I check my phone and realize we've spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to pick out our t-shirts. Granted, we have gotten quite distracted in the time that we have been here. I tend to usually get distracted in stores, but not when I am on dates. When I'm on a date, I'm on a mission. It is unusual how normal I seem to feel being with Brian. Like he is just one of my guy friends. But then again, I'm attracted to him. I find myself staring at his perfect white teeth and suddenly I'm in a daydream, wondering how it would feel to kiss him. I want to plant a kiss on those perfect white teeth I'm staring at.
"Kels, will you please help me? Kels?"
I pull myself out of the daydream and back to reality. Brian is going through a rack of men t's and laughing at me. "You okay there?"
"Yeah, I'm good. I was just thinking for a minute is all."
"Hm, thinking about what?"
"Nothing," I quickly reply and start digging through the t-shirts.
I was just thinking about kissing you is all. How pathetic. I start scolding myself at the thought of thinking such things on a first date. I need to up my game here. I can't kiss the guy on his first date. What is my problem?
Confused about what I'm feeling, what I want to feel, what I don't want to feel.
That is my problem.
"How about this one?"
I pull out a navy colored v-neck.
Brian lets out a loud laugh. I like how much he laughs, it's nice. But after he stops laughing he replies, "I don't think so."
"Why not? Are you implying that I don't have good taste in fashion?"
"Oh no. You have very good taste in fashion. Very good. V-necks just aren't really my thing."
"Okay. And why are they not really your thing?"
"Well, I don't want to label people at all. But I just know a lot of guys who are real jerks and they all wear v-necks. I don't want to come across. . .like that."
"Like what," I ask while wrinkling my nose.
My mind wanders to the other boy. The one I kiss sometimes. He wears v-necks. And designer jeans. But he can only afford to buy me a lousy taco at Taco Tuesday. And even then, he was upset when I got rice and beans and he had to pay extra for them.
I put the v-neck back on the rack and keep looking. I find another one I like. This one is red. I like it when guys wear red. And it has a pocket. Pockets on anything are always a bonus.
"I think you should get this one."
Brian again erupts with laughter while shaking his head. "No. No way."
I try to get irritated at how picky this boy is being but I can't help but smile.
"And what's the problem now?"
"It has a pocket," he says, while pointing at it like it's repulsive.
Brian comes in close to me and laughs in my ear. He gently takes the shirt from my hands. "I know you think I'm a bit of a nerd but I really don't need a shirt with a pocket on it."
I can't help but laugh. "Pockets are very convenient. You can put stuff in it."
"Psh, yeah. Like pens and my calculator?"
"No. . .like other stuff. Spare change," I tear the shirt back from his hands and hold it in my arms. "I think you have some misconceptions about t-shirts with pockets."
"I do not. I just don't want to look like a nerd with a pocket. Or a preppy kid with a v-neck."
I hang the red shirt back on the rack and stare Brian down, "You seem to worry a lot about what other people think of you."
I am surprised when Brian gives me an endearing little smile. He leans back in to me and whispers in my ear, "But you don't worry what people think at all. Do you, Kels?"
I feel my cheeks start to burn and pull away.
"You're like a girl."
Brian chuckles, "What do you mean by that exactly?"
"You are so picky. It wasn't this difficult for me to find a shirt."
I stare down at my teal colored v-neck. I feel I made a good choice.
I look back up to find Brian looking at me. But he isn't just looking at me. I feel like he is trying to look inside of me, read all my thoughts. He is trying to break through the wall I have so carefully constructed.
I suddenly feel strange. Like I am extremely exposed.
"You are hard to read."
"And what exactly do you mean by that?"
"You're hard to read. I have most girls figured out by this point. Not you though. You're confusing."
Very honest of him to admit. I feel a smile creep across my lips. I am starting to like this Brian Weller way too fast for my own good.
Brian finally decides on a maroon t-shirt. No v-necks and no pockets. But I like maroon, so it works. After the shirts are purchased, we head back to his apartment to do the bleaching. We had already eaten before our trip to the store and I was pleasantly surprised with the mysterious Indian place within the gas station. The walls of the place were painted with different scenes from India. I loved it. As we tore off pieces of flat bread and ate meats full of strange spices, I had rambled on to Brian about how I would love to go to India and how it might just be the next place to go on my list.
"Where was the first place?"
"Huh?" I was confused.
"You said India is the next place on your list. Like you've already been somewhere that was on your list."
I told him about Ethiopia. Reluctantly at first, since I always worry about bothering people with the talk of it all, but he acted sincerely interested. So then I had poured my heart out to him. About all the things I saw in Ethiopia, both good and bad. All the things I had been doing since I got home. And how badly I wanted to go back.
* * * *
Brian brings markers out so we can draw on the shirts before we bleach them. If we so wish. I have no idea what to draw on the shirt. This probably wouldn't be so difficult if it weren't his shirt I was creating.
Brian seems to be a little stuck as well. I look at him and see him focusing very hard.
"What are you thinking about over there?"
Brian picks up a marker and smiles, "I was just wondering what songs you'll be putting on my mix cd."
I am still mad that he fooled me with that card trick from earlier. But I am excited to make him a cd. I have actually already thought of some songs I know I want to put on it.
Brian pulls the lid off the marker and begins drawing. He writes the word JUGADORA in big block letters on the back of the shirt.
"What does that mean? I'm guessing it's Spanish?"
"Yep," Brian says proudly, "it means player."
"Yeah, player. I know how you are. You're a total player. I can tell."
I let out a laugh, "Whatever."
"I bet you kiss guys all the time. Lead them on, kiss them, and break their hearts."
"Brian, I do not!"
He just starts laughing. Then he asks me to tell my most awkward kiss story. I know exactly what story to tell. I don't have very many awkward kiss stories, but this one I have is extremely awkward. I tell the story and get plenty of laughs out of Brian. Basically the boy had tried to plan out a cute way to kiss me and I accidentally sabotaged it. Terribly.
As I end the story, I find myself telling Brian that I don't like it when boys try to plan out how they'll kiss the girl.
"Really? I thought most girls loved that."
"Not me," I reply. "I feel like it ruins it. Half the fun of the kiss is the spontaneity. I want it to be in the moment. If you want to kiss me, then kiss me. But don't try to plan it out."
Oh no. Why am I telling him all this?
But he just smiles that familiar smile and says, "Well, I better call and cancel the band."
"The band? What band?"
"I'd arranged for a band to come as we got to your doorstep tonight. So they could begin playing as we passionately kissed goodnight."
I let out a really loud laugh and almost find myself wishing I could hear the trumpets in the background.
Brian begins writing something else on the front of the shirt down towards the bottom. It is a K2. As in K raised to the second power.
"I think I'll call you K squared. It's your new nickname. I just realized that your initials are K.K."
I rest my chin on my hands. "I like it."
"So are you gonna do anything to my shirt, or what?"
I look down at Brian's blank shirt. I have no idea what to draw on it but I have to put something. Especially after that K2 business.
I pull the lid off the marker and draw what is supposed to look like a pocket on the left side of the chest.
* * * *
After we have our shirts bleached, Brian walks me to my apartment building. Which is just the next building over from his. We walk up the steps and I turn to give him a hug. I find myself still wanting that kiss I daydreamed about earlier. But I can't. It's the first date.
Brian starts his walk back down the porch stairs when I hear my voice bring his steps to a stop. I hardly realize I'm talking.
"So where's the band?"
Brian turns and gives me that same endearing smile. "I told them to take a rain check."
Then he walks into the darkness.
I stand there a moment, wondering why my plan didn't work. I basically gave him the open opportunity to kiss me and I have been denied. I don't know how I should feel. I unlock the front door and walk inside. As I shut the door behind me, a light goes on in my head.
He told them to take a rain check.
That means Brian Weller wants to take me out again. On a second date.