Boy Meets Girl by Yawatta Hosby
“Just talk to her, dude.”
Rob frowned. “She doesn’t want to be bothered.”
“Did she say that?”
“Then you don’t know that.”
Rob wished things could be that simple. He looked at his friend, Ernest, who ate his calzone. Rob drank his soda and picked at his slice of pizza. He had lost his appetite. Glancing around the pizzeria, he noticed a large crowd. It was Friday’s night rush. He hoped Giselle would stop by even though she probably didn’t care to see him.
For the past couple of months, Rob and Giselle bumped into each other at Tony’s Pizzeria every Friday night. Only one night they’d spend together, but it was perfect. The rest of the week he daydreamed about her. He developed feelings for Giselle in that short amount of time but never crossed any boundaries. He kept getting mixed signals, so he didn’t want to make things awkward and risk losing her if she didn’t feel the same way. Rob decided it would be best to take things slow, to start a friendship with Giselle, so she would trust him. But for the past two weeks, it turned awkward–the one thing he wanted to avoid.
Whenever he’d greet her, she seemed like she was in a rush to get away. She would hardly make eye contact, say a quick “hello,” and walk away. Not even a smile anymore. That’s what hurt Rob the most. Giselle didn’t seem excited to see him, and he didn’t know why. Ever since he met her, he kept confiding in Ernest about his feelings. Ernest was in a healthy relationship, that sometimes Rob was jealous of, so he could offer good advice on pursuing the opposite sex.
Rob was realistic; he knew he had no game.
Ernest continued, “How about this? If you don’t think you can tell her how you really feel, then be her friend. Get to know her and she’ll get to know you. Then take things from there.”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to do.” Rob rubbed the back of his neck.
Ernest smirked. “Dude, you move at a worm’s pace. Friends don’t only see each other one night a week, if you can even call it that. More like only ten minutes.” He took a sip of his soda. “Friends call and text each other. They hang out in groups or alone. They enjoy each other’s company and make each other laugh. You got the last part down; now all you have to do is see her more.”
Rob nodded, letting the advice sink in. “Hang out with her. I can do that.”
Ernest laughed, shaking his head. “You’re too nice for your own good. Don’t get stuck in the friend zone.”
“Giselle likes nice guys. I asked.”
They both laughed.
“You know what I say, keep trying. If you get a green light, then try harder. Keep upping the ante if you keep getting a green light. Don’t stop for a yellow light. Absolutely stop if light turns red. If you keep upping the ante, then she’ll get that you like her. Then the ball will be in her court.”
Rob frowned. “What if she turns me down?”
“Then you’ll move on.”
Rob gave Ernest a never-going-to-happen look. His biggest fear was that all this time their conversations didn’t mean anything to Giselle. What if she was only being nice? What if she found someone else, tired of waiting for him to make a move? If she was even hoping for that. What if he misread the vibe she was giving out? What if he wanted a relationship with her so badly that he fabricated her responses in his head?
Doubt started to kick in. He didn’t want to bother her or be a regret. He analyzed their conversations and interactions on a daily basis, happy with the way she made him feel. It was torture not knowing if she felt the same way. It would hurt his heart if she had gone back to her friends, asking them to devise a plan for Rob to get off her back. What if these past two weeks had been Giselle’s avoidance plan in action?
“What’s wrong, dude?”
Ernest sighed. “You got it pretty bad for her, huh?”
“Where have you been the past two months?”
“If you want, I’ll talk to her and see where her head is at,” Ernest offered.
“Nah, we’re not in school anymore.”
“What? You mean you don’t want to write ‘do you like me? Yes, no, or maybe’ on this napkin.”
They both grinned.
“So…you think I should talk to her?”
“Yeah, don’t even ask what’s wrong. Don’t even acknowledge that she’s been acting distant unless she brings it up. Just greet her like usual. Treat it like everything is the same. If she still acts awkward around you, then you’ll have your answer. Who knows, it may not even be about you. It could be about her.”
Rob’s heart beat quickened when he noticed Giselle crossing the street to head to the restaurant. His eyes glistened with lust. His lips parted; she was so beautiful. She wore a black pencil skirt that went a little above her knees, a white shirt, and green cardigan that went down to her waist. Her braid draped down her left shoulder. He readjusted his shirt and smoothed out his hair, hoping she’d glance at him. Just once.
As though she could read his mind, her eyes met his. Rob smiled. Giselle grinned then quickly lowered her gaze to the ground. He remained looking at her even though she ignored him. He fidgeted with his hands. What did he do wrong?
She walked through the door, looking straight ahead. Rob closed his eyes and sighed. Should he even say hello? Should he leave her alone? Putting on a brave face, he smiled again. “Hey, Giselle.”
She turned to face him and waved. “Hey.” She walked away.
Ouch. Not even a smile. She didn’t even include his name. He rubbed the back of his neck. “I told you she doesn’t want to be bothered,” he whispered. He lowered his eyes to the table, avoiding the sympathetic expression of his friend.
“What are you talking about, dude? She said hello. I think you’re making more than what it really is. You want more of a happy reaction because you’re feeling her, but she treated you like anyone would treat a friend or acquaintance.” Ernest sighed, standing up. “You’ll give yourself an ulcer if you try to analyze everything.”
“Yeah, so there’s no excuses why you can’t go over there and talk to her.”
Rob turned around. Now, Giselle was seated at her usual table. She wore headphones and wrote in a little notebook. His heart fluttered.
“Call me later.”
Rob nodded, never looking away from Giselle.
“Women don’t like men staring at them. It creeps them out,” Ernest teased.
They made eye contact. “Is that what you think happened?”
“It was a joke, dude.” Ernest shook his head. “You’re hopeless.”
Rob smiled. “Yeah hopelessly in love.”
They both chuckled.
Ernest left. Rob bit his nails. If he was going to make a move, it’d have to be now. She never stayed at Tony’s that long, only long enough to eat. Maybe Ernest was right? Maybe Giselle wasn’t even avoiding him? Maybe it was all in his head?
Rob gathered everything from the table, placed it on his tray, then dumped it into the trash can. He looked at Giselle again; he caught her glimpse over at him then quickly began writing. He smiled. Had she been sneaking peeks at him all this time like he’d been doing with her? With more confidence, he crossed the room to stand in line. He ordered a cannoli and another soda.
He took a deep breath before glancing over in Giselle’s direction again. Now or never. As he walked, different scenarios played in his head. Play it cool, he told himself. Yeah right. He couldn’t pretend like he didn’t care what she thought. She wasn’t just some girl. He wanted to impress her. If only she’d give Rob a clear sign of if it’d be okay to ask her out.
In the past, it was all right for him to sit at her table without asking first. She had seemed to enjoy it, so he decided to risk it tonight. He remained across from her instead of on the same side of the table. If across, he could better hide his sweat and nervousness. At least, he hoped.
Giselle scribbled something in her notebook, removed her ear buds from her ear, and looked up. She smiled at Rob while he returned the facial expression, raising an eyebrow. “Hey, Rob.”
His heart beat quickened with the mention of his name. ‘What’s up?”
“What’s up with you?”
Up the ante. Don’t stop unless a red light is given. “I enjoy the time we spend together.”
Giselle blushed. “Me too.”
“You look pretty in your outfit.” His cheeks flushed red. “Not that you don’t look pretty every day. I mean–“
“You look spiffy too. I love your scruff.”
Rob rubbed his chin in satisfaction. Good thing he hadn’t shaved this morning. If she wanted, he could grow it out to a beard. “You do?”
She nodded. “I’m attracted to scruff and messy hair. My friends tease that my type looks homeless.”
They laughed. Rob ran his fingers through his hair, disheveling it. If she wanted, he would throw his brush away. “This is the first time you’ve ever mentioned what your type is, physically speaking.”
“Was I supposed to tell you before?” she teased.
He scooted his plate to the center of the table. “Want some?”
Her eyes widened. “Dessert before my dinner? I can’t do that.”
She bit her lower lip. With a hint of mischief in her eyes, she lifted up the fork and cut into the cannoli. She ate a piece. “Oh my gosh, this is so good.”
“Eat the rest of it.” Before she could turn the offer down, he said, “I’m not taking no for an answer.”
“Then I’m not taking no for an answer when I say my treat for next time.”
“Next time?” Rob smirked. “Who says there’ll be a next time?”
She frowned. She lowered her eyes onto the table and ate the cannoli.
Rob gulped. He took the teasing too far. How could he take it back? He studied her as she picked up her pen to write in her notebook. “I’m sorry. I was just kidding. It was a dumb joke; it won’t happen again.”
She continued to eat. Her silence tortured him.
“I would like nothing more than there to be a next time. Let’s hang out tomorrow.”
“Why not?” he whispered, rubbing the back of his neck.
She thanked the waiter, who brought her stromboli out to her table. She turned her gaze back to Rob. “Want some?”
He shook his head.
“I can’t because I have a performance tomorrow night. I get to sing three songs.” She lifted up her notebook, then sat it back down. “That’s what I’m working on now.”
He grinned. “You sing?”
“Yeah, I’ve been really busy preparing, and now the big night is tomorrow.”
“I’ll be there. I wouldn’t miss it for anything.”
“Yeah, tell me when and where. I’ll be sitting in the front row.”
Giselle blushed. It eased his mind seeing her nervous around him. Maybe she felt the same way? Rob’s question was finally answered. Her mind was preoccupied and that’s why she wasn’t herself these past two Fridays. It had nothing to do with him at all. He was happy that he learned a secret about her.
He continued, “Sing me something now.”
She surveyed the room. “You want me to sing in this crowded place?”
“When I’m with you, it feels like we’re the only two people in the room.”
“Are you flirting with me, Rob?”
“Giselle, isn’t it obvious?” He kept a calm exterior even though he was freaking out inside.
“This is the first time you ever have.”
“Was I supposed to before?”
She smiled. She batted her eyelids, twirling her braid through her fingers. Studying his reaction, she sang, “Miss Mary Mack Mack Mack, all dressed in black black black, with silver buttons buttons buttons, all down her back back back.” She laughed.
He rubbed his chin, wishing she’d run her fingers through his facial hair. He joined the chorus of her laughter. “I see how it is. With that classic, I can see you winning the audience over.” He fidgeted with his hands. “Your show is at night, right? It’s not an all day thing, so we could get breakfast. How about IHOP?”
They locked passionate gazes. “I’d like that.”
How successful the night was going, maybe they could bypass friendship and head straight to dating. He’d let Giselle take the driver’s seat. Either way, he had a lot to talk to Ernest about once he called him later.