As I ended last week's installment, I was heading up the stairs in the JKHB to the language lab to see if Jeremy had taken me up on my offer to meet him there. We were treading in dangerous waters since he'd written me a nasty email after I inadvertently turned him down for a date. If he showed up, I'd know he was willing to give me another chance. If he wasn't there, it meant he was walking away from our newly formed friendship thinking the worst of me.
I was so, so very nervous. I'd really put myself on the line by responding to his scathing email. Most of me hoped he would be there, but there was part of me that just wanted to turn around and go home, just avoid the situation, let go of the nervousness, and go back to how things were before a stranger approached me on the stairs asking about a movie he'd seen me in. Judging from what he had written to me, I had a lot of prejudice to overcome and it would have been easier to just write it off as the aborted relationship it appeared to be, by all accounts.
But for some reason, I didn't. I walked into the language lab and there he was, studying nonchalantly at the common table.
I tried to act calm and collected, of course, but I'm sure he could tell how nervous I was. I think he was a little nervous, too. But he played it cool by showing off his knowledge of Arabic.
Arabic? This was the first I'd heard of him studying that strange, completely uninteresting (to me) language. To be honest, when he told me that day that he was studying Arabic, I absolutely, positively did not believe him. I didn't know him that well, but I knew enough to realize that Jeremy enjoyed kidding around. He showed me his Arabic textbook. I didn't believe him. He pointed to people around the table who were also studying Arabic and said they were his classmates. I still didn't believe him. Then he wrote "My father works in an oil refinery" in Arabic on a piece of paper and although it looked more or less like random squiggles to me, I realized that perhaps he was telling the truth. I remember being vaguely disconcerted by this fact - why study Arabic when there are so many other awesome languages out there? What is there to be interested in about the Middle East, anyway? (Little did I know, right?)
We found other things to talk about that day besides his puzzling interest in Arabia, and left on good terms with each other.
It was a couple more weeks before we got around to talking about going out. In the meantime, through some devious cunning of my own, I figured out how to see him more often.
Three days a week, I had an afternoon class in the JSB on the south side of campus. After class, I walked north, at the same time that Jeremy was walking south to his (Arabic, as it turned out) class. There were two paths I could take to where I needed to go, one of which happened to intersect with Jeremy's, which I discovered accidentally one day. Like I said - I'd never seen Jeremy before, and then all of a sudden we ran into each other all the time.
So I decided to just walk the way that would meet up with Jeremy. Then I'd turn around and walk him to his class. And then turn around and walk where I really needed to go. It was brilliant.
On one of these days - it was bright and sunny and warm - we were sitting on a bench outside the Clyde Building just before his class started. I think it was a few minutes before 3 o'clock on a Monday afternoon. We had been tentative to take things up a notch because of our (my? his?) earlier misstep(s), but today was the day. I said I'd love to go out sometime and could I give him my phone number? This, despite the fact that he could look it up himself on Stalker Net. I guess it was mostly a symbolic gesture.
Of course he said sure, but he didn't have a piece of paper handy. So I took his hand in mine and wrote my phone number on it in pen.
Years later, Jeremy told me that he didn't want to wash that hand for weeks afterward.
Our first informal outing was to his brother Scott's co-ed inner tube water polo game at the pool in the Richards Building that Wednesday.
Our first formal outing was to the BYU student film festival, Final Cut, with some old roommates of his (not including Fritz) that Friday.
Our first date was to a bagpipe concert at the Marriott Center that Saturday.
After that semester, I left to go to Japan for the summer. A few semesters later, he left to go to Syria for four months. But those are different stories.
Two Christmases later, just a few weeks after getting married, Jeremy gave me one of my all-time favorite gifts: the actual video cassette containing the movie that brought us together. He'd had to send away to Germany to get it (Fritz had taken it to Germany with him and left it at his mom's house), and it was filled with cookie crumbs from the package it had been in, but it was in our possession again. I still have it. And when we get to Ithaca and unpack it, perhaps I'll figure out a way to upload it here so you can see the German skit that started it all.