Revenge of the Nerd Ch. 02byrpsuch©
I arrived in the coffee shop in the Student Union ten minutes late. I didn't want to appear anxious and I thought it better form to locate her rather than have her see me and bring him to my table.
And there she was. I saw her from the side but didn't get a very good view of him. As I got closer I was surprised by his look and his looks. He wasn't bad looking though I never would have noticed him in a crowd.
He was kind of thin. What was striking was his clothing. He looked like he was wearing clothes his mother picked out for him for college. This was probably because he was wearing clothes his mother picked out for him for college.
No, he didn't have on a cheap white dress shirt appropriate for a pocket protector. But if you put him in a lineup, ten out of ten girls would have identified him as the nerd.
"Hi, Jennifer. Been waiting long?"
"No. Just an appropriate amount of time. Jeff, this is Ashley."
He stood to shake my hand. I think they used to do that in black-and-white movies.
"Nice to meet you, Ashley. Jen has been saying some nice things about you."
"She's been saying some nice things about you too."
I shook his hand. I guess that's what you're supposed to do. It wasn't the limp handshake I had been expecting, but neither was it the kind I experienced from the guys in my crowd, the kind that said, "I'm better than you."
He did have a nice smile. It was warm and friendly as if he really was happy to meet me. But it wasn't the kind that said he had been set up with a hot one. He showed no awe of me, which was very surprising, because almost everyone else did, including women.
"I can't stay long," said Jennifer. "I have a study group and I need the help."
"I told you I could help you with that," he said.
"I know. But I can't rely on you for everything. I need to establish some independence, even if it is in a group."
He seemed to find that amusing for some reason.
I went to the counter and got a cup of black coffee. When I returned to the table Jennifer was gathering up her stuff and begging off to go to her study group. We were alone.
"Jennifer said you're just a freshman. How can you help with her courses?"
"I know some stuff. I read a lot."
"Maybe you should be taking junior courses." My tone made my insincerity obvious.
He hesitated, as if reluctant to speak. "I am."
"How can you be taking advanced courses as a freshman?"
"I placed out of some stuff on the entrance evaluation exams."
"Ah, just some stuff. Nothing important. Jen says you were homecoming queen last year. Does that take a lot of time away from your studies?"
"Nah. I'm pretty smart. I keep up with the stuff pretty easily." And I can recognize a segue, though it was pretty smooth.
"You're fortunate. Some people here have to work very hard to do well."
"Thanks." When was he going to mention my breathtaking beauty? I had never been on any kind of date where the guy didn't almost wax poetic over it unless he was tripping over his tongue. What was wrong with this guy?
"If I'm talking too much just tell me. I know you expected to get some studying done," he said.
"Yeah. Maybe we should do a little."
I was inclined to think about him, to speculate on what interested him, how smart he was to skip those courses and, yeah, I'll admit it, what it was that made him so special in the sack. I didn't know if he was looking at me, but history indicates he would be stealing glances so I dug into my work.
I glanced at him a few times and smiled in case he looked up at the same time. He was just reading. He took no notes. In fact, he didn't seem to even have a notebook or pen. Maybe it was in the missing pocket protector.
Two of my subjects went very smoothly. The third was a problem. I still didn't get why we were doing it. I could sort of keep up with how to do it, but I never understood why, and that muddied up my understanding of each thing I learned. I threw down my pencil in disgust.
He looked up. "Problem?"
"I just don't understand this damn accounting. I never got why we always do two entries. That makes it tough to know what entry goes where, because I don't know why I'm doing it."
He reached into his pocket. "I'm sorry. I seem not to have brought enough money with me. Could you loan me a buck?"
He had the most annoying ability to change the subject.
"Are you good for it?"
He smiled. It was a nice smile. "You can track me down if I don't pay up."
I handed him a dollar.
"What's your financial situation now that you've loaned me a dollar?"
"Are you any better off? Worse off? The same?"
"I'm out a buck."
"Let's look at the entries. You have one dollar less in cash, but you also have a one dollar entry in your Loans Outstanding account. So one asset was credited because it was decreased - cash. But the other asset, Loans Outstanding, was debited by the same amount.
"There hasn't been any change in your financial situation except to the extent that cash may be a better quality asset than a loan.
"If all you did was a single entry for the reduction in cash, you'd have no way to know it didn't affect your financial position at all, and you wouldn't have any record that I owed you the money.
"With other types of transactions you may be making two entries that allow you to keep track of profit and loss at the same time you maintain your assets. The idea of the whole thing is that, in some way, the fact that assets equal liabilities plus owners' equity allows you a complete picture of your profit and loss at the same time you know all your assets and what you owe."
I guess he recognized the quizzical look on my face.
"Do you know any algebra?" he asked.
"Yes. I remember some."
"Do you remember that if you do the exact same thing to both sides of an equation, you don't change its validity?"
"6 = 3y. If you divide each side of the equation by three you get six over three is two equals three over three, that's one, times y. So the new equation is 2 = y.
"You did the exact same thing to both sides so you don't change the nature of the relationship. That's kind of what you're doing with double-entry accounting."
"Shit. Why didn't they just say that?"
"It sure is easier to know what to do when you understand why you're doing it."
He nodded. He didn't talk a lot.
"Why couldn't they just say that?"
"Understanding things is easier if you can see them in a context you already understand. They don't have you one on one, so they can't tell if the metaphor worked for you. I have the advantage of trying out as many metaphors as I need to get the idea across."
"You're a smart guy."
"I was given some gifts. Everybody gets gifts. You got intelligence, personality, a nice smile."
I smiled my nice smile. It was a compliment, not an homage. I liked it. It reeked of sincerity. But it was unsettling.
This guy was different. He treated me with respect. He related to me as a person. To him I was not the hottest woman he could ever imagine seeing. I was someone he could sit and talk to quietly, someone he could just spend silent time with while we were working separately, someone he just liked to be with. It made me feel really good.
Sure, it's nice being worshipped. But this, I don't know, I think it made me a little happier to be me. What a strange effect he was having on me.
It was starting to get late and we agreed that it was time to get going. He offered to walk me home and I accepted.
My apartment was less than a mile from the Student Union, but that provided more than enough time for me to have second thoughts, despite the complete comfort of our conversation.
I was walking openly through the campus with a nerdy freshman. This could not go anywhere good. Sure, I'd had that good feeling briefly. But grief was more likely to follow. If I was going to derive something from this whole experience, I wanted to get in and get out quickly.
When we got to my door, I took charge.
"Kiss me. Jennifer says you're great so let me see what's so special about your kissing."
His face tightened.
"I don't think so. With that attitude, no kiss would satisfy you. I don't understand. You seemed nice, but this shows a really, unflattering side of you. I hope you're in a better disposition later."
He turned and walked away.
I was really pissed and confused and, well, shocked. Nobody had ever walked away from me like that. The confusion prevented me from saying anything as he left. But if I had spoken, it would have been nasty and I'm sure I would never have seen him again.
Did I want that? I hate the word, but why had I been such a bitch? Did I care what he thought? Why was I being so wishy washy? I knew what I wanted from life and I knew how to get it. Did I care what he thought? Of course not.
But what was that unknown discomfort I felt?
This was giving me a headache. I had to get to sleep.