When no one was looking, I casually set the chicken on fire.
Wait. That’s a horrible way to start. Let me back up a bit.
Lindsey Gordon is, perhaps, the most appealing girl in all of Wichita Falls. Granted, that’s not saying much, but you’ll have to take my word for it. She’s quite remarkable.
I’ve known her for a couple of years, trading pseudo-wit at the metaphorical water cooler and stupidly thinking that this would somehow set me apart from every other male no doubt chomping at the bit to garner her attention. We work in a small office, Wichita Falls being a fairly small town, and I knew she had a limited number of options. However, pithy commentary about last night’s episode of So You Think You Can Dance didn’t seem to be winning her heart.
“You’re a moron,” my friend Morgan informed me. “If you want a date with her stop beating around the bush and ask her out. Seriously. I don’t want to hear another fucking word about her otherwise.”
Morgan doesn’t mince words.
So I asked Lindsey out. It was a cardiac arrest inducing event for me. I could literally feel my heart straining while I stood there at her desk trying to find the words and wondering what in God’s name to do with my hands. I pulled them out of my pockets, balled them into fists and blurted out, “Wanna go to dinner?”
I think the force of my words startled her.
But she’s an angel, that Lindsey, and she said yes. I suggested Saturday night, but she was planning to attend a family cookout that night. Thoughtful girl that she is, she suggested we have dinner with her family and then go to a movie.
“You agreed to dinner with her family?” Morgan asked. “You are an idiot, Kyle. An idiot.”
Initially I thought Morgan was being harsh, but then the reality of meeting her mother and father set in and I saw the hopeless stupidity of my ways.
I fumbled her mother’s name when we met, calling her “Titty” instead of “Kitty”. I pretended to be a Cowboys fan when her dad mentioned sports, and then he asked me about some player I’d never heard of and he knew I was bluffing. I spilled iced tea all over her little sister.
And when her father went back into the house to grab a beer, I decided to be helpful and light the charcoal. I suppose I could have been more careful with the lighter fluid. Some of it splashed on the chicken sitting to the side of the grill. Two matches and a strong breeze later and the chicken was flambe.
Not my best moment.
Mr. Gordon asked me to go inside. Mrs. Gordon, Kitty, clicked her tongue at me and suggested we just go pick up Chinese. Lindsey’s sister declared that she was no longer hungry and that she would just go over to a friend’s house.
But Lindsey volunteered us to go pick up the Chinese.
“That was pretty funny,” she said in the car. “Mi pollo esta en fuego.”
“It’s Spanish. It means, ‘My chicken is on fire.'”
“You speak Spanish?” I asked.
She laughed and set her hand on mine on the console.
“No, just that one sentence,” she said. “Thank God you gave me a reason to use it.”
I could hear Morgan in the back of my mind. “Don’t fuck things up with this girl, Kyle. Seriously.”
And, you know what? At the end of it all, the Chinese food wasn’t bad. By Wichita Falls standards.
*Written for the 500 Club.