Crush, August 1998

1998 crush0001

I am sitting at this table waiting for you,

as I have waited fruitlessly all summer long.

I let them coax me here.

One of my loved ones is faking a bathroom break

to force us to finally talk.

I made the mistake

of mentioning you to them last Christmas.

They called me from the phone booth outside

in February, laughing in hiccups

like my classmates in eighth grade

when they discovered my crush.

Between laughs they explained how they handed

you a valentine with a cheesy limerick,

asking you to meet up with me

for a ballgame in May.

I couldn’t believe you agreed.

Since I had no other prospects

and I thought you seemed nice

I went along with their plan.

Now I sit here growing red,

recounting the flustered plans we hastily made

when she asked me to pay one night.

I cleaned my car and chose my outfit.

You said you’d call when it was time

to pick you up.  But the grandfather clock struck

four and we all had to leave.  Like a fool

I kept watching an empty

seat all night, in the car and at the stadium.

The next day they convinced me

I had made unclear

plans, and I reluctantly agreed

to go to you.  On the drive over

I don’t know why

I didn’t listen to the inside

voice that said, You’ve had enough.

But when I walked up you smiled.

I thought I saw a spark

when you explained your plans

suddenly changed, and you lost

my number.  You wrote it down again

and promised we’d go out sometime soon.

After waiting by the phone for weeks

After the corn grew high and fireflies came out

After the pervasive silence crept through my house

After the rejection

After the humiliation

After the embarrassment

I sit here waiting, thinking about what to say,

and you come to wipe down the table.

We both silently watch

the beads of water evaporate.

Finally you say politely, as if I am any other customer,

“Can I get you something?”

I say, “Unsweetened tea please.”

I want to feel the cold, bitter

tannins on my tongue.

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