Damon played with the Grape-Nuts that had sunk to the bottom of his milk. They weren't his favorite cereal - that one hadn't been restocked the last time he was in the SuperTarget near his house. If it weren't for the Tyson's chicken tenders he picked up at the same time, it would have been quite a failed trip, but he could at least remind himself of tomorrow's lunch of rice, chicken tenders and a protein shake that tasted like chalk. He usually didn't think much about meals - eating was more of a chore than a pleasure. This meal was of special interest though - the new teacher he'd been chatting with in the teacher's lounge always asked about his meals and she thought this meal particularly unusual. He smiled just thinking about how she would laugh at his lunch.
When he finished washing his bowl, Damon tuned his tv to the Rangers game - no matter how badly they were doing (they were 3 and 51 this season), they were still his team, and he watched religiously. That was something else the new teacher laughed about - she was an Angels fan, graduated from UCLA but born in New York City. Somehow that didn't bother him. It was a little like her tastes in music - he hated rap, but it was cute the way she waved her hands in the air while singing to her iPod. He was sure it would never last, but he enjoyed thinking about her and being with her. He decided he'd have to ask her out the next week so they could laugh at that too. She'd already said she never dated coworkers, so it would be ironic.
The next morning he woke up smiling, still thinking about the girl who was his opposite in all things. He had twenty students in his class - ten who had never cared, five who hadn't cared for the last ten years, three who didn't come and two who managed to pass most six weeks. Up until the new teacher started a month ago, he woke up frowning, still thinking about those kids. For the first time since he was a student teacher with an Honors class, Damon was actually looking forward to going to work.
That afternoon, the two of them laughed over his lunch and even talked a little baseball - Abby had watched the Angels game the night before and she was happy they were doing so well this season - 51 and 3. Damon barely noticed his class that afternoon or the next.
In fact, he didn't notice them until the following Tuesday after he asked Abby out for Friday. He hadn't expected her to say yes, that would have been ridiculous after she'd sworn she never dated coworkers, but the response she gave was unreal, unbelievable, earth shattering in fact. He needed to think things through, to work things out in his head before it exploded, but his entire class seemed to be jumped up on some kind of nutty juice. He couldn't take it, they were making him insane, he was on the verge of running out of the room, of screaming the thoughts he'd kept to himself about their true origins and the nature of their minds for the last six months, when the last bell finally rang. He breathed deeply, gulping for air as though his head had been underwater for the last two hours of the day. When he made it to his car, he only felt a little less like a fish out of water, but by the time he'd gotten home, eaten his cereal, and turned on the Rangers game, he was in a better state of mind.
He couldn't believe what he'd done. He couldn't believe what a fool he was. He couldn't believe his horrible, rotten luck. What kind of girl tells you she NEVER dates coworkers and then agrees to go out with you? To a rap concert that you don't have tickets to no less! He was getting himself worked up again, he was on the verge of panicking when his phone rang.
"Hello?!" he gasped into the phone.
"Hey, Damon?" It was a woman's voice. Who would be calling him? Who was it? What did they want? What was going on?
"Hey, Damon? Is this Damon's phone? Hello? I'm trying to reach Damon." It was her. It was his opposite. The freak. The psycho. The crazy the loon the whacked out nut job who agreed to go on a date to a rap concert when she knew he hated rap and she had sworn she NEVER dated coworkers. What kind of woman was he dealing with?
He finally choked out a strangled, "This is Damon."
"Oh, hey, this is Abby, I was calling about our date this Friday. You looked a little green when I agreed, so I wanted to tell you that if you didn't really want to go out, that's ok. I almost thought it must be a joke when you said you had tickets to a rap concert, but when you actually knew the band's name and they were in town, I thought maybe you were serious. I think you must have been kidding - it would have been a really funny joke - but I thought that we had been having such a good time that maybe you were serious. So anyways, if you don't really have tickets and you don't really want to go out on Friday, that's alright, ever since one boyfriend turned out to be crazy, I've avoided dating coworkers. You just seemed so nice and normal that I kind of hoped you meant it, but I'm pretty sure you didn't, and it's really a bad idea anyways - everyone always says, 'Never date your coworkers,' but sometimes I forget stuff like that, so yeah, I'll see you tomorrow. Sorry if I weirded you out or anything. Have a good night."
"Wait! Abby, wait!" He listened for a full minute, holding his breath, but there was no answer. Once he came to, he remembered how to use his caller id to return the call.
"Hey, uhh, Abby, this is Damon. From work."
"Oh. Ummm. Hi, this is awkward."
"Yeah, I thought it'd make something fun to talk about on Friday night when we go out to this blues club a friend has been telling me about. I didn't really have rap tickets, and I don't want to go to a rap concert, but I think we can both settle on the blues. There's also a little sports bar owned by a guy from L.A. who plays the Angels games no matter how many people try to pick a fight with him. Does that sound alright to you?"
When she didn't answer he almost fainted from holding his breath. He looked at his phone, stunned that she had hung up on him. He felt so foolish. What was he thinking? He'd never be able to talk to her again. She'd hate him forever. She'd think he was creepy, a jerk a freak a weirdo a louse. Then his phone rang.
"I'm sorry, I get really bad reception in my apartment, can you repeat that? I didn't hear anything after something fun to talk about."
"Oh. Uhh, yeah. Well, I, umm, I just thought it'd be fun to actually go out on Friday night. Not to a rap concert ya' know, just out to something I don't hate and you don't hate. Like a, uhh, blues club or something and maybe a sports bar where they play the Angels and the Rangers."
Unable to bear the long pause, he hurried on, "But only if you want to. I mean, you know, I kind of lost reception halfway through your phone call, so maybe you said you didn't really want to go out or something and you know you don't have to feel obliged or anything, so you can just say no, and it won't be weird at work or anything 'cuz it'll be funny in a week or so and..."
She interrupted him, "Sure, Damon. I'll go out with you on Friday. Do you want to leave from work?"
In his astonishment, he almost forgot to say, "Yes, of course," and when he finally had finished making all the arrangements he was still uncertain that this was a good idea.
Then he thought about what he would have for dinner on Friday and smiled. At least they'd have something to laugh about on Monday.