Revenge of the Nerd Ch. 17byrpsuch©
I called in the afternoon to see when we could get together that night, but he wasn't there. I left a message. It struck me as curious, but I had enough work to keep me busy that I didn't give it much thought.
I called that night and left a message. I couldn't imagine where he could be, but I had countless pages in front of me and speculating on his whereabouts was not going to get me through them.
Monday: no answer, message, no return. I was starting to panic. Had something happened to him? Had I done something to scare him away? Or, worse yet, had all this been an elaborate setup to get his revenge on me?
I know it sounds ridiculous, especially given the way his family had treated me. That would have taken one huge, whopping conspiracy.
Jeff had introduced me to yet another new emotion - insecurity. I didn't like it.
Tuesday, no Jeff. I got his roommate. He didn't know where Jeff was. No call. Clearly, something was going on but I had no idea what.
I heard nothing on Wednesday. It was like he had disappeared from the face of the earth. For a very brief moment I considered calling the FBI until I realized how completely ridiculous that would be.
The ache of not knowing where he was, of just not being with him, was overwhelming. Was this the price of love or infatuation or whatever it was? I wasn't sure I was willing to pay it.
On the other hand, how do I avoid paying it? How do I stop feeling the need to be with him? How do I give up the excitement of anticipating that I'm going to be with him?
The steps I had taken to get into this situation had been voluntary, but now that I was here, it didn't seem voluntary at all. We weren't exactly at the point where I could say I had a life with him, but the thought of a life without him was too painful to contemplate.
Finals would be starting next week and I had no more classes. The best thing I could do to maximize my studying would be to find out what was going on with Jeff.
Since I couldn't manage to contact him, I tried the next best thing, someone I thought of as a friend - his Mother. I tracked her down Thursday morning at the U of P. I started calling a little before 8:00 so I wouldn't have to wait to talk to her until her classes were finished. She got in around quarter to nine.
"What's wrong, Ashley?"
"Nothing. It's, I just wanted to talk."
"You don't sound like it's nothing. Are you okay?"
"Yeah. I'm, I'm fine."
"Great. Well, it was nice talking to you."
"No." I said it with just a little too much urgency.
"My last class ends at one. We can talk then."
"Can I come in there to talk?"
"All the way from school?"
"Sure. I'm glad nothing is wrong." Biting wits those Goldbergs.
She gave me directions to find her office and I packed up some books for study. I could read them in her office.
I felt terrible. This is why you don't get emotionally involved with anyone. It hurts. It sucks.
I cranked up the music on my radio and sang along with gusto. It kept my mind off my problem, some of the time. I couldn't think of any way to approach it. I couldn't think of any reason it was happening. All I could do was hurt.
I persuaded Sunny's secretary to let me wait in her office. It was kind of neat, except there were books everywhere. Maybe the University's office furniture code only allowed a tenured professor a desk, some chairs, a filing cabinet and as many bookshelves as she wanted.
I forced myself to study. I was taking time away from it with this trip, and I thought I better get in as much as I could. Funny, I didn't recall being this serious about finals in the past. Jeff was a bad influence.
Sunny breezed in a little after one, in a bright print dress that looked more like summer fun than a history professor.
"Ashley, you don't look so good, sweetie. What's wrong?" She closed the door and sat at her desk. She looked almost unbearably perky. "Did something happen with you and Jeff?"
"I don't know what's happened with me and Jeff." My voice was shaky.
I didn't know how to proceed. I'd never had this kind of conversation before. I had never even conceived of this kind of conversation.
"Tell me about it. Did you guys have a fight on the way back?"
"No. I thought everything was great. We got together every night. He even slept over twice. I took him to a concert Friday night and Saturday night I took him to dinner. It was like Cinderella and Prince Charming."
Sunny laughed. "I could buy you as Cinderella, but you have to admit, Jeff as Prince Charming is pretty funny."
That drew out my first smile in days.
"Well, it was wonderful. It was romantic. He came back to my place and we, uh, had a wonderful time. He left after breakfast to go to a tutoring job and I haven't heard from him since.
"His roommate won't tell me where he is. He doesn't return my messages. I don't understand what's happening."
"Would I be correct in assuming that this is your first real relationship? Is Jeff the first guy you've really liked?"
"Yeah. I didn't think about it that way. I went with guys, but it was like, really no big deal. They did what I wanted; I was always in charge. But I really like Jeff."
"Have you guys talked about your relationship?"
"No. Are we supposed to?"
She answered that with a laugh. "Did Jeff tell you anything about his relationship history?"
"No. I really didn't think about it."
She reached across her desk and grasped my hand in a gesture of caring and then released it.
"I'll, have to think about what I can tell you. Jeff has talked to me and I'm not sure I should say anything about that.
"On the other hand, I've lived with him and there are things I've observed that probably wouldn't be wrong to talk about. If I talk to Jeff, can I tell him anything we talk about?"
"I don't know. I guess it depends on what we talk about."
"Fair enough. After you rejected him, Jeff was pretty shaken up. He lost his confidence. He had confidence in who he was, not how he related to girls, because he never had. He just thought of them as people with different anatomical characteristics.
"He figured it was just another thing he could do. He didn't go on his first date until he was a senior, and she asked him to her prom. I don't know if he's changed enough to talk about it now, but he was a recluse with girls."
"Oh, God, I feel terrible" I said.
"You weren't being malicious. You were just being who you were, not who you are now."
Sunny had a generous heart. It still made me sad to hear it.
"A little later in his senior year he had the courage to ask someone to his prom and she accepted.
"That's it. That's his entire dating history before college. Neither of you had any romantic experience, but at least you knew all about dating, the rules, the moves. He was clueless. When he went off to college, he, well ..."
She decided not to continue with the thought. He was a virgin when he went to college? How could he learn so much so quickly? Just from books?
"Anyway, we talked about it. He was nervous. You can't imagine how it feels to be able to talk to your kid like that."
Yes, I could. I could hear it in her voice. If she thought I was going to harm Jeff, she could easily have buried an axe in my skull.
If someone were going to harm me, my Mother would see if she could have somebody look into it.
"I told him nobody in college would know about him. If he acted confident, like he knew what he was doing, people would accept that as the truth. It was a new group of people, a new experience and he could be whoever he decided he was.
"And it worked. He said he was having a great time and people accepted him for who he had decided to be - confident. You realize that's just over three months?"
"Three months? That's, that doesn't seem possible. He had the confidence not to put up with any of my crap. How did he do that so fast?"
"He knew intuitively he didn't deserve to be mistreated. And, Jeff learns very quickly."
"I noticed. Wow."
"Yeah, that's why it might be better if you had a girlfriend who was a contemporary to talk to."
"Are you where Jeff learned to talk like that?"
"Well, yes and no. He started reading before he was two. We weren't around enough to read all the stories he wanted to hear so he taught himself to read and when we weren't available, he read.
"He wasn't reading that internet IOW or IMO language, but real books. So that's where he learned to talk the way he does."
"I haven't developed any contemporary girlfriends," I confirmed.
"Anyway, I can't say for certain that in those three short months he hasn't had any girlfriends, but I'm pretty sure you're the first," said Sunny.
"He said I was his girlfriend?" That was exciting.
"No. But it's obvious from both of you."
"So, why is he avoiding me? This, I thought this was supposed to be a good thing. I mean, if I knew it could be this bad, I don't think I would have started anything with him."
Sunny just sat there, giving me the opportunity to think.
"Yes, I would. He just, got under my skin so fast. It feels so good and it feels so rotten. What do I do?"
"This is a little awkward. Isn't there anyone else you can talk with? A friend?"
I hung my head. I didn't want to lie and I was desperate.
"No, I'm sorry."
"Don't be sorry. It would just be nice if you had a best friend."
"I've thought about that. I was too shallow to let that happen."
"You're a remarkable girl, really."
"Jeff said that too."
She smiled, understanding and sympathetic. "So this is the first guy you've really cared for and it's wonderful."
"Is it at all scary?"
"And we figure you're the first girl Jeff really cared for. Do you think he might be scared?" Sunny asked.
"I didn't give him any reason to be. I see him all the time and I, care so much for him."
"You see him all the time and this is his first experience with that. So you've arranged it so that he doesn't have time to see anyone else, to make a decision about this?"
"No. That's not it at all. I want to see him. I want to be with him."
"Might he see it as being too confining? Might he see it as you two didn't talk about it; you just presented him with a fait accompli? Maybe he thinks he needs more dating experience before he can figure out what to do."
"Is that how he sees it?" I asked.
"I don't know. There's only one way to find out."
I shrugged my shoulders.
"Talk to him."
"Oh, yeah. But I can't talk to him; he won't take my calls or get back to me."
"At least now you know what to talk about. You're a pretty assertive girl, --"
"That's a nice way to put it," I interrupted.
"go to his room. Intimidate his roommate and wait there until he comes back. Is that something you could do?"
"In my sleep", I said.
"Be honest with him. Tell him how you feel. Tell him you're scared. Tell him what he needs to know to understand. He'll respond by being honest. It's what he's learned at home. It's all he knows.
"I like you, Ashley, and I'll do whatever I can to help you as long as there's no conflict of interest, but you know where my loyalties lie."
"Mine too." I started to gather up my books. "I better get back. I don't want to miss his roommate and have to wait just to get into the room."
Sunny came around the desk and gave me a demonstrative hug.
Hugs don't have any words and can be used in a variety of ways. Many guys like them because they get to feel your breasts. I read this one as saying, "I like you. I wish you well and I think you're good for my son."
I added, "Thank you," to the demonstrative message of my end of the hug.
"Good luck with Bill, shit," she said! "I've been so good about remembering to call him Jeff."
I laughed. I don't know why, but somehow it lightened my heart. Then I left and headed back to school.