I remember my first date with my girlfiend (still not a typo, still a story for another time). Of course, she wasn’t my girfiend yet, or even my girlfriend for that matter. We had gone to see Wayne’s World, which sadly was part of an elaborate plan I made to ensure we had something to talk about (it’s an infinitely quotable movie). I needn’t have worried.
After the movie, we ended up just hanging outside and talking. It was one of those far ranging conversations that can only be had by two people who have just met, felt a connection, and are in to each other. I learned how many sports she played (it was later I learned that she was better than me. In all of them). She learned I was in the marching band (and didn’t even laugh). We discovered all the interesting things we had in common and the truly fascinating things we did not.
At some point, we began talking about the things that annoyed us about couples. Her biggest pet peeve was couples talking to each other in a goofy, sing-song voice. Mine was matching airbrushed shirts. She asked me how I could hate those since she thought they were cute. Then the worst happened, I had planned not to “go off” on a subject as I have been known to.
“I’ll tell you why,” I explained, “They never look right. They’re always way to silly for anyone to wear. When you see two people wearing matching shirts it’s pretty bad, but when those shirts have airbrushed designs it moves it into a different category of awfulness. It screams ‘Look at Us! We’re in Loooooove!’ It just makes me sick. Why would anybody want to do that?”
I have always talked too much. She surprised me by saying, “I guess I’ll make sure never to buy you an airbrushed shirt then.”
“Well, I’ll never talk all lovey-dovey sing-song to you either.”
We looked at each other for a moment. Somewhere in the middle of talking about couples, we had become one.
Fast forward about three months. She was definitely my girlfriend now (though the beginnings of the girlfiend had appeared, I hadn’t noticed yet). She was about to take a trip to the beach with her family. We were saying our goodbyes when she asked me what I wanted her to bring back.
“Just surprise me.”
“Are you sure? I want to make sure you’ll like it.”
“You know me, as long as it’s not an airbrushed shirt, we’re cool.”
We laughed, said a last goodbye, and she was off.
I was quite excited when we got to see each other after her return.
“I can;t wait to give you your surprise,” she said.
“Well, then give it to me.”
“All right.” She disappeared from their living room back to her bedroom. She came back wearing a white t-shirt airbrushed with the classic cliche of a silhouetted couple walking on what appeared to be a beach made of rainbows. It faded off in the way of airbrushed shirts (I suppose for a dreamy quality) with the exclamation of our names encircled (enheartened?) by a neon heart. I laughed uproariously. It was hysterical and just the type humor we shared.
“What’s so funny?”
That was when I noticed she wasn’t laughing. I also noticed she was clutching another shirt in her hand. Another airbrushed shirt. A matching airbrushed shirt.
“I got one for both of us.”
“I can see that. You did notice that they were airbrushed, right?”
“Of course, silly. I’m the one who had them made. For us. Why?”
“Uh, no reason.”
I swallowed hard and put my new shirt (the kind I had sworn never to wear) on, thankful we were not going out in public that evening. I knew that I would have to wear it again (because I did love her, and it apparently made her happy), but I didn’t like it (not even like it as a friend).
I always tried to make sure we wouldn’t wear them at the same time. It never worked, though. She would always change into hers. So we could match.