Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Emerson and Tori

Before I give you a little piece of a chapter, I feel like I should give you Tori and Emerson's background. Emerson is a 20 year old attractive guy who doesn't really know what he wants, so he comes out to the Midwest searching for something to give him a hint at his future. He meets Tom Jackman, Tori's older brother, and finds someone who knows what he wants in life. Emerson is intrigued and eventually meets Tom's whole family, including Tori. They meet at a family picnic celebrating Tom's engagement to his long-time girlfriend Melanie. Tori is (of course) playing tennis at the nearby courts and Emerson notices her, neither of them knowing either's relation to Tom. Tori and Emerson end up flirting, as Tori looks older than her age and Emerson looks miraculously youthful. Of course, Tom comes over to join Tori in a game, and sees them harmlessly flirting and spills the beans that Tori is a high school student and Emerson is out of bounds. But the impact has been made and both find themselves unconsciously smitten with each other in more ways than romantically.
Anyways, this is one of their many interactions before they begin a life-long friendship later on. I like it because it's very close to my heart and is actually quite similar to an event in my life. I'll leave it at that ;).

In this piece, Tori and Emerson are at a dinner at Tori's house and Emerson came with a friend who is the unofficial mediator of the two of them.

The first thing I noticed about Emerson was the strange way he could draw everyone’s attention on himself without even trying hard. Even while his friend, what’s-his-name, was telling a supposed-funny story, I couldn’t keep my eyes off him, waiting for his reactions to the story. What was even more was that while I couldn’t seem to keep my eyes off of Emerson, he couldn’t get his eyes off of me.

Emerson was everything I wanted in a guy…at least on the outside. I went through my mental checklist just to make sure he fit the criteria: tall? Check. Brunette? Check. Great smile? Definitely check. Funny? Check plus. Older? Check…

The last item deflated my spirits a great deal. He wasn’t just older. He was old enough that at my current and unfortunate age, I’d be his one-way ticket to jail. Not only that, but he probably saw me as the annoying kid sister who gawked at his every move. I wouldn’t mind waiting a few years for him, but by then some chick would’ve seen what a great catch he was and would snag him from my pathetic grasps.

That was the worst part about my taste in men. I wanted mature guys, meaning anyone younger than eighteen was out of the picture. Being sixteen and a half years old meant to me that any of my peers were just too dumb and childish. While all my friends admired the guys in our grade, I was admiring all my brother’s friends and roommates, wishing I were as old as they were.

The laughter that busted around me took me out of my reverie, and I was the only one not laughing. Unfortunately my stab at a false laugh was a little too late, and I was the target of sympathetic looks and pathetic head shakes from most of the table. I winced inside my head, and didn’t dare look at Emerson, afraid to see the same look of pity on his face. I kept my face down during the rest of the meal, wishing it were over. I ate my food fast, not really tasting it, and was ashamed the whole time, wishing that my thoughts didn’t always mingle on Emerson. I had no idea why I let that one moment effect me the whole evening, but it did.

Once we were all standing and getting ready to leave, I knelt down to tie my shoe, which wasn’t really untied. That was when I painfully realized two things: my shoes didn’t have shoe laces, and Emerson was standing above me, watching me notice these two details. Slowly I stood up and pretended not to notice him. His eyes searched mine, and his mouth, thankfully, was in an innocent smile. He looked down at his shoes and then looked back at me.

“You know, you could smile once in a while. It doesn’t hurt. Trust me.” He suppressed a laugh and lightly punched my arm.

“Thanks.” I tried to come up with something witty, but my mind was blank. I smiled weakly, and his boyish grin grew wider. I couldn’t help but laugh. We stood there, laughing, for a while, until what’s-his-face came over and nudged Emerson on the arm.

“Hey, man. We gotta run. I’ll let you say good bye.” He winked at me, and turned around to acknowledge my brother and my brother’s girlfriend. Emerson looked at me and I looked back, wondering if he was thinking the same thing I was: how do I say goodbye? Do we hug? Shake hands? Nod at each other? I was at a loss. I decided that I was going to let him make the shots. He apparently made the same decision, because we stood there, awkwardly for a long thirty seconds. At the exact same time he seemed to be making the motion to hug me, I stuck out my hand, not sure if I was ready for the overwhelming emotions that would overcome me if he hugged me. He laughed awkwardly, and took my hand into his firm grasp, and shook it, perhaps a little too long. I didn’t mind, of course.

“I’ll see you around. It was nice having dinner with you,” I noted how he said with me, not with my family. It made my grin even broader.

“Anytime. See ya,” Our hands dropped to our side, and he turned around to leave with his friend.

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