He picked me up Thursday night to attend his family dinner. Turning onto Harford Street and heading toward I-84, he reached over and took my hand. "Tell me about your day," he instructed.
"I was in our Lord's Valley branch today. And I was booooored." I stretched out the word for emphasis. "I had two - TWO! - customers all day. I played a lot of Free Cell on the computer."
"Must be nice to play computer games when the rest of us are slaving away at work," he jabbed. "So what else did you do? You can't possibly have played cards for eight hours."
"I obsessively checked the comments on my blog. I put up a post the other day, and I'm getting some good feedback."
"Oh yeah? What did you write about?"
I hate admitting when I've written about him. Begrudgingly, I fessed up. "You."
"Me? Again?" His smile was huge. "I must rate, huh?"
"Yes," I said through an exaggerated sigh. "You rate."
"Well, what did you say?"
I wasn't eager to discuss my most recent post with him just yet. He has my blog address, so I knew it was a possibility that he would see it for himself. But face to face, three weeks into a new romance seemed too much, too soon. "You know. Stuff," I said with a shrug.
"Stuff like what?"
I didn't want to tell him I'd been pondering our status online. I didn't even want him to know the girlfriend/boyfriend question had crossed my mind. But I couldn't lie. So I tried to be vague. "Stuff like labels."
"What kind of labels?"
"Oh, you know...labels...like..." I spoke slowly and looked out of the window, desperate to figure out how I could either tell him about the post without sounding like an adolescent, or avoid telling him altogether. But I knew he would press until I relented. "...like what people call each other. Labels like that."
"And...it was about you, which you know already..." He nodded as if to say go on, and I felt stuck. So I regurgitated most of the post for him, the my speech accelerating to dangerous speeds in an effort to get it over with more quickly. "...And I got a bunch of comments today, which is awesome. And so I read the comments and then I read the blogs of the people who commented." My words began to resume their normal pace. "It sucks, though," I concluded, desperate to get his mind off of my post's topic, "because I can't comment on the blogs I read when I'm at work."
He focused on my topic anyway. "So, what did the comments say? About the girlfriend/boyfriend thing?"
"They said titles don't matter, things like that. Oh! And they say you sound great."
"Yeah, you're a big hit on the internet. But that's because they don't know you."
He laughed and I attempted to change the subject. I yammered on about my roommate and the move we're about to make while he sat and listened. After I had exhausted all of my conversation topics, silence filled the car.
"Well, what do you think?" he asked, breaking the quiet and withdrawing his hand from mine to rub his chin. "Am I your boyfriend?"
I was shocked. I expected both of us to just sort of skim over it. I figured it was too early for this. Considering his question, I wanted desperately to say "I hope so," but I didn't want him to think I was being pushy or clingy.
And when in the face of insecurity and my neuroses, I get non-committal, non-chalant and sarcastic.
"I don't know." I shrugged awkwardly. "We're dating." I re-evaluated what I'd said. I didn't want him to think I didn't want him as a boyfriend. "I guess?" My hands were out, palms up. I gave up. "I don't know." I dropped my hands, defeated and clueless, into my lap.
"Do you want me to be your boyfriend?"
I fidgeted in my seat. For whatever reason, direct questions make me uneasy. Maybe I don't like making my mind up one way or another because I don't want to be held accountable for it later. Maybe because I don't want to make any proclamations without knowing for sure that I won't be making a fool of myself - I'd rather know first that the feelings are mutual. I don't know. So I said it: "Yes, I want you to be my boyfriend. " but I said it obnoxiously - almost like I was being forced at gun point to speak - and rolled my eyes at the ceiling.
"You can't roll your eyes," he grinned. But getting to me to say it seriously was like pulling teeth. I looked at him, pleading with my facial expression for him to let me off the hook. You know the answer. Please don't make me say it. "Can't you be even a little vulnerable?" he teased.
And then I thought: If the situation were reversed, if I was the one asking the questions and he was the one squirming inside of it, I'd feel like shit. You always think you know what the other person feels, but it's always better to hear it from their mouths. So I turned to face him, maneuvering my body in the Saab's leather seats. "Yes," I said, my tone as honest as I could get it. "I want you to be my boyfriend."
He smiled. "Good," he said. "Because I want you to be my girlfriend." He took my hand.
We laughed at each other, at the formality of the words.
"I have a girlfriend," he said to his windshield.
I am a girlfriend.