More men should wear open-collar shirts: Episode 18.

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That was an eventful weekend. On Friday night, my friend Galadriel and her sister picked me up to go to one of our other friends’ senior art show on Bag End campus. Halfway through the evening, Galadriel got a text that said Legolas was in town already, and he wanted to meet us downtown for dessert.

This was exciting! There were three or four of us girls, and we all went downtown to a little tea place, and there was Legolas! I had forgotten how cute he was, with his big blue eyes and his fetching grin. A tiny little bit of chest hair peeped out through his open collar, and he smelled good. Even if he did have a girlfriend, I was tickled pink that he was coming over to my house for lunch tomorrow. We kept exchanging looks and smiles over the table, and when Galadriel and her sister drove me home I was walking on air. Sitting on air in the back seat, I guess.

Galadriel said, “Tomorrow evening Legolas and my sister and I are going to have a chocolate-making party at my house. Do you want to come?”

I said “Well of course!” and they said they would pick me up in the afternoon.

The next morning Legolas arrived for lunch, and he was very polite. He talked to my parents, he talked to my little sisters and he was very charming and friendly. Unfortunately, just when things were going well, towards the end of lunch he mentioned the swing dancing convention. My parents froze up in disapproval. After Legolas left, my mother and father had one of their secret conferences in their bedroom and then my mother said “We don’t want you to talk to him anymore.”

I said “Why?” and she said “Because we didn’t know he was INTO SWING DANCING.”

We had an argument about this, and then when I was getting ready for Galadriel to pick me up, my mother wanted to know if Legolas was going to be at this chocolate-making party. I said yes and she blew up, and we had another huge argument. I went outside to wait for the car, and she followed me out, screaming. “FINE. Just go. Go with YOUR FRIENDS,” in a tone of utter disdain. She slammed the door and I sat down on the rock at the end of the driveway, as far away from her as I could get.

Galadriel, her older sister and Legolas soon arrived, and we all just had a wonderful time. We made chocolate, which didn’t turn out very well, then we went to some other friends’ house for a singspiration. Legolas and I shared a book. Every time we were in the car, he and I shared the back seat.

As Galadriel finally pulled up to my house about 11:00, I said, “I’m in the doghouse.” Legolas asked me why, and I said, “Because they found out you’re into swing dancing.” I got out and went into the house, to be met with icy disdain. My mother wanted to know every detail of the evening, and if Legolas and I had “sat in the back in the car.” I was 22-and-a-half years old and had a college degree, and at this moment I took a brief step back from the situation and decided it was all slightly ridiculous. I went to bed and didn’t engage with her anymore.

The next day there were many secret conferences in the bedroom and my father emerged and said he was going to have to call and talk to Legolas. So I gave him the number, and they went out to have coffee together before Legolas left town. I sat in the kitchen on the floor, feeling nervous. Finally my cell phone buzzed, I picked it up to see a message from Legolas: “Coffee went well, and conversation is permitted.”

I was ridiculously excited. I was still allowed to talk to Legolas! The next day our long email conversations resumed, and I discovered that he did not have a girlfriend, in Atlanta or anyplace else. GALADRIEL WAS WRONG, HA.

The next month or so went by in a dreamlike haze. We emailed and texted constantly, Legolas came up on several weekends, and came over to spend the day with my family. My mother behaved charmingly and made delicious food – we were not eating the Nourishing Traditions diet any more at this point – and everyone was on their best behavior. Legolas went on a number of walks and coffee dates with my father. He and I sat in separate armchairs from each other and talked about art and literature, and there were always siblings bounding in and out of the room. No one brought up swing dancing, and we steered expertly around the subject.

At some point in April, Legolas sent me a letter with a wax seal wherein he asked my permission to go to the Bag End Artist Series production of Pride and Prejudice with me at the beginning of May. (“Pursuant to your father’s permission, of course.”) We were not allowed to ride in a car alone together, so someone would have to drop us off at the play, and then drop us off for ice cream downtown afterwards, and then pick us up. But this would be our first real “date” and I was so very excited.

It was spring and I felt wonderful, as though the air were full of new beginnings. I decided that I was going to do everything “right” this time, and obey all of my mother’s rules, and then God would surely bless me. Maybe if I did courtship right, my parents would love me and approve of me. Maybe if I did courtship right, then I could escape the house and marry this wonderful, charming man with the adorable blue eyes.

To be continued.

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