Robert was wearing a rabbit-fur hat that came down over his ears and a thick, old-fashioned down jacket.
She thought it was a good look for him, if a little dorky; the hat heightened his lumberjack aura, and the heavy coat hid his belly and the slightly sad slump of his shoulders.“You’re welcome, concession-stand girl,” he said, though of course he knew her name by then.
It seemed obvious to Margot that he was expecting her to say no and that, when she did, they wouldn’t talk again.
That made her sad, not so much because she wanted to continue spending time with him as because she’d had such high expectations for him over break, and it didn’t seem fair that things had fallen apart so quickly.“We could go get a drink, I guess?
Margot met Robert on a Wednesday night toward the end of her fall semester. She didn’t earn tips at the movie theatre, but the job was boring otherwise, and she did think that Robert was cute. “Concession-stand girl, give me your phone number,” he said, and, surprising herself, she did.
She was working behind the concession stand at the artsy movie theatre downtown when he came in and bought a large popcorn and a box of Red Vines.“That’s an . Not so cute that she would have, say, gone up to him at a party, but cute enough that she could have drummed up an imaginary crush on him if he’d sat across from her during a dull class—though she was pretty sure that he was out of college, in his mid-twenties at least. But the next week he came into the movie theatre again, and bought another box of Red Vines. “You managed not to insult me this time.”She shrugged. From that small exchange about Red Vines, over the next several weeks they built up an elaborate scaffolding of jokes via text, riffs that unfolded and shifted so quickly that she sometimes had a hard time keeping up.
The thought of this possible vulnerability touched her, and she felt kinder toward him than she had all night. “I thought you said you were older.”“I told you I was a sophomore! Standing outside the bar, having been rejected in front of everyone, was humiliating enough, and now Robert was looking at her as if she’d done something wrong.“But you did that—what do you call it?
When he asked her where she wanted to go for a drink, she named the place where she usually hung out, but he made a face and said that it was in the student ghetto and he’d take her somewhere better. That gap year,” he objected, as though this were an argument he could win.“I don’t know what to tell you,” she said helplessly.
Maybe, she thought, her texting “lol r u serious” had hurt him, had intimidated him and made him feel uncomfortable around her. ” he demanded.“I’m twenty,” she said.“Oh,” he said.She thought he was going to go in for a kiss and prepared to duck and offer him her cheek, but instead of kissing her on the mouth he took her by the arm and kissed her gently on the forehead, as though she were something precious. “I will see you soon.”On the walk back to her dorm, she was filled with a sparkly lightness that she recognized as the sign of an incipient crush.