A Candle Rose, A Silver Frog

If she calls, that means it's on. And if it's on, I'm keeping the condoms in the car. And if I need them, my life will change. I'll have a girlfriend. One HELL of a girlfriend. That is, if it's on. It might not be on, though.

She could forget to call. She's a busy gal. Lives moment-to-moment. My buddy says, “Mid-afternoon, send a text to remind her.” I'm thinking I will. And if it's on, I've got the condoms in the trunk. That, and the candle rose.

Assuming it's on, to keep the condoms, even just one, in the wallet could jinx it, the whole thing. Especially if one falls out. It’d probably make her laugh, though. Definitely, it would make her laugh.

But maybe not.

Or, when I'm paying for dinner — again, assuming that it's on — or paying for the flick, or for mini-golf, or bowling, or bocce, or whatever we do, she might catch sight of the circular shape of it, the condom, pushing up from inside my wallet. Yeah, but she's the type to smirk at such a thing. But because it's me, maybe not. Somebody else, anybody else, maybe so.

I'm a different story. All these years, I've been more like a brother. 

But not tonight. If it's on.

I'm not putting the condoms in the glovebox. The flimsy door could just fall open on its own. Not that it ever has, but there's always a first time. Like if I have to make a sudden stop. Not that I often do. I could test making sudden stops, though. See what happens. Even if the glovebox door holds, she could get curious. Not that she ever has, but, again: for everything, there’s a first time.

The trunk is the safest place. I can bury them under the heap of towels. Or maybe I’ll slip a few into the emergency tool kit. All those tools are still shiny and snug in their carved-out foam compartments. At least I think they are. I haven’t unzipped the kit to check on them in over 100,000 miles. And yet you might call them virginal. A condom is kinda like an emergency tool.

Speaking of, that box of Trojans is four summers old. I've used two from it — one for practice; the other for the one time I've gotten lucky this century.

Tonight could be the second time.

My buddy, he says, “Just present the candle rose and say, ‘This is for you.’” He also says I’ve got to say something a little cheesy along with it. Something about how the rose candle reminds me of her. Something about why it's a candle and not an actual rose. It's a candle rose I'm giving her because it's something that won't die. And my buddy, he says, “That’s not very romantic.” But isn’t a candle rose both romantic and practical? I’m offering a gift that, unlike the real thing, will never wilt. How is that unromantic? And what does this say about my buddy? Apparently, when he considers roses and romance, he’s only thinking of their fleeting nature. That’s romantic?

Weeks ago, during sushi, I gave her a silver frog. (Every time she breaks off with a guy we go out for sushi.) This most recent break-up was particularly painful, so I picked up this itty-bitty silver frog with a teensy-weensy gold crown on its head. It's a thing that wasn't any bigger than a thimble. I picked it up from my mom’s gift shop.

We’re at the sushi bar and I put it on the table. All I said was: “This is for you.” She burst into tears. I didn't know what to do. I half-stood, leaned over, and rubber her arm. That was all I could do. I didn't know what else to do. I sat there watching her cry and she told me not to worry about it. “I’ve been known to cry,” she said. We’ve been friends five years. I've never seen her cry. And here she was crying. All I expected was an cheerful: "Oh!" You know, something like, "How cute." That's all. Instead, she's drenching napkin in tears. Later, when I told my buddy, he said he was proud of me.

My buddy gave me all these sappy lines to use on her. But I don't wanna play it too mushy. A line’s gotta be smart, but not too smart. I dunno. Something like but not exactly like: "I'm rather compelled by the prospect of being your fella." Or, not: "fella," but, "guy." Maybe not "rather compelled," either. But the notion of it sounds kinda smart, kinda witty, in a general sort of way. Right? Don’t you think? But that's not what I'd say with the candle rose. With the candle rose I'd say something like: "A fiery rose for a fiery gal." Something like that. I dunno.

It's easier to be her friend. Just her friend. In a way it is. You know, just to be in her corner. Because that's a nice thing. It feels good, being nice. But it's hard not to want more. 


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