How do you explain Nicholas Sheldon to someone who has never met him? Would you start with his overwhelming appearance, that when standing, his six -foot stature, football player build was enough to fill any doorway? As you try to paint the mural, you would obviously include his smile, the little crooked half-crescent that only the quickest of jokes could reveal. Indisputably, you would mention his personality--demanding attention the moment he entered any room. He wouldn’t really even have to say anything for every person in the room to immediately recognize his presence. Or, would you start with something more personal, like his heart? The kind of heart, that once accepted, would never let any harm come to you. Anyone would tell you that Nicholas Sheldon was a loving guy, always trying to make sure everyone was happy, even if his methods weren’t always ethical. Not to say that he wasn’t also the first person to make fun of your newest jumpsuit or comment on every single one of your most embarrassing flaws. But I have come to find that actually this was Nicholas’s highest form of flattery, he just also wanted to make sure you hated yourself, too. He’s just a gentleman like that.
So then, tell me, how can a girl like me catch the attention of a guy like that? I have not ever done anything spectacular with my life--I was in the newspaper for the Science Fair in like middle school, once. Maybe. I was the very stereotypical girl in school: made grades high enough to go to my college of choice, played varsity tennis, and someone everyone knew, just didn’t really think about. And just like every high school student that has ever existed, ever, I had just experienced my first heartbreak. And I was dying. The world was ending. And according to my best friend, the only way to get over my agony was to go out and meet someone new. Ashley has been my best friend since sixth grade when I dislocated my knee twice and needed someone to carry my books for me. And since we had the exact same schedule, she was assigned to be my bitch. Back then Ashley was hefty, wore way too much bling, and insisted it was spelled jealouse. But even in sixth grade, I was scared of her. She is very outgoing person who is not afraid to tell you exactly what she is thinking. Now, she is on the varsity volleyball team, owns more Kate Spade than Kate Spade does, and insists its spelled jealouse. Thanks to her work, in less than an hour, I had gone from smudged to wing-lined, chipped to polished, comfy to barely breathing. We arrived at the local bar not twenty minutes later, threw back a couple gulps of Lord Knows What Flavor out of our twelve dollar bottle Burnett’s, and grabbed our fakes. I had used my ID at this bar before but never fail, I started freaking out. Thoughts began racing through my mind, ‘What if I get caught, and then am arrested, I’ll have to call my parents to bail me out, they’ll be so mad, and they will never let me see my friends again and are going to take my car away. No, not Piper! And, oh my gosh what if I don’t get into college because I have a record. I am going to starve and am going to be homeless. I’ll probably die under a bridge now.’ No joking, that is exactly how my mind works. I get my 21 and over band without a single bit of trouble, just like the last time. And every time before then. I should honestly probably see a counselor for how dramatic I am. I’ll look into that later. We walk to the back of the bar where six pool tables are set up, next to the much more fun ping pong table. But whatever, we can go to the pool tables. Ashley plops down in Cody’s lap, and gives him a quick kiss, before returning to her phone. Ashley and Cody have the kind of relationship that every person strives for but cannot quite reach. It’s a really cute story of Fat Ashley having a crush on the older eighth grade boy, Cody, but not ever doing anything about it. Fast forward to our sophomore year, and Cody is asking Skinny Ashley (thank God, truly, we all move out of the awkward stage) to the Junior Senior Prom. And boom, here we are two years later and nothing has changed. They are still in love and I’m still alone. We say hello to everyone, including the very tall, very attractive Jayson who is too busy playing pool to really notice us. I’m about to go order something to wash down the Lemon Squash Confetti vodka from earlier when I hear, “Holy shit, is that Emily Vieregg?” (Except it sounded more like Vergerssh). Nicholas Sheldon, I kid you not, appears out of absolutely nowhere with a pool stick in his hand, and is visibly drunk. Nicholas was the grade below me, and I had met him once the summer after my freshmen year. He had a mutual friend, and we went putt-putting and watched a movie at his house. He was a funny guy, but had terrible taste in movies and all-together, underwhelming. I had not even seen him since then. So, I was very surprised he remembered me. Jayson looked up from the game, probably wondering who his opponent was holding the game up for. I was immediately nervous, and probably stuttered something stupid like, no, before walking away.
Wow that was so pathetic. You could have at least talked to him. You need another shot of the Bacon Whipped Cream in the car. That will loosen you up! I make my way outside, pretending I forgot my credit card so the bouncer will let me back in without paying twice. I sit in Ashley’s car, reminding myself tonight is supposed to be fun with no expectations. After enough shots, I am confident even a drop more would put me over and I strut (stumble) inside. The evening remains anti-climactic until it’s almost one in the morning. Everyone agrees that we should leave. Cody and Ashley are staying at my house that weekend because my mom, for the first time in my life, ever, has left for a weekend with her Bunco friends. Cody mentions to Jayson and Nicholas about the house situation, and they agree they want to come over. Holy shit! Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit. Jayson is coming to my house. What do I do? What do I wear? Do I act cool and dig into our liquor cabinet? Fuck, I need to clean everything.
I resume listening to the conversation in front of me, and in my absence, the group has formed a plan. Nicholas was going to run home to tell his parent’s he made curfew, and then sneak back out. Jayson was going to go buy some beer. Cody, Ashley and I, in the meantime, were going to go grab clothes from Ashley’s house. Everyone seemed to agree to this and made their way towards the exit. I follow, trying to figure how exactly my house had just been offered up, but more importantly, thinking Jayson was coming to my house. As soon as we pile into the car, I beg to get dropped off at my house first so that I can begin damage control. Cody and Ashley comply and fifteen minutes later, I’m running down the driveway, key in hand. I run inside, and start cleaning anything I see-- clothes, magazines, cheese stick wrappers. I have every pillow arranged, fluffed, and karate chopped before sitting back to admire my work. As I look around the room, my stomach begins to get that feeling you get when your flight begins boarding for a seven hour flight and you still haven’t decided if you need to go to the bathroom yet. Or if that doesn’t happen to you and it’s just me who feels that way, butterflies. I was getting butterflies. It had been half an hour, they must be close. I excitedly text Ashley to see where she was. No response. That’s okay, I can turn on the TV and it’ll be fine. Fifteen minutes pass before Ashley finally replies, saying they were on their way. Cool, Ashley and Cody will be here in less than five minutes. And Jayson and Nicholas are probably together now, on their way too.
The back door swings open, and in walks Ashley, followed by Cody carrying all the bags. We agree to go ahead and start drinking, so we got down a bottle of Crown, which at the time I thought was comparable to Burnett’s. We mix in some HEB brand Diet Cola, before sitting down in the kitchen. I’m starting to feel the whiskey settle in when there is a knock at the front door. My nerves intensify and I immediately regret mixing whiskey with Maple Syrup Grapefruit Burnett’s. Ashley looks to me, urging me to go answer. I set down my drink and slowly make my way from the kitchen to the foyer. I carefully make my way to the door, flip the porch light on and unlock the door. And…