I met Terrance Verbly at the bus stop one afternoon in late August. Neither of us could afford cars, although one of our favourite topics of conversation revolved around what we’d do when we finally bought them. My dreams always ended up with the impromptu road trip of a lifetime down south to Mexico. Terrance was much more practical; he wanted a car to drive to school and back.

We were headed to watch Ashlee Simpson’s big screen debut, Undiscovered. Terrance wasn’t my first choice to watch the movie with, but my best friends Chloe Severino and Olivia Pagliacci were otherwise occupied. Chloe was off experimenting with her new friends from her own high school while Olivia was working at Premium Purchase, the local electronics store. I was becoming more and more concerned that the three of us were growing apart. I worried this constant flux in friendships was just a part of life now. The three of us had barely hung out all summer.

In their absence, I had spent a lot of time talking to Terrance on MSN. Terrance and I were similar in that our parents had both invested in new housing developments, lived in the houses for a short time and then flipped them. Both Terrance and I were currently living outside of our high school’s district. We’d both opted to stay at our high school because we had started there before our parents decided to move us to newer houses in different neighborhoods. Terrance and I bonded over being displaced kids in Bridgewood.

He claimed to like the Ashlee Simpson songs I’d sent him over several days. He probably wasn’t as obsessed with her as I was, but he was my last resort to watch this movie. I hadn’t even asked him outright, I’d just been complaining that I had no one to go watch it with, and he’d offered. This was our first time hanging out outside of the high school hallways. Hanging out with new people always made me a little anxious, but with my senior year approaching, I had made the decision to force myself to make new friends and experience new things. Going to the movies with Terrance was my first step. How different could it be than having lunch together in the caf with a big group of friends?

Terrance and I sat in the very back row of the empty theatre, with large bags of popcorn in our laps. To me, everything seemed totally normal. Two friends hanging out, watching a movie, an activity I’d partaken in many times before. I was actually quite engaged in the plot until suddenly, I felt Terrance’s clammy cold hand envelope my own. My eyes widened as I felt my entire body tense up. What on earth. I felt frightened and slightly violated. My hand was my personal space, and it was being overtaken on the shared armrest. It was not okay. But maybe I was jumping to conclusions. Maybe Terrance was just holding my hand in a friendly way.

Friends don’t hold hands during movies! My inner voice shouted at me. It was true. I’d never held hands with Olivia or Chloe in a theatre. Not once. But Terrance was holding my hand. If any unsuspecting person were to accidentally wander into this room, it would look like we were dating. If I allowed this to happen for a second longer, I very well could be dating Terrance Verbly! This could be the beginning of my very first relationship. With Terrance Verbly. The thought made me grimace.

I slowly pulled my hand away and snuck it into my popcorn, leaving it in there awkwardly, safely surrounded by the heat of the bag. I felt Terrance’s energy change instantly, and he sat up straighter in his seat. I was too scared to talk to him, too uncertain of what to say to him. We remained silent for the rest of the movie, which I wished would never end. But it ended, and I had no idea what happened to Ashlee because the whole time I was worried about Terrance. I knew it was going to be awkward. We were going to have to discuss it.

The walk out of the theatre was quiet, neither of us dared to say a word. Finally, when we sat down in the bus shelter I asked, “what did you think about the movie…?”

“Don’t ask me about the movie,” Terrance snapped. The evening sun shone through the plastic surrounding us, highlighting the uneven stubble beneath his cracked lips.

“You’re mad at me?” I asked meekly, avoiding eye contact. I knew it would be awkward. I thought we would both be mortified, but I certainly hadn’t expected him to be angry about it. If anything, I should have been angry that he ruined the movie for me!

“You couldn’t even hold my hand!” He spoke with disgust. Accusingly. Like I had owed it to him. Like I had broken some clause we’d established without my knowledge. His tone frightened me, and suddenly, I didn’t feel comfortable being alone with him anymore.

I brought my legs up to my chest, leaned back against the hot wall of the bus shelter, and shifted to look in the opposite direction down the road. I kept a low voice as I tried to explain it nicely, “I’m not really interested in you in that way.”

“Yeah, I get it!” He exclaimed, standing up abruptly. I shut my eyes tightly, bracing myself for I don’t know what. But nothing happened. When I opened them again he was boarding his bus. He left without even saying goodbye.

I missed Chloe and Olivia more than ever.

2006

35 thoughts on “The Movie

  1. Wow! While this happened a while ago, it still upsets me that men can’t be decent about a “no” in whatever form it comes in. I’m curious to know if you paid for the movie and popcorn Dutch treat or if he paid for it all. Sometimes, a guy thinks that if he treats you to something you want, you owe him what he wants back! I’m glad you had the courage to take your hand away and to tell him your feelings! Too bad for him!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks for the comment!

      To be honest, it happened so long ago, I can’t remember exactly who paid. One of us may have had a gift card or something? Other than that, I definitely would not have allowed him to pay, even if it had been a date!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Aww…..what a sad and disappointing experience. It is too bad that Terrance didn’t have the emotional intelligence and maturity to communicate his interest in you before the hand holding attempt, giving you a chance to clarity things. And it is awful that he reacted with such anger afterwards. He was obviously hurt and felt embarrassed, and covered that up with anger, to make you feel like you’d done something wrong. Good for you for taking care of yourself.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree with Katelon. Terrance should’ve looked for signs of something more than friendship before making such a bold move. Your comment about your girlfriends not being able to go should’ve been his first indication: this was meant to be just companionship vs. a date. Did he ever make amends, to restore the friendship? If not, it speaks volumes about him. I was convinced you had an actual female-male friendship going (which is rare). Maybe not.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks Dave. I’ve had men take my hand before, too, with no prior communication about dating or romantic interest. I understand that it can be tricky to ascertain whether someone is being kind or friendly, or interested romantically and that takes healthy communication and acceptance and understanding about mistaking things. I know that the Me Too movement has exposed how toxic behavior has been given a pass for a long time, but at the same time, there are those falsely accused of things just by giving a hug. It has become pretty murky but again, it seems that with healthy communication, including good listening skills, respect and a safe space for this all, these issues can be better handled for all sides.

        I know even in my teaching days things changed to the point where we were not supposed to even pat a child on the back, and hugging them, which some children naturally reach out to do, was a huge no no. So sad.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I think you’re right that the key is communication on both sides. I’ve always been shy and had trouble asserting my own boundaries which has landed me in situations like this and worse.

        Thanks for your comments πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I thought so too! We did end up staying friends kind of throughout high school, but it didn’t last longer after that.

        Thanks for dropping by πŸ™‚

        Like

  3. Oof, what a rough read…I haven’t had men blatantly been hostile after rejecting them, but I could definitely feel the atmosphere shift when they realize that I wasn’t interested in them…poor Terrance, but the way he treated you afterwards wasn’t cool. PS Ashlee Simpson is such a 2000’s phenomenon– brings back the memories!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately for me, this was just the first and most PG version of similar situations. Communication is key! And yes, I was so into Ashlee Simpson at the time, haha, and I’m not ashamed to admit it!

      Thanks for dropping by πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I wonder if Terrance might just not know how to communicate interest in a girl. I’ve been there, and I got so many mixed messages over the course of my life about what is and isn’t okay, stuff like that, that I still have trouble with it. But that still doesn’t give him the right to be mad at you; you did nothing wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I definitely think that’s part of it. And I also have trouble asserting boundaries and dealing with awkward conversations. I think that’s part of the bigger problem, learning to communicate is key!

      Thanks for dropping by πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There are two scenarios if I read it, it will come off as an LGBT story, if my wife reads it it will be true to your perspective. Female centric stories don’t always translate when a guy reads them. But it is a great eye opener.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. What a confusing time in life. At that age boys don’t understand girls and girls don’t understand boys. What could possibly go wrong? Two people misread each other, but you clearly handled the fallout better than did the young man, who was surely both embarrassed and disappointed.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. If you don’t mind me asking, was there some behavior you might have exhibited that caused Terrence to clasp you hand? Casual physical contact by itself can sometimes be misinterpreted.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I really don’t remember, however, I’m not personally a touchy person at all. I don’t like hugging as a greeting, so I doubt it! He must have misinterpreted something though, that’s for sure.

      Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

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