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Read Walk with Me from the beginning.
Walk With Me: Our Story, Part III
After our Mount Moriah hike, T had told me to give him a call if I wanted to have lunch. Of course I called K the very next day to tell her this and to get T’s number.
Then I had to figure out when to call. I couldn’t call right away, or it would look too eager, but if I waited too long, it would be obvious that I was trying to look uninterested. I settled on Tuesday – three days after the hike.
K had given me T’s work number, so on Tuesday afternoon, I glanced outside of my cubical to make sure the coast was clear, took a deep breath, and picked up the phone.
To fully appreciate the courage this took on my part, you must understand that I am terrified of the telephone. I have always been shy, but the phone cripples me further by taking away the much-needed cues of eye contact, facial expression and body language. I can talk on the phone to a complete stranger because I don’t care what they think of me. I can talk on the phone to someone I’m close too because I know them well enough to have established a speaking rhythm. But for me to call someone I know only slightly is downright nerve-wracking.
I was further thrown by T’s standard phone greeting, which is extremely long and went something like this, “Good afternoon, XYZ Corp. This is T Blah Blah Blah speaking. How may I help you?”
I was expecting maybe, “Good afternoon, T Blah Blah Blah,” and had already started to say hello three times while he rattled off the other, longer version.
Still, I think I managed to sound somewhat intelligent until the point where we agreed on lunch Friday at an Indian restaurant called the Tandoor. I had never been there, so T gave me directions.
“It’s got a green awning over the entrance. So I’m not sure why they call it the Tandoor.”
I was still so nervous that this went completely over my head. I barely knew what he had said, but there was a short pause so I filled it with a feeble giggle. We said good-bye and hung up.
Green awning. Tan door. Right. I sat in my cube blushing for ten minutes.
How could I miss that? I grew up with the King of Puns. When I was a kid, my father and I used to play a game we dubbed “Yearbook”, which consisted of going through Sunday’s supermarket flyer and saying things like, “Here’s an old buddy of mine: Chuck Roast. And this is his cousin, Stew Meat,” or, “Remember the head cheerleader? Honeydew Melons?”
Yes, we have a warped sense of humor. Which is why I was so disappointed that I didn’t pick up on the Tandoor line.
However, the important thing was…I had a lunch date on Friday! I couldn’t wait to get home so I could tell K the news.
I managed to wait until after supper before picking up the phone again, this time to call K. When she answered, she sounded a little listless, but K can be hard to read at times and I was too excited to pay much attention. I plowed ahead with my news.
K still did not seem happy for me. What was going on? Was she mad at me? She and Joe were the ones that had set this up in the first place.
To this day, I kick myself for not being more sensitive, for being so focused on myself, for not asking her, “Are you okay?”
“I have something to tell you,” K said.
“I don’t want to tell you, but if I don’t, I’ll feel like I’m hiding something from you and I hate feeling like that.”
Now my heart was pounding. I had no idea what she was going to say. Was it about me? Her? T? What?
“Just tell me.”
On the other end of the line, I could hear her take a deep, ragged breath and blow it out.
“Oh my God.” My first thought was for her. Her two children. Her husband. “K, I’m so sorry.”
“Joe told me last night. I didn’t want to tell you because you were so excited, but I felt like I was keeping something from you.”
Oh. T and Joe were in the same unit. Which meant T would be deploying, too. All of a sudden, getting to know this guy seemed like a really, really bad idea. Like a heartbreak waiting to happen.
“I can’t go out with him!” I panicked. “What am I going to do?”
“No! I really want you to. See? This is why I didn’t want to tell you.”
I sighed. “Well, we already made the date. It’s not like I can cancel it. What am I going to say, ‘Sorry, but I found out you’re deploying, so I don’t want go out with you?’”
“Promise me you’ll give it a chance,” K said.
I told her I’d try.
Now all I could do was wait until Friday.