Disclaimer: If you've heard of
them, I don't own them. Everything else is mine, so no stealing, pretty please.
Author's Note: This is just a short story I wrote as a warm-up to the mass chaos of NaNoWriMo. This story is based on the real life experience of one of my friends. Cool, huh?
Jimmie scrolled through the message board, trying to find which messages were new since he last logged on. As part of his Monday ritual, he made a point to log onto the "music and more" message board each week, hosted by WCDM, a radio station out of Charlotte.
Every day, dozens of people logged messages, arguing about bands, music, rock and roll gossip and to generally debate each other about music. He'd first gotten hooked when Jack Johnson was the hot topic, and had stuck around through debates about Rammstein, NSYNC and Nickel Creek. He found himself agreeing with some "posters", and effectively hating others.
He smiled as he found a message from gradientgrrl, one of his favorite posters. She seemed to always echo his sentiments on all the band debates, and he always looked forward to what she was say each day. Today's rant was about the lack of musicianship present in Britney Spears' more recent debut.
Jimmie couldn't agree more.
He could see that gradientgrrl had updated her profile since he last logged on, so he clicked the icon to read more about this grrl.
Name: Celeste Chanson
Likes: loud, rockin', righteous music. Britney, Backstreet and Beyonce need not apply.
Dislikes: posers, freaks, and the Doobie Brothers.
Other: I like my music loud, my cars fast, my friends funny and my heels high
Jimmie gasped slightly as he sat back in his seat.
He felt like a complete bonehead.
Writing this email was a bad idea.
But he had to know. Had to know if it was her.
He knew it was.
How often do you see a name like Celeste Chanson?
Hi. I got your email from your profile on the WCDM message board. I'm fastfasterfastest on the board, but my real name is Jimmie.
Uh, I'm pretty sure we knew each other once.
Did you live on Lakewood Drive in El Cajon back in, like, 1980? Because I'm pretty sure we were neighbors - I'm Jimmie Johnson, and my brothers were Jessie and Jarit. I'm pretty sure Jarit tied your brother to a tree once. I had nothing to do with that, by the way.
Are you the same girl? Blond hair, Strawberry Shortcake shoes? Liked to make my GI Joes make out with your Barbies (ew!)?
Hit me back if you want.
He pressed send and wondered if she would write back.
Or call the cops on him for stalking.
"Dude. You have checked your email 800 times today. You're checking it more than I check mine!" Chad teased as he strode into his office to find Jimmie hunched behind his Dell.
"Expecting an email." Jimmie murmured, clicking furiously through the message board and on in to his email.
"Me too. Hot chicks email all the time." Chad joked and Jimmie's head snapped up.
"I didn't say it was a girl!" Jimmie said defensively.
"You're this excited about email from a guy? Something you wanna tell me?" Chad asked, raising a teasing eyebrow.
Jimmie flipped Chad the finger and resumed clicking through all the spam in his email account. His jaw dropped slightly when he finally saw a message, postmarked from gradientgrrl.
She wrote back.
Resisting the urge to squeeze his eyes shut, he opened the email to read her reply.
You know, GI Joe never complained when Barbie threw herself at him.
Most guys like that.
Apparently, however, famous race car drivers frown on it.
How've you been?
Good to hear from you,
Well, now what?
Even though her email was only 37 words, he found himself smiling and more than a little intrigued by her reply.
Should he write back?
Might look stupid.
But then again, she had asked how he was. Surely that was in invitation to write back.
Chad's an online nerd. He should ask Chad to help him dissect this situation.
But then Chad would know, and that would suck.
After careful consideration (and three Bud Lights), he'd decided to write back.
Something witty and intelligent and equally intriguing.
Oh we like it just as much as the next guy, but I think the difference is our chicks don't have the pre-set-for-high-heels foot.
That's such a turn on.
I was thinking of having that done next year, and am actually conducting a poll.
I'll put you in the "hell yeah, baby, go for it!" column.
Or the simple yes column.
Let me know where you stand.
I gotta give that a big hell yes.
I mean, c'mon. Why get breast enhancement or Botox when you can get that foot thingy. I mean, really.
Jimmie grinned as he hit the send button again before logging off of his computer and heading for bed. Even though he only had a picture in his mind of a 5 year old angel, playing in a sandbox and trying on roller skates for the first time, he found himself smiling whenever he thought of Celeste, sitting at her own computer and sending him equally goofy emails.
He liked that.
And how weird a coincidence could there be?
That just doesn't happen every day.
You men are so transparent. All about the damn foot fetishes. Fetishi? Fetishus?
So. Tell me about yourself. Something I can't read in SI, preferably. * grin *
Jimmie sat at his computer, trying to figure out what to say. For some reason, it was hard to talk about himself when all he wanted was to hear about her. He got asked about himself so much, he found himself just reciting answers, and he didn't want to recite anything to Celeste.
He just didn't.
These days, it feels like the world knows everything there is to know about me, from what I eat in the morning (English muffins or corn flakes, usually) to where I stand on the designated hitter rule (I think it's a total sham).
Let's see obviously, things are going pretty good. I just bought a house a couple of months ago, which is really cool, and I bought one for my folks, which is even cooler. I have the best job in the world, but man, it takes it out of you by the time the end of the season rolls around. Jessie has gotten into racing himself, so I've been helping him out a bunch.
Random opinion most folks probably don't know (at least, hasn't been asked in an interview - yet): I think Jet Li could totally kick Jackie Chan's ass, and I think Metallica's latest album is seriously overrated.
But more importantly, what's new with you? How are things? How'd you end up in NC?
Til next time,
As he clicked the send button, he winced as he heard a voice call from the other room.
"Honey? Are you ready for dinner?"
Jet Li may be faster and more skilled, but Jackie Chan wins points for originality. You don't see Jet doing any stunts with a steering wheel or jumping off buildings.
Then again, that could be why he would kick Jackie's ass.
Let's see I ended up in NC a couple of years ago. I got a degree from UNC in marketing, and now I do sports marketing for the City of Charlotte - mostly the Hornets, but other stuff too. I guess El Cajon is quite the sports influence capital, eh?
I have a dog. He rules.
My boyfriend Dave just asked me to move in with him. I haven't decided if that's a go yet.
My mom died a couple of years ago (cancer), but Dad is still tooling around on his Harley.
I've been following your career, and I even went so far as to tell a couple of friends that I knew you once.
They told me everyone says that.
I just let it go.
You know what I was thinking about the other day - even before your email? Do you remember the time we argued and argued to let our parents let us sleep outside in that cardboard box we'd turned into a "house"? I smile when I think of that.
As I recall, we were allowed to sleep outside that night, but then someone got scared and begged to go inside because they "heard a critter!"
I still feel confident that my five-year-old outdoorsman skills would have protected us, but no.
We had to go inside.
But that's okay. I really wanted to snag some of those Oreos your mom always had hidden.
I'm really sorry about your mom. She was such a great lady.
Why the no go on the moving-inage?
Actually, it wasn't so much the critter as the fact I really had to pee. I just didn't want to have to tell you that.
PS The no go is complicated. More later
And so it began.
Every day he wasn't at the track and was within a few miles of a computer, Jimmie was emailing her.
And not just two liners. Screens and screens of emails.
Telling her things he hadn't told anyone.
Things he hadn't even ever told Cassie, his girlfriend.
He never felt guilty, though. Celeste was Celeste was a friend from home. What harm could it do?
He only worried when he realized the highlight of his day, the things he looked forward to the most, was seeing gradientgrrl in his inbox.
That's when he knew this could be a problem.
Dave wants an answer. Help!
If Jeff uses the word awesome one more time, I'm gonna kung fu his ass.
You don't know anything about Incan ruins, do you? My dad has picked South America as a vacation spot. Apparently my suggestions of St Bart's or the Bahamas didn't go over.
Not so much on the ruins. Bahamas are good though. Went there last year. Nice. Sunny.
Good beer. ;-)
You are such a bastard.
And you love me and all of my famousness.
Ego check! Aisle six!
What did you end up telling Dave? You never spilled.
Why do women own 42 pairs of black shoes that all look the same? Explain this to me. If my girlfriend buys one more pair of black shoes, I'm gonna start hiding them in the dumpster at work.
Big news! Rumor has it Jack Johnson is gonna play Charlotte! Dude! Yes!
Did you just say "dude"?
Celeste Chanson, mother of all things proper and dignified, using the word "Dude"?
You gonna go?
PS Are you avoiding the Dave question?
Yeah, I'm avoiding. I'm also avoiding giving him an answer.
I'm just not ready to move in with him.
I mean, I love him, but do I love him?
I don't know.
I don't think I can do this.
What would you do?
My girlfriend has taken it upon herself to pretty much move in. So at least you have a say in the matter.
If it were up to me, and don't ever tell her this when you guys end up in the same bowling league or something, but I don't I just don't want her here. I want my house to myself. I like her and all, but I'm not ready for
You'll figure something out with Dave. You will.
Listen, I was thinking you're going to the concert, and I'm going to the concert, do you wanna ?
Nah. Probably not.
I was wondering if you were gonna ask.
I wanna if you wanna.
Bear in mind, if we meet up, I'm not quite the vixen I was when we were 7. Back then I had jelly shoes and Coca-Cola shirts on my side. ;-)
Let's do it. It'll be fun!
Chad is gonna come too cool?
PS See, it was always the pig tails that got me. So vixeny.
I'll get tickets tomorrow for
you, me, Chad and (gulp) probably Dave.
Jimmie grinned in excitement. The Jack Johnson concert was only a couple of days away, and he couldn't wait to finally meet Celeste.
After the thousands and thousands (and thousands) of words and pages they had exchanged, in addition to all the one liners, he couldn't wait to meet her. Just couldn't wait.
The fact that he'd pretty much broken things off with Cassie didn't have anything to do with it.
Not at all.
It was just it wasn't working and he knew it. It was a shock to her, but he'd never felt he'd never felt that thing with Cassie. It was better to break up now rather than years down the road when they were both miserable and hating each other.
And he knew it.
But he wondered if he would be hurting worse if he didn't have Celeste to console him every day.
"You're nervous." Chad observed, his eyes fixed on the road in front of them as Jimmie passed car after car on the interstate.
"Ya think?" Jimmie retorted.
"I know." Chad said. "What I wanna know is how come?"
Jimmie sighed as he passed another car, glancing back briefly to make sure it wasn't an unmarked patrol car. "I'm not sure. I mean, I haven't seen her in 20 years for one thing. We might hate either other when we meet."
"You've emailed each other 500 times a day for months, and not just little emails. The big stuff. You already know each other." Chad stated matter of factly.
"What if "
"She's a dog?"
"She's a hottie?"
"No." Jimmie said with considerably less conviction.
"Would you be so nervous if Cassie was still in the picture?" Chad asked quietly.
"Probably. But that well, it doesn't help." Jimmie finally admitted. "I just I want it to not be weird. I'm worried about weirdness."
"Well, you've got me to break the ice. And her boyfriend." Chad said, not unkindly.
"Yeah, yeah "
Jimmie faltered as they approached the appointed meeting spot - the parking lot of a Denny's. He climbed out of the car, willing himself not to scan the parking lot for her.
What if they didn't recognize each other?
What was he saying? Of course she knew what he looked like. His damn face was on everything.
He sighed heavily as he locked the doors and swallowed thickly as he followed Chad's confident gait towards the other parked cars.
And then several things happened.
He heard a squeak and saw a girl, no, a woman, jump up and down excitedly before ducking behind a very short, very clean-cut looking man.
And he felt himself break into a broad grin and start jogging towards them.
He skidded to a stop in front of the very short, very clean-cut looking man and tried to compose his features as Chad trailed behind him.
"Hi." Jimmie said, unable to stop smiling as he met Celeste's eyes.
"Hi." She said, her voice exactly as he imagined. Sexy, feminine, biting, and a little husky.
God, she was stunning.
Like, really hot.
"Hi." Jimmie repeated, this time looking at the very short, very clean-cut looking man.
"Hi." Chad chimed in, grinning at the absurdity of it all, and enjoying every minute of Jimmie's discomfort.
"Hi." Jimmie said again with a laugh as Celeste finally emerged from behind the very short, very clean-cut looking man, who presumably was no go Dave.
Awkwardly, Celeste and Jimmie moved towards each other and hugged for the merest of moments before pulling away. After a hard swallow, Jimmie found his voice and introduced himself and Chad.
The weirdness was definitely there.
But that moment, that look they shared he knew he and Celeste would get along just fine.
Jimmie seemed to have a serious case of permagrin.
Even though the ride to the concert, for the first five minutes, had been awkward, once everyone started talking, it was all good.
He and Celeste reminisced. Talked about their jobs. Talked about her dog and his house and her car and his motorcycle and her hair and his shoes. They talked like they had known each other for years. They talked like they just met for the first time.
Dave seemed like a nice guy. Chad was great about keeping the chatter going and talking to Dave so he and Celeste would have a chance to catch up.
And Jack Johnson had been great live. They'd all stood there, singing along and grinning at each other.
Well, he and Celeste had.
At one point, Jack had launched into "Bubble Toes" and he and Celeste had both laughed and admitted it was their favorite song. For just a moment, Jimmie had grabbed her hand in his and given it a squeeze.
He didn't admit to himself or anyone else that he had held it for just a few seconds too long for propriety's sake.
Jimmie sighed and jammed his hands into his pockets, shielding himself from the cool wind blowing across the parking lot. "I guess we should go." He said quietly, looking down at Celeste.
"Yeah." She said, nodding. Dave was warming up his car, and Chad had taken up his post in Jimmie's car, leaving the two of them alone.
They'd been standing here for 15 minutes, unable to leave.
He was dying to hug her. Dying to see her again. Dying to not have to say goodbye so quickly after finally finding her.
He imagined this connection between them was like some sort of drug.
Well, without the possibility of death or overdosing or anything.
"Yeah." He repeated dumbly and grinned shyly. "It was "
"Yeah." She said, reading his thoughts. "We'll I'll email you?"
"Or call. Whichever." Jimmie agreed.
"I don't have your number." She reminded him with a teasing smile. "Email it to me, and maybe I'll call."
"Maybe?" He said, raising and eyebrow.
"Maybe." She teased. "You should I should "
"It's so great to see you again, Jimmie. Really." She said sincerely, smiling up at him.
"You too. Though I'm sorry you didn't wear your jelly shoes tonight." He smiled.
"Next time. If you're lucky." She said lightly.
"Celeste?" He said quietly.
"Say that again." She asked.
"What?" He asked in confusion.
"Say my name again." She repeated.
"Celeste." Jimmie said softly with a hint of a smile. "Can I would Dave mind if I hugged you?"
Celeste considered for the briefest of moments. "Fuck him if he does." She said with a grin before stepping forward and wrapping her arms around him.
Jimmie buried his face into her hair and wrapped his arms around her tightly, pulling her against him. She felt so it's like she fit.
And he really, really didn't want to let go.
But after much longer than was probably appropriate, he pulled back slightly and they disentangled themselves. "Talk to you soon?" He asked shyly.
"Yeah." She smiled, squeezing his hand before turning to walk back towards her car, neither one of them saying the dreaded G word.
Jimmie checked his email for the fourteenth time that day. It had been a week and a half since they had gone to the concert, and still he hadn't heard from Celeste. He'd sent her a quick email right before heading for Loudon, giving her his phone number and telling her what a good time he'd had meeting her.
And since then, nothing.
Not a word from her.
He was worried that she was sick or hurt. He was worried that she thought he was a total doofus when they'd finally met. He was worried that he'd done something wrong. He was just
Well, damn. He was just worried and Celeste seemed to be the only thing occupying his brain, much to Chad's chagrin.
"Bud, I need you to focus for about 30 seconds, then you can go back to mooning over Miss Thang, I promise." Chad said, his tone harsh but kind.
"Sorry, man. I just " Jimmie shrugged in apology. "Ya know."
"Yeah, I know." Chad nodded. "Let's talk about these shock packages, and then you can tell me for the four hundredth time how you haven't heard from her and that you are worried about her. And then you can tell me again whether or not you are going to tell Celeste that you and Cassie are over and that you think you are falling for a girl you loved when you were 5."
"Dickhead." Jimmie said without conviction.
"I listen because I care, man."
I'm kinda worried not in a damsel in distress way, more in a "geez, what if Celeste is lying in a ditch somewhere and no one knows it" way.
Hit me back and let me know you're okay.
I'm alive, but the hills are definitely not alive with the sound of music.
Fuck the hills.
Jimmie rubbed a hand over his tired eyes as he reread Celeste's email.
Was it him?
Was he the cause for the lack of music?
What had he done?
What the fuck had he done??
If his heart hurt before, this new email was ripping it out and running it over at 190 mph.
Four days until he saw gradientgrrl in his inbox again.
Four fucking long days.
He opened up her message with a combination of dread and curiosity.
I think my last message mighta been a little abrupt. Sorry about that. :-)
The long and short of it is that Dave and I broke up. I made the decision, but he took it really, really badly.
Things got pretty ugly for a few days, but I think it's all good now.
I'm just glad things are in the open and over with. I feel better about that, and I trust my decision.
Here's what scares the shit out of me:
I know Dave and I probably wouldn't have lasted forever, but here's what I want to know
Would I have made this decision so soon if I hadn't met a really great guy who made me look at things differently, and made me smile, and made me want to be unattached so that we can uh, attach?
PS The great guy I met is Brad Pitt. Didn't want you to get the wrong impression. ;-)
Did I mention that Cassie and I broke up a couple of weeks ago?
Just thought I'd throw that out there.
No. You failed to mention that.
Thought so. We did.
Do you think we'd talk like this and be this honest with each other on the phone or in person? I worry about that sometimes what happens if we become really great friends, and then we meet up and find out we can't talk without a computer terminal. Do you wonder about that?
So, for the sake of honesty and the hopes I'm not making an ass of myself (in which case, we aren't meeting up again. Ever.), I have a confession.
Do you remember when you first saw me in the parking lot and I did a little jump and hid behind Dave?
Do you want to know why?
* waits for Jimmie to nod vigorously at the computer screen *
Because I've never actually felt love at first sight before.
Well, second sight.
I mean, it's not like I never saw you when we were playing whiffleball and you were hiding my My Little Pony's.
I saw you then.
Then you were a punk with the pretty eyelashes.
Now you're a punk with the pretty eyelashes and a nice ass.
I didn't appreciate the beauty of a nice ass until I hit my teens, and by then you were gone.
Anyway, back to the the jump thing. That's why I did it. And I've never believed in any of that hokey stuff anyway, and I probably sound like one of your pit lizards, but that's where I stand over here.
And frankly, that scares me to death. Especially because this is all just this is just too much like fate for words.
I mean, we both move across the country and end up here? We end up on the same message board? And we knew each other when we were five?? I mean, really. I never believed in fate, but this is some seriously wacky coincidences, ya know?
I'm rambling. I should go.
Throw myself off a building for admitting all this.
I didn't do the jump thing.
Instead I did that whole "can't breathe, can't breathe, can't breathe oh my god there she is holy shit she's hot wow oh my god what am I going to say to her I can't believe it's her oh my god" thing.
And my knees did that shaky thing like when you are going to get a shot from the doctor and you tell yourself to be tough but you end up shaking anyway out of nerves and fear and confusion and everything else. I had that going on too.
Do you want to meet up and get a cup of coffee sometime next week when you get home?
Coffee is so cliché, but I have a funny feeling the caffeine will be a necessary evil to counteract all this weirdness.
No strings, no expectations.
Just coffee. Lots of sugar, no cream for me.
Tuesday night? Meet at Soma around 7?
I'll be there. I'll be the cute one with the black coffee.
Damn right the cute one. ;-)
Jimmie nervously eyed the parking lot as he pulled into his parking place, searching for her car to see if he was here first or if she was.
There was her car.
And there she was, getting out of it.
Damn. She looked so cute.
He still couldn't believe this was happening. Talk about twist of fate.
But it felt so
It just felt. He felt for the first time in years about something other than racing.
And that was a good thing.
Slowly, he approached her in the darkened parking lot, the smile on his face mirroring hers.
"Hey punk." She said softly when they stood only a few feet away.
"Hey cutie." He said quietly.
And without a second thought, he pulled her into his arms and pressed his lips to hers.