Chapter 1: Introductions, the Present
“Dude, our bishop looks just like Han Solo,” he says to me out of the corner of his mouth.
I am caught off guard and supremely uncomfortable right away. Because the man sitting next to me is a psychopath. The reason I know this is because I sit in this row in church for two reasons–one is of the righteous god fearing nature and one is of the people abhorring nature.
Okay, abhor is a strong word, but I’ve been known to be antisocial on occasion.
The first reason is that if I sit closer to the front, I feel like the bishop and his counselors and the speakers of the day are all staring at me and that is great motivation for actually paying attention. I know, I know, being very introverted, somewhat antisocial, and willingly sitting in the front of the room makes me seem like a psychopath, but the second reason redeems me a bit. The other side of the story is that if I sit closer to the front, all the other non-psychopaths won’t want to sit directly next to me because no one in their right mind would sit in the front row for pleasure. See? I may be contradictory, but there’s a method to the madness.
I also happen to have personal space issues, of which my personal bubble is currently being encroached upon by Mysterious Church Goer who has plopped directly next to me five minutes into the meeting.
Upon Mysterious Church Goer’s proclamation, I’m tempted just to laugh uncomfortably and try to ignore his very existence in the most polite but repelling way possible, but something possesses me to whisper back, “Unless you’ve found some Han Solo fan art on tumblr, I don’t think Han was ever in a suit and tie.”
When he has the gall to look at me weirdly, I feel the need to specify, “All I’m saying is I think you’d be safer just comparing him to Harrison Ford.”
He laughs and whispers back with an offensive lack of shame, “Confession: I’ve only seen The Force Awakens, so I wouldn’t know.”
Something about his jovial, unapologetic demeanor draws me into the conversation against my better judgment. I snort quietly and mutter back, “And yet your first thought is to compare our bishop to a Star Wars character? You couldn’t have gone with Indiana Jones?”
He shows his first hint of embarrassment then when he scratches the back of his head sheepishly. “I’ve never seen Indiana Jones either.”
My eyebrows raise and I’ve fully lost track of what the speaker is saying. This is a wildly inappropriate conversation to be having in the middle of church, but he’s…magnetic. “Is it just Harrison Ford or have you actually never owned a television in your life?”
He laughs. I’m finding that I like making him laugh. “No, no I did have a TV, just didn’t use it much growing up.”
“Let me guess, your screen time as a child was all VeggieTales all the time,” I say, referring to the animated show where literal vegetables reenact well-known scripture stories.
Then the rest of the congregation laughs and we’re both startled out of the little world we’d gotten lost in together. I sneak a glance at the bishop. I think I’m safe until his solemn first counselor meets my eyes and we both quickly look away feeling awkward. I whisper with some embarrassment to Mysterious Church Goer, “Better pay attention.”
MCG just shrugs and shoots me a last grin before turning back to the speaker.
And I think that’s that, until church ends and the Church Goer leans back into my space–which is slightly less supremely uncomfortable than before, if only because I’m not shocked by it–and jumps back into the conversation as if no interruption had happened. “Okay listen, the uncultured thing isn’t my fault.”
I raise an eyebrow. He continues, “My parents are really strict and they didn’t let me watch PG-13 movies.”
I squint at him then because, okay, I would accept that as something slightly less than heinous if not for the fact that, “There’s no way Indiana Jones is PG-13.”
He shrugs with that same easy, unabashed grin. “The second one is and I decided it wasn’t worth the trouble to watch the first if I couldn’t watch the second.” Then his grin turns sly. “You obviously aren’t as pop culture savvy as you fancy yourself if you didn’t know that very crucial tidbit of trivia.”
That pulls a surprised laugh out of me. Mysterious Church Goer’s got jokes. Still though, I have a certain reputation to uphold if I want to continue slightly repelling new people unless I invite them to me first, so I snort and roll my eyes. But I do it gently, of course, so as not to offend him or utterly scare him away. I tend to be a little standoffish at times, but I never want to be rude. “Well the next time Adrian’s on fifth has a trivia night, I’ll be sure to keep that extremely applicable knowledge in mind.” Then I smile genuinely at him, a little shy, and say, “It was nice to meet you, I’ll see you next week,” in a clear dismissal.
He gets a little wrinkle between his brows, but gives me a smaller but still sincere smile back. “Likewise. Same time next week?”
I laugh, feeling surprisingly not opposed to the notion. “Same time next week.”