Sunday, May 26, 2013

When Nerds Collide

So I spirited Hopkins off to the Big City for my friend-slash-pseudo kid Stefan's improv show at a bar in a funky little enclave where my sister once lived. As it happened, Stef's dad was in from a larger city farther north for the show, so we had, in total for dinner, including Lizzie, Dustin (Stefan's brother), and another friend who happened along , seven people.

Tom is an interesting person and he's full of dude-wisdom (some of it highly suspect). He was holding forth on the subject of "bagging chicks" while Lizzie and I rolled our eyes so hard everyone within ten miles could probably hear it. The subject of holding doors open for ladies arose, to wit, Tom informed the four other men at the table that it's a surefire way to win brownie points with women. He leaned forward and asked Hopkins, rather conspiratorially, "Do you hold the door for ladies, Hopkins?" There was a pause- I knew something that Tom didn't, i.e., that he'd held the door for me earlier and that he knew better than to NOT hold it for me- to which he replied, "I hold the door if there's anyone in front of me, I guess." I chimed in, in my best Julia Sugarbaker voice (strong indicator that I'm tired, sloshed, or angry), "Of course he holds the door. His mother raised him better than that." I gave him The Eyebrow and he went perfectly still.

Tom chimed in, "Are you sure about that?"

"I am absolutely sure; I know his mother. Hopkins and I grew up together, Tom," I beamed my 1,000 kilowatt Junior Miss smile, another signal to anyone with any common sense that it was time to change subjects.

Somewhere down the line, Tom bought me a second glass of wine. The problem with this is that I have a LapBand- alcohol hits the little stomach pouch and absorbs immediately into my bloodstream as if I've had four times as much as anyone else- and I remarked on this making me a "cheap date". Tom seized upon the moment, fixed his eye on Hopkins, and announced, "You need to take advantage of that, buddy," and winked. I spat the wine back into the glass and turned the color of a tomato. My head snapped around and I caught an ever-so-slight smirk on his face. My eyebrows met my hairline.

I'm not entirely unfamiliar with the Madonna-and-Whore dichotomy. I am the former. Period, end of discussion, and when it comes to Boys With Whom I Grew Up and About Whose Opinion I Care, it is strictly enforced. Hopkins leaned forward and said, "One more and I'm taking your keys," to which I replied, "I don't think so, baby, you'll walk back to Smalltownland first." (Seriously, sugar, it will be FIVE HOURS before we go home, so I think I'll very probably be sober by then. I know the alcohol content for that vintage and it's only about 11%. There's a reason I wasn't drinking vodka.)

The most priceless moment, though, was when Dustin's friend started talking about something he'd seen on TV and read about regarding astronomy. His understanding of it was very elementary and I watched Hopkins as he followed the conversation. When he found a chance to interject, I heard him say, "Well, funny you should say that...it's actually..." and then he explained, in a clear yet not patronizing way, what the young man had been trying to educate himself about. At the conclusion, Hopkins added, "I was studying to be an astronomer and it didn't quite work out." I felt a little stab of unhappiness, because he would've been good at it. It was his dream, and I'd been forced to stand to the side and watch it die.

There was another heart-wrenching moment, too, during which Tom was speaking of his unfortunately-named supervisor at an old job. I'd dated a boy with the same last name, and he was someone Hopkins detested. I asked, as Tom mentioned the name, "Do you remember (X)?" The reaction was immediate and visceral. "YES, I remember him," he spat, with so much hatred that I jumped in my seat. I stared at him, wide-eyed, watching his face flush red and his eyes harden so definitely that it was chilling.

If I never knew before, I know now...but why didst thou not speak for thyself, Hopkins? What a waste, what a gruesome, terrible waste.

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