Chapter Fifteen: Angie

ANGIE

My friend and former housemate Lisa decided to hold a “How To Host A Murder” party. For those of you who don’t know what this entails, it’s basically a game in which you are given a character and you come to dinner dressed in that persona, who just happens to be the suspect in a murder.

At the start of the evening each person is given a book which they have to read aloud as the evening progresses, each time revealing something new about their own character or somebody else’s. As the evening comes to a close each person guesses who the killer is and then the killer reveals themselves.

Now, the day leading up to this party is a tale in itself, which involves hitch-hiking across Canberra, a car with no petrol and a bi-sexual who’s boyfriend didn’t know about her girlfriend, but since it doesn’t actually relate much to this book, I’ll have to find another place to tell it.

The end of the story is that the friend I was meant to be bringing bailed on me, which gave Lisa a little migraine as she had to try and arrange someone to come at the last minute. This resulted in two things.

The first was that when I arrived, dressed up in 1920s clothing, I was given a different character – that of a female. I did NOT cross dress to accommodate this character change. The second was that I, like everyone else at the party, now knew only one other person there.

This worked quite well, as everyone was on even ground, we relaxed a little and go to know each other.

So there we stood, playing pool and dressed to perfection in 1920s garments. The door opened and in walked Angie.

It was like one of the 1920s movies, where the sailor turns to his friend and says

I’m going to marry that girl some day.”

Only instead the whole “marriage” line it was something more akin to

Wow, she looks amazing. I could see myself asking her out some day.”

And instead of turning to my friend, I was thinking to myself, but you get my drift. First impression lasted. Big time.

As the night wore on it would slowly dawn on me that I wasn’t just falling for her because of her appearance, she was actually a laid back and awesome girl. By the end of the night I was lost cause, I had fallen for her, helplessly and hopelessly. The problem was, would I ever see her again?

The drive home gave me time to mull over this particular problem. Especially since I managed to get lost driving home from Lisa’s house. (There was something about Lisa’s house – for some reason I always managed to get lost driving to and from there.) Logically, I could wait until Lisa organised another party and just hope that Angie would show up but that was not desirable. For one, I didn’t know if Lisa would be organising another party any time soon, add to that there was always possibility Angie wouldn’t be able to make it and then what? Just sit and wait till we bump into each other?

No, I always berated myself for not making a move until the last possible moment when it came to girls, it was time to take action, it was time to find the girl and win her heart with my charm and the only way I was going to do that was with Lisa on board.

I didn’t like the idea of involving the friend of the crush. It was risky, there was always a high chance the friend would tell the crush about your feelings before you made your move, but like I said, I had little other option.

When I eventually got home I wandered into my housemate Kallee’s room. Kallee and Lisa had been friends since they were in primary school, and I knew Kallee was also friends with Angie. We talked about the murder party for a bit, before I tried to subtly drop Angie into conversation.

Apparently I suck at subtlety. Within mere moments of mentioning Angie’s name Kallee had figured the entire thing out.

You like her, don’t you?”

Not having enough time to create a decent fake reaction, my face gave away that Kallee was right. Avoiding the topic, I told her that I had the sudden desire to go to sleep and slunk off back to my room.

I spent the next day hanging out with Josh, eventually I texted Kallee.

If I told Lisa about the Angie thing, reckon I’d be able to get her number?”

About half an hour later I got a response I did not want to receive.

Already told her. She thinks it’s very cute.”

Great, just great. You see, Lisa and Angie worked together. Like I said before, friends talk. So I resigned myself to the fact that tomorrow Lisa would tell Angie and any upper hand I might have had would be blown out the window.

I got into work the next day and at the first available opportunity I sent Lisa an email asking her if she’d yet told Angie about the information Kallee had her supplied her with.

To my surprise: she hadn’t! Instantly things were looking my way again, but I didn’t want to make the same mistakes I made with previous girls, I didn’t want to build this girl up to be something she wasn’t in my head. So I asked Lisa for her number, with every intention of asking her out.

At least, that was the plan…..

To: Liam Smith

From: Lisa

I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving you her number yet, maybe after a few more get togethers of mutual friends so you can get to know each other better, then you I’ll happily give you her number.

Well, I gotta admit, while I was slightly disappointed, she had a point. We really didn’t talk all that much at Lisa’s place, and it would probably be less weird if she knew me better. So really all I had to do was wait – since I had no other choice.

I didn’t pine after Angie like I had previous girls. There were no stories piling up where I would win over her heart. I told Sangas and Josh about her and, while she occasionally came up in conversation, she didn’t come up frequently.

About a month later Lisa sent me an email saying she was organising another How To Host A Murder party. Surmising that Angie would be there, I went into overdrive trying to improve my appearance in an effort to appear more attractive. I became a machine, I used the exercise bike at every available opportunity, I did weights, I even cleaned my car – inside and out – in the event if she needed a lift home after the party she wouldn’t be put off by the fast food boxes scattered all over the floor.

Then, two days before the party, it was called off because I was the only person that could make it. This caused me minor depression as all the effort I’d put in went to waste. Luckily I’d only confided this information in Josh who, while taking great amusement that the amount of exercise I’d put myself through over the last few weeks had been for nothing, was helpful in commiserating.

I think I moped about for a few days. Then a week later, Angie sent me an email inviting me to a party she was having at her place.

The party had a theme – “Back In My Day”(because according to the invite there was ALWAYS a theme)

It proceeded to list what you should come as if coming in costume:

Back in my day…”
…think …Back to when you were a kid
…back when your folks were a kid
…back when your grandparents were kids
…what you looked like as a kid
…what you will look like when you’re actually uttering these words to your kids…

My goal became obvious, to impress the girl I was going to go the whole nine yards with the costume. Something impressive, something that would stand out, something that would require a lot of guts, and most importantly: something that worked perfectly with the theme.

What did I want to be when I was a kid? Hmmm….. well….. other than wanting to be a writer (which I’ve wanted to be for as long as I could remember) there was one other thing I wanted to be when I was a kid. I wanted to be Superman, that’s why, even at age 12, I’d written stories about myself with super powers winning over the heart of Paige.

Now, ten years later, who would’ve thought I’d actually throw on a Superman costume to try and win over the heart of another girl?
That’s right – I was going to the party dressed as Superman.

Superman costumes are designed for one, very specific, type of body. The blue lycra-spandex can only be pulled off with a certain physique…. like Tom Welling, Christopher Reeves or Brendan Routh. I’m not sure if Brad Pitt ever considered dressing up a Superman, but I have no doubt if he ever wanted to that he could pull it off.

Superman costumes are NOT designed for 22 year olds who have been working in a desk job for the last year and did not partake in any team sports in their spare time. I’m not saying I’m overweight, I’m just saying that while there are very few people who can successfully pull off a Superman suit, I was most definitely not one of them. But I’d made my choice and thus showed up to a party where I knew a total of one person, dressed as Superman.

The suit seemed to work, it impressed Angie something fierce, at least I was mighty certain it did, during the whole few minutes in which I spoke to Angie that night. I remember drinking and trying desperately to make conversation with people. At one point I found myself talking to a girl, who like me, knew a total of one person at the party, and we got along great, maybe something more could have happened, if my eyes didn’t keep dancing over to Angie when I was lost in thought.

You really like her, don’t you?” Mystery Girl Who’s Name I Can’t Remember said. I contemplated how to answer this, then figuring that since this particular person know only one other person at the party I could speak openly.

Yeah….. is it that obvious?” Mystery Girl Who’s Name I Can’t Remember nodded.

What do you think my chances are?” I tried.

Well, I hear, you know, actually talking to the girl you like is generally a good first step,” She said playfully.

You’re probably right,” I acknowledged. “But she is hosting this party, she seems to be fairly busy at the moment.”

And she was. As time drew on, my eyes on the clock seemed to be blatantly pointing out that I was meant to be at another party. I tracked Angie down through the crowd, gave her a hug, and told I’d be in touch. Then, maybe a little too inebriated, I drove to the next party I was meant to be at.

My mind, however, was back at the party and back with Angie. Which is where it stayed for a really long time.

Two weeks later I’d decided that it was time to ask Angie out. I’d call her up, and ask her. In my head I tried to come up with impressive ways to ask her out. I honestly almost showed up to her front door wearing a tuxedo and holding a bunch of roses. I decided this would be overkill, and if she said ‘No’ then I’d the feeling of rejection would be magnified ten fold.

I was going to have be old fashioned. I was going to have to call her up and ask her out.

Man, this was terrifying.

It was a Sunday afternoon. I had the phone in my hand. I crossed my fingers, I dialled her number, and I waited. The butterflies swarmed in my stomach, and I was nervous as all hell.

Hello?” Angie’s voice answered. For a nanosecond I thought I wouldn’t be able to talk, but in the same nanosecond I remembered how badly I’d handled asking Lana out, and fear was instantaneously replaced by determination.

Hey Angie, it’s Liam,” I started. So far so good.

Hey Liam, what’s up?” She said in a friendly tone.

Well, and I’m sorry if you weren’t expecting this, but would you like to go out to dinner sometime?”

There was a silence for a moment. A LONG moment. Oh god…. this was a LONG PAUSE. A Long Pause meant only one, extremely depressing, thing.

Uh,” Was the first word that come out of her mouth after the long pause.

You know,” I said, in a surprisingly upbeat sounding tone. “You don’t even have to finish, I get it.” At least you didn’t do that thing with the tux and the flowers.

I’m a cold fish Liam!!!” She tried. “I think it’s very brave of you to ask though.”

And now….” I said, still in a surprisingly upbeat tone but fully aware that the upbeat tone had mere seconds before it would crack. “I should probably go.”

Hope you have a good day!” She said in a such way that sounded as though that she was fairly certain I wasn’t going to, but hoped for the best anyway.

I hung up the phone, and crawled under the blanket on my bed. Only extracting myself later to attend a family dinner at my brother’s house. Not something I really felt like doing at that stage, but figured at least there I could take my mind off it.

It didn’t work.

How come you’ve been wearing sunglasses all night?” Mayumi asked later that evening.

They’re prescription,” I lied. “I didn’t have time put in my contact lenses so I grabbed these.”

To my surprise my all family members present believed me. Well, they certainly seemed to buy it anyway. If they didn’t, they were fairly polite about it. To my surprise only one person definitely noticed something wasn’t right. My eleven year old niece Kyana down from Sydney was watching tv with me at one point. “You’re not okay, are you?” I shook my head silently, and strangely enough in a very un-Kyana like move, she walked over and gave me a hug.

Strangely enough, this wasn’t an end to the Angie friendship. I mean, sure things were weird at first, I was in the “abyss”, which is a term to describe how you feel after being rejected by a girl. (Mostly it’s a period of self-loathing, embarrassment, and of course utter awkwardness with the girl in question, but we’ll talk more on this term later.)

Then one day there was light at the end of the tunnel, I got an email from Angie, as a friend. I realised suddenly that so much time had passed that there was no longer feelings of rejection surrounding her at all, so I sent an email in response and the friendship resumed it’s natural course.

Then, about six months later, I came up with the idea for the book.

For the first time since I started writing this book I’ve found myself presented with an interesting conundrum: were I to let Angie know about the book I might blow any chance of getting an interview if she doesn’t warm to the idea. I’d be a lot more convincing when the time to came to interview her and may even win her over. Not only that, if I continued to track down the girls chronologically, Angie would be months away (which, for the record, turned out to be almost a whole year) which worked to my advantage because it would leave even more time between asking her out and contacting her for the book. This was good.

So I resigned myself to never mentioning the book to her, and made certain my friends never mentioned the book to her either. This became a slight irritant over the course of the book, because every time I bumped into her or sent her an email, she’d ask if I was up to anything interesting. For once I was, something very interesting, but I couldn’t tell her about it.

Finally, after NOT getting interview from Lily, the time had come to tell Angie about the book.

To: Angie

From: Liam Smith

Hey, so instead of telling you how bored I am this Friday afternoon, I was wondering if Lisa has happened to mention the book I’ve been writing recently?

Lisa had been on strict orders never to mention it to Angie, but I had to be certain. Apparently, Lisa was good for her word.

To: Liam Smith

From: Angie

No, she didn’t mention it. Tell me, relieve your boredom!

So I sent her an email telling her about the book, mentioning how long I’d been writing it, the trip to Melbourne and the Year Six Reunion. Finishing it by saying:

Which means you’re either entirely freaked out (which UNDERSTANDABLY some of them have been) or you’re finding this all amusing and all is well…

I sent the email and I waited. And waited, and waited. Forty minutes had passed. I sent Sangas a text.

Damn it, I think I lost her.

Ten minutes it turned out I hadn’t lost her. Not even close.

To: Liam Smith

From: Angie

I am definitely the latter – that’s an AWESOME idea. Hope you make ti rich. I reckon Sunrise will love a story like that. You’re sure to get it published and get good media off it. hehe…. So funny.

Cool, I am in it. That is funky. I forgot you asked me out that once. Now I feel bad. If it makes you feel any better, I generally turn everyone (that makes it sound like there have been LOTS more than there have been) down. I don’t really do dates. Or relationships. I have my own issues 🙂

There’s a story that says when Archimedes figured how out to measure the density of an irregular object he ran naked through the streets yelling out:

EUREKA!”

I wasn’t naked, but when I did it I sure got a few looks between the office and my car.

I sat waiting for Angie in the Café. I’d decided against the usual coffee place, partly because I wanted a change, and partly because Angie’s brother worked at the usual coffee shop and I figured that could be awkward. It actually turned out that the Café I’d chosen had a nice little history in it for Angie.

When I was in uni we used to hang out at this place all the time,” She told me, shortly after arriving. “It was like Central Perk from Friends, and then management changed and whenever we ordered coffee here it tasted really bad. It almost broke our hearts to have to stop coming here. We reminiscent about it sometimes.”

She’d then noticed I’d brought my notebook where contained all the notes for the book.

So exciting! It’s all professional!”

Actually, it wasn’t. The book barely had any hand written notes taken during the interviews (though I made sure to bring it whenever I met up with a crush in person) but was instead filled with notes I’d had printed, pages from phone books I ripped out, sometimes class photo of the year I was in at the time, and of course printed emails which I received from them. Both the negative and the positive ones.

She asked what number crush she was, I quickly had to count and told she was crush number 12. I recounted how some of the past ones had turned out, the year six reunion, and giving the homeless guy $100.

She laughed at the last one, I’d mentioned it in passing in an earlier email but now it all made sense.

Angie did actually spend a fair portion of the interview trying to convince me that Lisa and I should get together. I did not agree with this prognosis, and since she’d tried the same thing with Lisa about a month earlier, I had seen this coming.

Are there any set questions you’re going to ask?” She asked. For a change, there was. While in the past I’d just improvised in the interview, after having to interview Emily via facebook I actually set questions to ask.

Did you ever know I had a crush on you? Well, obviously you did when I asked you out but before that….”

No, not really. I remember when you rang me up and asked me out, that I didn’t exactly register what was happening at first…”

And suddenly, something made sense.

So THAT was the long pause. The long pause said a lot,” I mused. “I asked you out, there was an extremely long pause, and then you said ‘Uh’, I already knew your answer. In a way it almost made it easier.”

I felt bad.” She told me. “You called up and asked me to dinner. And I sitting and I was thinking Why is Liam asking me to dinner? And then it dawned on me and I was surprised. Then when I turned you down I felt bad because I was thinking I like Liam, he’s a nice guy. A good friend, I don’t want to hurt him.

It’s okay,” I told her. “In the end we stayed friends.” And then added as an afterthought

You did refer to yourself as a ‘cold fish’.”

She laughed.

Nah, it can’t have been ‘cold fish’. Not complimentary enough. Must’ve been ‘Ice Princess’!” She joked.

Because that is SO much better than ‘cold fish’.” I sarcastically came back with.

I glanced down at the piece of the paper and read the next question, and winced.

Uh, next one is ‘Did you ever have a crush on me?’ But the long pause and the whole turning me down thing sorta answered that one for you, so we’ll skip it.” Personally, I really don’t think there was any need to re-iterate the whole rejection point. “Who was your first crush?”

Fictional person or real life person?” She countered.

I paused. Fictional people? Hadn’t taken them into account. I didn’t really have any that I could think of. (Though, one could argue there were a few girls who were fiction compared to who they turned out to be).

Both,” I tried.

Astroboy was first. When I was a kid, I thought he was awesome, he so could’ve been my boyfriend. He had the cool hair thing going, and the whole superhero thing. Great guy,” She laughed. “First real person though, was a boy named Robin, I sort of knew him before starting school and in kindergarten. I remember one day my family asked me what I thought of Robin, and I told them that I thought he was handsome. You know how when you’re a kid, you have those moments when you realise they’re actually mocking you? Well that happened, it was probably the last time I told anybody that I thought someone was handsome.”

I laughed at that. I told her how I made certain my family members never knew about anyone who I had a crush on, and then related the story of Summer.

My eyes then looked upon the next question.

Is there someone you had a crush on and then realised that they were the complete opposite of what you thought?”

Her answer was yes. She pointed out that was how she generally got over them. Which made sense.

And finally the infamous question – just how nuts had I seemed when I first contacted her about the whole book idea.

Not at all, I told my friends at work about it and they generally thought it was good idea, and one of them said that it would work really well because most girls would agree to be in it. I told them that there had been some that had not exactly agreed to it,”

Yep. In fact one was openly against it,” I re-iterated.

We talked for a bit more, not really having discussed the whole crush on her situation before. The Superman Suit came up, and I admitted it had, in fact, been to impress her.

She informed me that it had worked, it had IMPRESSED her, just not romantically impressed her.

I invited you but I didn’t think you weren’t going to come. I thought you were a little shy for that,” This was fairly true statement, at the time of the party I had been a lot more shy. But the Party For No Reason, this book, the year six reunion, had changed all of that. In a sense the Superman suit decision had been the first steps in overcoming that shyness.

Reflecting back on the moment, once again a girl I had a crush on had come along and given me a reason to be a better person, and even though nothing romantic had eventuated from it, I’d would always have that change in me.

We chatted for a bit more, nothing of real consequence. She had finally got her driver’s license, I’d managed to not lose mine – despite the sizeable number of parking tickets I’d accumulated.

Eventually the time came for the interview to come to an end, we went our separate ways.

As usual, I walked back to my car humming to myself, it had worked out well.

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