..."Okay", I said thoughtfully without really taking much time to think before my response. He'd asked me so many times before, that him saying it was more like a point in case versus an invitation. But, that didn't mean he didn't mean it. I had been venting about the odd behaviors of Corey, the guy I was interested in. Corey seemed so weird. He was either gay, super shy, or just not into me AT all. Corey's weirdness was enough to make me try, and Patrick's persistence had finally paid off. I was sitting in the passenger side of his black and copper S-10 Chevy Blazer on our way to our after school job. We had just turned left onto Uintah from Wahsatch and were headed West.
The busy street located in the heart of Colorado Springs had to still be as narrow as it would have been in the late 1800s. It's the sort of street that you can imagine driving a small vehicle with a collapsable windshield on; while wearing goggles and a scarf. You'd feel like you were going much faster than you were, between all the bends in the road and the humming of an old motor. Add the East bound traffic zipping by into the equation and it was quite the experience. Sometimes when coming out of a curve on Uintah, it would feel like we were going to pop right up on the sidewalk since the passenger side tires were driving in the gutter as it was... perhaps those are good words of caution to the Colorado Springs pedestrian. Find a different route.
Patrick, though only sixteen, was a fantastic driver. I was as comfortable with him driving as I was with my dad. That says a lot. After my nonchalant response to his comment he looked at me, then back to the windshield and then back to me. He was stunned, but expressionless. "Alright", he said as put his eyes back on the road. He drew out the "i" sound in alright. It was like he had never doubted us becoming a couple for a second, and had just been waiting for me to come around.
He'd been biting his time for nearly two years. My off and on boyfriend, Gunther, had introduced him and Grant to me when we were freshman. I thought they were the funniest duo ever. They were absolute clowns. It didn't matter how sweet and sincere they were, I couldn't keep a straight face when I was around them. All Grant had to do was to look my way with his huge, deep blue, eyes and blank stare for me to fall out of my desk and onto the floor in stitches. Patrick chewed gum that he'd flip in and out of his mouth so quickly that it resembled a snake's tongue, but blue. For whatever reason, watching those two was hilarious, and they quickly became two of my favorite people to be around. We'd deliver one another to our next class by walking through the crowded halls arm in arm. I was their go to girl for girl advice, and I was happy to participate whole heatedly.
Patrick wore hockey T-shirts, corduroy Arizona Jeans, and Adidas; with a purple JanSport backpack in those days. He was taller than most of the guys he hung out with, and had light brown hair that usually stuck up a little in the front from wearing his ball cap. No hats were allowed on in the building while we were at school, but it went on backwards the second he stepped outside. I preferred him in his hat. I always would. He'd probably been wearing a cap since he was a mite, which is a four-eight year old hockey player. His skull had been squeezed by them in such a way over the years that his thick brow stuck out just a little. Next came bright blue eyes, a very healthy sized nose, perfectly straight teeth and a narrow chin. He looked like a teddy bear to me.
We always stopped at a gas station about two blocks from Rick's Nursery before clocking in for work. This day, despite the "okay" that changed everything, was no exception. I hopped out of his blazer in the enthusiastic way that seventeen year old girls do, and made my way into the store for my after school snack. Halloween was in three days. The weather was mild and pleasant which is typical of fall on the Front Range, although it could snow anytime. I wore a red Rick's T-shirt, navy blue Blue Asphalt shorts from Contempo and light grey `es skate shoes. My blonde hair was pulled up in a messy bobbed bun. To accomplish such a do, you would gather your hair high up on your head and just short of pulling it all the way through for a pony tail you'd stop, wrap it over and over with the band until secure. Then pull at the top of the bun, like you would to tighten a pony tail. Simply stuff the unruly strands that you could catch, up and under the band and viola, you'd have my do.
I returned to the blazer with a bottle of Tropicana o.j. and a Mars bar. Patrick had his usual peanuts and coke. We were back on the road in no time. Patrick tipped his head back and poured in the peanuts while he drove. Similarly to the way he drank beer, though I hadn't yet witnessed it. I polished off my Mars bar and orange juice just as we pulled into Rick's gravel parking lot. We looked at each other and smiled.
"Now what?" he asked.
"Two weeks." I said. "This is a trial. You can't tell anyone for two weeks. At the end of two weeks we'll keep going if it's working. If it's not, we'll go back to exactly the way we were and won't tell anyone."
He agreed. He knew that Kim liked him and what her friendship meant to me. We had a deal and went to work.