Alex has been an online sports and pop culture writer for five years. When he's not writing about sports, Alex is an aspiring screenwriter.
I tried to rationalize. I thought maybe Robert just wasn’t used to going on dates with girls. Maybe Robert was just awkward. All signs pointed to yes on both of those. But he never messaged me, and he seemed to dodge me at school as usual. He wouldn’t reply to my messages on Facebook. That’s when it dawned on me. Robert just didn’t’ like me. He never did. He never would. Any fantasies about Robert sweeping me off my feet like I was Cinderella were dashed away in one fell swoop. A date with Robert Tolkien was my dream ever since I came to high school, but as soon as that dream came true, a whole lot of other dreams came to a grinding halt.
I was sitting in my room, sulking. Lisa came in. I told her “There is nothing you can say that will make me feel better.”
“Being a little grim, aren’t we? Carrie, you need to realize that things don’t always turn out the way you want. And I can tell you this much: If things worked out between you two, they sure as hell wouldn’t play out like some movie.”
“Maybe it’s not the end of the world. Now that I’m not vying for Robert’s attention anymore, I don’t have to shave my pits or use that acne cream.”
“No, you still have to do that,” Lisa pointed out.
I was perplexed. “Why?”
“You just do.”
“I just don’t get why.”
Lisa rolled her eyes at me. “Let’s just get back to why Robert sucks, okay?”
Hearing his name brought back the flood of memories: How he was never going to love because even after I tried, I was hideous and boring! Maybe that wasn’t it. Maybe I just did all the wrong things! Maybe I was his type, but every action I made was wrong. Either way, I started bawling like a baby!
Lisa put her hand on my shoulder. “Carrie, sis, what you need is a night of fun. I’m going to a concert on Saturday. You want to come?”
Through my tears, I just cried “Alright.”
Saturday night arrived. Lisa made good on her word to take me to some concert. Lisa was a metal head. Times like this made me wonder if Lisa and I were really related. I thought most of this music was noise pollution. Everything sounded like it was a nonsensical cluster-fudge of consonants and bad words. This alleged music was such blaring noise that I sat at a table with my fingers in my ears.
I don’t think Lisa appreciated my attitude. She sarcastically told me, “Carrie, don’t look like you’re having so much fun.”
“I can’t stop thinking about Robert. I bet he’s having a blast without me. I bet he’s with some hot girl. Or drinking champagne from the Stanley Cup.”
“Forget Robert! As far as we’re concerned, Robert doesn’t even exist tonight!” I was confused at this statement. Lisa was a little more forceful this time: “There are a lot of guys here. Find one!”
“There’s nobody better than Robert. He’s better-looking than every guy here. He’s a better dresser. He’s more fun to be around…” Lisa just rolled her eyes at this.
The emcee came on stage to introduce the next band called Fistful of Dynamite. As soon as the band went on stage, I was entranced by the lead singer. I tended to prefer clean cut guys like Robert, but there was something I admired about this guy’s rugged stubble. He wore thick glasses and flannel shirts – just like me!
I had to know who this guy was, I had to meet him, I had to meet him, and hopefully I could make him my boyfriend. Luckily, he introduced himself: “Hey, I’m Marshall Konizcy, we normally do songs about partying and stuff. But while I like partying, I also have, like, feelings and stuff. So I want to start off on song I wrote about my feelings.”
He started playing this acoustic ballad that was incredibly sweet. I couldn’t even believe it – here was this guy who was this good-looking, I heard his other songs – he was someone who liked drinking and getting wild, but also had the heart of a poet. After Fistful of Dynamite left the stage, I turned to Lisa. I wondered if I even needed to say something, I got the feeling from the look on her eyes that she could see the look on my eyes. But still I was practically begging her, “Please, can I stay to meet Marshall? Please? Please? Please?”
Lisa smiled. “Well Sis, I took you out here specifically so you could meet a man. So I don’t think I’m going to be able to let you meet Marshall. Yeah, of course, I’ll let you stick around to meet him.” My sister was such a joker.
Finding where bands were hanging out after the show was pretty easy. Lisa schmoozed a little with security, asking where we can find Fistful of Dynamite. I wanted to meet Marshall soooo much, but I was worried – “You’re not going to throw us out? We’re not going to be bothering them?”
The bouncer laughed this off: “You’re not badgering the Imagine Dragons, kid.” I don’t know what he meant, but I was excited to get this info so I could meet Marshall.
I snuck around back where the bands were hanging out. Before venturing in, Lisa hugged me. “I guess this is where I leave you. Good luck sis. Text me if anything happens.” Lisa went on her way. I kind of wish she had come with me. I kind of wish I had her for support, but I knew this was something I had to do by myself. I took a breath and knocked on the door. Nobody answered. I’ll admit I’m not the most forward girl on the planet, but something inside me struck. Something inside me said it was now or never so I decided to act and let myself in.
The backstage room looked like kind of a dump. Cigarette butts were everywhere. I could smell booze and the marijuana everywhere. I thought these guys would be involved in some wild, decadent party, involving a lot of descriptions of no-no words which I wouldn’t be able to use here. Instead, everyone looked bored and tired. I’m pretty sure one of the members was sleeping. It must have been past his bedtime. Another one was concentrating on playing Jenga.
Surprisingly none of them noticed as I walked in. If I were a cunning cat burglar, I probably could have stolen their wallets. But I was neither cat nor burglar, but I was hoping to sink my claws into something else. Despite already being in, despite previously having the courage to let myself in, I sheepishly asked “Can I come in?”
That guy who was playing Jenga was unbothered by my presence, but seemed agitated at the game he was playing “You can come in. Just don’t bother me!”
I moved in closer to Marshall. He looked out of it. “I really liked your set tonight. My sister comes here all the time, and she…”
Marshall seemed to snap to attention as I was talking to him. He interrupted me, “Aw man, that’s awesome! We’re here every weekend. You should come see us!”
“Actually, that’s why I came back here. I wanted to see YOU – not the informal you as in the whole band, I wanted to see you in particular. I think you’re cute.”
Marshall looked at some of his band mates, as if he needed permission from them. But it looked like they were cheering him on. All he said was, “Dude, that’s sensational.”
The Jenga guy was growing restless. “Could you please pipe down?”
“Like I said, my sister comes here all the time. So we can come out and see you all the time.” I told Marshall.
Marshall asked me, “You want to stay and hang out tonight?”
I wanted to, but I couldn’t. “I better not. My sister is waiting for me outside. And she’s really impatient…”
Marshall looked disappointed when I told him this. One of his bandmates muttered “Offer to drive her home, stupid!”
As if I didn’t hear that, Marshall commented “I can give you a ride.”
I was still excited that I got to spend the night with Marshall. I told him “That’s wonderful. I’ll tell my sister I’m staying and we can have all kinds of fun. And I can stay. Oh, what am I doing talking about it? I should go!”
As I exited, I heard that Jenga guy yell “Dammit! Dammit! Dammit!” I think his Jenga set fell down. I felt bad because I think it may have been my fault. But I couldn’t concern myself with that. I had to catch up with Lisa to tell her what was going on.
I ran out to tell Lisa I was leaving. I bumped into her while she was talking to some other guy. I thought maybe she’d be upset that I was ditching her, but all she said was “Have fun.”
I met up with Marshall afterward. He drove me home. On the drive, I told him all about why I wanted to meet him, how I loved the songs he played, how I loved that his songs were a combination of party jams and deep stuff. He seemed to enjoy hearing this. For someone who was so eloquent on stage, he didn’t have much to say when I talked to him. He kind of just chimed in with comments like “wow” and “that’s awesome”, often interrupting me.
We finally reached my house. I was in the middle of telling him about how I was in the band at school. He told me. “I took up guitar when I was in middle school. I knew it would be a good way to pick up… express myself.”
I thought about it. I kind of liked the idea of spending more time with Marshall and having him play some guitar for me, but I had to be realistic. “You better not. My parents are sleeping. And unless you just want to watch TV, there’s not much else to do.”
I could see Marshall looked a little disappointed as he just let out an “Oh…”
Still I couldn’t let him walk away empty-handed. Like with Robert, I tried my luck at flashing my “kiss-me” face at Marshall. He just smiled at me and before you knew it, we were smooching in Marshall’s car. As soon as we let go of kissing, he just said coyly, “See you around.”
I walked out of Marshall’s car. It’s funny, just a week ago, after my date with Robert, I felt awful. I felt like I had my dreams dashed. Now I walked back into my house with renewed confidence.
© 2020 Alex deCourville