Of all the times for me to be right about something!
Sheen's words from earlier rang in Jimmy's mind, and the more time he spent with Cindy, the more he hated the idea of some other boy being with her.
After about twenty minutes of…um… lip exploration (ok, kissing. Are you happy now?) He had to say something. He pulled away, despite her resistance to stopping.
"I need to ask you something?"
"And now is the best time to do so because…"
"What would you classify this as?"
She gave him a confused smile and chuckled. "Now I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure they call this 'kissing', genius boy."
"I don't mean…us, ok? What would you classify us as?"
She got quiet. For a moment, she just looked at him, a hollow expression on her face. "You ended a sentence with an adverb."
"Oh relax! Why do you suddenly require nomenclature anyway?"
"Well, I mean… if one were to… um." He had no idea how to explain this.
"I mean, we know how we feel about each other; why do other people?"
"I didn't mean in the case of alerting the world about us, I just …well…There are certain stipulations that come with various stages in a relationship. Like say, if one of us wanted to date another person, would that-"
She sat up. "Wait, is that what this is about? Are you saying that you-"
"NO, no no no not at all. I was speaking hypothetically. I just think we need a set of guidelines to determine what is ok and what's not." She seemed to relax.
"Alright, I suppose that makes sense."
"Ok. So, 'no' to seeing other people?"
She shrugged with feigned nonchalance. "I guess, if that's what you want."
"Ok..." You think I'd be used to this by now "I suppose the next thing would be, well…as fun as this is. Are we ever going to go on a real date?"
"Define real? Like, in public. With other people around?"
"I suppose." He noticed her face pale. "Do you have a problem with that?"
"Um…" she wouldn't make eye contact with him.
What is going on? Cindy doesn't act like this. He was actually surprised they hadn't gone public earlier; she couldn't keep a secret to save her life, but even their parents didn't know yet, let alone the school. Why were they keeping this a secret? That had never clearly been explained; all she said was that it was too soon to tell anyone except their closest friends-
Wait just a minute…
"Is there some reason why you have an aversion to being in public with me?"
"NO, it's nothing like that! I'm just-"
"What? Embarrassed to be seen with me?"
"NO! Will you just listen?" she sighed exasperatedly. "Ok, it's just…well…you know how my mother is a total raging psychopath?"
"I wouldn't say that."
"Yeah, that's because you don't have to live with her. The point is, she's not exactly a fan…of you. Or pretty much anyone. But especially you. And your family."
"What do you mean?"
"WELL, there's the whole 'repeated endangerment of the town' thing, and your dad's habit of mowing the lawn in his underwear-"
"That happened maybe four times, and my inventing skills have improved!"
"I know that, but she doesn't and it would be a bit difficult for me to work that into a dinnertime conversation."
Dinner? He snapped his fingers. "That's it!"
"I can have my parents invite yours over for dinner; then your mother can see that we are totally normal."
She raised one eyebrow. "Ok, relatively normal. But you have to admit, it could work."
"I suppose… your mom is a good cook, and maybe when put in a social setting, Sasha could act like a semi-normal human. NOTHING can go wrong though. No invention malfunctions, no spontaneous combustions, no-"
"Have a little faith, Cin." He pulled her close to him. "I am a genius after all."
"Oh you're something alright." He narrowed his eyes and she kissed his cheek in response. "You are definitely something."
"Ok Goddard, we have to do this discreetly." Jimmy and his dog stood in the hall, keeping an eye on his parents. It was a drizzly Saturday morning and he was ready to enact the plan he and Cindy had carefully concocted the previous evening (at least until nine, when she had to leave. He had never known someone so compliant to a totalitarian ruler that they would obey even when their mother wasn't home).
He walked into the living room where his mother was dusting and his father was polishing a duck figurine.
"Hey Jimbo, what's the good word?"
"Um, hi dad. Say, do you know what I just read that was pretty interesting? Apparently the…hospitality rate is decreasing in the average American household."
"Well that doesn't sound good."
"It's not good, not good at all. It's a national epidemic. They, uh, encourage families to try to break out of this cycle of destruction! So anyway, I was thinking we could do something to make sure our family doesn't fall prey to this…development: we should have the neighbors over for dinner."
"I don't know son, the Wheezers are very particular about their food, and then there's the allergies to take into consideration-"
"No dad, I didn't mean Carl's family…" he glanced out the window to the pink house across the street. "Here's a wild idea: why don't we have the Vortexes over? That would be a…neighborly thing to do."
Hugh looked at his wife tentatively. "Uh..Okay. How about sugar-booger, want to help bring back hospitality?"
She looked over at them. "I suppose…but Jimmy, are you sure this doesn't have more to do with the fact that you and Cindy are dating."
His jaw dropped. "How…did you know?"
"I'm a woman sweetie, nothing goes on in this house that I don't know about."
"It's true Jimbo. In this house a man can't even think about ordering a new duck collectable online without-"
"Hugh don't start."
Jimmy sighed. "I'd just like to start off on the right foot with Mrs. V. she can be a bit...how can I say this in a polite way…"
"I'm not sure you can dear; I understand though. Alright, how about next Saturday? It's the weekend before you kids get out for spring break. I can ask her at book club Monday."
"Thanks mom, that'd be great. Now this has to go smoothly, so dad? Can you maybe not destroy anything between now and then?"
"I can't make that promise."
Cindy sat in a bean bag chair on the floor of Libby's gray and purple room. The dark skinned beauty was going through her closet in search of outdated fashions to discard (a monthly ritual for her) and tossing them on the ground. Cindy folded the articles selected to be donated to charity and set them next to the CD player, which at the moment was playing her new Lex Rosenberg album softly.
"Awful. Hate it. Hate it. Boring." She held out a straight gray skirt. "Do you want this skirt?"
"Do I want the skirt you just described as boring?" she looked up. "Ooh! Actually yes." Libby threw it gently. "Libs, this still has the tag on it!"
"I know. I bought it to wear to interviews, but I just can't bring myself to put it on. I can't rock the whole 'librarian chic' thing." She looked over to see Cindy glaring at her. "You however can pull it off. Heh heh... Speaking of shopping, I was thinking we could go search for prom dresses during the break week after next… assuming you aren't teaching camp at the dojo every day."
Cindy gave her friend a confused look. "I thought you ordered your dress weeks ago! This is kind of last minute for you."
"Not for me, we're finding you a dress."
"Um, I was planning on just wearing my dress from the pageant-"
"Girl, you can't do that! Everyone's already seen it. You can maybe wear it to the next prom, but not his year."
"I've only worn it once! Besides, it's going to be difficult to explain why I need to buy another formal-"
"You haven't told her yet?"
"I'm working on it! We have a plan: Neutron is-"
"You're not still calling him that."
"Quiet; he's going to have us over for dinner and if all goes accordingly, she won't hold his family in such low regard."
"What's her beef anyway?"
"Well, she doesn't like how he frequently surpasses me grade-wise, she thinks it ridiculous and outdated that Mrs. Neutron is a stay-at-home mother, there's the whole 'multiple instances of endangering the town thing-"
"Ok, I get it, but is dinner really going to change all that?" She sat down next to the blond girl.
"I don't know, but it has to be worth a shot. But if she sees a normal family, with no catastrophes, or invention meltdowns, or rivalries, then she might accept them; and maybe if she sees the side of him…them- the side of them that I do, she'll like…them too. At the very least, enough to not freak out when I tell her that we're going to prom together."
Libby patter her shoulder. "I hope it works out girl; although I'm noticing an immediate flaw."
"Well, for her to see the side of Jimmy that you do, she'd have to be right up in his face like-"
Cindy threw a hot pink shirt at her head and hit her square in the face. "Shut up!"
"You know it's truuuuuuuuuuuuuuuue!"
"Don't make me tackle you!"