Better off Friends

Page 12


“Oh!” Emily started bouncing up and down in her seat. “I’ve got it! I think I should ask Macallan to make some food for the Halloween party. Wouldn’t that be cool?”
“Yeah, she’ll love that.” I started thinking about all the food Macallan’s been making. “Do you think you can ask her to make those pulled pork sandwiches?”
“Definitely.” Emily beamed.
We missed the seven o’clock movie and the one after that. Emily and I kept talking and talking. All the nerves we both felt started to melt away.
The only other time I got nervous that evening was when we said good-bye. Because I wanted to kiss her. Not just because she was cute but because, for the first time since I’d arrived, I had something to look forward to that didn’t involve Macallan.
So I kissed her. And she kissed me back.
I wasn’t going to let any other opportunities pass me by.
Generally when a guy gets a girlfriend, he usually ends up spending less time with his guy friends. But with Emily it was the opposite.
Before I knew it, I was starting to hang out with Keith and Troy. We went to the mall to get our costumes for Emily’s Halloween party. We ended up grabbing a few slices and talking about sports. I hadn’t had that much bro time since we left California. I even got excited when Keith picked on me for spending so much time with Macallan without making a move. I took it as a compliment that he was ribbing me. It meant I was in.
“Have I told you you’re the greatest boyfriend?” Emily pecked me on the cheek as I put up the last of the fake cobwebs in her living room the night of the party.
“Not today.” I winked at her.
She laughed before surveying the room for one last inspection before people arrived. We moved the furniture so there was a large area for people to hang out and maybe dance. We had a table set up on the side that had a punch bowl filled with “green slime” (which was basically green-colored punch), and chips, dip, pretzels, candy, and a lot of room left for Macallan’s food.
Macallan, as with everything, outdid herself. There were mini “mummy” pizzas (where black olives were used as eyes), deviled eggs that had peppers sticking up like horns so the eggs looked like devils, cupcakes decorated with candy corn. And, of course, her famous-to-me pulled pork sandwiches.
“This all looks amazing, Macallan!” Emily hugged her.
Our group had decided to dress up with a Grease theme. The girls were going as the Pink Ladies while the guys were T-Birds. Emily was dressed as Sandy, with a leather jacket and all black with red shoes. Her normally sleek, black hair had been curled and teased beyond recognition. If Emily was Sandy, I guess that made me Danny. The guys had it easy; we only had to get white T-shirts and write T-Birds on them. Some of us had leather jackets — I’d borrowed my dad’s old motorcycle jacket from when he had a motorcycle; Mom had made him get rid of it once she got pregnant with me. The girls took pink T-shirts and wrote Pink Ladies in bubble letters and then wore poodle skirts with matching pink headbands and flip hairdos.
Mr. Dietz, Adam, and Emily’s parents hung out in the kitchen while the party took over the living and dining rooms. Most of the guys who weren’t in our group dressed up as football players or cowboys, which meant a plaid shirt and cowboy hat. It was the girls who’d gone above and beyond: beauty queen pageants, Catholic schoolgirls, or basically anything that required them to dress up and put on a lot of makeup.
Not like I was complaining.
“Hey, California!” Keith called out from his station in front of the TV. “You’re up.”
He threw me a gaming remote and I plunked down next to him.
We played video games for an hour or so. Every once in a while, he’d give me grief about my accent, my outfit (which was the exact same as his), my hair (which had been short for two months, but Keith had failed to notice), and pretty much anything I said. But I ate it up. This was how Keith treated his friends.
“Dude, next weekend. My house. You in?” Keith said after I finally beat him at a boxing game.
I had no idea what next weekend was or what we’d be doing at his house, but I agreed.
I had a girlfriend, an amazing best friend, and was finally becoming one of the guys.
Things were starting to look up.
Don’t think I’m not offended that you were so desperate for some bro time.
Dude, you know I didn’t mean it that way.
Dude. You make it seem like I forced you to have tea parties with my dolls and braid my hair.
You did start spending a lot of time in the kitchen.
That’s funny. I don’t remember hearing you complain while you were eating all the food I was making.
That’s because you’re the best cook in the state of Wisconsin. If not the entire culinary world.
Flattery will get you everywhere.
Don’t I know it.
Having your two best friends date wasn’t as awkward as I’d thought it would be.
It was much, much worse.
The first month was a little uncomfortable. I had to watch what I said about one when I was with the other. Then one of them would pump me for information. Sometimes I had to be the go-between. I was even the third wheel on a lot of the first dates.
One time I went to get some popcorn before the start of a movie, only to discover them kissing (or, more accurately, sucking face) when I got back. I froze, not knowing what to do. For a split second, I debated turning around and ramming my head against the wall in hopes that I would get amnesia. Instead, I cleared my throat very loudly and they slowly peeled away. Thankfully, the lights dimmed down as I settled back in my seat, so I didn’t have to make eye contact with either of them. I wasn’t sure who should’ve been more embarrassed.