Soundtrack song - Say G'night by Bleed the Dream
(sorry about the video, it was the only way I could find the song.)
Things. Were. Crazy.
Not only was I working my usual forty hours at my legal assistant position at home, but Geno and I had agreed to two, one-hour tutoring sessions per week after our initial lesson went well. He had to work around my work schedule, meaning after six on weekdays, and I had to work around his hockey schedule, so we agreed on Wednesday and Friday for the first week of December. We met at Sidney's for our sessions, even though it would have been much easier to get together at Evgeni's house in the Hill District. But I wanted to be supportive of Sid in his time of confusion and uncertainty, which meant spending time with him, too. Although I think just the fact that he told someone how he was feeling and got that off his chest helped him calm down about it.
Wednesday and Friday followed the same pattern: I left work at five on the dot and fought the traffic into Pittsburgh. I made it to Sidney's by six, which is when Geno showed up with his Russian-English dictionary in hand. We'd run through media-related questions, and I was pleased, albeit surprised, with Evgeni's progress. His mind was a steel trap. He could remember the new words he was learning and could recall them easily; his problem was applying them in everyday conversation.
So, all I really had to do was talk to him. That part was easy, because once he started talking, you really couldn't shut him up. Geno was a lot more outgoing than most people got to see, because he was so self-conscious about his English skills. The guys accepted him, so he was boisterous and talkative around them; as we got to know each other, and as I encouraged and supported him, he opened up around me, too. The conversation between us flowed easily, even if it was choppy. We got along great.
He needed help with his syntax and grammar, too, but I couldn't expect to turn him into Noam Chomsky overnight.
Evgeni would leave around seven, sometimes a little later if we got caught up in chit-chatting and lost track of time. He'd gather up his things, always leaving behind a blank envelope with the same amount tucked inside. Since I knew he was progressing, I felt like I was effectively doing the job he was paying me to do; ergo, I didn't feel quite so bad taking his money, even though it was more than I was comfortable with. Still, I didn't spend it. Except for a small shopping spree, purchasing a few things that would benefit more than just myself. It just felt wrong to take his money for doing something I enjoyed doing so much.
After Geno was gone, I would cook dinner for Sidney and me, and we'd spend the next two to three hours together. We talked about a lot of things, but never about hockey. Ever since the weekend of the Rangers game, hockey was a taboo subject. I'm not sure if he was afraid to bring it up again and feel vulnerable or if he was using me as a distraction in order to forget about the mess at the rink. Either way, I did my best to keep the mood light. I didn't ask about his practices or about past or upcoming games, and he didn't offer any information. I suppose we called it even, and just talked about everything else. Like how much fun I was having teaching Evgeni. And like Christmas.
"So, my mom is starting to plan for Christmas. We've got a three-day stretch off, but I wanted to check with you and your schedule before I told her when we'd be flying in and all that," he explained.
After consulting my calendar, I told him, "Well, we get two days off for Christmas. And since Christmas falls on a Friday this year, I'll have Christmas Eve off too and get a four-day weekend."
Sidney smiled in a way I hadn't seen for a while. "Great! We can fly out right after our game against Ottawa on the twenty-third. And come back early on Sunday morning before the Toronto game."
I smiled back, energized by his newly-refound excitement. "Sounds like you've put a lot of thought into this."
"Kind of. But mostly it's my mom doing all the thinking. She wants us to spend the night at my parents' on Christmas Eve. I mean, it's usually what I would do. That way the whole Christmas morning thing can happen when Taylor wakes up."
"Oh, so it's all about Taylor?" I asked teasingly. "Not about you?"
He laughed. "Well, she's thirteen. I'm a little old for the whole mounds-of-presents-under-the-tree, oh-look-Santa-Claus-came kinda deal."
"Yeah, I guess being able to afford anything your little heart desires kind of puts a damper on what they can get for you anyway." That's when I realized I had no idea what to get Sid for Christmas. Fuck. What do you get the guy who doesn't want for anything?
"Well, we've never been extravagant present-givers. Well, I am now, but money was tight growing up because of how expensive the hockey gear was, and the ice time, and all that entails. But I like to think I make that up to them now."
"Yeah? Like buying your mom a new dryer?" I laughed, thinking about the legendary Crosby family dryer that was now on display at the Nova Scotia Hall of Fame.
He chuckled with me. "When I was growing up, our presents were always things we needed. Like I always got hockey gear and clothes. So now that money's not so tight, I get everyone two presents. One is something that they need, just like it always was growing up, and the other is something that they don't need, something fun." Sid gave me a very serious look. "I'm warning you, so don't be surprised."
"Sid, you don't—"
"Stop," he cut me off. "I know what you're going to say, and I don't want to hear it. You're my girlfriend, you're getting presents. You'll accept what I give you, and you'll love it," he said in a teasing manner, but he was very serious.
I bit the inside of my cheek. Sidney smiled at me; when I didn't immediately turn him down, he knew he was winning. "I don't want to give in to you," I said. "Treat me like your family members. Something I need, and that's all."
"Something you need and something fun," he answered.
Rolling my eyes, I caved. "Fine. But when you go shopping, ask yourself before you buy it, 'Will this piss Noelle off?' And if the answer is yes, don't get it."
"That really narrows down my options."
"Sid, I mean it. It's hard for me to take things from you. I know you know that about me. You say you want to do it, and that you do it for you because you like giving presents. But I don't like feeling like I need someone to take care of me."
"It's not about taking care of you, it's about the feeling I get when I see the way your face lights up. And it's Christmas, for Christ's sake. It's all about the presents."
I shook my head. "Christmas isn't supposed to be about the presents, Sid. And you know damn well that you don't need to give me anything to make feel that way."
"Can we just stop arguing about this?" he asked. "Because we all know how this is going to happen. I'm going to buy you what I want to, and you're going to get angry about it. And then we're going to fight when you put up a fuss and turn it down."
I thought about it and laughed. Were we that predictable? If we were, why couldn't we do anything to prevent this from happening? Because we were both too stubborn to admit our individual faults and compromise.
On Thursday, I attended the home game against the Colorado Avalanche. Again, I was there for the moral support; since I didn't know what to say to help him, I hoped that my presence would be enough. I hoped that being there to listen to him and to soothe him when he was feeling overwhelmed would comfort him, because I didn't know what else to do. I wanted to help, but I was feeling so helpless and confused myself, as I sat impotently in the stands as the Pens lost yet another game against an unworthy opponent.
By the time Saturday rolled around, I was absolutely exhausted. Commuting back and forth from home to Pittsburgh three nights during the week was tough, and the emotional stress of Sidney's dilemma was beginning to take its toll on me, too. Plus, I couldn't forget about my regular, day job, and the boss that was breathing down my neck. Tack on the extra two hours of tutoring Evgeni, plus the hours of prep. It was a hard, crazy week.
Véro noticed my weary fatigue during the home game against Chicago. "You're not yourself. Are you okay?"
I leaned back in my seat. "I'm okay. There's just so much going on right now, between the team and Sid, and then helping Geno, my job, and all the driving. I just..." I sighed. "I'm just really looking forward to not doing a damn thing tomorrow. And I mean it: not one thing. I'm not even going to change out of my pajamas tomorrow, that's how lazy I'm doing to be."
She wrinkled her nose at me. "You're basically telling me that you're not going to shower tomorrow. Thanks for that," V laughed.
"I'm just saying that this has been the craziest week I've had in a while. I just want to relax."
So much hype was surrounding this game. The Blackhawk's superstar Patrick Kane and young captain Jonathan Toews were going against our superstar Malkin and young captain Crosby. Hockey fans were simply salivating at the match up. The Penguins were fighting desperately to end their losing streak, and despite their best attempts, they were still falling short.
I knew Sidney was going to be disappointed with the team's performance, and even moreso, he was going to be upset that the team had still not ironed out what was going wrong. Why were they suddenly having such trouble on the ice? It seemed like no one had the answer. But I knew one thing, and that was that I wasn't going to let Sidney stay up all night and watch game tape again. Not tonight.
When we got home, Sid planted himself in front of the television again, and I headed up to his bedroom to change for the night. I washed my face, pulled back my hair, and brushed my teeth, but after that, my nightly routine differed from the usual. Taking off my Crosby jersey and jeans, I pulled out the purchase I had made with the money I'd earned teaching Evgeni and slipped on the black, lacy panties and matching see-through bra from Victoria's Secret. Then I pulled on Sid's light blue dress shirt that I favored, leaving it unbuttoned to give him an eyeful. Surely this would be a good enough distraction to get him to look away from the screen and concentrate on something other than tonight's loss.
I tip-toed back down the stairs and paused in the archway leading to the living room. "Goodnight, Sidney," I whispered, trying to sound seductive.
He must have known something was up, because instead of ignoring me, he looked at me. And really looked at me. "Goodnight?"
"Is that a question?" I giggled.
"No," he said, recovering quickly and finding the right thing to say. "It's going to be a very good night."
He turned off the TV and practically leaped off the couch toward me, sweeping me into his arms and bounding up the stairs. I found myself dropped on the bed as Sid unceremoniously stripped off his shirt. He leaned down and kissed me hard, but he pulled away as he moved to the nightstand to get a condom.
Without the stimulation of his kisses or touches, I felt my body succumb to the cushiony softness underneath me. I didn't want to be so tired; I didn't want to fall asleep instead of make love. What was wrong with me? I never thought I'd become the kind of girl who wouldn't be ready to have sex when my boyfriend wanted to go at it—especially when my boyfriend just happened to be such a hunk. What was wrong with me?!
My eyelids were fluttering as I willed myself to stay awake, but they just wanted to close. I kept them open just long enough to see the disappointment on Sidney's face.
"No, it's okay," I encouraged.
"You're too tired," he sighed. "Just go to bed."
I used the last bit of my energy to hold my arms out to him, beckoning him to come to me. "We still can. You just have to be on top."
He chuckled, entering the hole created by my empty arms but still unrelenting. "No, not if you're not going to enjoy it. You'll fall asleep before I finish, and despite what I may have said before, I'm not into the whole having-sex-with-unconscious-chicks thing."
I wanted to laugh and continue the banter, but only a quiet grunt crossed my lips. That was all I could expend. Sidney lightly kissed my cheek, my neck, and then my temple, curling up beside me. "Goodnight," he whispered.
So, maybe I wasn't able to distract him like I had planned to. But at least he didn't spend his night watching game tape and fall asleep on the couch again.
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