Sunday, November 4, 2018

Men of the Skull Chapter 27: Dinner

As I mentioned two chapters ago, this chapter, like that one would be cut if this were to be published.  While "Ashley" was an important part of my PSU experience, her part was short, and the narrative flows better with her chapters removed.

Ashley was my first Penn State "crush," but I thought she was FAR out of my league.  We went to a play, then to Homecoming together, but I felt like she was not attracted to me.  I figure that after the Homecoming chapter, she would drop away (she is mentioned in later chapters, but not much.)

I've always been one of those weird people who could easily spot when someone "had the hots" for someone else.  It always seemed so obvious to me by reading body language, watching facial expressions, etc.  However, I could never tell when someone liked ME.  If I saw those signs in someone who may like me, I always explained them away one way or the other.

Having zero self esteem does that to a person.

So, while what Ashley did was a total surprise, my inability to handle the situation was as lame as I could ever expect.  I still wince when I think about this.  Worse- I can't imagine how she felt: she put herself out there on a limb, and I walked away.

Ashley, if you ever read this, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.


Chapter 27: Dinner

Sunday, November 16, 1986 Sources: 50 covert plans OK’d

            I arrived at Ashley’s apartment at seven.  I wore nice pants and my purple sweater over the dark striped shirt- collar tucked in, of course.  Ashley was stunning.  She wore a white dress that reached her knees.  It was soft and feminine.  She looked better than she did at homecoming.  My jaw dropped.
            The table was already set.  She really went all out- white tablecloth, cloth napkins, even candles: light blue.  Playing in the background was Simon and Garfunkel’s “Concert in Central park.”
            We'd like to help you learn to help yourself.  Look around you, all you see are sympathetic eyes”.
            She offered me a coke and we talked briefly about the day.  [Insert topical reference]  She made steak that she’d marinated, veggies, potatoes, and it was all great.  I felt comfortable.  I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her.  Yet I felt guilty.  I was seeing Judy.  Kinda sorta.  But Judy kept saying I should find someone else.

Collegian Nov 18, 1986

            Ashley had another paper for me to check.  As I helped gather the dishes after dinner, she brought it over to me.  I sat and looked at it.  She leaned over my shoulder.  Her beautiful long brown hair draped down below her face as she watched and tickled my shoulder.  Goosebumps.
            Make your move, Lance!  What’s your problem?!?!?
             I asked about a particular sentence and she answered quietly- almost a husky whisper.  Her breath was warm on my neck.  I looked at her and our eyes met. 
            Old Friends.  Memory brushes the same years.  Silently sharing the same fear.
Her eyes were a beautiful blue.  They usually seemed so strong- determined- but now they seemed open vulnerable:  Like she’d opened her soul.  I’d never seen her look this way. 
I had such a hard on!
Kiss her you asshole!
I finished reading.  Then I saw the time- past ten.
Judy wouldn’t be alone all night.  When did Rich leave?  When would Virginia be back?  If I were to have a chance to go down there and fuck her, I’d have to get going.  Of course, there was the issue of the fantastic dinner I just had and how rude it would be to leave so soon.  My mind was doing some quick calculations: Judy’s tits verses Ashley’s beautiful ass.  Which did I have a better chance of seeing?  Well…  I wasn’t going anywhere with Ashley…
Did I mention how incredibly stupid I was? 
Ashley and I talked about classes for a little while longer, and then I stood up. 
“I hate to do this, but one of brothers needs help with a paper so I have to head over to the house.”

Ashley’s expression didn’t change.  I didn’t think it would.  She stood too.
“Thanks for a fantastic dinner!”  I said.
“Thanks for coming over.  Are you sure you can’t stay?” she said.
“I really want to, but I should go.  Can I have a hug?”
She walked over slowly and instead of putting her arms around my body, she put them over my shoulders.  Our eyes met. 
Holy shit!
We started kissing, Tenderly.  She ran her hand through my hair.  We stopped and looked at each other.  She blushed ever so faintly.  I couldn’t believe this was happening!
We kissed again, deeper.  She pulled me closer.  Scenarios started running through my head.  Undoing her dress, caressing her, kissing her breasts, parting her legs, entering her.  I’d waited months for this.
Judy was waiting for me.
Ashley caressed my back.  I couldn’t believe she made a move- that was so unlike her!  But she was a born again, so probably wouldn’t have sex before marriage.
Her lips were so soft!
I kissed her neck and she sighed.
Judy was waiting for me.  This night could be the night that I finally have sex with her.  But she kept saying I should date Ashley.  Ashley, who just ran her nails down my back and pulled me closer by the hips.
So Lance, who could you fuck tonight?
Ashley was making a very strong case.  I could get lost in her eyes.  Her body was soft and…
Shit.  I couldn’t get Judy out of my mind.
There’s an old saying that a bird in the hand is as good as two in the (hmmm) bush.  I could stay here.  After all, I’d wanted this for months.  I even took her to my formal!
Another cliché: there will never be another now. 
Ashley looked at me, kissed my earlobe, and whispered “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing!  Everything is great!  I mean…  I’ve been wanting…”
I kissed her again.  She then started kissing my neck.  I ran my hand gently up her side and toward her breast.  She gently stopped and placed it on her face.  I put my other hand there as well and held her head as we kissed deeply. 
Licking her lips.
We stopped kissing and held each other.  I wondered what was going through her head.  Ashley really put herself out on a limb- exposed her heart to me.
So now was the perfect time to be stupid.
I looked at her.  “I really have to go.  I don’t want to.  I really don’t want to.”
I kissed her forehead and picked up my coat from the chair where it waited.
“I…I…” my lips moved, but I couldn’t think of anything to say.
“Tomorrow?”  I asked.  “Pick it up from here?”
Ashley smiled briefly.
“Sure.  Sure” she said.
I just stomped on her pride and her expression didn’t change.
“Thank you” I said quietly and kissed her again.  “I’ll call as soon as I’m done class.”
“Okay” Ashley said, smiling.
So I left and went out into the cold night, leaving Ashley in a beautiful white dress and dirty dishes.  All I could think of was Judy.  Judy was waiting for me.

I knocked on her apartment door, and Virginia answered.

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