Friday, July 31, 2009

Whirlwind, Part Nine

(Continued from Whirlwind, Part Eight)

I went in to Adrian's. I went in early enough to make sure Stacie was there. I had been in a couple of times recently, but she had either already left or wasn't in on that particular day. It was busy and there was a line, but I saw that she was the first person making sandwiches.

At least until she saw me.

She turned and said something to her friend/co-worker, Jenny, and then went and hid in the office before my turn in line came up. Jenny, who has always been friendly with me, asked if I would be eating there today. I've never gotten an order to go and she's never asked me that before, so I suspected she was fishing for information for Stacie. As I was moving past the office, Stacie turned and caught my eye and turned back away.

I paid for my sandwich and sat down at my customary table. I made a conscious effort not to look over to see if she was looking my direction and instead focused on eating my sandwich and reading my book. I decided that I didn't want to push the issue any further than what I already had. She knew I was there and if she wanted to talk to me, she knew where I was. I could hear her voice most of the time I was there, so I eventually looked over to see if she had left once I didn't hear her voice. She was still there, talking with Jenny and made eye contact with me. I went back to reading my book and she went back to talking; there was no one in line so she wasn't busy.

I finished my lunch and my chapter and she still hadn't left. She was talking to someone in the office, so I went up to the counter to say hello. She turned and saw me standing there and immediately looked away. I could tell that if she could have avoided talking to me, she would have. But she turned around and came over and said hello. She smiled and was pleasant and asked what I was reading, just like she used to do when all this craziness first started. I told her and we made some small talk and cracks about the size of the book I was carrying. Occasionally, she would quickly look over at Jenny and grin and immediately look back. I asked her how she's been and she said she's been fine. She just finished Finals and was on break from school. And this afternoon, she and her mom were going up to Lawrence to bring her brother back from KU. She asked me how I was and I said that I was fine but that I wasn't unpacking anyone's dorm. There was a pause and she said,

"Well, I guess until we meet again."

And I said,

"Ok, whenever that may be."

She turned back to the office and I turned and walked out.

(To Be Continued...)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Whirwind, Part Eight

(Continued from Whirlwind, Part Seven)

I got an email from her one day asking what I thought. I thought to myself, "I'm head-over-heels for this girl!" I thought, "Every other time I've thought it would be stupid to tell her how I felt, I went ahead and did it anyway. Why not do it now? We've connected so much, get along so well; I really love this girl."

So I told her.

She wasn't on the same page. She said that freaked her out. I got a huge knot in my stomach.

x x x

I managed to get her alone one day outside of Adrian’s. I apologized for my over-eagerness and explained that it was probably too quick for me to lay everything on the line. She was very uncomfortable and just seemed to want the conversation to end as quickly as possible. We discussed easing back a little bit and she seemed to be okay with that, but the cat was already out of the bag and I told her I wouldn’t feel any differently about her. When I left, we seemed to be on decent, if awkward, terms.

But from that point on, our communication became more and more spotty. Texts that were usually answered within seconds were now answered within hours. Phone calls went unanswered, voicemails ignored. Then texts that would receive a delayed answer remained completely unanswered. Finally, the following text exchange transpired:

Text message from Nick: “Am I missing something? Did I do something wrong? I feel like you are avoiding me…”

Text message from Stacie: “Sorry. I just need some space. I don’t know what else to say.”

Text message from Nick: “What did I do?”

Text message from Stacie: “Nothing. The more you try and talk the more it pushes me away.”

Text message from Nick: “I am confused. But I will let you be. I am sorry. I will clear out until you contact me. Be safe.”

I went home that night and cried. I tried to watch a movie, but I would think about her and start sobbing uncontrollably. Once the movie was over, I cried some more. I cried until I tried to go to sleep, but I couldn’t go to sleep. I just kept going over everything in my head, over and over and over, trying to find the missing piece that ruined my nearly-completed attempt at a 10,000-piece relationship puzzle. I cried until I fell asleep. I woke up the next morning, though I did so reluctantly. I was in a funk for a days. I was in a haze for weeks. And while the immediate pain has become manageable, I still get daily pinpricks that won’t go away.

(To Be Continued...)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Whirlwind, Part Seven

(Continued from Whirlwind, Part Six)

I love the fact that she loves the Royals and went to more games last season than I did. I love that she digs the Kansas Jayhawks. She is wonderfully creative and expresses herself through dance and writing. Her relationship with God is important to her. Her friends benefit greatly from her kindness, compassion and loyalty. She has great taste in books and music. She has been through a lot in her life and is not afraid to deal with the world. Her work ethic is unmatched, yet she prioritizes work appropriately. She loves her family and her sweet dog, Buddy. She likes my bright orange '76 Chevette. She is one of the few people in the world who can be beautiful, hot and cute, all at once.

x x x

She is the only person who has ever made my heart pause and my breath stop just by thinking about her. Every time I see her model of car pass by, my hopes spike...and then crash when it's not her. Whenever I hear footsteps on the stairs outside my apartment, I wait and hope that they stop at my door and that they belong to her. Every text message and phone call is a disappointment once I see that it isn't from her. Whenever I see an attractive girl around town, I immediately think, "She doesn't measure up to Stacie."

x x x

We spent a late night just sitting in her car near a park near her house, talking. We spent an afternoon at her friend's house with her buddies flipping between the Chiefs game and two baseball games with playoff implications. We spent the rest of that afternoon playing a competitive game of Ultimate Frisbee in which she played very well, including scoring a point on one of my throws. We walked up to Hy-Vee late one night and got a frozen pizza and cooked it up and ate it. We went to Lamar's one morning and got donuts and walked down to the coffee shop and ate our breakfast on a park bench on Johnson Drive. We spent time at Loose Park laying on a blanket, reading and enjoying the perfect weather. We spent several days a week eating lunch and talking at Adrian's. We spent an hour before one of her classes with one of her buddies just throwing a Frisbee around. We watched "Garden State" together one night. We spent an afternoon or two lazing around while she did some homework. We spent an evening listening to music and coming up with new names for Snow White’s dwarfs. Lumpy, Pasty, Droopy, Drippy, Biff, Stumpy and Steve (with Olaf in reserve).

(To Be Continued...)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Whirlwind, Part Six

(Continued from Whirlwind, Part Five)

“There’s something oozing from his…wiener.”

We were supposed to go to Loose Park and throw a Frisbee around and lay on blankets and read and pretty much just enjoy a beautiful day. But when I arrived at her house to pick her up, she was concerned about her dog, Buddy.

“He’s been licking himself…down there…a lot the last couple of days and now there’s something oozing from it. Should I take him to the vet? I don’t know if I should leave him here the rest of the day…”

“Maybe you should call the vet and explain what’s going on and see what she says. If she thinks you should bring him in, then you probably should.”

“I feel bad about ruining our day but I don’t want him to get worse. What should I call it when I talk to the vet? ‘Uh, yes Doctor, there’s a milky discharge coming out of my dog’s wiener…’”

“Well, you could just call it a penis,” I said, as we both giggled immaturely.

“Ohhh…I don’t know…”

“Just give her a call and we’ll get it figured out.”

“Oh, okay.”

She called the vet, settling on “wiener” as her chosen descriptor, while she tried not to giggle. She explained the situation and the vet told her that she could fit Buddy in within a couple of hours. She thanked the vet and hung up.

Stacie apologized again for the our plans blowing up. I told her I understood and offered to tag along with her to the vet, in case she needed any support or assistance. She gratefully accepted and we hung out until it was time to go.

We arrived at the vet’s office and, with some effort, managed to keep Buddy from discovering the office cat until it was time to go to the examination room. Once there, Stacie tried to comfort and reassure Buddy that everything would be fine while I tried to comfort and reassure Stacie that everything would be fine. She forewarned me about the feathered, she-mullet that the vet would be wearing and we both managed to suppress our giggles when she entered the room. Barely.

The vet looked Buddy over and gave us a couple of possible diagnoses. But she said she would need a urine sample to run tests on to know for sure. She said we could take him home and get a sample there or we could take him outside and try to get one while we were still at the office. We decided that we wanted to get things under way as quickly as possible and opted for the more immediate option. The vet handed us a Petri dish and we went outside.

“Do you want the leash or the Petri dish?”

“He’s your dog. I’ll let you deal with the urine collection. I’ll take the easy job.”

“Easy” is a relative term, especially in this case. Buddy isn’t Marmaduke, but he isn’t Toto, either. I’d guess he weighs around 75 pounds. Combine that with the fact that he is young and strong and that there are about 25 trees outside the vet’s office to sniff and investigate and I had my hands full keeping him under some semblance of control.

But at least I wasn’t Stacie. While Buddy drug me from tree to tree, sniffing and pausing and lifting his leg every chance he got, Stacie was following along, Petri dish in hand, squatting down to collect what she could from Buddy. But, just as she would get into position, Buddy would look up, find a new tree to explore and take off, leaving her with little but sprinkles in the dish and on her arm. I couldn’t stop laughing and neither could she.

After investigating about 10 trees, we had what we hoped was an adequate amount for a sample. She turned in the sample and washed her hands while I realized that this wasn’t such a bad alternative to missing out on our plans after all.

(To Be Continued...)

Monday, July 27, 2009


This has nothing to do with the current series, just a scene from my day today:

It’s lunchtime, so I head out the office door to my car. It’s warm out but not unpleasant, though I can tell it’s a prelude to steamy afternoon.

I wheel my car out of my parking lot and toward the divided, four-lane parkway that runs through my office park. I generally look upon the stop signs within the office park as optional, so it lightly irritates me when I look left and see two vehicles coming my direction. As I wait for them to pass, I notice that the first vehicle is a white motor scooter piloted by a college-age girl. She’s wearing a helmet (also white), which I note is unusual to see on Vespa-riders. I also comment to myself that she’s really making time, zipping past me in the right lane at, I estimate, 35mph. The speed limit on this road is 30 mph, but it isn’t unusual to see cars flying by at 40mph or more. It does feel strange to see someone on such a tiny vehicle move this fast.

The second vehicle, a Mustang convertible, is not far behind in the left lane. As I pull in behind them, I notice that ScooterGirl has signaled and moved into the left lane. The Mustang, presumably deciding it needs more room, moves over to the right lane. I assemble the limited number of facts in my head and come to the conclusion that ScooterGirl will regret her decision. I figure that she’s headed toward the junior college a couple of miles off and the right lane is more conducive to her journey than the left.

As the road curves and bends, I catch up a little and see that she has, indeed, moved back over to the right lane with the Mustang still trailing. As I cross the bridge, I look up to see her brake lights glowing as she approaches what can be a sharp left curve if you’re moving too quickly. Now she’s in the left lane again while the Mustang is in the right.

Suddenly, the scooter moves toward the left curb, hits it and sends the girl rolling into the grassy island. I let out an audible gasp and continue towards the accident. She pops up and dusts herself off as the Mustang stops next to her in the right lane. The balding, white-haired man in the sports car appears to be asking her if she is alright while she gathers her wits and her scooter. After receiving sufficient answers to his questions about her state of being he pulls off and heads on his way. I pull up just as he leaves and stop my car.

“You okay?” I say, a look of genuine concern on my face.

“Yeah,” she replies, an embarrassed grin on her face. She rights the scooter and keys the ignition.


I smile and decide that if she didn’t warrant enough concern for the other guy to offer further assistance then she’s probably fine. Plus, I don’t want to multiply her embarrassment by running her through another gauntlet of questioning. I’ve wiped out like that as a kid riding my bike and I always wished the folks that were (rightfully) concerned for my well-being would just move along and let me be. Of course, I wasn’t moving that fast. Or wearing a helmet, for that matter. If she was anything like me, I’m sure she had a shaky ride to her final destination.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Whirlwind, Part Five

(Continued from Whirlwind, Part Four)

One night, Stacie came over after serving drinks at a local mixed martial arts event. She had on an little black dress and a pair of disconcerting fake eyelashes. She was tired and hungry and came equipped with the remnants of some sort of chicken dish. She picked at her food and told me tales of working at such an unusual venue.

She told me about the guy who tried to woo her with his money. Or half of it, anyway. She had served him a drink and he pulled out a hundred dollar bill to tip her. But instead of just giving her the money, he tore it in half and told her she could have the other half if she went out with him. Classy. She kept the half-Benjamin as a souvenir and a great story-starter. She never did call the guy.

She told some more stories and then we started looking at a few pictures on my computer's slideshow screen saver. A picture of my dad popped up so I told her about how my dad had just passed away the year before and the crazy/awful/wonderful circumstances that surrounded his death. She told me about how she had never really lost anyone who was close to her in her life. I told her about being with my grandma in her dying days and when she breathed her last. We stayed up late, talking about how death has and has not affected us.

x x x

The next day, Saturday, I was over at Chad and Kelly's. I don't remember what I was doing; I might have been helping Chad with a home improvement project or just hanging out and shooting the breeze. In either case, I was talking with them when I received a call from Stacie. Since our normal mode of communication was texting, this seemed odd. And since I generally don't answer phone calls while I'm talking with someone face-to-face, I let the call go to voicemail.

When the conversation reached a stopping point, I checked the voicemail. She asked me to call her if I had a chance. She was brief and not brimming with her normal mischievousness. So I went out on the front porch and gave her a call.

When she answered, I asked if everything was alright. She informed me that one of her close friends was murdered while trying to leave Westport the night before. In fact, it happened at almost the exact same time that we were having the conversation about how Stacie had never lost anyone close to her.

I was stunned. I stupidly but instinctively asked her if she was okay. She told me she was hanging in there, but that she was shocked and upset. I asked her if there was anything I could do for her or if she just wanted to get together and hang out and talk about what happened. She said that she was going to visit Devin’s parents but that she wanted to get together later.

She was still in a daze when we got together later that night. She couldn’t believe that Devin was really gone. Stacie had seen her just a few days before and they were supposed to get together very soon. And that was one of the things that was really weighing heavily on Stacie’s mind.

We had talked before about the lifestyle Stacie used to lead. She and her friends partied a lot and lived care-free and decadent lives. For a while, she really dug that kind of stuff. But, eventually, she realized it wasn’t doing her any good and she started to make an effort to strengthen her relationship with God. Apparently seeing the change in Stacie’s life, Devin started asking Stacie questions about God. She asked if they could get together sometime soon and discuss things more thoroughly and Stacie readily agreed. The date arrived for their get-together, but Stacie had to cancel. Devin was killed only days after, before they could reschedule.

Obviously, Stacie was devastated. She felt guilty and responsible for whatever eternal fate awaited Devin. She couldn’t shake the feeling that she had let her friend down on the most important level imaginable. It was an awful lot to deal with for someone who had yet to lose anyone close to them.

I told her that it wasn’t her fault, that things happen for a reason. I told her that she needed to trust that God knew what he was doing and that Devin would be ok. The fact that she was even seeking answers was a very good thing and that while Stacie may have missed one appointment, she had been there for Devin and Devin knew that.

Stacie understood what I was saying but was still understandably distraught. She spent a lot of time with her friends and Devin’s parents, mourning and reminiscing and supporting each other.

x x x

One night, she asked me if I would like to go to dinner with her and a group of her friends. It was both a nerve-wracking and exciting proposition. I always get nervous meeting new people. Additionally, she was giving me a test drive in front of her friends. But that aspect was also exciting because it meant that I rated high enough to even meet her friends at all.

Her friend Ray met us at my place and we all went to Pot Pie in Westport to join her three other friends. They were an interesting and eclectic group of folks. All good people and a good mix of personalities. The dinner was excellent and I managed not to make an ass of myself in front of her friends.

Afterwards, Stacie and Ray and I picked up some wine and went back to my apartment. Ray was friends with Devin, too, and so the conversation naturally shifted to her and spiritual topics. Ray was really struggling with Devin’s death and how to deal with it. He was questioning his off-and-on relationship with God. Stacie and I spent most of the night trying to help him gain perspective on all that had happened. Ray can be a bit loquacious, so he ended up doing most of the talking. I just tried to be patient and listen and interject where I could with whatever wisdom and knowledge I had available.

Once the wine was gone and Ray had talked himself out, he thanked us for listening and took off. Stacie hung around for a little while longer and apologized for Ray’s long-windedness. I told her I was happy to be able to lend an ear to her or any of her friends. She thanked me for listening, I thanked her for allowing me to hang out with her friends and she headed home.

(To Be Continued...)

Whirlwind, Part Four

(Continued from Whirlwind, Part Three)

Within three days of hanging out with Stacie, we were having a text conversation. I felt an overwhelming urge to tell her how much I cared about her and I asked God to tell me what I should do. I had an overwhelming shout in my brain that said "TELL HER!" So, I told her that I liked her so much that I would marry her. And instead of saying, "Okay, creep; please remove yourself from my life," she said, "You are bold like liger." And our conversation continued.

From that point on, she would occasionally ask me what I thought.

"So, what do you think?"

It was her cue for figuring out what our relationship was and what it would be. And I always told her that I really liked her and would date her if she was up to it. She would say that she didn't want to break my heart and I told her that I still felt the same way and couldn't help it. Then we would continue to joke and laugh and talk.

One time, I pointed out the fact that she was equidistant in age between me and my son. She replied that she'd just have to hang out with both of us and decide which one she wanted to date.

One night, while sitting in her car in the parking lot of Baskin Robbins, the subject of whether we should date or not came up again. She said she wasn't sure and picked up a coin. She said she'd flip a coin to decide. I told her that I didn't think it was cool to make a decision like that with the flip of a coin. After bantering back and forth, I conceded to flipping two coins. I said that if they both turned up heads, we'd date; tails, we wouldn't; split decision meant we would just keep hanging out and see what developed. One head, one tail. And we laughed and talked for another hour.

(To Be Continued...)

Whirlwind, Part Three

(Continued from Whirlwind, Part Two)

We met at the old Adrian's location. She pulled up in her brother's well-worn Lexus, windows down. It was a warm, late Fall day, nearly perfect. She wanted to grab a bite before we headed out to the game, so we wheeled around and went through the Burger King drive-thru. She ordered a chicken sandwich, some fries and about a gallon-and-a-half of ketchup. She had no insecurities about eating in front of me, which was refreshing.

When we reached the parking lot of Kauffman Stadium, the "Burger King" factor of "Burger King chicken sandwich" sunk in and she stopped eating her sandwich. She handed me a wad of cash, her keys and her phone and asked me to hold them for her, so I stored them in the many pockets of my cargo shorts. She locked up the car and we walked toward the stadium.

We went inside and found our seats in the shade. She was wearing a brown skirt, a baby blue tank top and somewhat oversized sunglasses that reminded me a little of Audrey Hepburn's in "Breakfast at Tiffany's". But the sunglasses were more of an auburn shade, playing off her long brownish-red hair and sweet freckles. She was at once cute, sultry and relaxed.

And while I was captivated by her looks, I was even more taken in by our conversation. We talked about baseball, which was essential and great, but she was also very comfortable talking about less obvious and more personal topics. I learned about her stint hosting a cooking show on TV. I learned about some very real and difficult struggles in her life.

I learned that she was willing to trust me with her eating habits, her valuables and her personal details. And I learned that I was falling for her like an anvil dropped from a cartoon building.

(To be continued...)

Whirlwind, Part Two

(Continued from Whirlwind)

Foolishly, I invited Stacie to come play Ultimate Frisbee. I hadn't seen Girl #2 there in a while, but it was still a questionable decision on my part. Apparently, after having no action in my life for some time, I suddenly craved as much as I could get.

Luckily, when we met at Franklin Park to play, no one else was there. I had forgotten that there was something else going on that day and that Ultimate was canceled. But this worked to my benefit because she agreed to toss the Frisbee back and forth with just me.

I tossed her the disc and she threw it back with considerable confidence and skill. She mentioned that she and her dad used to throw it around a lot. I was impressed and told her so. We spent the next hour or so talking and getting to know each other, observing the pee-wee football practice adjacent to our field and throwing the disc.

At one point, one of the pee-wee football coaches sent a kid to run a lap. But instead of sending the kid by himself, the coach accompanied him. The route they took just happened to pass near us. When they circled back toward practice, I told Stacie that the guy was ogling her. She dismissed it with a laugh. Five minutes later, Coach was escorting another troublemaker for a lap right past us.

"That dude is totally leering at you."

"Whatever," she smiled.

After the third trip, she decided I was probably right and figured she'd play it up. She volunteered to try to catch the Frisbee while doing a no-hands cartwheel. Though my poor accuracy didn't allow for an upside-down completed pass, her athleticism caught my attention in a very positive way. The football coach slipped on his own drool as he ran back to practice.

When we were done throwing the disc, I didn't want our time together to end. I asked if she was hungry and if she would be up for getting something to eat with me. She agreed easily and we headed to Mi Ranchito for dinner.

We talked and joked and laughed. In the midst of our pleasant and humorous conversation, I told her there was a mid-week afternoon Royals game coming up and asked if she would like to go with me. Again, she agreed quite easily. By this time, my head was spinning with how wonderfully and easily this relationship was progressing. Shortly thereafter, I believe, was the first time she told me that she wasn't really looking for a relationship. That stunted my enthusiasm, but I figured I would just play the cards I was dealt and go from there.

(To be continued...)


It was, without question, the best month of my life. Pound for pound, day for day, no other month in my life can measure up. And it started with a walk for charity that was canceled due to tornadoes.

x x x

I was sitting in Adrian's Cafe, eating lunch and talking to Stacie, a.k.a. Adrian's Girl. The weather was pretty ominous: dark clouds, high winds and rain. I was telling her that I was heading up our office's participation in that evening's Light the Night Walk, a benefit for leukemia and lymphoma research. And I wasn't particularly thrilled with the drippy forecast for the proceedings. She seemed marginally interested in what I was talking about, so I invited her to come join in on the fun.

"Hmm...maybe I will," she said. "But wouldn't it be weird if I showed up since no one knows who I am?"

"Yeah, it would be weird," I said, "But you can hold my umbrella so that I can properly attend to my clipboard. You can be my assistant," I said with a smirk. "Really, though, there will be other folks there that nobody knows. Of course, with the weather shaping up the way it is, this might not be an ideal night to be walking around outside."

She contemplated the idea for a while. Finally, she said, "Okay, I'll go. Give me your number and I'll text you if I decide not to."

I complied and asked for her number in return, so that I would know who was texting me. She gave me her number and I secretly celebrated the first telephone number I had ever successfully acquired from a girl. I then left and returned to work, thrilled that I had gotten her number and a shaky commitment to do something with me outside of Adrian's Cafe.

Once I got back to the office, the weather declined in a hurry. Before long, a Tornado Watch had been issued. About this time, I received a text from Stacie saying that she would probably not be up for those kinds of conditions. I agreed and after a Tornado Warning was issued, I told her that she should absolutely not risk her life to come walk around a business park. We continued to text each other the rest of the evening and from that point on, there was rarely a day that went by when we didn't text, call or see each other for the next month.

(To Be Continued...)