Faithful and reliable as always, Larry calls me again the next day. He reiterates that he had a great time and he’d love to see me again. “I’d love to see you again too,” I say, still lying through my teeth.
“Wonderful,” Larry says.
“So Jason and Melissa were thinking that we could double date with them,” I suggest.
“Oh,” Larry says. “Wonderful.” That must be his favorite word, which is funny because he says it with so little enthusiasm.
So that’s how we end up next Saturday night at a Greek diner in midtown, the four of us: Jason, Melissa, Larry, and me. We didn’t want to go anywhere fancy and this is a diner Jason and I have been to a lot, and we know it’s wheelchair accessible (a lot of places in Manhattan are not). Another point in Melissa’s favor is that she isn’t the kind of woman who seems to need to be taken out to expensive places. And Larry, of course, doesn’t care either way.
I feel a little awkward at dinner because I am the least dressed up person at the table. Larry, Jason, and Melissa are all wearing suits, because, believe it or not, they all just came from work. That’s right, all three of them were working all day on Saturday. Jason’s lucky he’s dating another banker, otherwise he’d never be able to get away with being such a workaholic
I’m actually amazed and envious at how crisp and fresh Melissa looks, despite the fact that she tells us she’s been up since six this morning. She’s wearing an expensive-looking dark suit with a skirt that falls to a respectable level just above her knees, which is long enough to show off her spectacular legs. She’s naturally pretty and doesn’t usually wear much make-up, although lately I’ve noticed she’s started wearing a little more around the eyes. Her long, dark hair is swept back into an elaborate bun that I think you’d call a chignon… in any case, it’s very elaborate looking. I could never even figure out a French braid, although it doesn’t really matter since my hair is too short for much beyond a small ponytail.
Larry also looks nice in his suit, but he definitely seems a bit tired compared with the eternally fresh Melissa. Jason looks tired too, but he’s sort of cute when he looks tired. Also, he’s wearing the green tie I love that is the exact same shade of green as his eyes. That tie is fantastic on him. I wouldn’t admit this, but every time I see him wearing that tie, my heart does a little thud in my chest, despite the fact that I’ve known him forever and I obviously don’t feel that way about him. But just objectively, Jason is a pretty cute guy.
I’ve told Jason about the impact of the green tie, omitting the part about how much I personally like it. Truthfully, back in his single days, I used to help Jason pick out outfits for a lot of his dates. And don’t say that’s weird because women help their male friends do that all the time. Jason doesn’t have the greatest sense of style, although it’s extremely fun to pick outfits out for him, because his wardrobe is so classy and expensive. If we ventured out to a department store, he’d buy anything I told him I liked, without even looking at the price tag.
That, by the way, is how I’ve managed to see Jason shirtless so many times. The first few times I was helping him pick out clothes in his apartment, he wasn’t too keen on the idea of changing in front of me. But I told him to get over himself and reminded him that we’re practically like brother and sister, so that convinced him. Now it’s no big deal to either of us. But of course, since he has a steady girlfriend, there’s no reason for me to be picking out clothes for him. And I’m sure Melissa wouldn’t appreciate it either.
As we’re sitting in the restaurant waiting to order, Huey Lewis’s “Power of Love” comes on the radio. I see Jason’s face light up and I’m feeling the same way inside. I love this song, especially after our Back to the Future marathon, but just in general. It’s one of my favorite workout songs.
“This is the greatest song of all time,” Jason announces.
Melissa rolls her eyes. “Does it make you want to get up and play the guitar to your sixteen year old mother at her prom?”
Jason looks horrified. “That wasn’t the prom, it was the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. And Marty doesn’t sing this song at the dance. He sings Johnny B Goode, which is also, by the way, a great song.”
“They play Power of Love when Marty is skateboarding to school at the beginning,” I chip in. “And also when he’s trying out to play at his own school dance.”
“You know what?” Melissa says. “You two are ridiculous with that stupid movie.”
“How could you say that?” Jason says. He turns to his girlfriend with a very serious look on his face and says, “Melissa, you are my density.”
“Oh god,” Melissa says. She looks at Larry. “The two of them get together and quote these eighties movies like it’s the Bible or something. It’s really…”
“Endearing?” Jason asks, blinking innocently.
“That wasn’t the word I was going to use,” Melissa mumbles.
“How about you, Lars?” Jason says. “You like eighties movies?”
Larry frowns. “Like what?”
“You know,” Jason says. “Like Ghostbusters, Spaceballs, Ferris Bueller…”
Larry has this blank look on his face and is shaking his head.
“Well, you’ve heard of those movies, right?” Jason asks.
Larry is still shaking his head. I swear, he must have grown up in a sound proof bubble or something. Which he still lives in most of the time, I think. “I mostly like documentaries,” he says apologetically.
“In other languages,” I add.
There’s an awkward silence at the table, which is broken by Melissa saying, “Don’t feel bad. That’s still infinitely cooler than being obsessed with eighties movies, believe me.”
“Watch out,” Jason says to Larry. “Tasha will probably make you watch all the movies with her.”
“Probably not,” Melissa says. “After all, she’s got Jason to watch them all with her any time she wants.”
I try to flash Jason a look as if to say “see?” But of course, he’s totally oblivious. He thinks this is all Melissa teasing us, but it’s not. I swear it’s not.
“I wouldn’t mind watching them,” Larry says. “What was that movie called? Ghoulcatchers?”
Jason is cracking up and even Melissa looks sort of amazed. Larry has got to be punking me. I mean, who hasn’t at least heard of Ghostbusters in thirty-something years of life? Even Nana knows who the Ghostbusters are.
“Ghostbusters,” I say. “You know, like, who’re you gonna call? Ghostbusters!”
Larry still has that blank look.
“Something strange in the neighborhood?” I say, hoping to jog his memory even though it’s becoming clear that it’s a lost cause.
“I didn’t see a lot of movies growing up,” Larry says. “Also, we didn’t have a TV at home. My parents didn’t believe in it. But that Ghostbusters movie sounds… very interesting.”
Well, he’s trying. I’ve got to give him that, at least. Maybe it will be fun to introduce Larry to all the movies I like. Maybe he’ll love them and then he’ll become a more interesting person, and he’ll have me to thank.
What? That could totally happen.
By the end of the night, I’m kind of wanting Larry to have an opinion about something, anything. Both Jason and Melissa are fairly talkative and breeze through a number of topics, from politics to entertainment. Melissa especially is this staunch fiscal conservative, and she goes on a ten minute monologue about how she feels this country is moving towards a socialist system and we’re all going to be in trouble. Jason once joked that she’s like a smart version of Sarah Palin, which made me laugh, because she actually sort of looks like a younger version of Sarah Palin.
It gets a little heated between me and Melissa, because I’m a liberal and I disagree with everything she says. But of course, she’s much better at arguing than I am.
Through the whole discussion, Larry remains completely silent. He apparently has nothing to say about anything. He has zero opinions. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone quite like him.
But as usual, Larry isn’t a total zero. When dinner is over, he quickly offers to pay for the whole thing. Jason and Melissa both argue with him, but he actually insists. I mean, it wasn’t a super expensive meal or anything… it was just burgers. But still, it was nice of him.
And then when I tell him I’m going to get a taxi home, he quickly says he’ll take me home, which means he’ll pay for the taxi too. Also, it’s nice that he wants to make sure I get home safely, although I’m suspecting he wants a goodnight kiss.
“It was really nice seeing you two for dinner again,” I say, as I stand up and put on my jacket.
“Yes, it was,” Melissa says, her lips curled into a phony smile. “It’s so rare I get to have a dinner with Jason without him text-messaging you all night.”
Okay, that is so not fair. Jason and I exchange maybe five text messages per day. Definitely no more than ten. Admittedly, I did have to purchase a phone plan that included text messaging because of him, but I also use it for other things, like sometimes I text my sister.
Like I said, Melissa hates me.
Jason once again doesn’t seem to notice Melissa’s comment. But it kind of leaves me steaming because the second I get in the taxi, the first thing I say to Larry is: “What do you think of Melissa?”
“Oh,” Larry says. “She’s great at investment banking. Her clients really love her. She has a natural talent.”
I don’t see how it’s possible for someone to have a natural talent at investment banking. I mean, you can be a natural chef or a natural artist. But a natural investment banker? Come on. I guess he means she’s good with numbers, which I really don’t give a shit about.
“I meant, like, personally,” I say.
“Oh,” Larry says again. “Well, she’s all right. I’m kind of surprised she and Jason have been going out so long.”
Finally, Larry has said something that interests me! “Really? Why?”
Larry shrugs. “I don’t know. They seem to fight a lot.”
Wow. Major gossip. I feel bad that this fact makes me kind of happy. “What do they fight about?”
“I don’t really listen,” Larry says. “But I think I heard them saying something about Thanksgiving.”
See, the thing is, I kind of messed up Thanksgiving for them last year. It totally wasn’t my fault. I invited Jason to Thanksgiving dinner at my house last year, which I do almost every year. His parents still live there anyway, so it’s sort of like he was spending the holiday at home. Except that his parents recently retired and have been spending the winters in Florida, so they weren’t home.
I had no idea that Melissa invited him to her parents’ house for Thanksgiving. How was I supposed to know that? Besides, it’s his fault for saying no to her and then going with me. Melissa’s family is all the way back west in California and it’s just a short flight to Pittsburgh (although we ended up driving together), and Jason hates the hassle of long plane flights. Plus they’d only been going out a few months and I don’t think he felt ready to meet her parents.
But somehow, it’s all my fault, right? Yet another reason why Melissa hates me.
I’m unable to pry any more gossip out of Larry during our cab ride. He has the cab take me to the building again and takes the elevator up with me to my floor. This time he doesn’t ask permission and just kisses me, but it’s a pleasant, respectful kiss. It’s not a grabby kiss at all.
For a moment, I debate if I should ask Larry inside. It’s not that I’m worried about fending off his advances, it’s more that I’m not eager about having to talk to him any longer. “I’d invite you in,” I say, “but my place is such a mess.”
“That’s all right,” Larry says graciously. “Maybe next time.”
I sort of love the guy but at the same time I can’t stand him.
Larry said that it would be okay if I showed him some movies that I liked, so Jason comes over the next weekend to help me pick out a few from my collection. Somehow it takes us three hours to do this. But Jason insists this is a really important decision. “You’re taking this very seriously,” I comment.
“You show him one movie he hates and that’s it,” he says. “He’ll tune out for the rest of the session.”
Jason ends up with a big stack of movies on his lap, which he ordered by the amount he thought Larry would like each movie. See, this is why Melissa had no reason to be jealous. Jason is making a genuine effort to help me connect with another guy. If we were into each other, I wouldn’t help him dress for dates and he wouldn’t help me pick out movies that Larry would like.
As his top pick, he has Fargo, which he claimed that Larry will like because although it’s not foreign, all the characters have accents. (That made sense when he first said it, I swear.) Then his next pick is Pulp Fiction, because it’s the “ultimate guy’s movie.” Last we had This Is Spinal Tap, because it actually is filmed like a documentary, which Larry apparently likes.
“I’m jealous,” Jason says, fingering the DVD boxes. “You guys are going to have an awesome time. I haven’t seen Pulp Fiction in ages. Melissa thinks it’s too violent.”
“Well, it’s pretty violent.”
“No more so than real life,” Jason says, shifting in his chair.
Jason and I watched Pulp Fiction probably a dozen times before Melissa came into the picture. We had this ritual we used to do when we watched the movie. There’s a scene in the beginning of the movie where Samuel L. Jackson takes a bite out of the Big Kahuna burger of the guy he’s about to kill. Jason and I always used to order fast food burgers and keep them in the bag until we got to that scene, then we’d eat the burgers with Samuel L. Jackson. And a tasty beverage to go with them.
“I feel like a burger,” Jason says as he gazes down at the movie.
“Me too,” I admit.
So I make a run down to Burger King, which is down the block from me, and get us two bacon cheeseburgers, French fries, and two Cokes. Burgers are not a great way to maintain my figure, but what the hell. How often do I get to have burgers and watch Pulp Fiction with Jason?
We lay out the burgers on the table and keep ‘em wrapped till Samuel L. Jackson starts eating his burger. We then each take big bites. Jason is so eager that a little bit of ketchup dribbles down his chin. I start laughing. “You’ve got ketchup on your face.”
“Oh…” Jason swipes at his chin and totally misses the ketchup. I start laughing again and reach out with my thumb to get it for him. As my finger brushes against the slight stubble on his chin, I can’t help but feel like if Melissa were seeing this, she wouldn’t be too happy.
“You shouldn’t worry about Melissa,” he says, as if reading my mind.
“I just don’t want to lose you,” I say.
“Come on, you’re never going to lose me,” Jason says. And I think that he believes it, but I’m not so sure. I think before Melissa will commit to him, there’s going to be an ultimatum, and it’s going to include my name.
To be continued....