"Come on," Sidney said, jingling the keys again. "I know you like it. I can see it in your eyes." He was right. I did in fact like it. I liked it very, very much. But that doesn't mean I should be happy about it, or even accept it. He continued, "Don't let your pride get in the way."
Ah, hubris. The tragic flaw of so many of the characters I'd read about. Macbeth, Victor Frankenstein, Oedipus, Faustus.... Would I fall victim to the same fault? No! Because this wasn't about my pride. I wasn't acting superior or better than him. I wasn't being conceited. But I did want to hang on to my dignity, and it wasn't dignified to let him do this.
Buying this vehicle was more than providing for me. Providing for me would merely entail making sure I was fed, sheltered, cared for. This was extreme and over-the-top. It was too much. However, it was a nice gesture. After all, Sidney was a guy, and the guys I knew didn't know how to show their emotions unless it was a big and flashy display of affection. And I couldn't think of anything that was bigger or flashier than a new car.
I wanted it. Hell yeah, I wanted it! Cherry was beautiful, a deep royal blue and shiny. Silver rims. A Penguins decal on the back left bumper. I could do without the vanity plate, but beggars can't be choosers. For fuck's sake, I named her already! Everyone knows once you name a pet, you have to keep it—the same logic applies to cars. If you didn't know that, I'm telling you now.
Sid stood there and watched my internal debate. I'm sure he could watch the emotions as they passed on my face and see as I leaned back and forth between screaming yes and yelling no.
"I can't believe you did this," I whispered, still unsure. What would my friends say if they found out? Would they say I caved if I accepted, that I changed from the strong, independent person I once was to except a hand out? But it wasn't a hand out, it was a gift. I didn't ask for it; he bought it because he wanted to. Worse, would I be labeled a gold digger? Would they say I was just taking advantage of him?
"I know you said that if I thought you'd be mad that I shouldn't get it. I knew you'd be mad or upset. But I also knew you'd accept it, be grateful, and then you'd make it up to me."
My eyes focused on him rather than on the vehicular dilemma before me. "Really? And how did you come up with that?"
"I figured if I said it, you'd have to go along with it. Like... a suggestion." I giggled at his logic. He bit his lip to stop himself from laughing while he tried to be serious. "Is it working? It should be working. It is working."
"I don't know," I said honestly through my laughter. "I do like it. That's for sure. But I still don't know if I can accept it."
"All it takes is one word," he whispered, stepping beside me. "Yes." Of course he made it sound so easy. "Besides, I know your mother taught you manners. It's impolite to refuse a gift."
I smiled at him but didn't relent. "This is more than a gift." I ran my fingers along the lines of the door, and I itched to grip the wheel, push the pedal to the metal, and see what she could do. "It's a big deal. It's not a trinket or a pretty bracelet."
"I could've spent a lot more if I really wanted to," he told me. "I could've bought an Escalade. Twenty-two inch rims. Stereo system. You know, Pimp My Ride style. Why don't you get behind the wheel? See how it feels before you make up your mind?"
Once again he held out his hand with the keys. I knew that as soon as I sat in the driver's seat, this would be over. No way could I say no to him after that. "Sid...."
Before I could shake my head at him, he pressed the unlock button on the keyless entry remote and the lights on the vehicle flashed. I grinned at the novelty and immediately felt guilty. My Neon was so old and didn't do anything nearly as cool as this. Next thing I knew, the keys were in my hand and Sidney was opening the door for me.
"Go ahead," he said. "Make me happy."
It would make him happy if I told him yes. And I knew it would make me happy, too. I smiled and slid into the seat, and suddenly Sidney was talking at a million words a minute. "I programmed the radio stations for you already, and they have the same settings as your old car. But you can plug your iPod into it, too, instead of having CDs. And all the speakers work, so you won't have to crank up the volume to hear the music, either. I know it's winter, but the air conditioning works...."
He explained how everything worked and what was so special about it, but what I appreciated most of all were the small things. The vanilla freshener in the vents, just like what I had in my old Dodge. But most of all, I saw the ornament clipped to my visor. It was in the shape of an angel holding a banner which read, "Never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly." I stopped listening to him and touched that innocent piece of metal that meant so much to me.
Sidney stopped talking. "I thought you might like that. I saw it and I thought that it was just... perfect."
I looked at him and smiled. "You're perfect," I said to him.
"So, was I right?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I told you that you'd accept it, be grateful, and then you'd make it up to me. So, I'm pretty sure you just accepted, and you're doing your best at being grateful—which could still use some practice at that, because you're not great at it."
"That's not funny," I said, even though I was laughing. "You know this isn't easy for me. I told you, I can't just take things from you. It's like it undermines my hard work to provide for myself."
"I know. You should be proud of yourself for how far you've come. You've worked hard, and you're still working hard. You deserve a little reward. You deserve something great. I can't help it if I just want to care of you. I want you to let me take care of you."
"I already have something great. I've got you," I told him. I leaned over to kiss him. "It's just hard for me to have someone take care of me. Do things for me. Because it's been so long that I've had to do things for myself, because I've only had me to rely on."
"Well, now you're not the only one watching out for yourself. Call it the male instinct to want to be the protector or whatever, but I want to make sure you have everything you could ever want, everything you need."
I smiled up at him, appreciating his sentiment but still not letting the depth of his promises sink in. Part of me still thought that even though he meant it now, eventually he may change his mind. I did my best to suppress those fears and changed the subject. "So, what did you have in mind?"
"Making it up to you?" I winked at him.
"Oh, I've got some ideas in mind," he whispered, pulling me out of the car and leading me into the house.
Later that evening, I drove Sid to the rink in Cherry. It was a definite detour from his routine, but he told me that the smile on my face was worth it, as I navigated through the Pittsburgh streets in my Jeep, figuring out the intricacies of driving a new vehicle. I felt invincible.
And Cherry came in handy the next day, too, when Sid, Max, and Jordan came over and helped me move. I didn't have any of the big stuff to bring over, like couches or refrigerators, and even my bed would be staying behind. I certainly wouldn't be needing my own at Sidney's. I did have lots of boxes of books, lots of clothes, shoes, and all my personal effects. My parents wouldn't have minded storing some of this stuff in the basement or the attic for me during this transition, but I knew that this was it. We weren't engaged or thinking about getting married yet, but I knew that this could be the big move and the only move I'd be making. This was permanent; this was it.
Sidney drove the rented van with Jordy while I drove down with Max as my passenger. It seemed like forever since I had last spoken with him. We shared a lot of laughs as he talked about what it was like when his family came down from Quebec for Christmas and the Three Talbot Brothers were reunited. He was disappointed to tell me that Charlotte didn't get to spend the holidays with him, because she had to visit her family back in Chicago, but he was looking forward to New Years with her.
Needless to say, the guys were surprised at just how much stuff I had to move. Like I said, I didn't have any big things, but I had giant plastic totes full of my old college textbooks and notebooks, suitcases and laundry baskets full of clothes, and my bookcases, DVDs, and CDs.
"Holy shit, Nelly, I didn't realize you had this much stuff!"
"Well, that's why you brought two strapping young men with you. It's not heavy, there's just a lot of it."
We loaded up my shelves and my desk in the van and then piled in everything haphazardly before driving back in the city. Sid and I had bribed Jordan and Max with pizza and beer, which they gladly devoured after everything was moved into Sid's—my, no our—house and put in the appropriate rooms. I'd have to unpack everything myself, but as long as I didn't have to sort through it, it would be a lot easier.
The guys left shortly after, and I hung up some clothes in the closet while Sidney packed for his road trip. I didn't understand why when I finally took the big step and moved in, Sid was going to be leaving for about a week. What timing.
That night, I didn't worry about settling in properly. I had a week to get organized and make Sid's house my house before I started my new job, too. I had a week of not working while living in an empty house, so there was no reason for me to jump into getting everything done right away. So instead of unpacking, Sid and I spent the night together in a simple manner, soaking in each other's presence to prepare for our separation. I knew that it would be easy on Sidney; not that he didn't have a problem with going away for an extended period of time, but he was used to it. But it was going to be weird to have to sleep in his bed knowing he wouldn't be back for a week. I wasn't sure how well I'd be able to handle it, but I was kind of excited to find out.
My Favorite Five (2015)
2 years ago