Going to a professor’s house is never done lightly. Or, at least, not done lightly by someone like me. I have a well-documented tendency to fret about things excessively; needless to say, I had been fretting over this particular event since my professor/PI/academic advisor had announced it a couple weeks ago. So, I secured my companion/ride and gussied myself up for what I was sure was going to be a somewhat stuffy evening of boring science talk.
As it turns out, my professor is actually…cool.
So, my friend and I pull up to his place. He’s a married, well-to-do person with one kid so, naturally, the place was in a relatively well-to-do area. It was the kind of place where houses were clearly cut with the same cookie cutter, but they weren’t painfully new. The community seems to have emerged from one of the countless housing developments that dot the California landscape, with every house as distinct as it was the same. Still, even by 2008 standards, the house looked fairly petite from the outside. I dunno, I just have a thing where houses need to be square-ish or at the very least not look like rectangles resting on their smallest sides, so narrow and squeezed inwards. There were a lot of fern-like plants, only they had no doubly composite leaves. I’m not sure what those kinds of plants are called, but I’m surprised that I remembered what “double composite leaves” are. Go, Bio 51!
Anyway, my friend (who is anything BUT a science major) and I headed towards the door and pushed for the doorbell. Again, I was expecting the usual “super-pro-prof” that I’m used to, complete with button-down shirt and slacks. What did I get? “Super-chill-dude”, much to my surprise.
No, seriously. The man was in jeans. Jeans. That never happens. Ever.
He greets us, I give him a box of chocolates (because I figured it was rude to show up empty-handed and stuff), and he graciously led us inside. It was a really, really nice house! I’m talking posh leather couches, soft, well-kept carpets, TWO living rooms and dining areas each…and that was all just downstairs! At any rate, the doctor and the missus immediately pounced upon the both of us, as we were the only people there. Perhaps it was because I over-estimated the time needed to get from point A to point B. At least I didn’t over-estimate the social graces of my companion; as soon as they found out that she wasn’t a science major at all. Katherine handled herself beautifully, answering their questions and just being her usual, charming self. I couldn’t have asked for a better friend to accompany me to a dinner party.
But, yes. We had a few appetizers and things, chips and salsa as well as a bunch of mini quiche-esque things (which were exceedingly delicious!). After the initial bulk of questions (“What’s your major? What instrument do you play? What can you do with a degree in music education?”), we started to play on the Wii. You know, I would’ve never pegged my professor as someone with a Wii. He’s just so serious and business-oriented when he’s in his element. Well, I guess that’s not entirely accurate to say. He was still very much in his element, as relaxed at home as he is straight-laced at work. Too bad he sucks at Wii Bowling; Katherine wiped the floor with all of us! I did alright but, really, I hardly ever play video games anymore. There’s just no time! Besides, if I were to play anything, it’d probably be on the PlayStation 2 or the Xbox 360 and, more likely than not, it’d be some JRPG that I’m not done with yet. Seriously, those games are long!
I think it was an half an hour or so before everyone else arrived. The good doctor offered us all beer as almost everyone was over the drinking age, except for his daughter and Kat (not that she’d be able to drink anyway, as she was the one driving). I had never had Sam Adams before, but their Winter Lager was pretty good. I think that was the first beer I’ve had since turning 21, too! And, creepiness atop coincidence, Kat was there again! See, instead of going out to the bar for my 21st birthday, I had spent it with Katherine and Nick (another good friend of mine) playing Final Fantasy VIII until midnight, where we then headed over to the sort-of-sports-bar on campus and I had my first drink. Red wine, Merlot, not sure which vintage or winery. Maybe it was Salmon Creek? I don’t regularly drink but, apparently, whenever I do, Katherine seems to be around. It’s just a funny coincidence!
So, more Wii Bowling. I think we got through about three more games before dinner; Kat took the second and third, leaving the fourth for the grad students to battle amongst themselves. She’s really, really good. I found out later that evening that her folks play the game rather avidly around Christmas so, really, I shouldn’t have been surprised! Dinner itself was a nicely done affair. Aside from the utterly delicious gyro, I had never had lamb before and the salmon was delicious and flaky, but not too dry. Admittedly, I kind of ignored the fact that I was on the Paleo diet and put down four rolls, but that’s alright. What’s important is that I enjoyed myself and the company around me, which I must say I did. So very, very much.
And that’s the problem.
Oh, come on. Did you honestly expect me to paint such a wonderful picture of a perfect evening so easily? It’s never easy, not when the person who drove you there is the same person you have a crush on. Sure, it’s nowhere near as consuming as the last crush you had, but it definitely hit me just the same. I’m just glad that I’ve come far enough in life that news that would have floored me a couple years ago just rolls me over now. The conversational gymnastics I had to do… But I think I pulled it off alright. I mean, I made damn sure to chug some water (or at the very least “swiftly sip”, as chugging would have been frowned upon, I’m sure) lest the beer loosen my tongue. But I am a researcher at heart and the question that had been plaguing me for all of two weeks was the usual “Are you available?” I knew that somehow I just had to find out. And I did. I can say that I’m surprised, now that I can think about it (and the blood isn’t pounding in my ears). Hell, I realized this yesterday after two hours of solid feeling-like-shit-and-possible-tears.
Why would someone like Kat be single? She’s charismatic, funny, pretty, and just a really, really great person. There aren’t that many people that I know of who would willingly drive an hour by themselves to pick up someone who was dumb enough to not realize that there are two stations with an almost identical name. I mean, sure, by the time I found out of my own stupidity, the last bus had already left and Kat was already on her way, but I was overconfident. She really saved my butt back there. And crushing on her just feels…different. I felt lighter than air that evening, a stupid grin plastered on my face along with travel exhaustion. Rather than fret about whether she likes me or not, I was pretty much skipping and singing and probably being just a little bit annoying. I felt like laughing for no fucking reason! That was Friday night.
But then it was Saturday. And, while the party was wonderful, the food was delicious, and everyone seemed to have a wonderful time, the evening definitely didn’t go where I thought it was going to go. I wasn’t expecting something like I suddenly sweep her into my arms and kiss her good night or anything, but…yeah. Definitely didn’t expect that bomb to be dropped. It was a bit like World War II; I dropped a few bombs of my own too. But isn’t it better this way? To know is better than to not know. I just hope that stuff won’t get too awkward because, despite her unavailability as a romantic interest, Katherine’s still someone I’d like to become very good friends with, y’know? I’ll take it.