Sandoval trimmed his beard for our third date. Not just trimmed – basically shaved the entire thing off. I was trying very hard not to pout about it… He was so cute before, all fluffy and soft. Now he was not. “I read on your profile that you don’t like beards,” he said, petting his sharp cactus chin. “So I thought I’d change it.”
Both of my boys have beards. I have no idea where on my profile it said I don’t like them. It really depends on the person, to be honest, and how they maintain their facial hair. But in general, beards are fine. I am pro-beard. I’d rather cuddle someone with a soft face than someone with scruffy stubble scratching at me.
Our date was Panera first, then a movie after. I was spending quality time with my beloved – Panera paninis, that is – and then… I was going to meet one of his friends. Originally, multiple friends were going to be at the movies, but it had been reduced to just one. Thank God. Meeting all of his people at once would have probably overwhelmed me.
On our second date, he had explained that he had three guy friends he’d known since elementary school. They had physically rescued him from his abusive household and took care of him when his health issues caused him to rely heavily on other people. They had a bond lasting thirty years and were basically his family.
So, y’know, totally no pressure or anything.
We went to the theater and got our tickets for Rogue One, and stood outside in the cold waiting for his friend.
Sandoval started to get anxious, fretting that I was cold, that I didn’t want to wait for his friend, that I was going to miss the movie, that things weren’t happening right. I tugged on his sleeve and hip-bumped him and said I was perfectly fine, things were okay, and I was more interested in hanging out with him than seeing the movie anyway.
He looked at me like I was a revelation. The tension drained out of him immediately, and he quietly confessed to how incredibly nervous he is around me and how important it was to him that things Go Right where I’m concerned.
But his friend didn’t show up in time for the previews, or the movie, for that matter, and his calm didn’t last for long. We decided to go in and sit down, and I’d come back to the front and wait for his friend, since it was dark and there were stairs and I’d have a much easier time navigating everything than Sandoval would.
He was so anxious, and apologetic, and kept asking me if I was sure, if I was okay, if I really didn’t mind.
My superpower is when other people are in crisis, I achieve a zenlike calm, and I am instilled with boundless patience, level-headedness, and helpfulness. So I was beyond chill at this moment. All his fretting was for nothing, and I assured him of that and then went to hover near the entrance.
The description I was given was “skinny nerd with tattoos.”
It was opening weekend for Rogue One, friends. That described at least 75% of the people in the theater.
But the description his friend was given was “small, colorful person with blue hair” so he spotted me instantly.
And he was cute as actual fuck.
Sandoval had warned me before meeting him that this guy was kind of a stoic asshole with resting bitch face, that he would probably glower at me the entire time or else speak to me only in snark. So I was prepared for grumpiness, deadpan expression, and to not take half of what he said seriously.
This guy was enormously tall, skinny in that way that makes t-shirts cling to his curves and his (clearly expensive) jeans look like they’re about to fall off his body. Giant brown eyes that would make even the grumpiest expression look adorable, and despite being warned that he almost never smiles or is friendly, this guy greeted me with a cute grin, kind words, and laughed at my dumb jokes as we walked into the theater. He had fluffy hair on his head and face and piercings and pulled off effortless sloppy-sexy nerd punk boy so well I would have hated him immediately had it not been for the sweet smile and big cartoon eyes.
Like, what is the protocol for “I am 100% into you and this date but also give me your friend’s number please I’m begging you.”
He sat on the other side of Sandoval (which was for the best, let’s be real) and the movie was going and everything was fine.
So when I watch movies, I make a lot of commentary on it. (I have a rant about how this is different from aimless “talking during movies” which drives me up the wall.) When I am in a theater this means I tug people’s sleeve to me and stage whisper my snarky comments into their ear.
Every time, my face close to Sandoval’s, he smelled so much like sweetarts and guy soap and his jacket was so soft. All I could see in the dark of the theater was the glitter of his glasses.
Each light, light tap on my arm when he wanted me to come closer for his own whispered comment, the intensity of only being able to hear his low laughter, only being able to feel the rumble of his voice from his shoulder to mine, and the tickle on my ear drums from the air pressure as he whispered back… I was dizzy with wanting to be closer to him. And my heart was pounding with nerves and excitement at the thought of closing the gap between our hands.
We were three quarters of the way during the movie when I finally did it.
Head buzzing with OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!!! I tucked one arm into his, put my head on his shoulder, and rested my other hand on top of his sleeve.
His entire body went still.
A few moments later, he gently brought his free hand over to rest on top of mine.
My entire heart soul mind brain body was singing.
And I almost made a soft, emotional sound in the back of my throat when I felt him press his shaking lips to my temple a few minutes later, and his breath stir my hair as he very, very delicately nuzzled my hair.
Later, when I teased him that he completely froze when I touched him, he told me it felt like a butterfly had come to rest on his hand and if he so much as moved, he might startle it away.
Neither of us moved aside from our fingertips across each others’ sleeves, wrists, hands. His skin was rough, scratchy and dry, but I didn’t really care. We stayed like that through the rest of the movie, and I surreptitiously wiped my tears at the emotional ending to keep from leaving tear spots on his jacket.
The lights came on, and his friend’s voice startled us apart. I tried to stretch and make it look casual (I failed, more than likely.) We stayed through the credits but made our way back out to the lobby soon enough.
His friend stood there (gorgeously) talking to us (prettily) with his cute face and his delicious everything, as we talked about the movie and parts we liked and didn’t like and I tried really hard not to explode in a cloud of confetti at how close Sandoval was but how neither of us were touching anymore.
His (outstandingly beautiful) friend did a fist bump thing with Sandoval and then held out his fist to me, and I exclaimed in all my over-excited enthusiasm, “This is perfect becuase we just saw star wars!” And put both of my hands on the sides of his fist to make it look like a tie fighter, zooming his fist around like a ship and going “pew pew! pew pew!” Cute Boy had shown me that move and it was my new favorite thing ever.
Sandoval’s friend’s hands were so soft and he beamed at me, laughing like someone I’d very much like to snuggle.
Then he left, and me and Sandoval were alone to walk to the car together.
He tried to take my hand, continue the cuddling, but I was suddenly so nervous in the sunlight and the parking lot and all the close sensory magic of the theater was stripped away… I couldn’t do it for long. I was too shy. My face was bright pink.
I drove him home and walked him to his door and hugged him so, so tight. I felt him kiss the top of my head. I was so giddy nervous and fluttery I could barely stand to be near him but simultaneously wanted to burrow into him and never let go.
I went home absolutely, radiantly, full on giant-heart-eyes-emoji in like with him.
I really miss him, too.