Chapter 2: Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

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When we finally got back to the house I could already smell the delicious aroma of grilling hamburgers and chicken. Mr. H was famous for his grilled chicken and it was something that I looked forward to every year, even as I dreaded coming and having to be propositioned by Brad.

"You kids are back just in time," called Mr. H as he saw us walking up the steps of the deck. "We're eating in 10 minutes. Brad, can you get a platter from the kitchen for me to put the meat on?"

"Sure thing Dad," Brad said as we walked into the house.

We both helped set the picnic table on the deck and I had just enough time to run to the bathroom and clean up a little bit before we sat down to eat.

We were all sitting down eating and the adults decided to bring up the one topic that all kids entering college hate: what are you studying? I have always hated questions like that, most likely because I have absolutely no clue what I want to do and am now registered as undecided. I knew that Brad was majoring in biomedical engineering and had a complete career plan for himself. I was really jealous.

"Won't it be wonderful," exclaimed my mother to Mrs. H. "We can all go together and visit the kids at school. First I get rid of my husband, and now my daughter's leaving. I guess I'm officially single again." I had to cringe at the idea of my mother acting like a single girl at her age. Who knows, maybe when I'm 50 years old I'll want to act like a kid too, but I really hope not especially if it involves booty shorts and legs that have hit the half century mark coming together.

"I know that Brad's relieved that at least he will know someone when he goes away to college."

"Mom!" Brad groaned. "Don't talk about me like I'm not here and don't make me sound like a baby!" I had to say that what was making Brad sound like a baby was the fact that he was whining to his mommy.

"So Mrs. H, are you excited about Maggie?" I asked as I shoveled potato salad in my mouth.

"Oh have you met Maggie? We are all so happy that we—"

Brad cut off my mother by asking, "Mind handing me another bun?"

"Hotdog or Hamburger?"

"Hotdog," he said as he grabbed the bun. "Thanks, so are you excited about the fireworks, Mom?"

"You know that the 4th is my favorite holiday," said Mrs. H. She continued to speak, but I was busy thinking about why it was that Brad didn't want to talk about Maggie, to listen. I personally never liked fireworks. They make too much noise and scare me. Plus I've seen one too many PSAs about the dangers of fireworks. I personally want to keep all my fingers, toes, and limbs for as long as possible and fireworks do tend to shorten the lifespan of arms and legs.

We had been sitting on the deck for a while just talking and finally the sun was starting to set. We all loaded into the car and drove over to the other side of the lake to get a better view of the fireworks. They were going to shoot them off so they would be right over the lake. The fireworks were always simple, but because they usually shot them really low to the ground and they would usually wait for the smoke to clear to give people the best view, they were usually really nice.

Brad and I sat together on a blanket like we did every year and Mom, Mr. H and Marge sat about 20 feet away in lawn chairs talking to some of the neighbors. As the fireworks went off I quickly lost interest and started to look around, lost in thought. I wondered what Maggie looked like. Did she have brown hair like me, or was she blonde? Was she tall and skinny? Please don't let her have big boobs! But I was sure her boobs were so enormous that she couldn't even watch TV lying on her back because they would obstruct her view. If theater tickets had that view you would definitely get a discount, although I'm sure that more than a few guys might pay extra for just such a view. I looked down at my chest and recalled the first time I ever remember a boy looking down my shirt. I was 12 and his name was Jim Cavanaugh and he seemed to be really enjoying the view. I was forced to sit next to him on the bus one time and by the time I even noticed what he was doing his face was only about 10 inches from my chest. But, I really don't know what he was looking at because there wasn't much there and sadly there still isn't. But if my little 12 year old boobs could draw Jimmy Cavanaugh to me like a tractor beam then what would Maggie's porn star boobs do to Brad? I'm sure he would go all googlie-eyed over them.

I know I'm kind of cute so I bet Maggie's really pretty. Was she nice or smart? Did she get a higher score on her SATs than me? Most likely. Did she ever throw up on Brad? So I only did it once and it was a long time ago, after going on the tea cups one too many times, but I bet he still remembers especially if he still knows what kind of shampoo I use. But I bet she doesn't know the capital of Botswana. It's Gaborone. And has she ever read a book with more than 1000 pages? I bet she doesn't even know how to read. . . What's wrong with me? My self flagellation and attack of Maggie was so utterly asinine!

I was comparing myself to some unknown girl who I was going have to meet soon and was most likely going to be completely inferior to. I mean Brad liked me so why would he stop if she wasn't better than me? Ok, that was just about the stupidest thing that I'd ever thought in my whole life because first of all you can't judge people and grade them like cattle or something. Everyone is worthwhile if you take the time and get to know them, and second of all people stop liking each other all the time for no apparent reason so, Brad moving on is normal and natural. I mean Mom kicked Dad to the curb and Jordan broke up with me. Two prime examples that relationships are great while they last, but they just don't last.

I looked over at Brad who was looking up at the sky, seeming to be hypnotized by the flashes of color. He had this look of intense rapture on his face and a wobbly smile on his lips. I had to be the most pathetic person ever. I'm drowning myself in self-pity and belittling some mystery girl because Brad doesn't want me anymore and like a complete dope, I just realized his good qualities. I suppose I always knew that he was a good guy and that girls wanted to be with him, but only now did I want him. I was such a fucking stupid moron! I like him, it too late and everyone going to find out. I know they are because I've been acting really strange and weird all day and now it's too late. I knew for a fact that I was going to humiliate myself in front of Maggie and Brad. I rolled my eyes at myself, just wonderful.

Without even realizing it, I had been staring at him and didn't notice until he looked at me.

"What?" he asked.

"Nothing," I said all too quickly as I turned my attention back towards the sky.

I could feel him watching me and I became very self-conscious.

After the finale, the parents came over and Brad said, "I need to go get Maggie. I'll just walk and pick her up. I don't need a lift."

"Why doesn't Sammy go with you so she won't get bored with all our grown up talk and besides I know you're a grown male, well almost anyway, but I don't like you walking alone this late at night," said Mrs. H.

So before I even had a chance to refuse, I was forced to go with Brad to pickup his new girlfriend, walking on the dark path that circled the lake. It was surprisingly deserted after we had walked for about 5 minutes or so. I guessed that everyone who lived further away drove.

I was being suspiciously quiet and Brad seemed to notice. "What's wrong with you Sammy?" he asked sounding concerned.

"Nothing's wrong," I muttered with as much conviction as I could muster.

"Well then why are you so quiet," he inquired as he gave me a bemused look.

"I don't know, I guess it's just because you know I don't like fireworks. They make me jumpy."

"You know the older you get the weirder you get."

"I'm not weird . . . well, I'm not that weird . . . well, I'm not as weird as you are."

He scoffed at me, "You're totally deranged."

"I hate you," I said with a straight face.

"You love me."

"Oh, yeah I love you so much I can't stand it," I said sarcastically.

He grinned sheepishly and then asked, "So seriously, tell me what's wrong."

"I don't know. I guess I'm just depressed that Jordan dumped me."

"He dumped you! Ha! I thought you dumped him! That's really funny."

"Thanks a lot. I'm glad my love life amuses you. This little chat is really making me feel better, especially being that you just found someone and I'm cold and alone."

"I'm sorry I laughed," he said while still laughing, "But I just can't believe that he broke up with you. He always seemed to be so into you. But then again he also seemed to be really into Sponge Bob Square Pants and Mexican wrestling."

"I always liked to think that he liked me more than Sponge Bob. I mean he never made out with Sponge Bob or ever got Spongy to touch his pee pee. But he did always have this stuffed Sponge Bob on his bed and he would never even let me touch it. God only knows what they did together when the lights went off."

"You touched his pee pee? Did you refer to it as his pee pee? I bet he loved that!"

"I'm sorry to break it to you but when you go out with someone long enough you usually end up touching their genitals," I state in annoyance.

He openly laughed at me and then said in an imitation of Jordan's voice, "Hello Samantha, would you like to touch my genitals?"

"Shut up," I said getting annoyed at myself for even mentioning it. "And I thought we were talking about how he wanted to get it on with Sponge Bob, not me."

"He very well could have carnal knowledge of that stuffed filter feeder, he might even be doing it right now," theorized Brad with a look of complete seriousness on his face and this time I had to laugh.

"Well, if that's the case then I don't even want to know what he did with his life size poster of a Mexican wrestler that he has on the back of his door!"

"I shutter at the thought," he gasped with mocking. "But at least you didn't have to witness it like Sponge Bob did. You know if he were an actual person and were alive and all, he would need some serious therapy. Yup."

I laughed. "You know it's really fun ragging on Jordan."

"Why do you think I did it for so long?" he asked while giving me a sloppy grin.

"I guess I just thought you were jealous, I didn't think you did it simply because it was so fun."

"Well, what do you want, there's a lot of stuff about him that's easy to make fun of. It makes me wonder why it is that you fell for him to begin with."

"You don't want to know," I replied.

"Why would I ask if I didn't want to know?" he queried.

"It's just too embarrassing."

"I've seen you with scary 80's hair in the late-90's, it can't be worse than that," Brad joked.

"Fine!" I said finally relenting, but the reason is just so pathetic. "Well, he was nice to me and he asked me out."

"That's it? That's why you went out with him for almost 3 years? Just because he was kind of nice and he asked?"

"And he has a cute butt," I amended.

"Has or had?"

"I suppose now that he's with Sponge Bob and all, I'll say had."

"Good. I would hate to see you in love with a plushie."

"What's a plushie?" I asked with interest.

"Someone who has sex with stuffed animals."

"That's so gross. You know you spend way too much time on the internet. You just should not know that," I shouted passionately.

"Yes I should. That could be the winning question on Jeopardy one day."

The only thing I could do was shake my head.

"As weird facts go, it's really not that strange," he added to justify his strange knowledge.

"Sure."

"Knowing that over 2500 left handed people die each year from using products made for right handed people is a lot stranger fact," he said as if that made his weird sex fact seem more normal.

"You are such a geek! Do you know that? I mean you have the glasses and shaggy hair cut and everything."

"Are you saying I look like a nerd?" he mused.

"No, I'm saying that you look like the overlord of the nerds."

"I'm cute!" he shouted adamantly.

"You know most guys don't want to be cute, they want to be sexy and manly."

"How do you know? Are you a guy?" he asked.

I sighed and then said, "Fine, you're cute."

"Thank you," he said in a smug tone.

"What am I? Chopped liver over here?" I asked in amusement.

"Alright, I guess you're cute too," he conceded.

"Thank you very much," I said smugly.

"Just don't tell Maggie I said that, she gets jealous really easily," he added and the good mood I had gained from our conversation instantly disintegrated. I had momentarily forgotten about her and the reason that Brad and I can't get together. But I suppose I should have just realized that the reason we can't get together is because of my own stupidity about not seeing how I felt sooner.

"Sure," I muttered sadly. "You know, Maggie's a lucky girl. I'm really happy for you."

He stopped walking and looked at me.

"You really mean that?" he asked seriously.

"Yeah, you're a really sweet guy and we've already established that you're cute. What girl wouldn't want to be with you?" I inquired. He turned away and started walking again.

"I don't know. Lots of girls wouldn't: you for example."

"That's not true. You have a much cuter butt than Jordan," I said as I attempted to joke, "and you're nice. Maybe I'd say yes if you asked, but I suppose there's no point in talking about it now . . ." I trailed off, not really wanting to mention again that I had lost my chance. Suddenly he stopped walking again and turned to me looking really angry.

"Why are you saying shit like that Sammy? I know if I asked you out you'd say no so don't even pretend like you wouldn't," he spewed at me.

"How would you know if you haven't asked?"

"Haven't asked!?" sneered Brad. "I've asked you out a thousand times and you always say no. It's not nice to play with people's feelings, acting like things have changed."

"What are you talking about? You just said a couple of hours ago that you don't like me anymore, that you're moved on so how can I be playing with your feelings?"

"I lied, ok!"

"What do you mean you lied?" I asked as I felt my anger starting to rise.

"I haven't moved on. I still like you: a lot."

"I don't even know what to say. You lie to me but worst of all you lied to Maggie. Guys can be such pigs sometimes! You go out with some girl you don't even like just to get a piece of ass. And I called you nice! Ugg!" I shouted as I ground my teeth.

"Don't Sammy," he uttered as he stared at me.

"Don't what? Get mad at you because you've been playing with my emotions all day?"

"I haven't played with your emotions at all. I don't know what you're talking about."

"I guess you're right," I said as I tried to be rational. "I'm the one who's been playing with my emotions, but it's just that . . . that I feel and then I don't know and then I feel again . . . ."

"What do you feel?"

"Feelings," I replied.

"For whom?" he asked.

"You," I said quietly making myself feel so stupid and retarded that I was sure that I usurped Brad's position as overlord of the nerds.

"You have feelings for me, as in you like me?" he asked incredulously.

"Do I have to spell it out in Morse code? Yes I like you, ok!" I shouted at him.

"Why," he queried in disbelief.

"I don't know, maybe because you look really sexy with a bobby pin in your hair."

"You're serious? You're not just messing with me?"

"Do you honestly think I would mess around about something like this?" I bellowed in disbelief.

"No," he stated as he took a step closer to me. "I'm going to kiss you now, Sammy."

"No you're not! Maggie's your girlfriend and I'm not going to help you cheat on her."

"She's not my girlfriend," he stated.

"But you said th—"

"I said that I love her and that she's a great girl, but she's not my girlfriend."

"And you claim that you didn't play with my emot—"

He cut me off by kissing me and I quickly pushed him away.

"Don't do that! You're with Maggie!"

"I'm not!"

"I don't belief you."

"Fine," he stated in resigned anger. He said nothing else as he did dragged me down the path towards Maggie's house. When we arrived Brad curtly told me to, "Stay here."

I might have just died. The wait was excruciating and my imagination as to why Brad wanted me to wait on the dark path by myself did nothing to make me feel better. I saw him making out with one of the Victoria's Secret angels, carelessly giving her the spit that he had so crassly just stolen from me. I didn't know what he was playing at, but I did know that I was hurt by Brad and by myself and my own stupidity. I just discovered that there are smart girls and there are stupid girls and I'm one of the stupid ones, or at least when it comes to guys I'm a stupid dumb girl. Why did he have to be so great, even if he was messing with my head he's still a good guy. My heart was in serious need of some Neosporin and a Band-Aid. It was really hurting.

90 seconds later Brad and Maggie came walking towards me and I was at least partially right about Maggie. She was in fact blond and gorgeous and weighted less than 100 pounds. She was in fact a yellow Lab. I was driving myself crazy all day over a freaking dog!

"I might not have known about plushies, but I sure as Hell know about bestiality. You tried to make me think that you were going out with a dog!"

"Well, I wanted to make you see that girls like me and that I'm a good guy and it worked didn't it!"

"You were messing with me all day!" I shouted enraged.

"Look I'm sorry—"

"You made me think you were dating a dog!"

"Well, yeah but—"

"And you totally got off on the fact that I was miserable all day!" I shouted.

"Seriously Sammy I'm sorry, but I all ready tried the conventional way of trying to get you to like me so I tried the unconventional. So sue me already!" he shouted back.

"That's not fair. You're not allowed to be mad at me; I'm the one who is supposed to be mad at you!"

"Supposed to be? So are you mad at me?" he inquired sheepishly I guessed that he was feeling more guilty about his stint at screwing with me than he was willing to let on.

"Yes, but you have to make fun of Jordan one more time, then I'll forgive you."

"Really?"

"Yeah," I lied.

"Uh, I better make it a good one. . . Umm . . . Uh . . . Ok, how about he smells stinky sometimes?"

"That's a terrible insult."

"I'm sorry but I'm just nervous that if I mess up you won't give me a chance," he said while looking particularly pathetic and cute.

"Don't be stupid; you know that if you ask me out I'll say yes."

"You're not just saying that?"

"Nope," I replied as I shook my head.

"Ok, Samantha will you go out with me?"

"No."

"No?" he squeaked as he diverted his eyes.

"I'm not going to say yes until you tell me why your dog was with those people and not at your house."

"Your mom's allergic so we set up a play date for Maggie."

"Your dog is coming from a play date? I could more easily believe that you were dating your dog than that she goes on play dates."

"Are dogs having play dates weird?" he asked in a curious voice.

"Very," I said. "So do you have something to ask me or what?"

"Sam, can we go out sometime?"

"Hmm, let me think about it. Well, I guess I don't have anything better to do and going on a date with you will give me a chance to mess with your head."

"Was that a yes?"

"Yes."

"YES!" he echoed loudly.

"Chill out already, and you have to stop talking about how much you love Maggie, I mean she's cute and all, but I get jealous pretty easy."

"Don't worry; I'll remember that," he said and then plastered a lascivious smile on his face and asked, "So do you want to see some fireworks?"

"Go see if Sponge Bob wants to see fireworks, because I'm going to have a weenie roast?"

"I guess you're still mad, huh?" he asked sheepishly.

"Yup."

The End