September finally arrived and it was off to the university. As a freshman I, of course, had a roommate and we got along OK. He, a few other guys from the dorm, and me would go to dinner together at the dining hall that served our part of campus. Since most of the freshmen lived there I kept my eyes open for the tiny little thing from New York that I had checked out at orientation. A couple weeks went by and nothing. Maybe she backed out of coming to the Midwest for school. They delivered campus directories one day and I immediately looked up the name I had scribbled down and put in my wallet. She was there. And she lived three dorms over and should be eating at the same dining hall as us. A couple more days and still no sign of her. Then one night my roommate was late getting back from class. I hung around and waited for him. We got to dinner about a half hour before they closed the hall and I saw her leaving with a bunch of other girls.
The next night I went over on my own about an hour before closing. I saw her and her friends and, after getting my tray, sat down a couple of tables over. Luckily her friends took off before she was ready to go. Rather than walk over and sit next to her I just waited for her to leave the hall. I followed out of the building right behind her and somehow found the courage to say, "Hi Margaret."
She turned and looked at me with an odd expression. "Do I know you?" she asked.
"I saw you at orientation," I replied.
She didn't look mad, just curious. "But we didn't talk to each other," she said.
I didn't really know what to say to that, but thankfully she kept talking, "Because I would have told you to call me Molly."
"Hi Molly," I said-- like a goofball.
"But, really, how did you know my name anyway?" Molly said.
Only the truth was going to do. "Well. I sat behind you at the last session that final afternoon. You were wearing a white top with blue stitching and jeans. And, well, I thought you looked, uh, great. So, I kinda stole a look at your name on the questionnaire." Then I waited for her to hit me, call campus security, run to her dorm screaming, anything.
Instead, she looked at me, I swear this is true, up and down and then down and up slowly. And then she said, "Really. Interesting." In a drawn out, exaggerated way.
Now you can read that and not know what it meant. But if you saw her smile and her eyes flash you would know I had passed a preliminary visual inspection and she was flattered by my effort. It could have gone either way.
"So, where is Massaparqua Park anyway?" I said.
As she began to correct my pronunciation and tell me about Long Island I knew I was going to be getting some of this little, dark-haired, brown-eyed girl in the tight, pale blue, rib-knit sweater-- and soon. Very soon. What I wasn't really conscious of was how much the opposite of Denise she was.