A Strange Compliment
The next week, my roommate Maria was in an evening class, along with some of my other close friends. Spending the evening alone, I decided to get some work done. Rather than do my homework, I walked over to the student union center to pick up something at an office.
On my way in, I walked past a handful of guys playing a game of pool—and Daniel happened to be one of them. I smiled and said hello, continuing down a hallway towards my destination. I had to turn right back around again, though, on finding that the office was closed. Of course it hadn’t occurred to me that most things did close after business hours, even on a college campus. When I reached the pool table again, Daniel invited me to join them. Although my first instinct was to decline since I had somewhere to be, I realized that this was not actually true. My friends were in class and only homework was waiting for me in my room.
So, I agreed. Unfortunately, I had no skill with a pool stick. Absolutely none, even if I did understand the concept of hitting either stripes or solids into the pockets and avoiding the eight-ball until all of the balls were cleared. Daniel was more than happy to help me out, and he was a very patient teacher. He and I played as a team against two of his roommates, and when it was my turn he would position my hands just right. More than once, he even put his arms around me to show me the best way to move the stick, sending chills up my spine. No longer was I unsure of my attraction to him; there was definitely something there.
At one point during our game, I received my first compliment from Daniel—and you may find it unusual, at least it was to me! It was a hot summer night, and I was dressed for the weather: shorts, a tank top, and one of my pairs of $2.50 Target flip-flops, which I owned in every color available. I was leaning against the wall, the end of my pool stick resting on the floor between my feet. Daniel was standing beside me, apparently looking down at the floor. “You have cute toes,” he said. And he sounded perfectly serious. My eyes dropped to my bright pink polished toenails. I wasn’t sure quite how to respond, so I said, “Thanks,” with a question in my voice. What an odd compliment to blush at! (But of course I did anyway—it couldn’t be helped.)
“I must say, no one’s ever told me that before,” I continued.
“Really?” He was honestly surprised. “Well you do,” he said, and the game went on.
As strange a compliment as that was, I could not stop smiling. Soon after that, I said I should be getting back, so Daniel walked me across campus. I couldn’t wait for Maria to get back from class so that I could fill her in on the story. Daniel and I played pool together every day that week, and hung out in our rooms as well. He even joined Maria and me for a few meals in our cafeteria, and by the end of the week I was beginning to think of him in an exclusive way. That weekend, I went home for my birthday. We had been spending time together for only a little over a week—heck, we had only been at college a little over two weeks! Nothing was official and I had no clue how he felt about it, but when I got to my house I immediately had to tell my sister and my mom.
As casually as I could, I said, “I think I have a boyfriend.”