And now, Part III:
The morning of our trip to Gettysburg dawned cool and a little windy. It took a couple hours to get there from campus, so we left early in order to get as much out of our day as possible. Even though I knew we'd be trudging around a battlefield all day, I still took the time to do my hair and makeup.
I don't know why I felt like I had to look pretty for a guy who I was sure thought of me like his kid sister's tag-along friend, but I even curled my hair, thinking that I would probably never see him again anyway, right?
Marguerite and I met Rob at the dorm door, we piled into the trusty Mustang, and headed for the Golden Arches for some sustenance. I remember that I ordered a small orange juice and an Egg McMuffin, as well as a small coffee with cream and sugar. I didn't realize how closely Rob was paying attention to that order, but I would find out in the not-too-distant future.
We made it to Gettysburg, and we started our grand tours of the battlefields. And by grand tours, I mean we hoofed it all over the dang town.
I like history, maybe even a little more than the average bear, but I had never met anyone who liked history as much as Rob. I can remember the general historical details, but Rob knows dates, places, names, maybe even exact times. I was amazed that he seemed to know everything about anything, and I just listened along and said "uh-huh" every now and then. I'm sure he thought I was destined for Mensa.
We were still walking around in the late afternoon, and although I was fairly used to walking the campus every day, I was getting very tired. And I was incredibly thirsty. I was thinking about just sticking my head in the nearest stream and letting my digestive tract wrestle with any untoward bacteria it might encounter, that's how thirsty I was.
But did I say anything? Heck no! I was not going to be the one who stopped the tour for something like Death by Dehydration. I was going to stick it out until we were finished or until I passed out, whichever came first.
Marguerite, who was a Dance major and in far better shape than I, finally mentioned that she was hungry and thirsty, plus we had seen a lot and we should start home. I could have kissed her right there, but that might have killed things with Rob before they even got started.
I was hoping that dinner was part of the plan, but again, I didn't want to speak up and make any suggestions. Can you see the irony from a mile away? Here Rob was under the impression that I was so outspoken, and meanwhile I was ready to drop from hunger and thirst without saying a word. I didn't want to disrupt their plans or be an inconvenience, though I'm sure that passing out would have been a pretty big inconvenience now that I think about it.
We made it back to the car, and as we were discussing dinner plans, I finally told them how thirsty I was. I believe I said that I was just going to ask the waitress to drag a hose over to the table and leave me alone with it.
I think they got the picture because Marguerite offered me an ancient juice box from the back floor of her car. It was so old, that it was full of Ecto Cooler. Does anyone remember that stuff?Back when The Real Ghostbusters cartoon was all the rage, Hi-C made a green juice called Ecto Cooler, and it was fairly popular. But by the time we were roaming all over Gettysburg they had stopped making it. No one was sure how long it had been on Marguerite's car floor, but I drank it .5 seconds. Desperation is not pretty.
The final decision was in favor of stopping at a Friendly's restaurant on the way out of Gettysburg, so The Great Faint was narrowly avoided. I don't remember what I ate, but I do remember asking the waitress for glass after glass of water. She got the hint soon enough and just kept the water coming.
Meanwhile, Marguerite decided she wanted some dessert. Just a little something called the Jim Dandy Sundae, which includes five scoops of ice cream, among other various candies and toppings.
Of course, Rob and I told her she'd never finish it, and Marguerite considered the gauntlet officially thrown down. Never one to back away from a dare, she finished the whole stinking thing. (If you knew how petite she is, you would be amazed. Plus, she never eats that much as a general rule.)
We started back to campus with Marguerite driving, Rob in the front seat, and me in the middle back, poking my head between the two front seats to join in the conversation. It was getting dark, and we were not very far into our drive when Marguerite complained of feeling ill and pulled over. Apparently she ate something that didn't agree with her. About four scoops of ice cream worth.
Rob and Marguerite switched, and she fell asleep in less than ten minutes. When you think of college students "sleeping it off," you're generally not referring to ice cream, but that was the happy accident that allowed Rob and I to talk semi-privately for the better part of three hours.
As I watched Marguerite fall asleep, I was suddenly nervous because I had no idea what to say to her brother. I had just spent the day with him, but Marguerite was a wonderful buffer. Now I would have to use my own conversational skills, which are awful when I am nervous. I thought about feigning sleep myself.
Surprisingly, the words just came. The conversation flowed seamlessly from one subject to the next, with each of us taking turns talking about our families, our favorite music, books, movies, future goals. We found that we were happily in agreement about almost every topic we touched on, and I couldn't believe that I had ever felt shy around this man.
He impressed me again with his wickedly sharp sense of humor, his love for his family, his kindness, his gentleness, his faith, his ambition, and his attentiveness. It warmed my heart to think that he was going out of his way to make his sister's friend feel at ease.
We arrived back at campus, and Marguerite awoke from her sugar coma. Rob walked us into the building, where Marguerite turned around, thanked him for visiting, gave him a hug, and told him to have a safe drive home to New York. That was it. The day was over, and there was no way I could say, "Don't go! We've just started to get to know each other!"
I said goodbye awkwardly, and went back to my room thinking, "Well, that's the end of that. I won't see him again." And I was surprised to find that I was sad about that.
Little did I know, I just had to wait a few weeks.
To be continued . . .