Troy checked his cellphone at the red light at the corner of Listington and Wetherford. His marble blue eyes lit up, and he let out his defining hearty chuckle. He instructed me to check my phone as the light turned green.
I had to move my hand slowly, as to not draw attention to its shakiness. The infatuated tremors were coursing their way through my entire body. It still hadn’t quite hit me that I was riding shot gun in Troy’s car. Again. This was a good year.
“I can be ready in 20 minutes,” began the group text message Troy had chuckled at, “if Alexis irons my shirt.”
Contrastively, I wasn’t chuckling. I could feel the red hot smoke escaping through my ears. Now I was shaking from rage. The fucking nerve of this guy!
This guy, who had sent the text, was my estranged former high school classmate, Drew Nodar. I hadn’t spoken to him in two months, after a nasty fallout. If it were up to me, I never would have spoken to him again. Except, tonight was our mutual friend Stewie Goode’s birthday party, and Troy had so graciously offered to give us suburbanites a ride downtown. So I had been mentally preparing to withstand Drew to hang out with Troy. But I would not be nice to Drew. And I would not be ironing his stupid shirt.
As we pulled into Drew’s driveway, the digital clock in Troy’s BMW turned to 5:28pm. We had half an hour to make it for the dinner reservations. If we left immediately, we would get there right on time.
Drew exploded through his front door wearing a stained grey t-shirt, black boxers and a single dress shoe. He ran down the steps of his front porch and to Troy’s window. He greeted us, “Hey guys! Come on in! I just need to find my belt.”
Troy obliged and turned off his car. As we entered Drew’s house, Stewie was sending us threatening texts warning us not to be late for the dinner, or else we’d be late for the concert thereafter. I awkwardly balanced on one foot, fighting with the zipper on my black high heeled boots. As soon as I slid the first one off, I remembered I was wearing bright fuzzy orange Halloween socks, which clashed horribly with my scoop neck grey sweater dress. I hoped Troy wouldn’t notice.
“Alexis, just wait until you see my mom’s iron!” Drew called over his shoulder, as he raced up the stairs. “It’s set up in the kitchen! It’s so high tech! You’ll love it!!”
I wondered if he was being sexist or just dense. With Drew it’s hard to tell. Obviously he had no idea who he was dealing with. I called after him as politely as possible, “I have never used an iron before in my life!”
Beside me, Troy had crouched down to carefully untie the shoelaces on his leather dress shoes. Unexpectedly, I felt his soft hand gently caress my upper calf. I stiffened. He asked with obvious concern, “what happened here?”
“Archery tag,” I explained about the huge nasty bruise that I had also forgotten all about. It was purple and blue now. Talk about clashing with my outfit. I tried to make it sound cooler than a field trip with my students. “I took an arrow at an awkward angle.”
“Ouch,” he grimaced as he rose again. The bruise was cold now. “Was it fun at least?”
“So much fun,” I smiled. I didn’t mention the pain and the miscoordination.
“Let’s go check out Drew’s mom’s iron,” Troy suggested then, leading me into the kitchen. On the kitchen counter sat a very fancy iron plugged into the wall. A blue dress shirt that looked like it had spent three years balled up in the back of a closet was sprawled out on the kitchen table. I flinched with indignance. They couldn’t just expect me to love to iron because I was a girl! I would not iron his stupid shirt.
Troy never asked me to. Instead, he picked up the iron himself and the base it had been resting on magically retracted within itself. We both gasped and giggled. Drew wasn’t lying about this iron. It was really cool. Troy looked at it suspiciously, “it’s got so many buttons. Which one do I pick?”
I shrugged. I really had no experience with irons. He played around with the buttons and then set to it. He struggled. He wet the shirt and made weird shiny lines across the fabric. I offered to help. I held out small patches of the material and Troy went over them slowly. I wasn’t annoyed anymore. It was actually kind of satisfying to watch the creases disappear. Together, we ironed Drew’s stupid shirt.