"So what did you think of the movie?"
The query broke into my uncharacteristic silence. However, I was still trying to process the movie, and, as such, was wildly unprepared for such a question. "Ah...ugh...I...AAAAAA!!!!"
My venting buddy, well used to my ways by this point, dodged my flailing arms and nodded, as if I'd said something coherent. "I agree. It was pretty good!"
I tried to push open the door to the parking lot and misjudged which side the hinges were on, slamming face-first into the glass. It was enough to jar me out of my incoherence. "Ow! Yeah, I was afraid it was going to be another Eragon fiasco."
"I think a thousand angry nerds would have destroyed the theater if that was the case," Shorty said, snickering. "Need help?"
I rubbed my nose, pushing the door open savagely. "Professional psychiatric help, maybe. Last I checked, though, you don't qualify. You're just a math major."
"And you're an engineer. Isn't that a little hypocritical?"
"Nah, I can get computers to do math for me," I pointed out. "Your major can easily be replaced with a good graphing calculator."
She took a swing at me, which I dodged with very little effort. "NOT!"
"Where do you want to eat?" I asked, ignoring her frustration at her inability to come up with a good retort.
"Um...it's Friday," Shorty reminded me.
I sighed. "I am acutely aware. We shall be good Catholics, so meat is out--which is a shame, because I really felt like steak. That limits our options to Long John Silvers, Red Lobster, or some veggie crap."
Shorty made a face as I unlocked the car. "Eew. Are there even vegetarian restaurants?"
"You've clearly never made a trip to the Twin Cities in Minnesota," I remarked, pointing a finger towards my mouth and pretending to gag. "Mom has a thing for them. I vote Red Lobster by default. I've been eating Long John Silvers for the last three weeks, since the caf doesn't have crap for Fridays."
Shorty nodded, reaching for my iPod as I grabbed the GPS. "Sounds good. They have biscuits."
"BISCUITS!!!" I yelled, sticking the GPS in the cupholder. "Okay, it's about two songs away. Thoughts?"
"Want to vent first?" Shorty inquired.
I grinned. "Ah, we can do that over dinner. I'm still processing." I spared a moment to wonder what was causing her to snicker as she dug through my iPod tunes. During the one-hour drive to the theater, we'd managed to get through a good portion of the Doctor Who-inspired band "Chameleon Circuit" songs, so I was wondering where she was going.
She smiled, a little wickedly. "Then 'Trigger Happy' it is!"
I whooped my appreciation of the Weird Al Yankovic song and turned up the volume to drown out our off-key singing. It was a brief drive.
"Welcome to Red Lobster! How many?"
"Just us," Shorty replied.
The waitress nodded. "Excellent! Booth or table?"
"Booth, please. And could we get a booster seat?" I asked mischievously.
Shorty kicked my shin. "NO! We do NOT need a booster seat!"
"Ow! Maybe a children's menu?" I suggested, hopping out of range.
"Midway, I'm gonna kill you," Shorty growled.
The waitress's mouth was twitching, but she made the choice to ignore me (probably the wisest course of action). "If you'll follow me, please?"
"Lead the way, Short Stuff." I gestured after the waitress. Shorty shot me a look that would have melted steel before biting her bottom lip to keep from laughing and following the kind restaurant employee to our designated seats.
Once we were seated, we quickly placed our drink orders and before deciding what we wanted. I ordered the same thing I always got at Red Lobster, managing to complete my pondering of the movie while Shorty figured out what she wanted.
"Okay, good movie, but Ender was too old," I started off the rant.
Shorty nodded. "I could see why they went that direction, though."
"Yeah, casting Ender's Game with actual eight-year-olds might have been hard," I admitted.
She shrugged. "But he wasn't supposed to lose any of the matches! What was up with that?"
I frowned. "Agreed! He was the tactical genius--that was a crappy move!"
"Also, what was with the romantic subplot between him and Petra?" Shorty demanded.
I cocked my head. "I think I missed that."
"You would have. It wasn't blatantly obvious, but it was there," she teased me.
"I guess I can kinda see it," I admitted. "Still shouldn't have been there. That wasn't in the books! Of course, neither was Bean coming up on the same shuttle as Ender!"
Shorty nodded. "I guess they had to condense this, but this could have easily been a two-part movie."
"Maybe even a three-parter. Thanks," I directed that last at the waitress as she delivered our food.
"That would be awesome," Shorty breathed as she received her plate. "Thank you! That book is way more deserving of a three-part movie than the Hobbit is."
"Don't get me started on the Hobbit," I mumbled through a mouthful of shrimp. "This is Ender's Game venting time. So what did you think of the simulations?"
Fifteen minutes later, we were arguing the logistics of the movie spending more time in the battle room when the waitress returned. Since we'd stopped eating for a moment so that I could use the biscuits and shrimp to make a point about the battle room's layout, she must have thought we were done. "Would you two like a box to take home?" she asked politely.
I grinned. "Thanks, but we're still working on it." I took a bite of my biscuit battle room obstacle. "We'll probably know in about ten minutes, though."
Shorty suddenly turned bright red. Since she was part Japanese, the effect was hysterical. I almost choked. The waitress missed both occurrences, though. "Well, let me know if you need anything!" She walked away.
I eyed my venting buddy. "Did I miss something?"
Shorty buried her face in her hands. "Radar, she asked if we wanted a box."
I took another bite of biscuit. "So?"
"A box. As in, one box. To take home," she whispered, shaking with suppressed laughter.
Still confused, I gave her a blank look. "And...that is funny...why?"
"She thinks we're married!" Shorty hissed at me.
My jaw dropped as the point hit me before I doubled over, laughing so hard I thought I was going to hurt something. "Well...that...explains...your face!" I gasped out. "I've never seen you get that red before!"
"Shut up, Midway!" Shorty ordered, turning red again--this time from suppressed laughter.
I wiped my eyes, several excellent schemes coming to mind. "I feel like we should see how long we can keep this going..."
"Don't you dare," she snickered.
I grinned. "We can start with one check!"
"NO! NOT HAPPENING!"
"Totally happening!" I announced. "Let's see, what else can we do?"
Shorty tried to give me her patented look of death, but the glare was blunted by the facts that 1) she was turning red again, and 2) she was biting her lip again to keep from laughing.
"Yes! That!" I grinned, pointing to her face. "Perfect! Can you do that when the waitress comes back?"
"Do what?" Shorty asked, confused.
"You're blushing," I teased her.
"What? No I'm not! Ugh, am I? Because you're embarrassing me!" she sputtered.
"Like she can tell the difference," I said dismissively, waving my hand airily and glancing around the room casually. "I wonder how many other people we can get to believe that?"
Shorty's eyes widened and she buried her face in her hands. "No, no, no--look, I'm paying for my own food and you're going to shut up!"
"Since when have I ever done that?" I asked, laughing. "Wait until your roommates hear about this!"
"That might be difficult. You might have to start by punching my ankle," I suggested, straight-faced.
She tried to kick me under the table. "Will you--oh, no!"
"What?" I asked as she turned beet red again.
"That old lady at the table three down and one across just winked at me!!" Shorty complained. "Come on!"
I doubled over laughing again. "Oh, that's good!"
"I guess it was inevitable," she muttered. "We come in here together, get dinner and get into conversations that are clearly too intense for a first date...dangit, I wish Brad or Betsy had been able to come!"
"Or both?" I suggested. "Then it would have been a double date!"
She groaned. "I didn't think of that! I can't win, can I?"
"Nope," I said innocently.
The waitress returned. "How are you doing?"
"Just fine, thanks," I returned, shooting a sly glance at Shorty. She promptly turned red. "May we get our check now?"
"Of course! I'll be right back," she replied.
"Dangit, Radar, what did I just say?" Shorty demanded.
"Pay for your food so we can trick all these people into thinking that we're either dating or married?" I asked innocently. "You know my memory isn't that good."
Shorty tried to kick me again. "I hate you." She thought for a second. "Although, that was pretty smooth. 'May we get our check now?'" she mimicked me.
It was difficult to bow while sitting, but I gave it my best shot. "I aim to please!"
"My roommates will never let me live this down," Shorty muttered before fixing me with a glare. "And I am totally paying you back, because this is not a date!"
"That's not what everyone else in this restaurant thinks!" I teased her mischievously.
She turned red. "You're just trying to get me to blush! It's not going to work!"
"You should tell that to your face, then," I suggested.
The waitress returned to give me the check. I paid it and we left, listening to Weird Al the whole drive home. When we returned to campus, I parked the car and walked with Shorty up to her apartment. To my delight and her horror, her roommates--good friends of mine--were home. Even better, Brad was visiting too.
"How was the movie?" Betsy asked.
"Forget the movie, guys! You gotta hear this!" I started.
It's difficult to tell a story while being chased around a living room by a midget bent on homicide, but I did my best. Rachel and Mary actually managed to hold Shorty off for a few moments so I could finish in peace before they dissolved into laughter. Betsy, though, held the award for the best commentary on the tale for that night.
"To be fair, Shorty, you two do act like an old married couple," she remarked.
That pretty much finished all of us. At least three people in the room wound up with hiccups.
A few hours later, I was ready to call it a night. On my way out, I suddenly remembered something. "Hey, I did manage to go on a date with Shorty, though!"
"What?" Mary demanded, looking from me to a dumbfounded Shorty.
"Yeah, Shorty never paid me back!" I announced.
"NO!!! Let me get my wallet!" Shorty screeched and dove off the couch as I made my escape. By the time she'd emerged into the breezeway, I was already in the parking lot--and, as it was early winter, she was not prepared to pursue me.
"I am totally paying you back tomorrow!" she yelled after me.
I laughed. "Sure you are!"
She still owes me $27.84.