We said our good nights, and it was fun, and thanks for the ride. Flyboy turned to walk away, and as he climbed back on his Yamaha, he said, “Wanna go to a Bible study on Thursday night? A bunch of us go.”
“Sure,” I said, and just like that, a blind date had turned into an invitation for more.
When we pulled onto the street of the house of one of the instructor pilots from the base, I immediately realized that “a bunch of us” was quite the understatement. There were 40-50 people milling around visiting with one another when we walked in, and almost immediately, Flyboy got involved in conversation, leaving me standing there by myself. Feeling a little lost, I busied myself getting a Coke, and sat down near where Flyboy was chatting it up with a fellow student pilot. A guy sat down next to me and introduced himself. I pointed over at Flyboy, indicating I’d come with him, and that I was new. It seemed to me this guy might be new, too, because he wasn’t really talking to anyone else, and I felt a little less obvious. He asked me Flyboy’s name and I told him. He asked me Flyboy’s last name, and I pronounced it correctly (all 4 syllables, 9 consonants and 3 vowels). He asked me how to spell it, and again, I flawlessly recited each letter. I reached over and tapped Flyboy on the shoulder to tell him there was someone here who wanted to meet him. He turned to New Guy, stuck out his hand to shake, and before I knew it, New Guy was on the floor at my feet, pulled there by Flyboy. Mortified, I gasped, and then turned white and then red as Flyboy casually explained, “oh…that’s my roommate…” Gotcha. They laughed and laughed, and even I had to admit it was pretty funny. Once I quit changing colors.
Later that night, Roommate said to Flyboy, “Buddy, you’re in trouble…she can spell your name.”
We had made no further plans to see each other. And time was growing short. It was Thursday and my brother and I were flying back to California on Monday. On the one hand, I tried to not read anything into two little dates , while at the same time hoping against hope he’d call.
Sunday came, and we went to church. PJ and I slid into a pew with her boyfriend and about 15 other student pilots. I saw Flyboy at the other end, but he made no attempt to come sit by me, and in fact, never even looked at me. Instead, he had his head in his hands for the entire service. I was puzzled by his unusual behavior and didn’t know what to make of it. But afterwards, I decided I was going to walk right up to him and say goodbye, even if he had ignored me all morning, which he did. So I did.
“Hi, Flyboy.” (He saw me coming and looked for a way to duck out. There wasn’t one.)
“Hi.” (Hmmm…looks pretty nervous.)
“How are you?” (Safe enough question.)
“Fine.” (Now this is going to be a quick conversation.)
“I’m leaving tomorrow, and I just wanted to say thanks – it was a lot of fun.” (I looked him in the eye and smiled.)
“You wanna go to the base and see the airplanes this afternoon?” (He had a tongue after all!)
“Well, my uncle has to patrol the river and we’re taking the park service houseboat and having lunch – I’m sure you could come along. Maybe we could see the planes after that.” (A plan was coming together!)
And so, what started out a lame conversation suddenly morphed into spending the next 10 hours together. Sometime later, Flyboy confessed that he had had no intention of speaking to me again. If I hadn’t approached him, he would have left without saying anything. It’s not that he hadn’t enjoyed our time together – I knew he had. He was falling for me and he was flat out terrified. He was a self-professed bachelor, having been jilted by a fiancee several years before. He was not going to allow himself to be hurt again. But then I came to say goodbye and before he even knew what had happened, he invited me out. And then he worked his way a little deeper into my heart on my last day in Texas.
That night, when we said our final goodbyes, he simply said, “I’m no good at long distance relationships. Don’t expect to hear from me.” I replied, “That’s okay. It really was fun, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have met you.” He kissed me on the forehead, climbed on his Yamaha, and for the last time, drove away into the night.