Ginger AlePosted: March 25, 2009
They were sitting on the floor of Becca’s room: Charlie leaning against her bed with his long legs stretched out in front of him, Becca sitting neatly cross-legged in the middle of the rug. The walls of the room were obscured completely by posters, photographs, flyers, and poems, and Charlie had given up on trying to read each one. His ass was falling asleep.
“Want to play the question game?” Becca asked him.
Charlie opened one eye first, then the other. “The question game?”
“You ask me a question. I answer. I ask you a question. You answer. I figured it was self explanatory.” She placed her elbows on the floor in front of her, leaning forward to rest her head in her hands.
“Sounds like a conversation to me,” Charlie replied, skeptical.
“You would be surprised at how long you can go in a conversation without a question. People like to talk about themselves, if you’ve noticed.” she countered.
“Fine.” he agreed. There were worse things to do on a Wednesday night, he supposed, and though there was a barely started research paper waiting for him back in his room, Becca flashed him a grin, and he found himself saying “you first.”
It started out simple. Cake or pie? If you had to choose, would you rather choose to never use a fork again or never use a spoon? You have a plane ticket to anywhere in the world; where do you go? What’s the longest time you’ve ever spent in a car? Do you have an embarrassing nickname?
Finally, Charlie asked, absentmindedly, “Best gift you’ve ever gotten?”
Becca had spent 5 minutes mulling over the merits of spoons versus forks, but this time her answer was immediate. “A case of ginger ale.”
He raised his eyebrows. “A case of ginger ale? Really? You live a thrilling life,” he said, laughing.
She sighed. “Don’t you know anything?” She looked him in the eye. He pretended it was a rhetorical question. “It’s not the gift that matters,” she said, playing with the ragged shoelace on her faded Converse. They had writing all over them, checkered Sharpie patterns on the rubber soles, black ball point pen squiggles and quotes and stick figure drawings on the green canvas sides. “It’s the fact that someone thought to give you a gift. It didn’t matter that he spent three dollars buying me a 12 pack of soda. What mattered is he did something spontaneous with the single intention of making my day better.”
“You’re saying it’s the thought that counts?” He was skeptical.
She cocked her head to the side, thinking. “Sometimes.”
“Wait, what?” He jumped into debate mode. “Sometimes the gift matters but sometimes it doesn’t? That makes no sense.”
“No, it’s like—well, for your birthday. That matters. Because you know you’re getting gifts. You would be pissed if you didn’t. What I’m talking about are the unexpected ones, the ones that aren’t required or asked for or even necessary. Even mediocre friends will buy you a birthday gift—but how many people would think to buy you a case of your favorite soda just cause they thought you’d like it? How many people even know what your favorite soda is?”
He thought a moment. “I got nothin’ for you.” He shrugged.
“Well, then, I guess you’ve never been in love.” She shrugged back at him.
“That sounds like a challenge.”
A slow smile crept over her face. “Haven’t you ever watched a movie?” she asked him. “It’s the challenge.”