I was always a pretty wiry guy. Once I got to college it kind of became a joke. Being on two teams gave me the metabolism of a housefly and even my five meals a day couldn't put weight on me.
Being in the dining hall enough to eat all those meals let me cast my eyes on pretty much everyone that lived on South Campus. There were a few girls that stuck out amongst the din, but there was one that outstripped them all. Every morning at 8 she came in in her sweats and sat down to a bowl of oatmeal by herself. Every night at 7 she came in and sat with her friends and ate her dinner. My mind would drift form the conversation and I would stare at her as I shoveled down my second and third helpings of whatever on the menu was heaviest. What would she think if she looked my way and saw the skinny hyperactive freak inhaling meatloaf by the slice without chewing?
Even so, I always hoped her eyes would dance my way. I was dying to see those emeralds shining out and right into mine. Her hair blatantly defied the bun that tried to hold it, the fiery orange tendrils always managed to escape and dance across her shoulders. When she let it down I would swoon as it's warm luminescence cut through the dank fluorescent chill of the institutional dining hall. There was a healthy pink glow on the fair skin that clung to her delicate body, a frame that moved with the grace of a bird.
But my friends just thought she was skinny.
We had a game we would play with the juice glasses. Lay it on its side in front of you and press your fingers down on it until it snapped out from under them and spun across the table. The spin would eventually get the glass to stand up and the object was to get it to stand up as close to the edge of the table as you could. We deeply sunk into one of these games when my buddies first laid eyes on her. She had come in for breakfast and was sitting all alone eating her oatmeal. I was staring, dead to the outside world, just her and me and my mouthful of pancakes.
I was startled out of all this by the smash. The glass from someone else's poor shot had flown past me and shattered on the floor. My roommate was sitting across from me and gave me a quizzical look until he realized I had been staring over his shoulder. "What's got you all lost in the headlights?" he asked as he started to crane his neck in the last known position of my gaze. "Oooohhhhh, I see. She's a cutie." That did it. Now everyone was looking.
"Who?" came from my left.
"The redhead," my roommate answered for me as I began to blush.
"She's a little skinny, don't you think?" came from my right.
"Nice ass, though. Hey Ack, why don't you go over and say hi, seems a shame she's gotta eat all by herself," was my roommate's suggestion.
"Naw, I got too much shit to get done. Soon as I'm done eating I gotta get to the gym. Besides, she eats her breakfast alone everyday." Whoops, too much information.
"Everyday? What, are you stalking her?"
"Sounds like somebody's gotta crush." Here comes the barrage of laughter and pokes in the ribs. I can't help but smile, I mean I do have a crush on her.
"Ah, it's probably just as well, you candy ass. The two of you are skinny enough to keep me up all night if you ever hooked up. I'd never get any sleep with you two bags o' bones rattlin' around across the room. It'll sound like you're playing Yahtzee." This is how people get their nicknames. From this point on the infallible apple of my eye was to be referred to as Yahtzee.
It was killing me. I would see her all over campus. Every class I went to, every appointment, every trip to the gym it seemed she was going the other way. Her lithe legs carrying her from place to place so gracefully she almost seemed to be floating. My only sanctuary was at the rink, and even that was getting hard to handle with the constant ribbing from my teammates.
"Hey, after practice let's go to Paulie's and play Yahtzee!" Laughter. "Anybody hear that last Rush album? 'Roll The Bones?'" More laughter. I guess it was funny. I had a crush on a skinny girl and I got my harassment just like anybody else would.
Then came the night at Rat's, the local chalk-your-license underclassmen pick-up bar. I used to hang out there on the occasional Friday night and get way to drunk with my friends as we shouted obscenities in our reverie. On this particular night the object of my desires was in the place. I had no reason to be surprised by this, as she always seemed to be in my vicinity. She was the fruit on the branch to my Tantalus, always there to tempt, but never obtainable no matter how hard your hunger made you try.
There I was leaning on the pool table, staring, beer in hand. The crowd was almost as thick as the smoke as I watched her sip at her vodka and cranberry as she laughed with her friends. The jubilation on her face as her head swung back to laugh through her wide smile just made it harder for me to resist her.
"Dude, I'm getting sick of this shit," my roommate had materialized through my fog of puppy love. "All you do is stand there and drool. If you're not going to grow a set of balls and talk to her just drop it and we'll get on with our lives."
"Oh man, I don't know," said I as I stared at the familiar shot of Jaegermeister and Rumpleminz he was holding out to me. I had a whole lot of booze in me already.
"C'mon you pussy. Drink up and get over there," he was insisting. "I spoke to the D.J. and we got it all worked out, trust me. Just have a shot of courage and ask her to dance." Logic like that couldn't fail, could it?
We chanted our obligatory college-roommates-out-drinking pre shot chant and slugged down the painful black syrup. I was ready for war. I got my druthers and was going to do it, Goddamn it. I was gong to ask her to dance. I began to walk over to her side of the bar. The D.J. was looking down at me from his booth and grinning like a freak. He pointed at her and gave me the most enthusiastic thumbs up I have ever witnessed, I though he was trying to throw something at me. I walked towards her and her friends saw me first. One friend looked at her and pointed over her shoulder at me as I approached. She turned and saw me, too late to turn back now. "Hi! Wanna dance?" With that the music changed abruptly to Shaggy's Boombastic, the D.J. all too aware what happens when people dance to dancehall reggae. She looked me up and down slowly, taking in my sight from toes to the top of my dreadlocked head, locked her shimmering green eyes into mine, and then turned back around to her friends.
Y'know, some things we just don't need happening to us.
I dragged my bruised ego back to my friends. The D.J. had seen and bless his heart changed the record immediately, drawing boos from the crowd that just seemed to fit with my long march of defeat. My friends were waiting with cold beers to salve the searing wound to my pride. The white trash girl hanging all over my friend Mike had a comment: "Jesus what a bitch!" She paused to look her way and snap her gum before continuing, "Want me to slap her around for ya?"
"No, that's alright," I chuckled, "but thanks for the offer." I proceeded to get shit-faced hammered.
The next afternoon I woke up with the hangover you're probably expecting I had. My head was pounding and I swear to this day that my stomach was digesting itself. Thoughts of smashing the overhead fluorescent reminders of the evils of alcohol abuse swam through the pool of mercury that evil monkeys had swapped for my brain as I trudged down the hall to the elevators. The elevator dropped leaving my guts on the seventh floor as I descended to the basement to head to The Spot. There was a tunnel between the two dorm towers in the complex that housed things like student mailboxes and a snack bar. The Spot was the small student run convenience store in the middle of it. I was on a collision course with some Tylenol and the biggest bottle of Evian I could find.
Working in the spot that afternoon was my pal John and his friend Becky. John had a bit of a crush on Becky and while they were pretty good friends, Becky wasn't really all that into John romantically. Their shift was over and they were heading to Becky's room to hang and decompress.
"John tells me you had a rough night," says Becky.
"Oh does he? You're a sweetheart John." I was a bit grumpy as I downed my Tylenol. Half of my didn't want to bother with the wrapper but I figured painkillers would probably hit my bloodstream a little faster if I took the time to remove it.
"Well well, someone doesn't take rejection to well, huh?" was John's reply.
"Aaah, fuck you," I chuckled when I realized I was kind of being a dick. "Sorry man, it's this hangover, it's gonna kill me. What are you guys up to?"
"Well we were going to head over to Becky's room and just chill out for a little while," John beamed.
"My computer's decided it doesn't like me and John here was nice enough to offer to look at it," was Becky's explanation. John was a computer science major and quite talented at diagnosing the ills that plague these evil boxes we rely upon so heavily. "Why don't you come and hang out? I'm sure I won't have a clue what John is doing and you can tell me all about last night while he's absorbed in the mess on my desk"
"Oh, I'd love to but I feel like I've been dragged through a sewer. I probably smell like it too. I'm just gonna head back to the room, take a shower and curl up with my bottle of water." I saw the look on John's face that was screaming for me to cut him a break and give him some time alone with his crush. Becky on the other hand also knew the score and was a little uncomfortable being alone with John for the time being.
"Oh, you can totally shower in my room," she was really laying it on. "My roommate's not there, so she won't care."
John saw the force behind her invitation as well as I did and figured it was more in his benefit to go along with it and try to talk to her another time. "Yeah man, come hang out with us." I was getting it with both barrels. What the hell, I was wearing clean shorts and it's not like I ever wore a shirt or, God forbid, shoes.
When we got to Becky's room she promptly handed me a towel and I scooted off for my much-needed shower as John went to work on the computer at Becky's desk. When I came out John had apparently fixed the problem. He was sitting on Becky's bed while she was now at her desk merrily perusing her up 'til now useless computer. Her roommate's desk chair was cluttered with books and I looked around for a place to flop my limp body. "Oh, just park it on Eileen's bed, the sheets are clean," Becky suggested.
I did just that. I flopped right down and promptly sprawled out. The curious thing was that on the wall, right next to her pillow, was a picture that I recognized. I ought to have recognized it, as it was a picture of me from the sports section of the school paper. It was a very flattering picture at that. I was getting fifteen stitches above my right eye during the second period of a hockey game when someone came into the locker room and called my name. My head was prone as the three hundred pound trainer was pulling stitch number eight through my forehead and I ground my eyes over towards the voice when the flash popped. The resulting picture bore the caption "Tarzan In Hockey Pants." I was sitting on a gurney without a shirt staring lasers through a tangle of dreadlocks at the camera as an enormous woman in scrubs and surgical gloves pulled silk through my ruptured face. Whoever slept in this bed not only hung that picture but also took the time to record my stats week to week on the sheet of loose-leaf paper that was hung next to it. Sitting there freshly showered, rehydrating, veins jam-packed with acetaminophen, and sprawled in the bed of some unknown woman who obviously was fixated with me had me feeling well enough to jump right in when Becky finally asked "So, what happened last night?"
I relayed my tale of woe with a much lighter heart than I expected. Becky was taken aback by the atrociously cunt-like behavior of this girl I had had this crush on for so long. I told her all about it, how I was enraptured with this ethereal woman from first sight, how I saw her everywhere I went, how I finally managed to work up the courage to ask her to dance and all the way up to my final embarrassment of having her simply turn away without so much as a reply to my question.
"Oh my God," gasped Becky, "what a bitch! Who was she?"
A smile curled over my lips as I looked at the doorway and instantly had a much clearer answer for her question than either of us expected up to that moment. "Actually, it was your roommate."
Things just don't get much sweeter than this. Becky and John's heads spun towards the doorway to see Eileen standing there staring at me sprawled out on her bed. Here was the fire-haired, green-eyed pixie that had stolen my heart and then pissed on it in front of a packed bar. However, this was the girl that also that hung my picture next to her bed and kept my stats very neatly and accurately, down to my minutes of ice time rounded to the nearest five seconds. Oh yes, oh God yes, oh my dear sweet fucking Christ I was enjoying this.
I pulled myself to my feet letting my muscular athlete's frame ripple as I rose from the bed. I was putting on a show. I called the shots now and I felt like turning the screws. Eileen simply stood there in shock as I slithered past her. I stopped when I was halfway squeezed between her and the hallway. I stared at her glittering green eyes as I said more to John and Becky than to her "I'll see you at dinner," and walked out of the room, the largest of shit eating grins plastered across my cheeks.
I arrived in the dining hall that night swaggering like the cock of the walk, my tray teeming with my usual meal-by-the-pound. John was already there and had regaled my friends with the events of that afternoon. I was treated to a standing ovation as I approached the table. I curtsied in reply and took my seat amid huzzahs and backslapping. I was giving my version of the greatest tale of our young collegiate careers when Becky arrived with Eileen coyly in tow. Bodies shifted blocking off all available seats but the one next to me as she looked for a place to park her tray and tightly packed rear end.
"Hi." The first word she spoke to me was soft and demure. The triumphant armor of ice melted from my heart as I heard the sound of her voice lilt it's way to my ears. "I guess I'm busted." We all had a chuckle at that comment; even Eileen was forced to giggle despite herself.
Overall dinner was a great time that night. Eileen was forced to explain why she behaved the way she did at the bar. Apparently she was a little intimidated. There was the guy she had this big crush on and pre-coital music blaring over the P.A. system. "My legs got all rubbery, and I wasn't sure I could choke out a word," she explained, "I turned around to get my drink and when I turned back, you were gone. I was so embarrassed I just sat in the corner the rest of the night." After dinner Eileen and I went for a walk, but I had a game the next day and had to be in bed early. Besides, squad rule: no sex the night before a game, and coach did check. She promised to be front-row at the game and I floated home grinning ear to ear.
The game the next day was a tight one, but I had a career game with a goal, two assists and a plus 4 defensive rating. I chalked it up to the presence of a beautiful redhead sitting behind the home bench. My buddies told me that she swapped seats to make sure she was behind me wherever I was on the bench, but the biggest surprise I got was right after the game. Eileen had run around to the rink exit at the other side of the stands. I was jacked on adrenaline, but all 100 pounds of that lithe little girl grabbed me by the sleeves and managed to pin me against the glass. She stared straight into my stunned eyes and reached up with a trembling hand to yank off my helmet. Her finger slipped through my lips and jerked my mouth guard out and let it drop to the floor. Next came the wad of Skoal in my lower lip as her finger returned and scooped that out as well. Her hand then wrapped around and grabbed a huge handful of dreads and my face was pulled violently against hers. My teammates cheered and banged on the glass behind me as Eileen's tongue slid passed my lips and I received the kissing of a lifetime.
When the kiss broke I staggered into the locker room leaving the loudest cheers of the night behind me. None of the six goals we chalked up against a tough opponent in a 6-5 victory received the reaction that that kiss got. I headed to my locker and yanked out my bag as my coach handed the game puck to the line left wing that netted three goals and two assists to ice the game. The rattling in my bag intrigued me and when I opened it I found twenty-four separate plastic cups with five dice in each. I threw my head back and laughed as I pulled out my street clothes and stripped for my shower.
Back in my room after a night of hard drinking, I was a little upset that Eileen decided to go back to her room. My roommate emptied his bag to let his gear dry out and promptly got up to head to his girlfriends room. I stripped yet again and crawled into bed with mixed emotions. I was still thrilled with not just the game but my own performance- I didn't score goals that often- but I was down because I wanted to keep celebrating and my new favorite toy had decided to sleep in her own bed. I was just starting to contemplate getting up and making the trek over to Eileen's room when there was a knock at the door. I hopped out of bed threw on my sweats and grabbed the rubber I was sure my roommate had returned in need of. I answered the door to find Eileen wearing a souvenir jersey, and nothing else that I could see. I stood there shocked for a second holding out the rubber. "Hmm, optimistic, aren't we?" Eileen said to me through a bedroom smile. "May I come in?"
I stepped aside and Eileen breezed passed me. She smelled fantastic. She had gone back to her room to shower and change. She waited for my roommate to come by and tell her the room was empty before she started her half-naked trek through the halls. I closed my eyes and breathed in the scent of her perfume and when I opened them again I saw my number on the back of the replica jersey which came to an end tantalizingly below the curve where her slender legs met her round, firm ass. "Are you going to close that door, or just stand there drooling at my ass?" Eileen questioned me over her shoulder.
I quickly shut and locked the door and walked toward her. When I was standing in front of her she trailed her fingernails across my bare chest as my hands slid around her waist to the small of her back. "Mmm, I've been waiting for this for a long time," she said tearing her eyes away from my chest and casting a longing look up at my face. Little electric shocks crackled up my spine as her fingernails trailed up my chest and over my shoulders until her fingers intertwined at the back of my neck. I slid my arms around her slender waist and pulled her to me. She sighed as our bodies pressed together, pulling herself up onto her toes to nestle her head into my shoulder. We basked in the warmth of our embrace for a long moment until her lips parted to kiss my neck.
Once more the charges made me shudder and my arms slid up her back and under her arms as she showered my neck and shoulder with gentle kisses and licks that contrasted so heavily from the brutal beating they had taken so few hours earlier. My hands met her soft, jasmine scented hair and my fingers laced through it until I found the nape of her neck. Her face pulled off my shoulder and looked up at me as I kneaded the back of her neck. The look of soft desire melted my heart. Her hands glided down my arms and her fingers locked into mine as she stepped back out of our embrace. She kept me ensnared in her gaze as she continued backpedaling until she gently descended back onto my narrow dormitory bed.