"I said that there's a Sidney Crosby that tex--"
"I HEARD what you said, but I need HER to explain why SIDNEY FUCKING CROSBY is asking her to call him. On YOUR phone", Chloe spat out excitedly.
Several women turned around, and a sales clerk gave us a warning look, obviously not impressed with the volume or the language.
I was as confused as Amy as to why Chloe was responding the way she was, and why she seemed to already know him. The night before came back to me; when Sid had taken Amy's phone he must have gotten her number. The fact that he had tried to contact me so soon after meeting me was certainly not helping me in my decision to forget about him.
"What's the big deal?", I asked, lowering my voice in the busy dressing room. "I was using Amy's phone and he unlocked it for me. So he got her number to get a hold of me, I guess. My phone was dead last night. A little indirect, maybe, but I think it's kind of cute".
"THAT was the SID you were talking about? Sidney. Crosby.", Chloe reiterated before taking the phone from Amy and confirming that yes, the person texting had identified himself as one Sidney Crosby.
"WHAT is the big deal, Chlo? You're getting more worked up about this than I am!" I laughed, amused that Chloe was so concerned with the success of my love life. Chloe just stood there looking at me blankly, as if a second head had just sprung from my neck.
"No, you know what? I was about to say that maybe you just haven't been living here long enough to know, but then I remembered that you're CANADIAN and should already be familiar with possibly the best and most FAMOUS hockey player in the world. Captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins?", she deadpanned. "YOU have NO excuse".
I didn't know quite what to say in response. Suddenly, all the strange incidents from the previous evening seemed so obvious. From the stares and whispers from other patrons, to the overzealous frat boy, and his own slight surprise when I asked him what he did for a living. He was famous. And given his cryptic answers, he was clearly alright with the fact that I was not aware of it.
"Seriously?", was all I could muster.
"Uh, yeah. And you're going to call him right now. And you are going to ask him for tickets to the game. Lifetime passes. For Am and I. And then you're going to fall in love, get married, live happily ever in wedded, Canadian hockey bliss in your huge Igloo mansion", she smirked, only half joking.
"No. No, I am not calling him right now. No, I am not asking him for tickets to any game, lifetime or otherwise. No, we are not going to fall in love, get married, or live happily ever after. And yes, if they ever made an inhabitable igloo mansion, I just may consider living in it."
"Oh, c'mon, Jen. You're seriously not going to call him? You have to admit that it's pretty cool", Amy said thoughtfully.
"Uh, pretty cool? This is amazing, Jen. Do you know how many women all but throw themselves at this man on daily basis? And besides, how do you know that none of that will happen? You clearly made an impression", Chloe added in a know-it-all tone.
"First of all, I didn't say I wasn't going to call him. Just not right this second, in this dressing room, surrounded by strangers and hysterical, meddling friends", I said, ignoring Chloe's scoff. "Second of all, if he's a professional athlete and is as famous as you say he is, then I'm sure that all those women do more than just throw themselves at him. You'll have to forgive me, but I don't relish the idea of being his latest fuck and I'm sure as hell not interested in being a conquest. And lastly-Chloe, pay close attention here- lastly, we aren't in the sixth grade--"
"Well, you're not anyway. Not so sure about him though", Chloe laughing interjected, clearly amused with herself.
"Wow. You're fucking hilarious. Like I was saying, we AREN'T in the sixth grade", I continued, "and I don't believe in happily ever after. Especially with men I meet at bars on a Saturday night. Famous men who have their pick of any number of women who are either younger, prettier, easier, or have less expectations and fewer strings than I do", I concluded succinctly, suddenly feeling like a bitter old woman.
"Okay, my turn. Jen, you're obviously beautiful, so that's a non-issue. Any further discussion and I'll assume you're fishing for compliments", Amy said with a smile. "And I think you're forgetting that he approached you. He went through the effort of contacting you. Not the other way around. Besides, I heard you say yourself that he seems like a really good guy, and if he's even half as good-looking as you say he is then you are doing all of womankind a great disservice by not at least throwing the poor guy a bone. Pun intended", Amy said with a coy smile. "Chloe, give me your phone. I want to see a picture of this fine specimen".
I stood in embarrassment as Chloe whipped out her phone and pulled up a picture of Mr. Sidney P. Crosby. Sure, enough, there was my stranger from The Bin, staring back at me in pixelated form.
"Wow. Okay, yeah. You are definitely calling him.", Amy said decisively before walking out of the dressing room with her purchases.
Chloe just looked at me smugly and winked, following Amy with a triumphant flip of her blonde hair.
Well, that was that. I mean, if they said I had to call him, I wasn't really left much of an option. Right?
Four days later I still hadn't called Sid. I was sitting at home, eating Cherios from the box and watching "The Hangover", feeling completely grossed out with myself. For the last four days I had been trying to convince myself of all the reasons (read: excuses) why I shouldn't. He was too young, so he'd be too immature. We probably wouldn't have anything in common. He was probably promiscuous, or ego-maniacal. Or had some sort of weird dark side. Or, most importantly, didn't like dogs. I knew I was being ridiculous. Sure, he was younger than me, but 4 years wasn't really that huge. I'd known 20 year-olds who'd turned out to be more mature than most 30 year-olds I knew, so that argument went out the window pretty quickly. And, from the limited time I had spent with him, ego-maniacal was not in his make-up; he was certainly lacking the bravado and swagger that one would expect from a famous athlete. He was a good person. I don't know how I knew, but I did. I suspected my reservations towards him had more to do with my own history with the opposite sex than with any deficiencies on his part.
I reached forward and picked up my cell from the table in front of me and entered the number that Amy had given me. I hit send, placing the phone next to my ear, letting it ring once, twice, three times. Then I hung up, releasing the breath I'd been holding. Well, no one can say I didnt try, I thought to myself, tossing the phone on the couch beside me. Yeah, right, Jen. You're not fooling anyone, let alone yourself. Should I just text him? That way, I wouldn't have to actually talk to him. Wouldn't have to suffer through the awkward pauses, the nervousness in my voice. The...here we go again. Why am I acting like an insecure teenager?
I was snapped out of my thoughts by the buzzing phone on the cushion next to me. I picked it up hesitantly, eyeing the caller ID. It was Sid. C'mon, be an adult here, Jen. You had a completely wonderful conversation with the guy four days ago.
"Hello?", I answered.
"Hey, Jen? I was beginning to think I wasn't going to hear from you", he said good-naturedly, sounding a little breathless. "How've you been?"
"Not too bad. Sorry, I would have called sooner, but I've been swamped at work. You know, deadlines and such", I lied through my teeth.
"Not a problem", he laughed. "I'm just glad you did".
And there it was again. It wasn't necessarily what he said, but how he said it. When he said he was glad to hear from me, he seemed so genuine that I thought I was going to melt. God, I barely knew this guy, but somehow I already knew he was going to be the end of me.
"Yeah, me too", I replied, this time truthfully. "What about you?", I asked, wondering when or if he was ever planning on telling me his job title.
"Uh, pretty much the same for me. We've got some pretty big events coming up in the spring that we're working towards, so..."
"Oh, yeah?" Now, I may not have known who he was, but I am Canadian, and like any good Canadian I am familiar with the game on some level or another. So, when he described the 'big events coming up in the spring', I knew he was referring to the NHL playoffs. Why, I thought, was he so reticent about telling me who he was and what he did? "Cool. So, those guys you were with the other night, they were your co-workers?", I asked with a lilt of amusement in my voice.
"Uh, yeah. Max and Jordan...I work with both of those guys...I actually work with mostly guys", he answered, and it took almost every ounce of restraint to keep from laughing aloud. "So, it's kind of nice to have a conversation with a lady every now and then", he laughed softly. I couldn't help but think that he struck me as old fashioned. Like a throw back to my grandfather's day when men held doors open for women, and walked on the outside of the street when walking with them. And called them ladies. I hadn't been referred to as a lady since my Uncle Alf was lecturing me about my ripped jeans when I was 16. And that was to tell me that I should dress more like one. Oh, and the young man at the Safeway check out who was angry with me for trying to use my credit card in a cash-only line. But that time the term didn't have quite the same ring to it.
"Yeah, I bet", I replied. "So, I was so busy babbling about myself the entire night that I really didn't let you get a word in edgewise to tell me about yourself", I said, genuinely embarrassed that I really hadn't asked him much about himself at all.
"No, don't worry about it", he laughed. "I'm pretty okay with not talking about myself, so your rudeness is excused. This time", he joked.
"Oh, well, thanks for the pass! But either way, it's your turn to bore me with your details. Chop, chop!", I teased, though I was completely serious. I was NOT going to let him dance around an explanation anymore. I wanted to know more about him.
"Okay", he laughed. "Let's see...I'm 20..."
"Oh, God. You're only 20", I said under my breath, not intending to have said it out loud.
"Yeah, is that a problem?", he asked slowly.
"No, it's just that I'm...older than 20."
"Like how old? 21, 22?"
"That's very generous, but no", I laughed. "Try 24. Practically 25."
"An older woman! Even better", he laughed into the receiver. That infectious, boyish laugh that instantly lifted my spirits.
"Sorry, I interrupted. Go on..." I prodded.
"Man, again? You just can't help yourself, can you lady?", he teased. "So, as I was trying to say before being rudely interrupted...I'm originally from Cole Harbour, which you already know. I have a younger sister named Taylor. Dad's Troy, mom is Trina. I have a dog named Sam that stays with my parents back home. I've been able to travel a lot for my career, and love it, but I also miss being away from home so much of the year. I go back to Scotia every summer. I love pretty much any sport, including fishing, though I suck at it. I'm really competitive, so it's crucial that you always let me win at everything if this is going to work out", he said with mock-seriousness.
I laughed out loud, his own laughter quickly joining mine. He clearly wasn't as shy as I'd initially thought, and there was a little cockiness poking through from under the surface. But a little cocky was okay. I could definitely work with a little cocky. "Well, seeing as you already have this all planned out..."
"What can I say? When I set my mind to something..." Oh, man. This kid was going to be trouble. "Anyway, yeah. What else? I'm a creature of habit, I'm pretty private, and I'm really protective of my family and friends. Um, my favourite foods are...sadly, pretty much everything. I like most kinds of music, but seeing as you work for a record label, I should probably tell you that it's been said that my taste in music is questionable at best, so please don't hold it against me. Oh, I should probably also give you a heads-up that I have a pathetic, crippling addiction to videogames that I'm trying get under control, but it's an on-going process. Aside from that I'm incredibly smart, funny, and attractive. And I'm hoping you don't notice that you intimidate the shit out of me. There you go. Me in a nut shell".
"Wow, I feel like I know you now", I teased. "But seriously, if it makes you feel better I think it takes a real man to admit that he's intimidated by a girl. I get why you're intimidated, though. I mean, I may only be 5"4, but it's pretty obvious that I'm stronger than you!"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, easy! Not quite what I meant, but you just let me know when you want to go tete-a-tete and I'll be there."
"Oh, it's on Crosby!"
"Listen", he laughed. "I have to get going bu--"
"Oh, sorry! I didn't realize you were busy."
"No, it's fine. I called you back, remember? We just had a break in a meeting, but I should get back to it..." he trailed off.
"Oh, okay. No problem. Thanks for calling me back", I said and was met with silence on the other end. "Uh, Sid, you still there?"
"Yeah. Yeah, sorry", he laughed distractedly before continuing. I could hear other male voices in the background. "Listen, I was wondering if maybe you wanted to hang out again sometime?" he asked, the words coming out so quickly that at first I had a hard time understanding what he'd said.
"Oh, uh, yeah, sure. I mean yes. Definitely", I stammered like the clown I am. One step forward, two steps back.
"Cool" he responded, releasing a breath and sounding relieved. Nice!, I thought to myself, allowing my ego to bask in the satisfaction I got from my power to make him as equally nervous as I was. "What're you doing tomorrow?", he quickly continued.
"Um, after 6, nothing."
"Awesome. What shoe size are you?"
"What?", I laughed in response.
"Your shoe size", he said again.
"Um, a 6 1/2, 7, usually. Why?", I asked, now suspicious of what lion's den I blindly was throwing myself into.
"You'll see. It's a surprise! Just dress warm and comfortable and I'll pick you up around 7?". He sounded almost giddy, and despite how mature he seemed, it was instances like this where you could recognize his still-boyish qualities. It was very disarming as I was used to men who used every head game known to man to prevent me from knowing the real them under the facade.
"Sounds good", I smiled, and gave him my address. "I'll see you then, I guess".
"Yes, you will. Goodnight Jen"
"Night", I said before clicking my phone closed.
What am getting my self into?, I wondered. I didn't know, but whatever it was, I knew I couldn't wait to get there.