Back when I was seventeen, I used to live in Scranton…actually, I guess I lived there all my life up until that point…but that summer, I was embarking on a new adventure: college. I was accepted into the University of Colorado at Boulder. I figured, hell, my parents are going to move to Oregon (the pops got a job at Intel), I might as well go somewhere new where I can start all over. I’m not saying my life in Scranton was bad…it’s been great, but there comes a time in a young man’s life where he needs some change. And it’s not like I’m never going to come back to Scranton…my older brother Tom still lives here…plus, I got all my friends.
Speaking of my friends, at the moment, I’m in the car with my friend Michael. He wanted to go bowling with some girl that he had just met, and of course, he needed me as a third wheel. It’s funny how I became friends with Michael. He worked with me at Staples, and at first, he was quite possibly the most annoying guy I’ve ever met. He was a couple of years older than me, but for some reason, we became good friends. You know how sometimes you can’t really explain why you’re friends with someone? That’s how I feel about Michael. But in the end, no matter how annoying he is, he’s a good guy. Very immature, but still, he was a good guy.
“Oh, Holly’s bringing a friend,” Michael said when we pulled in the parking lot at the bowling alley.
“Is she bringing another dude?” I asked, remembering how his old crush Jan brought along some guy named Hunter on one of their first dates.
“I hope not,” Michael said, stepping out of the car. “All right, Jimbo…make me look good, buddy.”
“I’ll try,” I replied.
Michael and I waited in the parking lot for about ten minutes. For a Saturday night in August, the bowling alley was pretty empty. The other kids were probably out drinking or something…
“Oh, there’s her car!” Michael exclaimed, standing on his tiptoes and squinting his eyes. “And I think that’s a girl with her…or it might be a guy with really curly hair…”
I looked over in the direction that Michael was looking out at, and I saw a blue Toyota pulling into the parking lot. The girl that was driving was pretty cute, I guess. But then I looked over at the passenger side, and I saw her friend. Even through the dark tint of the windows, and the dark of the night, I could tell that the other girl was beautiful. Michael was waving to the car, and Holly parked her car right next to Michael’s Sebring, which he thought was the coolest thing in the world…it really wasn’t though.
“Hey,” Michael said, opening the door for Holly.
“Hi,” Holly said shyly, she looked over at me, and gave me a slight wave. “Hi.”
“Hey,” I said, holding out my hand, “I’m Jim.”
“I’m Holly,” she said, and she nodded to her friend who had just stepped out of the car. “This is my friend Pam.”
I always thought it was silly whenever I would watch those chick flicks where some guy finally meets the girl of his dreams, and there are all those slow motion effects. I always thought, “Yeah, like that ever happens,” but when I saw Pam stepping out of Holly’s car, that happened. In fact, the best scene to describe that moment was in Big Fish. You know, the part where Ewan McGregor meets the girl of his dreams at the circus, and time stopped? That’s pretty much what it was like. Everything around me became dark, and Pam was the light. She was the only thing in sight: her curly auburn hair shining in the moonlight, her light skin radiating, the way her shirt wasn’t too big or too small, it was perfect, showing off her curves, and the thing that impressed me most about her was her smile. I promise you that if you ever saw Pam smile, you will be guaranteed to smile back. That smile was so contagious, it was heartbreaking. Michael would tell you that only a couple of seconds have passed, but I’m pretty sure I stood there gawking at Pam for hours.
“Hey,” Pam smiled, holding out her hand. “I’m Pam.”
“Uh…” I stammered, quickly taking her hand. “Jim…it’s good to meet you.”
“You too,” Pam replied, and she gave out a giggle. “I’m gonna need that hand back.”
“Oh!” I quickly pulled my hand from hers. “Sorry…”
God, please have Michael do something really dumb right about now… I thought. And lo and behold, Michael pretty much saved my life with:
“Tell me, are you real, or are you a Holly-gram?”
To my surprise, Holly giggled.
“Oh, that’s a good one,” she said, laughing harder as Michael pretended that his hand was going through her. Pam gave me a look, and I just raised an eyebrow, and mouthed, “Wow!” to her. She giggled, and I remember that because it was the first time I made her giggle.
Later, we walked into the bowling alley, got our shoes, and walked over to our lane. Michael and Holly kept cracking jokes such as this: Holly grabbed two bowling balls and held them to her crotch, and cried out, “Man, my balls are heavy!” I had to admit, it was pretty funny, but at the same time, it was awkward.
“So how did you and Holly become friends?” I asked Pam, who was laughing at Holly.
“Oh, she works over at Heart to Art where I go to get supplies,” Pam replied. “I go in there like every other day, and we just became friends…”
“Oh, you’re into art?”
“Yeah, most def…what are you into?”
“Professional wrestling,” I joked in a deep voice as Pam giggled. “No, but seriously…I guess I like sports…and music. I can play basketball, but I can’t carry a tune to save my life.”
Just then, we heard a loud crashing noise, and Michael screaming, “Ow! God!” Michael’s ball had gotten caught on his thumb. I looked over at Pam, and she just shrugged.
“So what kind of music are you into?” Pam asked as if nothing had happened.
“All kinds,” I replied, looking over at Michael to make sure he was okay, but Holly was taking care of him. I could distinctly hear Holly saying, “Where does it hurt?” and Michael replying, “Right here.” I watched as Holly kissed Michael’s thumb, and even with the cosmic lights going off in the bowling alley, Michael’s face had turned beet red.
“That’s real specific…come on, Jim, name some bands you like,” Pam urged.
“Interpol, Radiohead, Travis, Modest Mouse, you can’t go wrong with Death Cab, Damien Rice, Elliott Smith, old school Green Day, Beastie Boys, Arcade Fire…and my all time favorite, Coheed and Cambria,” I listed.
“Wow…you like Coheed?” Pam asked with a disgusted voice. I shrugged.
“What’s wrong with them?”
“The lead singer sounds like a girl…”
“Okay, besides that, name three things that are wrong with them,” I challenged. Pam thought about it for a moment, and she just smiled at me and shrugged. “Exactly,” I said, smiling…
“Jimbo! You’re up!” Michael called.
“All right,” I said, and I turned to Pam. “While I’m out there kicking those pins’ asses, you should think about what kind of music you like.”
Pam replied by grinning, and nodding. I went up to grab a ball, I lined up my shot, and…gutter ball. Michael laughed, Holly gave me a thumbs up, and Pam just grinned up at me. I just shrugged, and went again…I knocked down one pin.
“Wow, you should go pro,” Pam teased when I sat back down next to her.
“Yeah, it hurts to be this good,” I replied, smiling. “So what did you come up with?”
Pam twisted her face in mock concentration, and brought a hand up to her chin.
“Well, I really like Hanson, Backstreet Boys, N Sync…Good Charlotte, Simple Plan…” Pam laughed. “Actually, I’m into the old stuff…Led Zeppelin, Cream, The Who, Pink Floyd, Hendrix, Metallica, and Iron Maiden…”
“Wow, you’re a bad ass,” I laughed.
“I was raised on that stuff…”
“You were raised on bad ass? What’s that like?”
“You know…it’s pretty cool, I mean, what can I say?” Pam smiled. I laughed.
“So you’re not into any newer stuff?”
“Well, I like Dashboard Confessional, Taking Back Sunday, and Brand New a lot,” Pam replied.
“Brand New is freaking awesome…”
“I concur, sir,” Pam laughed.
After an hour of teasing each other about our awesome bowling skills, talking about music, and watching Michael and Holly dancing to “Toxic” by Britney Spears, we were out in the parking lot, trying to decide what to do. It was 9:00 in Scranton, and nearly everything was closed.
“Do you have a curfew, Jim?” Holly asked, “Because Pam’s spending the night at my place, so she doesn’t have to get home anytime soon, so…”
“No, I don’t,” I said. “I could tell my parents that I’m crashing over at Michael’s house…”
“Then how about a road trip?” Michael suggested. “To New York?”
“I’m down,” Holly said, looking over at Pam who was staring at me.
“Yeah, sure…Jim?” Pam asked.
So I let Michael and Holly playfully argue about who should drive while I called my parents. I told them that I would be sleeping over at Michael’s and that I’d be back in the afternoon tomorrow. I still had some packing to do, but…oh well.
“Is everything cool?” Pam asked when I got off the phone with my parents. I nodded.
“Yeah, my parents just kinda nagged me about packing, but yeah, it’s cool,” I replied. I looked over at Michael who was pouting. “What’s wrong with him?”
“Oh, I told him that I thought his car wasn’t that cool,” Pam replied. “And now he hates me…so I guess that’s what I get for being truthful…Wait, what do you need to pack for?”
“My parents are moving, and I’m going to college,” I replied, following Holly and Michael to Holly’s car.
“Where are you going to go?”
“That’s pretty random…”
“Yeah, well, I stayed in Scranton all of my life, I kind of wanted a change of scenery…and I love to snowboard, so…” I smiled.
“Where are your parents going to move?”
“Portland, Oregon,” I replied. “My dad just got a job at Intel…”
“Oh, so…this is like your last week in Scranton?” Pam asked. Her voice was kind of filled with disappointment.
“My older brother’s still going to live here, so I’ll probably visit him every once in awhile,” I replied.
We drove for about two and a half hours to New York. During the drive, Pam fell asleep on my shoulder, and eventually, I fell asleep. Michael and Holly were both joking around in the front seats of the car. When we got to New York, Michael shook us awake. We stopped by a diner to get some coffee, and then we walked around Times Square. Michael and Holly were walking ahead of Pam and me. They were holding hands, and when I looked over at Pam, she was smiling.
“What?” I asked.
“Holly’s met her soul mate, I think…she usually has terrible luck with guys,” Pam said, still smiling over at the new couple.
“Yeah, same with Michael…good for them, right?”
“Yeah…” Pam sighed. After a couple minutes, she started rubbing her arms.
“Here,” I offered her my sweater.
“Thanks,” Pam said, “It smells good.”
I felt myself blushing, and smiled. “Thanks.”
“So…are you nervous?” Pam asked.
“College…you’re gonna be in a new town and stuff…”
“Oh, yeah…I’m pretty nervous, but it’s an adventure, right?”
“Definitely…I can’t wait till I graduate…”
“What grade are you in?”
“I’m going to be a senior this year,” she replied.
“Nice…hey, I think we should keep in touch,” I blurted out. “You know, we can hang out whenever I come visit my brother…”
“Yeah, that sounds good,” she smiled, and she held out her hand. “Give me your phone.”
She took my phone, and typed in her number, and called her own phone with mine. Then she texted me her Myspace URL.
“We can’t be real friends unless we’re friends through Myspace,” she smiled, handing my phone back to me.
“And you better keep in touch!”
“Oh, I definitely will…” I promised. Pam held up her pinky, and I linked mine around hers. She smiled, and just then Holly and Michael turned around.
“Hey, guys!” Holly called, “Do you think we should just crash here tonight?”
Holly was pointing to a Best Western Hotel. I looked over at Pam who just shrugged.
“We’re pretty tired,” Holly explained, “I don’t think I can drive back to Scranton…”
“Um…okay, why not?” I shrugged.
It’s not everyday where a young man can say that he met a beautiful girl, and slept with her within six hours of meeting, but I can proudly say that I did. No, you pervs, I didn’t sleep with Pam in the dirty way, we just fell asleep together. It’s funny how that happened. We talked more about music that we were into, I let her listen to my iPod, she asked me to make her a mix, then Michael got a room with two queen sized beds. Michael and Holly shared a bed, and Pam and I shared a bed…we spent the rest of the night (I guess it was the morning) listening to my iPod till the battery died. Oh, did I mention? We were holding hands. You're pretty jealous, right?
“You never told me if you were going to make me a mix or not,” Pam said sleepily.
“Absolutely, I will…” I replied, but she fell asleep.
And then it was over…we got back to Scranton the next afternoon. Pam had to go visit her grandparents in Philadelphia, and I had to help my parents with the packing. I never forgot to make Pam that mix. I remember visiting Holly at Heart to Art, and asking her to give the CD to Pam.
There comes a time in a young man’s life when he gets his heartbroken. Usually, it’s because of rejection, but for me, it was because of regret…
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Chapter Notes:
I always thought it was silly whenever I would watch those chick flicks where some guy finally meets the girl of his dreams, and there are all those slow motion effects. I always thought, “Yeah, like that ever happens,” but when I saw Pam stepping out of Holly’s car, that happened