Revenge of the Nerd Ch. 24byrpsuch©
I saw a lot of the Goldbergs during winter break.
Sandy was back in school, but Jeff and I didn't have to be back until the 16th. It seemed like I was at their house all the time.
We also spent some quality time in my bedroom.
You might have thought my parents would notice my comings and goings. But they were as oblivious as if I had been a transient in their hotel.
I carefully avoided having them meet Jeff and they seemed to avoid it too, although I suspect it took very little effort on their part.
I didn't know exactly what the criteria were, but whatever they were, I was pretty sure Jeff would not meet the lofty requirements to be adjudged a "fine young man." I think it was code for it would be okay for their family and our family to associate together.
I enjoyed the vacation. I welcomed the opportunity to renew old relationships, acquaintances, whatever they were.
I loved my time with Jeff's family. Louis had a quirky sense of humor and I enjoyed it almost as much as he did.
I had a couple opportunities to share in phone calls from Sam and Harri.
Life was sweet. And then it was time to return to school.
Jeff seemed more relaxed about spending so much time with me. Of course, he had a logical explanation.
"I could probably benefit from dating a variety of people. That part of my education is deficient.
"But I realized I have no experience in a serious relationship either and I'm going to have to do it eventually, so this seems as good a time as any."
"You silver-tongued devil. You sure know how to sweep a girl off her feet."
"Well it is logical, isn't it?"
"Shut up and kiss me."
I knew what he meant and I knew how he felt, fortunately for him, or I would have tossed him out on his ear long ago.
Don't get me wrong. He didn't come up with the grand gestures women wax poetic about. I didn't get a pearl necklace. I got a goat.
He came up with the meat and potatoes of romance. He noticed and appreciated everything I did for him. He supported everything I wanted to do and went out of his way to try to make my life easier.
If this was how Louis acted with Sunny, she was the lucky one, not him, and I considered him very lucky.
It would have been nice if Jeff had at least a little flirtation in him, but he was so painfully earnest about honesty and understanding in relationships he forgot what an amazing sense of humor he has.
I asked him about it.
"I barely talked to girls about anything except academic and political topics until just a few months ago.
"Even when I started meeting girls at school, I had no idea about using any lines. I was just sincere. It seemed to be enough."
"I gotta get some movies to educate you," I said.
"You want me to flirt? I have you."
"You could flirt with me. It's fun. Loosen up. Flirt with other girls. Show them what I have."
"I could do it if I wrote it in a letter."
He could see my obvious confusion.
"I helped mom with research one summer. I read some scorching letters from Thomas Jefferson. He was after a married woman. He tried to get her to come over from France and travel with him.
"Franklin was a hell of a flirt, too."
"I bet you didn't even notice it when girls were flirting with you."
His brow furrowed.
"Who flirted with me?"
I shook my head. Then I had a sudden inspiration.
Can you have an elongated inspiration? Is sudden inspiration redundant, like extremely unique?
Anyway, I did have an inspiration.
"Have you ever read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?"
"Yeah, when I was four."
He said it casually; no big deal.
He shook his head in disagreement.
I shook mine in disbelief.
"Gee, I'm not going to win the books-I-read contest, am I?
"Okay, have you watched any of the old Saturday Night Live reruns?"
"Did you ever see any of the Mr. Bill segments?"
"Yes. And I didn't much care for them."
"I'm sorry to hear that, because after you were so completely clueless that you were being flirted with, I realized, William Jefferson Goldberg, there is only one thing I can possibly call you when I'm not using Jeff."
"I'm pretty sure I don't want to hear it."
"I'm pretty sure you don't. But every time I say it, it will remind me of how much I love you, Dr. Goldberg and Mr. Bill."
"Oh, God, no." It was definitely a groan.
"Dr. Goldberg is the savant. Yes, they were flirting with you like crazy at that party after Thanksgiving, Mr. Bill."
"Oi. Why were they flirting with me? What did I do?"
"You were with me. You're such a virgin."
"Figuratively?" he asked.
I nodded, and smiled. "Four?"
"You had to be there.
"I was a celebrity with the librarians. I started reading at home on my own at around three, real books, but soon I needed more to read.
"So we'd go to the library and I'd bring the books up to the desk, barely able to get them on the desktop.
"And a librarian who hadn't met me would tell Mom what a good choice she'd made for a book to read to me, or maybe that it was too advanced for me to understand.
"And Mom would tell them nobody reads to me. And the librarian would look at her like she'd said I flew in from the planet Zepton."
"Where?" I asked.
"It's just a concept."
"Even after they'd met me a few times some of them were pretty skeptical.
"But I started asking questions about the author, whether there were similar works in the genre, or, sometimes if I was interested in what influenced or inspired the author to write it, where could I find those materials?
"And they decided, no, we weren't playing some elaborate joke on them.
"Maybe they were my first love interest. They'd give me recommendations and we'd argue about the books. Reading and talking with them are some of the best times I remember as a kid."
"You were never a kid," I said.
Jeff tried to teach me ballroom dancing.
He had a difficult time because the concept of following was so alien to me. I had been in charge of every relationship in my life, except for my parents.
In dancing, I was supposed to do whatever he wanted.
I kept trying to lead.
In the end, we succeeded because I was so determined to learn what he was so generously offering.
Okay, that's the spin I gave Jeff. The truth was I absolutely adored being held confidently in his arms and I would have endured almost anything to be able to keep doing it.
I got to be pretty good. I also discovered it was another method of intense, non-verbal communication, not unlike making love.
We didn't neglect that either.
As difficult as it was at first, the learning itself was a delight. My great grandfather had been a young man in the era of the big bands. Ballroom dancing was what they did and I had the good fortune to dance with him when I was young.
He danced like he was born doing it, but I guess that's what practice will do for you.
I knew some waltz, fox trot, swing. But I didn't understand it the way Jeff did and at first I had little concept of leading and following.
He cleared that up quickly. I was used to doing a box in waltz. So, when he led, I went back, side, close and expected to go forward next.
He was already moving forward, forcing me back before I could try to complete what I thought we were doing. It wasn't just that he was stronger than me, which clearly he was, it was that he beat me to it.
How could I go forward when his body was already encroaching on my space? I had to get out of his way or he would have been tromping on my feet.
When he wanted to change the direction we were facing, he wouldn't just turn, I could feel the arm around my back almost muscling me into the position he wanted. It was not subtle. It was assertive yet not quite coercive, except for the fact that it always happened before I could let him know what I wanted to do.
The assertiveness and anticipation disconcerted me and I found I needed to concentrate too much on what he was asking to attempt to lead myself.
As I concentrated on following, his lead became more subtle.
Instead of pulling me with the arm around my back when he wanted me to turn left, he would push my right hand with his left to move me away from him. I use the word "push," but it was actually very light, yet clear.
The few times it wasn't enough to get my attention, he compensated with that hand around my back. But the more subtle it was, the more fun it was.
When we eventually became proficient together, the suggestion of a turn like that would be accomplished with a barely perceptible pressure from his left hand, too slight to even rumple a rose petal.
At the end of that first session he told me I had been wonderful. And I had. I had learned to listen to his requests. I thought of them as requests because I hate to be told what to do.
And from the firm way he held me with his right arm around my back, the gentle way he held my right hand in his left, the confidence with which he led and let me know in advance what he wanted, I know it was just dancing, but I felt I could relinquish all control to him and he would make sure everything was all right.
That's how I felt each time we danced.
And all the while we danced, he smiled and looked at me with eyes that said there was nothing he would rather be doing and no one he would rather be doing it with.