Revenge of the Nerd Ch. 29byrpsuch©
It turned out to be two. He was still just eighteen years old and, my goodness, he was graduating from college in two days.
While he was resting, I saw the look in his eyes. He thought his age would provide him with yet another opportunity before dinner. I disabused him of that notion.
"I called your mom this morning."
"Really? What did she say? What did you say? What am I missing?"
"I asked her to put Sandy on a bus so we could show her around, away from the adults."
Most guys would have been pretty annoyed by the imposition of a case of ED - erectile deferral. I didn't expect that would be the case, but I was surprised by his reaction.
He shook his head slowly and then took me in his arms.
"You are absolutely amazing. I didn't think of it but you did. You have no idea how amazing you are."
His voice had the wonder and awe of a boy about to plunge headlong into his first crush over Miss First or Second-Grade teacher, the astonishment of that first time seeing a magician pull a long train of knotted handkerchiefs from his empty hand.
I have a very good idea how much I blushed. I felt the heat on my skin all the way down my legs.
It was still so hard to believe. I was used to being Ashley the aloof, the self-centered. No matter what I did, no matter how many times I received praise for something other than my looks, there was a small twinge of doubt it was real; a fear the old Ashley would return.
But she wasn't returning this evening. We drove to the bus station and sat on a bench holding hands and grinning stupidly.
We didn't have to keep a lookout for Sandy. We heard her squealing as she came at us like a missile. She made contact with me first and when she let go, jumped up and down a couple times and jumped onto Jeff, wrapping her legs around his waist.
She was expressing her excitement but she was so wired that, even though it was intelligible, unless you listened carefully, it sounded quite a bit like gibberish.
One of Jeff's more annoying, and endearing, habits was starting to rub off on me. He analyzed everything.
I was analyzing more and more. I particularly took note of the incredible feeling of elation I experienced because Sandy was so excited to be here with us, to be included as someone with whom we wanted to share our experience.
As much as I had felt the excitement of giving the Goldbergs and the Marcuses, Sam and Harri, their Chanukah presents, and though this wasn't a gift in the traditional sense, I acutely felt the truth of a phrase I once thought a mealy-mouthed rationalization: It is better to give than to receive. I couldn't imagine any gift I could be given that would make me feel this good. For once there was no twinge of doubt.
We took Sandy to a nice dinner and walked around town for about half an hour before returning to our place. I made coffee for Sandy and me, but Jeff stuck with Cherry Coke.
Rather than watch TV, we sat down for a game of Scrabble. Perhaps with Sandy's help, we could slow him down.
I don't think it shows a lack of modesty when I say I am a very smart person, extremely well read with an extensive vocabulary. Sandy is nothing short of brilliant.
After the first game Jeff was barred from ever playing Scrabble with us again.
We allowed him to join in the conversation, but we were damned if we were going to let him make any more seven-letter, triple-word-score words.
He wandered off after a few games. I think he was hurt not to be included although he denied it. But I could see it in his eyes. I don't know if it was pride, chivalry or simple denial.
He said he was going to read a book.
This gave me a chance to bond with my "little sister." She was amazed her parents had let her take three days off of school.
I wasn't. She had never gotten any grade other than "A" in her entire school career, with the exception of Physical Education.
Her face took on a dreamlike quality.
"I love the way you guys are with each other. You love Jeff so much, but he's absolutely stupid for you."
That was wonderful to hear from an outside observer.
"What's the difference between so in love and absolutely stupid?"
"Well, I never thought about it. I guess it's like Justice Potter Stewart's opinion trying to define pornography. I can't define it, but I know it when I see it."
"You're fifteen. What do you know about porn?"
"Please. Let me think."
And she did. I just wasn't sure about what.
"You love Jeff but you keep something in reserve. I don't know what it is, but you do.
"You think he's the greatest and you have no doubt you love him, but something's there. You'll have to figure it out.
"Jeff, on the other hand, holds nothing back. He's working without a net. If you did something, even accidentally, to hurt him, he'd be crushed. He doesn't believe it's possible. It would mean his whole way of thinking was wrong.
"If he did something to hurt you, it would be bad and, yeah, you'd feel devastated. But somewhere in the back of your mind, you know it's possible.
"He's so stupid for you he doesn't even recognize the possibility. So, I guess that's how I'd define them, for now."
I should stop saying that. I should stop being so amazed at the things people in this family say and their insights. She was dead on. He didn't think it was possible. I knew it was.
"That's really unfair. It puts an incredible burden on me. Shit."
"I guess it is and I guess it does."
Then she went dreamy on me.
"But isn't it fabulous to have somebody love you that much?"
"I guess it's a blessing and a curse."
But was it a burden beyond the strength of Hercules? Would the pressure continue to build until I was no longer able to handle it? Would I do something to destroy the relationship just to relieve the pressure?
Maybe this is why people go through so many "loves" before they start to figure out how to handle all the difficulties.
We moved on to less scary topics. We talked until after 1:00. Then we hugged like real sisters probably don't, at least not very often.