It all started when Carrie and I went out for coffee, our Saturday morning ritual.
"I'm a dollar fifteen short…" Carrie had muttered irritatedly, when it came time do pay for her coffee, "Alana, have you got any change?"
"Uh." A typically intelligent reply on my part. "Let me check."
I opened my wallet, only to find that I had spent my very last dollar on my own coffee. And of course, our favorite coffee place just happened to refuse payment through the form of credit or debit, our only alternatives.
"Nothing?" Carrie asked, still rummaging through her purse.
"Nada." I replied, also searching the bottomless pit that was my bag for any spare change.
"Suddenly my coffee doesn't taste so great." Carrie groaned, turning her bag upside down. Several coins fell out among scattered papers, makeup compacts and hair clips. "Thirty four cents, yes!" She exclaimed, punching the air triumphantly.
"I have an idea!" I suddenly exclaimed, leaning back and fishing between the cushions of the couch upon which we were seated. Carrie raised an eyebrow, but nonetheless continued to watch with vague interest. I retrieved a few more coins and dumped them on the table.
"Grand total, seventy nine cents." Carrie calculated, "Only missing a little now!"
I was amused at how we were managing this predicament to say the least. Carrie caught my grin and smiled back.
"We are quite odd, aren't we?"
I leaned back once more, feeling nothing but cookie crumbs and lint – and was surprised when my fingers brushed over something that felt hard… almost like a phone. I grasped the objected and freed it from its couch prison, grinning as I admired a shiny flip phone that now belonged to me.
"A dollar! A dollar!" Carrie exclaimed excitedly, standing up and striding towards the cash to pay. The man standing behind it shot her a displeased look before accepting her money.
"I found a phone!" I told Carrie as we were leaving, showing off the shiny prize.
"Did you find that… in the couch?" Carrie stuttered in disbelief.
"That I did." I answered, beaming. "A free phone, fancy that!"
Carrie laughed passively, "Eventually the owner of that phone will cut off the service and you'll have a useless free phone."
"Way to rain down on my parade." I huffed. "Some best friend you are…" I paused and laughed, "Even if I only get to use it for a little while, it's not like I'm losing anything."
"Sure thing, Alana." She laughed again, "Enjoy it… while it lasts."
I was chopping carrots for dinner.
Then it rang.
Having never heard that tone in my life, I was naturally startled, and the knife that I had been holding flew right out of my hand and landed with a loud clatter next to my bathroom door. Taking a heavy panicked breath, I stared around my apartment in confusion.
It rang again.
Instantly, it all clicked, and I ran to my bedroom, grasping the fancy cell phone in my hands as it rang and vibrated madly.
Home, it read. I was faced with a decision.
Answer it? Or leave it?
Well, as they say, curiosity killed the cat.
"Hello?" I answered, trying to sound as innocent and nonchalant as possible.
"Who is this?" A male voice demanded angrily from across the line.
"I don't know," I said, sustaining the voice, "it all depends on who you are."
"I am the owner of the phone that you have selfishly stolen!" He shouted, sounding as angry as ever.
"In that case," I replied, "I am from the cell phone company. Sir, at this moment in time, we are examining your phone to make sure no viruses or bugs were programmed into the device while it was out of your reach."
"Bullshit!" He exclaimed furiously, "I called the company ten times and they said there was nothing they could do to retrieve my phone!"
They hadn't even recommended canceling the service?
"You have clearly called the wrong provider, sir." I explained, "This phone is property of Virgin Mobile. You must have called a different company, the wrong company."
"My phone is not from Virgin Mobile!" He spat, enraged, "My phone is from Verizon Wireless, and I think I would know, considering I'm the one who set it up!"
"Sir," I said coolly, "I suggest you get all the right papers and information in order before calling in with these accusations. Good day."
Then I hung up.
And I felt strangely excited.
Carrie and I were shopping downtown. Carrie had insisted that I go to some ridiculous formal for her work. She had a date, but she felt nervous around him, so she had insisted I tag along and bring my own date to ease her nervousness.
What a hoot.
Like I was getting a date on such short notice.
"I liked that dress back at Twelfth Avenue." Carrie commented, "I'm just torn as to whether or not Michael will like it. Alana, will Michael like it?"
"I don't know." I said passively. "It doesn't really matter what he thinks, as long as you're happy."
"It's so bright though, I don't want to attract too much attention!" Carrie continued to babble on, completely disregarding my comment.
"Then let's keep looking." I offered, tugging at the handle of the bag that contained my plain black cocktail dress. I had quite literally walked into the first store we saw and bought the cheapest dress that fit. Carrie hadn't been able to choose at all, throwing a fit over each and every pattern and cut, so I served as the opinion giver. Which, in Carrie land, meant standing around and repeating exactly what she would want to hear.
"Have you found a date yet?" Carrie asked, as we walked into another store.
"I told you already, I'm not going to get one." I replied, irritated, "Now pick out a dress, they all look fantastic."
Then, it rang for the second time.
I answered it without second thought.
"Hel-" I began, but I was immediately cut off.
"I've called my company six times, and they have assured me that my phone is, in fact, Verizon Wireless! They also told me that there is nobody checking the phone for viruses or bugs!" The angry man snarled from the other end.
Again, I was amused at how he hadn't thought about deactivating the service.
"Carrie, hang on a minute, I've got to take this call." I sang, and walked to the back of the store, where all the god-awful dresses hung, marked clearance.
"What are you doing?" The man demanded angrily, "Stop playing with me here, I want my phone back!"
"Do you have any idea where I found this?" I asked breezily, leaning against the wall and watching Carrie look through racks of dresses determinedly and interestedly.
"This? What are you talking about?" He growled, as angry as ever.
"Your phone, Einstein." I explained.
"No, I don't know where you found it." He grumbled, "How about you tell me?"
"At a coffee house." I let out, "Do you drink coffee a lot?"
"What relevance does this have to do with anything?" He demanded.
"I don't know, you tell me." I said, "How does one manage to get their phone lost between cushions of a couch at a coffee house?"
"That's where you found it?" He asked, in disbelief.
"Yes sir," I laughed.
"Can you please return my phone to me?" He asked, changing tactics and turning his anger down a notch.
"Nope." I replied cheekily, "this is just too much fun!"
Then I hung up.
And once again, I found myself oddly giddy.
I was at work, typing on my computer.
To say that it was boring, would be the understatement of the century.
Then, the phone vibrated in my pocket.
"Hello?" I answered daintily, already knowing exactly who it would be on the other end of the line.
"I give up." Angry Man said immediately, "I have come to the realization that you will never give me my phone back, because you are completely insufferable."
"Oh boy!" I exclaimed, "Reverse psychology, my favorite!"
"Stop it!" He demanded, "Do you find this funny? This is my valuable money going down the drain because you are too indecent to return my phone to me!"
I wanted to point out that the only times I used the phone was when I was talking with him, but decided against it.
Still no deactivation of the service, either. Angry Man sure was an all star.
"I'm not giving it back." I said, "it's really pretty and shiny and it makes you angry that I still have it."
"I am finished with you!" He spat, "Keep the phone, see if I care!"
"Well thank you!" I mocked him, "I do appreciate it!"
"Don't expect me to call again." He added, as an after though.
And then he hung up.
And I wasn't finding it quite as fun as before.
Carrie and Michael were over for dinner. Now why would I have invited Carrie and Michael over for dinner?
The answer is, that I didn't invite Carrie and Michael over for dinner; Carrie invited Carrie and Michael over for dinner.
I cooked the meal, cleaned the apartment, and held pleasant conversation for thirty-five minutes before I decided that I had had enough.
Technically, I was doing Carrie a favor my leaving the room; she'd have more time to talk with her beloved Michael, and I wouldn't have to pretend to be interested.
I wasn't quite sure what possessed me, but I flipped open the fancy phone, went into the contacts menu, and selected home.
"Hello?" Answered a voice that was starting to grow familiar. Although, for the first time since the calls had begun, he didn't sound infuriated.
"Entertain me." I requested, flopping down onto my bed, "I'm bored."
"Is this… Are you the woman that stole my phone?" He asked.
"I have a name, you know," I drawled, "and I don't appreciate that you accuse me of stealing your phone. That would involve me physically taking it from you. I found it, is all."
"You want me to entertain you?" He echoed, ignoring my comment, "Who do you think I am? A walking birthday party service?!"
"For all I know, you are." I retorted. "The only thing I do know about you is that you have a very short temper."
"And the only thing I know about you is that you are extremely obnoxious!" He hit back.
"Are you going to entertain me or not?" I asked, and grinned as I heard Carrie burst into laughter in the other room.
"How exactly does one entertain someone else over the phone?" He asked.
"Are you implying you want to?" I wandered excitedly.
"Not like I have anything better to do…" He muttered.
There was a short beep and he said, "I have a call waiting, hang on a sec."
It was confusing to say the least.
Angry Man wasn't acting… angry?
"I know it's you, and no, I do not have a date to go with, leave me alone would you?" His voice came, resuming its regular darkness.
"Still here." I sang, stifling a laugh.
Another beep and his voice was gone.
"What are you doing?" Carrie demanded, walking into my bedroom. "You've been gone for ages!"
"Sorry." I said, snapping the phone shut, forgetting about Angry Man. "I just felt excluded from your conversation, so I left."
"My bad." Carrie blushed. "Anyways, Michael and I will leave now, thanks so much for having us over!"
"Anytime." I replied graciously, "Take care."
"Will do." She said.
And my apartment was big and alone once more.
I should have brought a date.
I should have brought a date.
I should have brought a date.
This was boring and lonely and Carrie and Michael had ditched me the moment we stepped inside.
The dinner was to begin in a moment, at which point Carrie and Michael would finally come back and sit with me. However, until then, I would have to stand against the wall and watch everyone else mingle, trying to ignore the fact that Carrie and Michael had dropped me without second thought.
I decided to find our table first, walking to the front of the large dining hall and finding my name near the bottom of a long list.
My heels hurt, I was bored, and I was sitting at table seventeen.
I never even liked the number seventeen to start with!
I strode over to the big circular table, and sat down, pouting. According to Carrie, this was a formal fundraiser event her company was hosting. I feared long speeches and mediocre performances were next to come and gratefully accepted a champagne flute from a waiter who appeared at my side.
Carrie and Michael finally arrived, sitting down next to me and giggling amongst each other. I continued to pout. The lights blinked and the tables began to fill up.
"So what do you think of this so far?" Carrie asked me eagerly, finally acknowledging my presence.
"It's very entertaining." I lied, "Night's just flown by!"
More like dragged by horribly, painfully and irritatingly.
"I know!" Carrie agreed overenthusiastically, "Hasn't it been amazing Michael?"
And just like that I was excluded from the conversation again.
I realized at that point that I would prefer a nice, greasy burger to some fancy food; that I would prefer to leave this snobby, stuck up party as soon as possible, and most of all, that Carrie and Michael wouldn't even care if I left.
"Carrie." I said, grabbing my small clutch, "My stomach is upset, I don't feel too well. I think I might be better off calling it a night."
"Really?" Carrie asked, disappointed. Sure, she was into Michael, but she had wanted me there. "Dinner's about to start!"
"I just really don't want to eat right now." I lied again, "I think I'm going to head home and lie down."
"Oh." Carrie said, "Okay, well feel better Hun!"
And with that, I left.
I walked to the burger place in heels and a black cocktail dress.
I was halfway there when, to my surprise, the phone rang.
"Hello?" I had to tuck my clutch under my arm to keep my balance in the shoes.
"Entertain me." Angry Man who didn't seem so angry drawled out, "I'm bored."
"Bored?" I gasped, "Why on earth would you be bored?"
"I'm at a stupid fundraiser, and it's dull." He whined, "My friend dragged me along, but alas, I had no chance to find a date."
I laughed in disbelief. "I just left a stupid fundraiser thing, and I was dragged along forcibly without a date as well. I happen to be on my way to a burger joint because frankly, I really don't want to wait forty minutes for a tiny salad."
"Wow." He blew out, "Maybe we were at the same formal. Were you at the one hosted by the computer company?"
"I was." I laughed, not believing it for a second, "My friend works there, she invited me along."
"Can I join you?" He asked suddenly, catching me off guard, "At the burger joint I mean?"
"Uh, sure." I responded, my cheeks flushing, "I'm on my way to Mike's off of third."
"I'll be there in a few minutes." He replied, "Look for a guy in a tux."
"Look for a girl in a black dress." I laughed.
He hung up.
Why was my heart beating so fast?
I was already gulfing down a cheeseburger when the door opened, and in walked a young man wearing a black tux. Messy brown hair adorned his head and a smile tugged at his lips as he caught me staring.
He slid into the booth where I sat and grinned.
Angry Man smiles?
"Uh, hello." I greeted him awkwardly. I would be lying if I said I wasn't taken aback by his looks. I hadn't been expecting… Well, I'm not sure what I had been expecting, but certainly not this!
"Hello, vile woman who stole my phone." He laughed, showing me a full, warm smile that caused a similar one to spread across my face. "Do you, by chance, have a name? Or does Vile Woman work for you?"
"I don't know." I teased, "Vile Woman is pretty catchy coming from you, Angry Man."
"Angry Man?" He repeated, raising an eyebrow.
"Well, that's you." I explained, grinning, "Angry Man. You yell, on the phone."
He frowned, "Vile Woman it is." And then he pouted comically.
"It's Alana." I answered finally, trying to hide the blush that heated my cheeks.
"Jonathan." He replied, grinning in amusement, as he had obviously noticed my blushing.
Jonathan disappeared momentarily to order food and I tried to cool the heat that had devoured my face. When he returned, I had returned my cheeks to a somewhat manageable regular flesh color by fanning my face.
"Well, I'll be honest," Jonathan said, "I wasn't really expecting… you."
"Elaborate." I drew out slowly.
This time, his cheeks reddened in embarrassment and I stifled a laugh.
"Well…" He trailed off, "You're really something to look at."
And then I out blushed him.
"Well, this has been sufficiently awkward." I declared, "I think we may have set a world record for reddest cheeks during a first encounter."
He laughed at my joke and the awkward tension diminished… but only slightly.
"Here." I finally said, handing him the phone, "It is yours, after all. I was going to call in to cancel the service and have it returned anyways."
Unexpectedly, he pushed the phone back towards me, "Keep it," He said, "I'm starting to like your calls."
"Thanks." I stammered, blushing harder than ever, "I'm starting to like yours too."
Having officially entered an awkward silence, I grabbed his hand and lead him out of the restaurant, hoping the cool air might help with my furious blushing.
"How did you lose your phone?" I asked, as we walked though a large park at the center of town.
"Well," He said, "I left it there on purpose in hopes that someone gorgeous might find it, and then bother me until we finally meet and I get the chance to kiss her."
"Excuse me?" I asked.
And he kissed me.
This sure beat any formal Carrie could ever bring me to.