For an explanation of this alphabet theme, see my first NaBloPoMo post.
I've never been particularly savvy with men. As much as I hate the phrase, I have to call myself a late bloomer. I've always been about five years behind everyone else in terms of the romance part of social development. It may have started in first grade, when David DiTroi* smiled and flirted with me like he was my secret little boyfriend for three months and then suddenly turned and became the guy who slammed my fingers in my desk and buried my hat in a snowbank at recess and generally made my life miserable for the next seven years. Or maybe it was in fourth grade, when my friend Christine showed me her dad's Hustler magazines and I decided there was no way, no chance I was ever doing anything naked with a man.
I was probably well on my way to spinsterhood already in sixth grade, when John Aidelmen** pulled me aside on the bus to tell me that he liked me, and despite my having an enormous crush on him up until that moment, I was suddenly petrified and wanted nothing to do with him. Yep, I'm pretty sure that was the incident that set the course for the next several years of my life. (Or so I remember it, anyway.)
All of this background is my way of explaining why, even by my sophomore year of college, I still had no idea what I was doing where men were concerned, and why I was still entirely baffled when I watched other girls seemingly effortlessly execute that process of turning a boy they liked into a boy who was their boyfriend. Or hell, even just a boy they occasionally made out with.
In retrospect, I don't think it was entirely my fault. I think I was for some reason drawn to young men who were nearly as inexperienced as I was, so the two of us together were a nearly hopeless experiment in social ineptitude.
Joe was one of those young men.
We met in our residence hall. We were both tremendous nerds who spent every night in the study lounge and who much preferred to stay in on Saturdays watching videos than venture out to a house party and drink bad beer out of plastic cups in a stranger's sticky-floored basement. In short, we got along great. And we spent countless nights talking and laughing together, sitting in his room watching movies, arms occasionally brushing, hands close enough to feel heat radiating from them but never actually moving those two centimeters closer to touch.
We were both idiots, obviously. Neither of us had any idea how to make the first move. But people saw us together often enough that they all assumed we were dating. I half expected that if one of them just called him my boyfriend in front of him, that would be that and it would finally all be squared away.
Alas, that didn't happen. In the end, we never even kissed. The following fall, he moved off campus, and I ran into him only once every few months. He told me that over the summer he'd gotten a girlfriend--some girl in his hometown whom he worked with at the restaurant where he waited tables. I don't remember which restaurant it was, but I do remember the girl's name. I remember because, I'm sorry, no offense to the girl or her parents, but it was without a doubt the stupidest name I'd ever heard.
Her name was Quay. Pronounced "Kway." And no, she wasn't from Laos or Vietnam or any other country that might make that a reasonable name I should not mock. I half-wanted to believe she didn't exist, that she was Joe's imaginary Canadian girlfriend. I couldn't decide if a name that ridiculous meant she had to be real, or if it only proved he was a clever, clever boy--he knew enough to pick a name everyone would think there was no way he could have made up.
I never met the girl, and I've never heard of another Quay since then. That is, until I got an Electronic Boggle. The beauty of Electronic Boggle is that after each round, the game lets you scroll through a list of valid and acceptable words you somehow missed. And in one of those lists, I saw the word quay. Perhaps you've got a more plenary lexicon than I, and you were already well aware this was a real word. I was not. I had to look it up. Maybe I don't spend enough time around open waters.
Quay /kee/ n. A platform that runs along the edge of a port or harbor, where boats are loaded and unloaded.
It's not pronounced the same, but it amuses me anyway. It's also now one of my standard Boggle words whenever "Q" comes up on the board. I'm always challenged on it, but I always win the point. And now you will, too. Unless of course, you're playing with me.
* Not the real spelling of his last name. As usual, I'm trying to avoid getting found during a vanity Google.
** Again, working with phonetics here.