Chapter Two

“Dude, you messed up.”
“What do you mean?”
“What he means is that was a missed opportunity. She wanted you to ask her for her number.”
“I’m confused.”

They laughed. I shrugged and flicked my thumb against the left analogue stick, moving Sora forward towards an unopened chest. Sora twirled his keyblade and then tapped the lid of the chest, opening it, to reveal a potion. The item was not needed at the moment but a fight with some heartless could prove its necessity.

“You said just before the two of you parted her last words were ‘well I hope we run into each other soon’ right?”
“As a woman, Johnny, that counts as an invitation.”
I paused the game, looking over my shoulder. “How?”
“Women give out clues as to whether or not they’re interested in a man. That was a verbal clue.”
“And you messed it up by saying- I can’t even repeat the words.”
A collective sigh from them filled the room.
“Fuck you guys.”
“‘Okay, see ya.’ And then you just walked away.”
“In a hurry, according to his description.”
“Fuck you guys.”
“Poor girl must have been shocked.”
“She must think there’s something wrong with her now.”
“Or maybe she thinks John’s retarded.” “Fuck you guys.”

After finding a glowing space representing a save point I healed up and then saved the game. From the cut scene between characters, a big fight was on the horizon and the distraction from my friends would not suffice pending my victory. I turned my Playstation 2 off and swiveled in my desk chair to face my friends.

“Let’s say I did fuck up this opportunity,”
“You did bro. There’s no ‘if’ in the argument.”
I rolled my eyes. “Let’s say I did fuck up this opportunity,” before continuing I eyed Ralph, my oldest male friend. We’ve known each other since the second grade. We met in the cafeteria when a bully tried to confiscate the chocolate milk carton off my lunch tray. Ralph and I were not even in the same class so when he stepped in to stop the near theft I stood and watched in surprise that a non-adult would get into a confrontation that did not involve him.

Third grade changed the dynamic of our friendship. We went from talking video games during lunch the rest of second grade to having what our parents called play dates after school that year. After we completed elementary school Ralph and I transferred to the same middle school (which is my way of saying ‘you did something right, Mayor, by mandating a school to specific zones, taking away a choice like you gave previous students not many years before) and, luckily, we both developed a passion to pursue the same field- media studies- so we went to the same high school to begin the journey.

College became a different story but the two of us have so far managed to build our schedules around each other so that we could trade intel on classes, filling in any gaps one of us may need to fix.

My eyes then shifted to Melina, the only girl in the group. Ralph and I met her one day during sophomore year of high school. The two of us ventured to the Union Square Barnes and Noble looking for the latest Adobe Photoshop book (not for school purposes) and a study guide for the upcoming Environmental Science Regents exam (school purposes). As a detour we stopped at the top floor where “required reading” could be found. A rumor was going around school that The Catcher in the Rye would be the book of choice for the Spring term. Ralph and I had a habit of attempting to stay ahead of the curve. It’s how both of us managed to graduate with honors. We called it right.

Anyway, Melina was in the comic book section reading Wonder Woman while walking. She bumped into me from behind, we got to talking, and the rest is history. “Why do women use cues to clue men in when they’re interested? Life would be easier if we just told each other how we felt.”
“Not all of us are as honest as you Johnny.” Ralph said.
“Well people should try. Fifty percent of life is trial and error, but those odds should exclude emotions.”
“I agree with you one hundred percent,” Melina said, “but life is not that simple. Sadly.”
I sighed. “You really think she was interested in me?” I looked at each of them in the eye from Ralph to Melina to Freddy, who was sitting pensively in the corner of my room.

Freddy was Melina’s friend. They met in high school on the lunch line. Ralph and I think he’s harboring a deep love for Melina but Freddy fails to admit it. He’s the youngest of us four; he graduated high school at the age of fifteen and at the same time as us, which was last year. Why he would choose to continuously hang out with us three is beyond me. He’s brighter than us, shyer than me but has a sharper tongue. For that, I’m glad he’s around. He provides back up, so to speak, in my arguments on certain subjects like this one, for example. But asking for his opinion on women is futile- he’s even more clueless than I am. At least that’s the impression he gives off sometimes.

Freddy shrugged his shoulders. “From what I’ve observed in my brothers’ behavior I would say yes, she had been interested. But I can see where you might have missed this cue.”
“It was pretty obvious though, Freddy.” Melina said. Freddy leaned forward in his seat and pressed the tips of his fingers together.

“What may seem obvious to someone on the outside is shrouded to the person involved.”
“Meaning Johnny didn’t recognize the cue because he’s on the inside, so to speak?” Freddy shook his head.
“An argument between Sam and his girlfriend the other day leads me to believe so.”
“Trouble in paradise for those two?” Ralph asked.
“If you want to call a relationship paradise,” Freddy said, folding his hands in front of him. “Sam’s girlfriend complained that Sam fails to notice when she wants him to ‘fight for her,’ in her words. She spoke of using terms like ‘I’m fine’ and ‘no, nothing is wrong’ which prompted Sam to let matters drop.”
“That’s another cue women use.” Melina said.
“Wait, that’s a cue?” I said. Melina and Ralph laughed. Freddy and I exchanged puzzled expressions.

“When women are upset and want their man to show further interest they put up momentary walls they want to have broken down. Showing persistence in her feelings provides comfort, allowing her to knock the walls down herself.”
“But, why not just tell the boyfriend how she’s feeling instead of giving him the run around?”
“Women are complex creatures dude.” Ralph said.
“Sounds more like troublemakers to me.” I said, with Freddy allowing the hint of a smirk to cross his lips.
“This is why I avoid anything dating related for the time being.” Freddy said.
“Oh c’mon Freddy you seem to know more about women than most men I’ve met. No offense Johnny.”
“None taken? I had no idea I should even be offended.”
“She’s saying you’re completely clueless man.” said Ralph.
“But I am. This is no secret. If it were the opposite this conversation wouldn’t be happening.”
“That’s my point.”
“I’m lost.”
Ralph and Melina laughed. “Why is this funny? Forgive me for not being ‘on the prowl.’ My mind is preoccupied with more important matters.”
“It is possible to have a social life while working towards a career, Johnny.”
“Well I’m certainly not in any rush for one if its going to be as complicated as you’ve made it out to be. Freddy has the right idea by avoiding women at all cost. Maybe I should.”
“No, you just need to get laid bro. That will open your eyes to what Melina and I are talking about.”
“So now I need to have sex to figure women out?!”
“If you meet the right girl, why not?” Melina said.

My head swirled with information overload. I put my fingers to my temples and lightly rubbed. “I’d like to drop this conversation. Please?”
“I’m hungry. Let’s go grab a slice.” Ralph said. Without another word of the topic we filed out of my room, left the apartment, and made our way to the pizza parlor a few blocks from my building.


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