One friend at the office where I worked summers was Rick. I was embarrassed remembering the previous summer: I was buried in a basement helping accounts receivable, and he would stop in to make a few snarky comments. I would retaliate with a few of my own, one particularly sarcastic comment was made about his wrinkled suit. I can remember how hurt he looked, and I realized I had gone too far. I didn’t give Rick the time of day, except the silly banter, despite the fact that we shared an interest in books, travel, sports and theater.
This summer, the crew went out for lunch almost everyday. Rick though remained at his desk, eating a brown bag lunch and doing the crosswords. I noticed he was dressing better and had more responsibility. It was so easy to tease someone who took himself so seriously. It was perhaps just as easy for him to poke fun at the college girl who did not take herself or her summer job seriously. We continued to rile each other by exchanging nasty comments until it was time for me to return to my office and my afternoon tasks. When Rick and I passed each other in office we would snarl; anyone observing would think there was a clear dislike for one another.
That summer, Rick was not playing on the company softball team so we would sit near each other in the stands. I started to recognize that funny feeling I get in my stomach when something feels odd. I felt this electric charge when I was around him, when our arms brushed. I doubted he felt the same. One beautiful July night after a softball game, also the night of the All Star game, we were walking to our cars. I wanted to talk outside the office without the time constraints of lunch or under the gaze of co-workers. Yet, as I we parted, I merely offered, “See you later.” He responded, “What time?” I just stared for a moment unprepared for his first gesture of interest. “Do you want to get ice cream? I asked, bracing myself for a flippant reply. “Sure, follow me!” I was expecting Baskin Robbin or Carvel, but I followed him to the Stop and Shop. When I got out of the car, he said, “Let’s get some ice cream and eat it at my apartment and watch the game.” I steeled myself for this turn of events. This far exceeded my expectations. I practically skipped through the frozen aisle, suddenly in love with any and all flavors of ice cream. I chit chatted away, frivolous nonsense that seemed to stream out of my mouth whenever I was in the company of this serious minded man. He’d grin and shake his head. I was so happy as I followed him to his apartment where we made ourselves cereal bowls of ice cream and plopped in front of the television to watch the in-progress ball game. We talked baseball. Rick intellectualized all of his interests, and he was stimulated by fierce talk. I wanted to broaden our conversation, but this was to be just a baseball night.