Building Friction (Part 26)

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"What are you doing later?"

The screen popped up just as I was about to click on the send button and forward a new article to my webwaster. It was Geoff's screen. I stared at it in a wide-eyed wonder as it glowed back at me. I had no idea how to respond.

"I'm going over to Steph's later tonight." I typed back.

"Yeah, I kind of figured that. Is that what you do every weekend?"

"Maybe not every single weekend, but yeah. I like to see my friends."

"You see them during the week too. Don't you ever do anything different? No dates with your beau?"

I giggled at seeing the word. "No. Not this weekend. He has to work."

"Well, doesn't that just suck for you. Now you're going to have to come see a midnight showing of The Blues Brothers with me."

"Why the fuck would I do that?"

"Because you want to do something out of the ordinary for once. That means going to see the ultimate classic with the man that you can barely tolerate."

"I don't consider The Blues Brothers a classic."

"Now I know you're kidding. Everyone loves The Blues Brothers."

"I don't."

There was a pause. "I'm going to pretend like I didn't hear that."

"You didn't hear it. You read it."

"You and your fucking semantics. How can you hate The Blues Brothers?"

"I didn't say that I hated it. I said that I didn't love it. It's been awhile since I've seen it, but as I recall, I wasn't all that impressed."

"Well, then you have to go with me tonight. It's imperative to your cinematic credibility. I am the master at introducing and converting people to the brilliance that is Belushi and Aykroyd."

"Geoff, don't you think this is a little weird?"

"What's a little weird?"

"You basically asking me out on a date."

"It's not a date. I was planning on going regardless. I always get tickets when this show comes around. Out of everyone that I could have invited to tag along, I figured you were the best choice."

"That's a stretch. You don't have anyone else that you could think of to go with you?"

"Of course I do. But I want you to go with me."

I sighed and covered my face with my hands, then resumed typing. "Geoff, after everything that has gone on. After... you know. Do you really think that we should be hanging out together? Even if your intentions are pure, which I am highly suspicious of, it still seems rather odd."

"Well, I never liked to do things conventionally. So, what do you say? Go or no go?"

"I don't think so."

"You'd rather sit around the same house with the same people who are just going to ask you the same questions and pour you more of your same Jaeger?"

I fumbled around in my head to come up with a logical answer.

"You know what, Chloe? I think you want to go with me. I think you realize that it would be fun and you just don't know how to handle the fact that I'm more over what happened than you are."

"You're over it?"

"Completely."

"Yeah, I don't believe that."

"Believe what you want, I can't stop you. But this offer is about to expire. Think very carefully. I'll drive. I'll pay. I'll be at your service. It won't be a date. It'll be like have an escort to keep you entertained for the night."

"Most escorts fuck their clients at the end of the night."

"That would cost you extra. You might have to actually agree that The Blues Brothers was the best thing you've ever seen to secure yourself some of that action."

I burst out laughing. It took me a few solid moments to contain myself. "Alright. Fine. I'll go with you to the showing. But I might need to make an appearance at the house anyway. You said it's not until midnight, right?"

"Yeah, but it's in LA. So we're looking at at least an hour drive. And you know you're going to be hungry at some point later, so I was thinking food might be a good idea."

"This is REALLY beginning to sound like a date."

"Oh, get the fuck over yourself. This is a movie thing. You can't tell me that you didn't have fun on Thursday."

I closed my eyes. He was right. Geoff was the most fun person I'd ever met when it came to talking about movies. His opinions were never limited to "I just didn't like it." He gave reasons. He offered alternatives. He was the first person I'd met who'd seen more movies than I had.

"So what if I did? This still sounds too much like a date."

"Well, if you're really worried that that's the case, then don't go."

"Well fuck you, because now I want to go."

"Then why is it so hard to just say you want to go?"

"I don't know."

"You really are infuriating, you know that?"

"Then why do you want me to go with you?"

"Because I kind of like infuriating women. They're more entertaining."

"OK. So where should we meet?"

"I'll come pick you up. There's no point in both of us driving to LA in seperate cars. I already said I'd get you, just give me your address."

I hesitated and then tapped it in.

"Alright, I've got it. I'll be there around 7:30."

"Isn't that early?"

"Jeez, Chloe! There's the drive time. Then we must hit some kind of food establishment. Then we'll need to wait in line with the rest of the wahoos. OK?"

"Fine. 7:30 then."

"Good, see you then."

----------------------------------------------------------------


I decided against dressing up. Since it wasn't going to be a real date, I threw on jeans and a old Dinosaur Jr t-shirt. I was lacing up my boots when I heard the doorbell ring. Geoff was standing in the doorway, wearing a dressy shirt and nice slacks.

"Yeah, you didn't think this was a date. Riiiiiiiight," I drawled.

"Hey. You have to look good for the Brothers." Geoff went to walk inside. "Is that really what you're wearing?"

"You sound like a woman. Yes, this is what I'm wearing." I went to my closet and pulled out a light weight hoodie. "Is that really what you're wearing? Although..." I paused, scooped up my house keys and shoved them into my pocket before continuing. "I suppose I should count myself lucky that you didn't dress up like one of them."

"Nah. But I guarantee you that there will be other geeks there that will have." Geoff was staring at Zoe in her terrarium as he spoke. Zoe was shifting around against the glass. "You seriously have a snake?"

"I seriously have a snake." I went over and opened the top, allowing her to slither out to me. I pulled the remainder of her body out and she curled around my arm and up my neck. "This is Zoe," I introduced.

"Chloe. Zoe. Awe. That's so adorable." Geoff stayed put as I walked closer, but his body grew tense. "I don't really need to see her up close."

I smirked. "Really? She's quite innocent. She only looks scary." I moved closer to him. Zoe's tongue was flickering wildly.

"I'm sure. Look, we should go," Geoff took a step backward.

"Fine, scaredy cat. We'll go. But no more talking shit about my apparel." I lowered Zoe back into her box slowly.

"Deal." Geoff looked relieved to see my pet under glass. I pulled my purse onto my shoulder and followed him out the door to his car.

On the drive down to LA, Geoff had a mixed CD playing, mostly grunge from the the early 90's, heavy on the Soundgarden. We talked about the trends from when we were kids, the games that we'd played on our Sega Genesises. We argued over which game was better: Earthworm Jim or Toe Jam and Earl. He eventually agreed that I was correct with the latter.

When we pulled into the parking lot of a restaurant that Geoff had gotten a good recommendation about, I had to admit that I hadn't noticed that I was starving until that point. The conversation had flowed so well, it surprised both of us that the drive had taken almost an hour and a half. The restaurant was starting to dwindle in the number of patrons inside as the hour pushed later.

The food was Italian, rich and loaded with carbs. It could have been the only time that I felt comfortable going out with a male and eating huge chunks of garlic bread without worrying about breath issues. Geoff ordered a good bottle of Merlot and allowed me to drink most of it.

"Buttering you up for the flick," he explained. "You WILL agree that it's a classic when we're through tonight."

After heaping plates of pasta, tons of bread and multiple glasses of wine, we piled back into the car and made our way to the theater. The line was wrapped halfway around the building, geeks dressed in suit jackets, dark sunglasses and fedoras.

"Why are people so into this shit?" I asked as Geoff pulled into a parking space and turned off the engine.

"It's NOT shit," he sounded genuinely irritated when saying it. "Just come on. Watch it. Keep your preconceived judgments by the wayside and let me school you on this."

By the time that we'd entered the theater, I'd been hit on my at least 5 wanna be Belushis, all to the amusement of Geoff. He would shrug his shoulders and exclaim, "It's not a date!" whenever I would shoot him a look for help. When the lights dimmed, he leaned over and started to explain.

"Do you remember the penguin scene at all?" he whispered in my ear. His breath hit the sensitive spot and I shivered.

"No, what about it?" I asked and rubbed at my ear with my middle finger.

"It's great.  I like the setup first of all, a guy gets released from jail and goes to visit his old nun teacher for the first thing he does. And it's very funny seeing them not being able to stop swearing, getting a beating from her in the process. It's just a really, really funny scene to me." He settled back into his seat.

"You think I'll like it more while watching it with you?" I asked.

Geoff turned toward me again and looked seriously at me. "No. It's one of those movies that you can't learn to love. You love it from the first frame, or it's just 'eh'." He paused for a second. "I used to have this test....."

"What's that?"

"That on a first date I'd make her watch Blues Brothers and if she didn't like it, or kept talking throughout it, that girl wouldn't get a second date."

"That's harsh."

"Well, I just loved it so much I literally could not comprehend how somebody couldn't like it.  And I hated them for it. Now I've matured." He smiled at me.

"Really? How so?" I couldn't help but smile back.

"Now, it's just moderate disgust." His smiled widened. Mine mimicked it.

The movie started, the faint clicks from the projector over our heads raining down on us in the audience. I had to hand it to Geoff. There really was nothing like watching a old movie in the theater. They lost their magic on the small screen. I watched the action on the screen almost as much as I glanced sideways and looked at the reactions on Geoff's face. Seeing him laugh made my heart swell. There was something to it, the whole honesty of it, that overwhelmed me.

I found myself laughing. By the middle of the movie, some time after the chase scene, I was fully engrossed in it. I'd stopped paying attention to Geoff and just sat back and laughed myself. When the credits were finally rolling, I became keenly aware of his gaze on the side of my face.

I turned and looked him in the eye. "What?" I demanded.

"You liked it, didn't you?" He asked softly, standing up.

"I had a lot of wine earlier. My defenses were softened. I wasn't..."

He cut me off. "Fucking Chloe. Just say you liked it."

"No. Because then you'll just ask me out on another date." I folded my arms across my chest.

"This wasn't a date!!" Geoff gestured in comical protest.

"Damn fucking right it wasn't!" I laughed. We were stumbling out to the car, laughing hysterically and lighting cigarettes as we went. The drive home was filled with more jokes, comparisons of favorite directors and actors. It went by just as quickly as the ride there. By the time that I crawled out of Geoff's car, I felt like we'd been old friends for years.

"Thanks for inviting me," I said. "I really enjoyed myself."

"Yeah." He was walking me up to the door, hands shoved in his pockets. "I like this."

"This?" I questioned.

"You know." One hand flew out of his pocket and moved between the two of us. "This."

"Oh." I stopped walking when I got to my door and fished my keys out of my pocket. Before unlocking the door, I turned to face him. "I do too. But let's not think about that too much, OK?"

He nodded. I smacked my lips together softly and nodded back and then walked inside and shut the door behind me. I closed my eyes for a second and let it all sink in. The weird circumstances that lead me to enjoying this man's company in a way that I didn't enjoy anyone else's, not even Matt's.

I loved being with Matt. I loved how he made me feel and that I felt important to him and knew that I would never need to doubt that feeling. But being with Geoff was like no other sensation that I'd known. I couldn't compare it with anything else in my memory banks. I knew at that moment that I wouldn't be able to let that feeling go. I just hoped that it wouldn't fuck up all of my other feelings in the process of holding onto it.

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