Cindy sat down at the breakfast table Friday morning, and was greeted by her father who was working on the daily crossword puzzle.
"Hmm, an eight letter word for 'Genus of a cheetah.' Third letter is 'I'."
"Acinonyx." She said, stirring the yogurt and granola together. "A-C-I-N-O-N-Y-X"
He stared at her. "What would I do without you?"
"Get a dictionary. Where's mom?"
"Oh, she spilled milk on her dress and went upstairs to change. We've got about four minutes to relax."
He filled in another string of letters then shot her an unreadable glance. "She tells me we're dining across the street tomorrow evening. Is there…any particular reason why they invited us over?"
Her chewing slowed. "I think they're just being neighborly. Why?"
"Oh, I just thought there might something other than hospitality on their minds."
"What do you mean?"
He shrugged his shoulders. They ate in silence for a minute.
"This dinner wouldn't possibly have anything to do with Jimmy giving you a ride to school every so often…or the reason why you blush whenever someone mentions his name?" He lowered his voice. "Or the flowers he gave you after the pageant?"
She didn't say anything. "How did-"
"Just because your mother has blinders on when it comes to everything not academically related to you, doesn't mean I do. You know if you need to talk, I'm here to listen, Cindy."
She couldn't believe this. How much does he know? How long has he known? If he could figure this out, could mom? Nonsense, her mother would never...
"I need tomorrow to go well." Her voice barely squeaked out. He nodded.
At that moment, Mrs. Vortex walked into the room, straitening her blouse. "Great, now I'm eight minutes off schedule. I'll have to wait and do the dishes when I get home. Cynthia, what are you still doing eating? Brush your teeth and get to school!" She put her mug in the dishwasher and walked out of the room.
Cindy sighed and got up to rinse out her bowl. Her father caught her arm. "I mean that honey, anytime you need to talk."
"Thanks dad." At least one he her parents was sane.
Jimmy sat in the driver's seat of his dad's blue car. He tapped the steering wheel nervously, wonder when she was coming. After what seemed like an eternity (but actually was two minutes) Cindy finally walked out the door and made her way over to him. She put her bag in the back seat then got in the passenger side.
"T minus sixteen hours," He said, feigning nonchalance.
"Is it really necessary to talk like that this early in the morning?"
"Another late night, sleeping beauty?"
She shot him a hard look. "Don't push it. Yes, there was a lot on my mind and I found sleep to be evasive."
"School or…you know..."
"Both. Oh, that reminds me: when we get there I have something that I need to show you."
"Ok." He didn't press the matter, sensing that she didn't want to talk about it right now. He reached over to the CD player he had installed earlier that year and pressed 'Play.'
Light music came out of the speakers. He glanced at the seat next to him and saw a small smile spread over her face. "Is this the playlist I burned for you?"
"Yeah, I've got to say though: it's pretty easy to figure out which ones are you and which are Libby's influence."
"She's a bit more out there. I swear, half her songs are pure Top Forty and the other half is completely left-field out there stuff I've never even heard of. I don't know where she finds it!"
"It's starting to rub off on Sheen too. He actually has more on his mp3 player than the "Ultralord" soundtrack now."
"That relationship just blows my mind".
"Now that's quite a feat…whereas it only takes, say, a cheese grater to blow Sheen's mind".
Cindy's laughter filled the car as he pulled into the school parking lot. Even though he couldn't look at her, he knew her face was lighting up like it always does when she laughed. It was one of the rare times that she let her guard down and one could see what she was really feeling. He liked the way the grin spread over her entire face, making her eyes sparkle and her nose crinkle up.
Pretty soon (too soon, in his opinion), he pulled into his designated spot. As soon as he removed the key from the ignition, she hopped out to retrieve something from her backpack. She rummaged through it for a moment then opened a blue folder to reveal a stack of paper.
"Your English paper?"
"No." she let out a sigh. "Here's the thing: a few years ago Libby and I jokingly made a 'requirement test' for a future suitor, you know, to make sure we were compatible."
"We were twelve! Besides, it was just for fun. At least until I showed it to mother, who….took it a bit farther than expected. She actually typed it up and added to it and actually planned to give it to anyone I dated."
He laughed. "You're kidding, right?"
Her expression remained somber as she handed it to him. "I couldn't make something like this up."
"Name…age… height…unweighted GPA… vaccination records?"
"I just thought I'd better show it to you in case she decided to ask you stuff from it at dinner."
"Briefly describe your family's medical history?"
"Mom's a little weird when it comes to-"
"In the provided spaces, list all your SAT and ACT scores, including the essay".
"That one was actually my idea. But-"
"What are your top three college choices? Describe your intended major. Note: acceptable answers include doctor, lawyer, contractor, technical engineer, computer programmer..."
"I know this seems really bizarre, but-"
"In a minimum of 250 words, explain what the phrase 'intellectual superiority' means to you and how you plan to respect Cynthia's if the two of you engage in a relationship."
He looked up to see her face horror-stricken.
"Oh my gosh, I completely forgot that was on there."
He chuckled. "Cindy, it's fine. This is actually pretty amusing."
"But if she-"
He pulled her close in an embrace. "Quit worrying! Just show up at our house at five o'clock tomorrow and check the anxiety at the door. I can deal with anything she throws at me. I'm Jimmy Neutron for heaven's sake!"
"A word to the wise: check the ego."
He kissed the tip of her nose. "I would if I could, but I can't so I shan't".
"You're just lucky you're so darn adorable".
"I'm lucky for a lot of reasons".
Let's just hope I can stay lucky until Saturday.