J and I met at the very end of my freshman year in college and started dating at the beginning of our sophomore year. I'm going to go ahead and start the story a year and a half before that though. It'll all make sense in the end, promise.
All throughout high school, I was a band nerd. My friends were band nerds. I was always in the band hall. You know how these things go. I was also embarrassingly excited about the lock-in, the event that would not only solidify my status as senior but would allow me to finally do all of the silly senior things I had waited so long though.
Trisha and I learned the dance from Hairspray, dressed up in 50s sundresses and performed in the talent show. Then I jumped on the bandwagon and did the senior brush-up which, looking back on it, is ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING but at the time, seemed like a completely valid concept. The idea was that each person walked up to the cup, brushed their teeth with the toothbrush provided and rinsed and spit into the cup of water that sat on the table. Then the next person went up and would do the same thing with the same toothbrush and cup. That in itself is nasty (even though sick people weren't allowed to participate) but people insisted on making it grosser than it had to be. Instead of just rinsing like a regular person, people would stuff their mouths with warm cheese, baby food or egg yolk (food poisoning hazard, anyone?) and drop it into the cup so that the NEXT person had to rinse their mouth with all of that nasty. Like I said, seemed completely valid at the time. Hindsight is so cruel.
There was the senior rollover which involved the freshmen lying on the floor while we rolled over them (no one was hurt) and then Simon Says, where the seniors shouted out the commands and any freshman who failed to do them correctly got spoonfed baby food. We got to dress up our band little brothers and sisters in silly costumes and got them to perform on command. (I should mention that this was all completely voluntary and in good fun. There were no hurt feelings or awkwardness going around)
If that had been all that had happened, it would have been a wonderful night. I would always have the pictures and memories of my last lock-in with some of my best friends. But even after all of these things, the night was still young. At around 4, the party died down and people began to crawl into sleeping bags and burrow into any crevice they could find. My friends and I had decided not to sleep because there are few things less pleasant than waking up on a cold church floor, groggy and cranky. Instead, we made house of cards and talked about the semester ahead of us.
At some point, one of Trisha's friends came up and sat with us. I hadn't been a big fan of this girl, who we'll call That Girl since she refused to invite a friend of mine, M, and I to a birthday party but then told everyone she had and we had chosen not to go because we were so hateful. Oh, high school drama. So anyway, when That Girl came up to our cozy little group, I was less than thrilled. But she had brought a friend along with her. I had never seen this boy before in my life. He was tall, blonde, and so adorable you could tell he didn't know what to do with himself. His eyes were my favorite kind of blue, bright like the most beautiful, cloudless summer day. Right away, his smile disarmed me with the way it was kind of lopsided in the most endearing way. I decided it might not be so bad to have That Girl sit with us after all.
The boy didn't say much for a while and I continued to entertain myself by building houses of cards.
"What are you doing?"
I looked up, surprised. He had made contact.
"I'm just building some houses."
"Well, you're not very good at it."
My eyebrows raised involuntarily. Was this kid for real? I was about to open my mouth with a smart retort when I realized that he was smiling his crooked smile.
"So you think you could do better?" I couldn't help but smile back. His flirtatiousness was contagious.
He shimmied across the circle to my deck of cards and began building a house no better than mine.
"So what's your name?"
Instead of answering like a normal person, he just stared at me blankly, as though I had said something that had deeply offended him.
I continued to look at him expectantly.
"Are you kidding me?" He demanded. "I met you last year."
"You did not. You've got to be a freshman."
His eyebrows furrowed. "No. I'm a sophomore and I met you last year. Your name is Ally. Don't you remember? After practice...?"
I racked my memory but came up with nothing. "Well, I'm sorry. My memory must be going already. You obviously know my name so I think it's only fair you tell me yours."
After a few silent moments, he relented. "Fine. I'm A and I just want you to know that you are the meanest person I know."