had planned. I’m really sorry.”

He laughed. “I’m not. I figure we’ve got about two months to catch up on. Um…”


“I feel like you’re so easy to talk to. Most girls make me nervous, but you don’t talk like most girls. You… I’m saying this badly and I don’t want to insult you, but sometimes when I talk with you, it feels like I’m talking to a friend, only,” he added hurriedly, “a friend I really like a lot more than… well… I’m saying this all wrong.”

“You’re doing great,” I told him, my heart pounding.

“Um, and…” I saw him take a deep breath. This is it, I thought, he’s going to kiss me now.

“Um,” he said again. “You know, when we get back to school…”

I stared at him, starting to get a bit annoyed. When you consider yourself to be really good at something, it can be painful to watch somebody do it ineptly. I think I’d been on nearly two dozen first dates, and had never failed to kiss the girl good night. Jeremy was on the verge on failing badly, and with a girl who had tried to make it obvious that she wanted to be kissed. I jingled my keys a little, hoping that he might have seen Hitch, in which the title character explains how to tell when a girl is expecting a good night kiss. It at least drew his attention, and from the slight look of panic in his eyes, I could tell that he really did want to kiss me, but wasn’t sure how to go about it.

I watched closely as he pressed his lips together in determination. Then he gently placed his right hand on my shoulder and leaned in. In The Princess Bride, the narrator talks about great kisses and how the one between Westley and Buttercup surpassed them all. Now, this kiss… well, it wasn’t even close. At least he hit my lips, I’ll give him that.

Not that it really mattered. I didn’t need to judge his technique; besides, it looked as though we were going to have more than a few dates to work on things, and I had never minded practicing kissing somebody I liked. Plus, I was flying, just being with him. I did reach up to put my hands on his shoulders for a second attempt, and that was somewhat better.

At least it affected him, as well, and his, “good night” was a bit shaky. I reached behind me and let myself in, and then closed the door and hissed a triumphant, “yes!” at the ceiling.

“Good date?”

I jumped. “Daddy!” I exclaimed, turning to see him sitting on a chair in the hallway, “I… didn’t expect you to be there!”

He got up and put down his book. “Well, I just wanted to be sure you were OK.” He kissed me on the forehead and added, “I’m pretty sure your sister is still up, too, so why don’t you go check on her? You can tell your mother all about it in the morning.”

The light was on under Tina’s door, so I knocked lightly and heard a whispered, “Marsh? Come in.”

“I’m here, Teen,” I whispered back, coming and sitting on the edge of her bed.

She looked as if she had fallen asleep sitting up, but she struggled awake and asked, “How did it go?”

“Very, very well,” I answered, only just starting to come down from my high.

“Enough to make you forget about what’s-his-name at school?”

“Oh, Tina,” I laughed, hugging her. “Jeremy is the boy I had a crush on at school.

“What? I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have a girlfriend,” she said, sounding confused, but no longer sleepy.

“He doesn’t,” I told her, shaking my head. “It was just a total misunderstanding on my part.”

“Oh… good, then. So everything’s all right now?”

“Well,” I said, “It’s really good; but it’s almost as though I have this little voice in the back of my head from the part of me that’s still Marshall, telling me that I really shouldn’t be dating boys at all.”

She sat all the way up, indignant. “Well you tell Marshall to shut up! This is your life and you’re a girl, now! He has no right to tell you how to live your life!”

“Well, he’s…” I waved off my own objection. “It’s not like I hear it all the time, Teen, and certainly not when I’m with… Jeremy. It just seems as though it’s too good to be true. I was alone for so long, and now… I’m not. We’re going out again tomorrow!”

“Two nights in a row? Wow. I guess Phyllis and I were right, weren’t we?”

“You certainly were. Anyway, we both need our sleep, and I’ll talk to you in the morning. Good night, Teen, and thank you very much!”

“Good night…”

The next morning, after Dad left to take Tina to rehearsal, Mom pulled me aside. “Now that we’re alone, you can tell me about last night. Your father said only that you returned later than expected and in a very good mood.”

“I sure did,” I grinned. “The girlfriend turned out to be just a friend, the boy turned out to have wanted to ask me out for a while, we went dancing, and we’re going out again tonight!”

“So you two got along well?”

“Very well. He’s a wonderful dancer, and very easy to talk to, and…”

“And good-looking?”

“Um… yeah,” I said unable to keep myself from blushing.

“What did you talk about?”

“Well…” What had we talked about? I don’t think I remember too many specifics. I think we talked about school, and… ” I shrugged.

Mom smiled. “So you’ve got that much of a crush on him, I take it.”

“I guess so.”

“And all that hysteria was unnecessary.”

“Yes, I guess so,” I admitted. “But I didn’t know that, then.”

“I’m still a little foggy on what happened before the date, though.”

“Um, before the date?” I echoed, my heart leaping into my throat.

“Well, you said that you’d had a fight with Chad, and then you decided not to wear makeup on a date. Neither one of these is like you, Marsh.”

I tensed as she continued, “Honey, you’ve been in a strange mood for some time; I’m just trying to understand why. You stopped really talking to me for while, and then even when you started again, I’ve had the sense that you’re not telling me as much as you used to.”

“I… Mom, I just…” I started. Fortunately, my cell phone rang just then. It had the standard ring, so it wasn’t one of my friends, but it was a good excuse to interrupt the conversation. “Just a second, Mom,” I said. “This could be important.”

I stood up, pulled the phone out of my purse and flipped it open, gesturing to Mom that I was going to take it in the next room. “Hello?” I said as I turned to leave.

“Marsh, this is Eric. I think we’ve found the lab.”