...here is a short story, quite honestly inspired by the Rick Springfield song "Jessie's Girl".
Well, the night was pretty much ruined now.
I caught Jessie giving me dirty looks as I walked her home. Like it was my fault that Ollie’d shown up and glommed onto us? I love my best friend dearly in that weird way guys have, I really do, I just sometimes don’t like him that much.
The walk up to Jessie’s front door was much too short. We stood there, under her porch light, an awkward moment made worse for Ollie’s presence, not so much seen as felt.
“So, uh, thanks,” Jessie muttered, ducking behind her short, straight hair. ‘I had...fun. Yeah. I had fun.”
“Yeah. Uh, me too.” I felt the need to clarify.
“Yeah. So we should go out again, hey?” Jessie mumbled through the curtain of her hair.
“Yeah. Sure. Sometime soon.” And then, partly because I wanted to and partly to spite Ollie, I leaned down and kissed her.
Her lips were surprisingly cool, probably due to the night air, but really soft, and she tasted faintly of strawberry-flavoured chemical jelly. It was kind of nice.
She looked about as surprised as I felt. I hadn’t known I was going to do that, either, until I’d done it. But now it was done. No going back.
“So I’d like to, uh, see you again,” Jessie stuttered, and pushed open the door, scurried inside, and shut the door, only to poke her head back around it. To say, “I'll call you!” She ducked back inside, only to reappear around the door. “Um, what’s your number?”
I gave her my cell number, and she flashed me one of her brief, rare smiles that was like finding gold in the sock drawer. “Thanks, Jared,” she said, and there was no uncertainty in it. Then she shut the door.
‘Oh man, she likes me,” I whispered to the porch light. I felt like skipping down the path back to the sidewalk, but managed to restrain myself. I mean, Ollie’s seen me being a doofus before, but Jessie hadn’t, and might have got the wrong idea.
‘Man, she likes me,” I repeated for Ollie’s benefit. He sort of scowled at me. I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye – he didn’t seem too happy. Well, tough luck. He was the one who’d shown up and ruined my date. Let him sulk. I wasn’t going to waste time or emotion on him.
Still, my dad’s always said I have curiosity enough to kill five cats in one go and maybe a few parakeets in the bargain. Once something gets me going, I just can’t leave it alone. And I’d noticed something had been eating at Ollie for a while now. So I ploughed into it headlong. “What’s the deal, dude? Did I do something that pissed you off more than usual?”
Ollie sort of grunted. Not terribly helpful.
“Okay, so what did I do?” I tried to think of every dick move I’d made in the past week. Nope, nothing came to mind. What had even happened this past week? Nothing at all, unless you count Jessie and me having our first pseudo-date. “You showed up in the middle of our date, so I’m gonna guess it has to do with Jessie.”
Ollie grunted again, and kicked at a rock in the street. He’d kind of hunched his shoulders up, and that made the collar of his jacket stand up. Since his head was down, I couldn’t really see his face for collar and shoulders. So it was pretty hard to read his expression. That might be part of why I continued to operate so obliviously. “Look, I’ve been out with girls before, and it didn’t cause any problems. I mean, you know I’m not one of those losers who gets all caught up in a girl and forgets about everyone else. We’re still friends, so I don’t really get what -”
Ollie drew back a foot and kicked the rock across the street, where it bounced off someone’s tire. “God, Jared, you really don’t get it.”
And then, and only then, did it hit me in a blinding flash of the obvious. ‘Oh my God. I’m so stupid! Ollie, why didn’t you tell me you liked Jessie?”
Oddly enough, this did not provoke the reaction I’d expected. I don’t even know what I’d expected, maybe for Ollie to lighten up and go, “You got me,” like just knowing what was wrong would solve it. Or whatever. But instead, Ollie burrowed deeper into his coat. It looked like he was a tortoise, hunching up in his shell.
Then he took a deep breath, let out a long sigh, and dropped his shoulders, bringing his head back up and turned and looked me in the eye. “God, Jared,” he said, and then he grabbed me and kissed me.
It was nothing like kissing Jessie. First, Ollie’s as tall as I am, so I wasn’t leaning down. Second, he kissed harder than she did. I mean, he was kissing me, so there was more pressure, but his lips weren’t as soft as hers. They seemed stronger, somehow. And third, Ollie was my best friend since forever. That added weirdness.
And there was no strawberry lipgloss involved.
After what mustn’t have been that much time but felt like too damn long, he pulled away. I guess it must have shown how stunned I was. I don’t know. Ollie looked me in the eye again, and said, deadpan, “Do you get it now?”
Then he turned around and walked away.
Seconds later, my phone buzzed in my pocket. I pulled it out. It was a text from Jessie. The whole message was you could have just told me no.
Well, the night’s pretty much ruined now.