“What are you in the mood for?” Jenn asked.
“Don’t know if I’m in the mood for renting tonight.”
“Well, you get to keep it for two weeks now. Maybe you’ll change your mind.” Two weeks, heh? That was exactly how long we had dated, for lack of a better term.
She kept looking at me with those green eyes, as if waiting for me to talk about something other than movies. I thought back to when we’d dated. I’d called her up one night, one thing led to another, and we were kind of a couple. The kind that should have stayed friends. Don’t get me wrong, the first week was great. The next week she played Eleanor of Aquitaine to my Henry II. Instead of me throwing her in the dungeon, and instead of her trying to have me assassinated, we called it quits. It was a mostly bloodless revolution.
A few days later we hooked up, woke up next to each other, and decided we really needed to be friends.
She moved in front of me and reached for a New Release. My eyes traced a line from her outstretched hand, up her bronzed arm, to her shoulder, then up her neck, stopping on her profile. We were no more than a VHS away from each other. If we were any closer, we’d be a BetaMax away.
“Let’s get this,” she said, not taking her eyes off the back of the box.
“Haven’t you seen that before?” I didn't even check to see what it was. Jenn had a habit of renting the same movies over and over again, to the point where economically speaking she would have been better off just buying them. Talk about fear of commitment.
Finally I made out the cover: You’ve Got Mail. Or, as I liked to call it, Sleepless in New York. I couldn’t figure out why it was in the New Releases, then saw that it was next to the latest Meg Ryan romantic comedy.
She didn’t answer me. So I said, “We might as well get Sleepless in Seattle. It’s the same movie, only better.”
“That’s a good idea. I love that movie.” I could see her blond-flecked eyelashes. I suddenly remembered why I had called her in the middle of the night several months ago.
“But if you’ve seen it, why would we get it?” I asked. She stopped “reading” the back of the box and to look at me.
“I don't know. Sometimes things are better the second time around.”
I didn’t know what to say to that because she'd started my mind racing.
“So how’s Tim?” I asked her, buying myself some time. I realized as I was saying it that it was probably a mistake.
She cocked her head to the side and gave me an odd look. “…Good. He asked me to come over later. Party at Sig Ep.”
I tried to look out of the front of the store to see if the Girl Sharks were still circling, having smelled money in the air.
“So you’re going?” I asked her.
She stuck out her lower lip and shrugged. “Ralph might go.”
“Not like him to go to a frat party. Guess he’s just trying to get over ‘Shell. Probably go and hook up with some tramp.” Jenn shot me a look like I'd just called her dead grandmother a whore. “Hey, I’m not judging. Good for him.” He needed a get-over girl, kind of like Jenn had been for me. My face started burning, because I realized she was probably thinking the same thing—that she had been my tramp after -REDACTED- broke up with me.
But I didn’t think of Jenn like that. She was the perfect girl…under different circumstances. Time has a nasty way of playing tricks on you. If only I had dated Jenn with a little less baggage…but it’s useless to think of hypotheticals like that.
On the other hand, we had the rest of the summer before I went away to whatever grad school and before she went to Europe. Something passionate and meaningful could transpire, even if it was only short-lived. Perhaps all the more so because we’d both know it wasn’t going to last.
“Are you going to get something?” she asked.
I figured I might as well go for broke, since I really had nothing to lose. “I think I’d like to get something I’ve already seen too.”
She stiffened. “That’s a good idea.” Her eyelids fluttered and her face flushed before she quickly moved away.
And I could tell then and there that she still liked me. It all made sense. Acting angry in the car. Talking blatantly to Tiny Tim. Ignoring me. Telling me about going to the frat party with Ralph tonight. Her talking about “seeing the same movie” again, because she liked it. Wanting to rent a romantic comedy.
So I decided to ante up one more time, and see what kind of hand Jenn dealt me.
She’d already made it to the checkout line. Ralph was done talking to Tim, had spotted her in line, and was headed her way. I couldn’t wait any longer, so I decided to cut back through Drama to beat Ralph there, so I could make my move.
I mean, obviously, I liked the girl. I lost sight of her behind the Comedy sign, but all I had to do was round a corner to get to her first.
I didn’t know what I was going to say. I’d just wing it like always. Probably go with the old-stand by: fumble my words and play the part of the shy guy. The routine worked fairly well, because I actually was shy.