Continued from Mennonite Achiever
I met up with Christina and George again at the cake table where a woman served us each a piece of cake and a drink. As we were eating the cake George asked, “Well, how does it feel?”
“Great! Way better than what I imagined it would be like getting one of those perfect attendance awards from work,” I answered.
“What, you imagined getting one of those?”
“I sure did. I even imagined the speech Hilary would give before he gave it to me . . . well, mostly his voice. Please don’t tell Bree about this. She would roll her eyes right out of her head if she heard about this.”
He laughed so hard he almost choked on his cake and said, “Don’t worry I won’t tell her, but you are right about that, she actually would.”
I laughed and said, “Thanks. And you know something, it wasn’t so much getting that award that I imagined. I just really wanted one so I could hang it on the wall to show that I was good at something. But this was way better.”
“Well, you’re right about that. This is so much better. This will actually get you ahead in life. That perfect attendance is crap! People come into work half dead, sick as a dog to keep their perfect attendance. And they don’t even get a raise or anything. All they get is a f#cking piece of paper.”
I just stared at him.
“Ah! Sorry, I got a little passionate there.”
“Hey, are you guys ready to go party?” Christina asked.
“Ahhh… I think,” I answered as I looked at George.
“I’ll go wherever Anna is going,” George said.
I went to say thank you to my teacher one more time and that I would see her on Monday morning.
“You are most welcome, Anna. You are such a hardworking, intelligent young woman. You should be so proud of yourself. Enjoy your weekend and I will see you on Monday,” she said.
And I had to fight back the tears again after hearing those words coming from my teacher while I said bye to her.
Christina parked the car on a busy street near the club. I was worried about leaving my papers in the car because I thought someone might steal them. George reassured me that no one would steal those papers. But after he saw the look on my face he suggested that we put them into the glove compartment and lock it. I thought that was the best idea ever.
“I shouldn’t be doing this. I should go home. This is not a place for me,” I thought at the same time as I felt the butterflies in my stomach come to life while we walked into the club. The music was so loud. There was smoke everywhere the bright lights shone.
George and I followed Christina to a table where some people were already sitting. After they got up and all hugged Christina, she introduced them to us and we sat down behind the table. When the waitress came to the table one of Christina’s friends said, “The first round is on me,” and everyone ordered a drink.
Everybody knew exactly what they wanted. When it was my turn I said, “Ahhh… what she is having,” and I pointed to Christina.
The waitress asked, “You want a brown cow?”
I thought, “Oh great! Why do I always get picked on?” and I said, “Ahhh… No! I don’t want a cow, I would like a drink.”
She started laughing and then George came to my rescue and ordered me a piña colada.
I gave George a disappointed look and asked, “A brown cow, why does this always have to happen to me?”
He explained that a brown cow was a drink mixed with milk and kahlua.
“Ew, that sounds terrible, thanks for helping me again,” I said.
“Yeah, I didn’t think you would like that kind of drink. And you’re welcome, sweetie,” he said as he winked at me.
I thought, “I am just going to keep talking and pretend that that wink doesn’t affect me one bit.” But my cheeks felt like they were on fire. I quickly looked down so he wouldn’t notice and asked, “Have you been here before?”
“Yes, a few times. I only come here when I get invited by someone I like spending time with, but this is not really my scene. I don’t particularly enjoy watching people get shitfaced and act all stupid. But most people who come here think that’s the only way to have a good time. That’s just not my idea of a good time,” he explained.
Before I had a chance to respond, my heart dropped to the floor when I heard the same Celine Dion song blasting through the air that Christina had dedicated to Richard at his funeral. Everybody stopped talking and I held my breath.
Christina ran to the bathroom and a few of her friends followed her. I was relieved to know that her other friends were looking after her. I still had no idea what to say to her when she was having a hard time.
Everybody at that table just sat there in awkward silence. As the song ended the waitress came with the drinks. I had no idea what the drink was that George ordered for me. George looked at me with one eyebrow raised and held his breath until I took a sip of it.
I put the drink down and said, “Stop it, George! You’re turning blue.”
He let out a big sigh and said, “Your behavior is rubbing off on me. I was hoping that if I held my breath you would like the drink I ordered for you.”
“You know that holding your breath won’t change the outcome, right?” I said.
“Hmmm, where did you hear that?”
“Ahhh… Oh you know, my scary neighbour told me that.”
“Oh yeah, tell me more about this scary neighbour of yours. Why is he so scary?”
As I felt my heartbeat speeding up I thought, “Oh I shouldn’t play along. I should stop before I say something really stupid and embarrass myself. Ahhh, what do I say, the tattoos? He swears a lot? The long hair? Just say something, Anna! One of them!”
“Ahhh, because he swears a lot,” and held my breath until he started talking. I slowly started breathing so he wouldn’t notice and thought, “Smooth, Anna! Real smooth. This is going to end badly.”
“I know, he has a habit of real bad language sometimes, but he knows that there is a time and place for that. You know something? My neighbour holds her breath and thinks people don’t notice, but they do just so you know,” he said, winked at me and drank from his beer.
I was so embarrassed I turned beet red again as we both started laughing. I had no comeback -- nothing -- and I thought to myself, “I should know better than to play along with something I know I won’t get out of. Great, Anna, just great.”
George noticed my awkwardness and rescued me from myself.
“I think holding in what you feel is worse than letting out. I think my neighbour should try it sometime. She might know that it feels really good to just let out what she really feels and call it what it is. But of course only at an appropriate time and place,” and winked at me.
I dug deep but all I could say was, “Well ahhh…”
“So how is that drink that your scary neighbour ordered for you?” he asked.
As he was sitting there, patiently waiting, enjoying himself, watching me sweat, I said, “Well…” and he held his breath again. I thought fast and hard before I answered. My heart was pounding out of my chest. I thought I might pass out before I got the words out. I took a deep breath and cleared my throat and finally, in a shaky voice I said, “This drink is f#cking awesome, I really love it.”
He took a deep breath and shouted yes! as he gave me a high five. We both laughed for a while then he asked, “How does that feel?”
“Ahhh… I am not sure yet.”
“Okay, but please don’t tell your mom that I got you to say that.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t,” I answered, as Christina and her friends came back to the table, and then there was that awkward silence again. Until the song, Macarena came on and everybody went dancing.
Christina’s friends dragged her to the dance floor. One of her friends asked if I wanted to dance and said, “Oh no! I can’t dance, you go ahead.”
She looked at George and he shook his head and said, “Not a chance.”
“You don’t dance?” I asked.
“Not to this, anyways.”
I was so relieved that he wasn’t going to dance because then I would have stayed sitting there all by myself. I had never danced and I was not going to embarrass myself in front of all those beautiful, fancy dressed-up people.
The piña colada was starting to kick in. I was feeling light, warm, and brave. Out of nowhere, I asked George, “Have you seen Bree lately? Do you think she will come here tonight?” And I realized that I should not have asked about her but it was too late.
“Oh f#ck, no, and I hope she doesn’t show up here tonight. I haven’t spoken to her since the day you ran for the door at work, which by the way I am still curious to know what she told you that made you do that.”
I thought, “Oh no, I knew it was a bad idea to bring her up, you are a real schlopmets, Anna.”
“It’s not a big deal, don’t worry about that. I can’t tell you. I would die of shame if I repeated what she said.”
“Oh crap, Anna, now you got me even more curious. But I guess I will just have to suffer because I do not want your death on my hands. The last thing I need is having your Mennonite peeps come after me.”
I laughed and said, “Yeah, especially one of my aunts, she would probably want to spank you.”
He looked at me with one eyebrow raised and took a breath. He was going to say something but he stopped himself and just started laughing as the waitress came back to take more orders.
He ordered another beer and I asked for water. “Are you sure you don’t want another drink?” George asked.
“Yeah, I am sure, I think I am getting a little too brave here.”
I took a sip of the water, put it on the table as I thought “I wish I could erase what I just said about my aunt but all I can do is hope that he won’t keep talking about that and steer this conversation in a different direction.|” I asked, “So what kind of music do you dance to then?”
“Well I would dance with you to a good slow song since you asked.”
My heart skipped a beat as I thought “What?”
He laughed and said, “No, I am serious, would you dance with me to a slow song?”
“Ahhh… I have never danced before. I am serious. I don’t know how to dance. I am not messing with you.”
“It’s not hard, Anna, can I show you when the next song comes on?”
The butterflies in my stomach were going insane as I began to get tempted to accept.
“Ahhh… I shouldn’t dance. I ahhh… I don’t think that is a good idea.”
He looked right into my eyes and said, “Please.”
It went all quiet and all I could hear was my heart pounding. Everybody came back to the table and sat down, the lights went dim and a song called “Truly Madly Deeply” came on that I had never heard before. George got up, put one hand on his back, bowed in front of me, and put his other hand out toward me.
I gave Christina a scared help me look, she just nodded her head and said, “Go, Anna, GO.” My heart was beating so fast, I felt really light-headed. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Click here to continue reading my story.