Home > November 9(11)

November 9(11)
Author: Colleen Hoover

“Before you returned from the bathroom, I started to get this panicked feeling in my stomach, because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see your face. I had been listening in on your conversation and already knew I was drawn to your personality. But what about your face? People say not to judge a book by its cover, but what if you somehow read the inside of the book without seeing the cover first? And what if you really liked what was inside that book? Of course when you go to close the book and are about to see the cover for the first time, you hope it’s something you’ll find attractive. Because who wants an incredibly written book sitting on their bookshelf if they have to stare at a shitty cover?”

She quickly glances down at her lap, but I continue talking.

“When you walked out of the bathroom, the first thing I noticed was your hair. It reminded me of the first girl I ever kissed. Her name was Abitha. She had great hair and it always smelled like coconut, so it made me wonder if your hair smelled like coconut. And then it made me wonder if you kissed like Abitha, because even though she was my first kiss, it’s still one of the only ones I can remember every detail of. Anyway, so I immediately noticed your eyes after admiring your hair. You were still several feet away, but you were looking straight at me, almost as if you couldn’t understand why I was staring.

“But then I grew really uneasy and shifted in my seat, because as you so clearly pointed out already, I hadn’t even looked in the mirror yet. I didn’t know what you were seeing now that you were looking back at me, and if you even liked what you were seeing. My palms started sweating because this was the first impression you were getting of me and I didn’t know if it was good enough.

“You were almost to my booth at this point and that’s when my eyes fell to your cheek. To your neck. I saw the scars for the first time, and just as I noticed them, you darted your eyes to the floor and let your hair cover most of your face. And you know what I thought in that moment, Fallon?”

Her eyes flick up to meet mine and I can tell she doesn’t really want me to say it. She thinks she knows exactly what I thought in that moment, but she has no idea.

“I was so relieved,” I tell her. “Because I could tell with that one simple movement that you were really insecure. And I realized—since you obviously had no idea how fucking beautiful you were—that I just might actually have a chance with you. And so I smiled. Because I was hoping if I played my cards right—I might get to find out exactly what kind of panties you were wearing under those jeans.”

It’s as if the world chooses this moment to go silent. No cars pass by. No birds chirp. The sidewalk around us is completely empty. It’s the longest ten seconds of my life, waiting for her to respond. So long, ten seconds is enough time for me to want to take it all back. It’s enough time for me to wish I would have just kept my mouth shut, rather than lay it all out there like that.

Fallon clears her throat and looks away from me. She pushes off the bench and stands up.

I don’t move. I just watch her, curious if she’s chosen this moment to finally fake-dump me.

She inhales a deep breath and then releases it just as her eyes fall back to mine. “I still have a lot of stuff to pack tonight,” she says. “Offering to help is the polite thing for a boyfriend to do, you know.”

“Do you need help packing?” I blurt out.

She nonchalantly lifts a shoulder. “Okay.”

Fallon

My mother is my hero. My role model. The woman I aspire to be. She did put up with my father for seven years. Any woman who could make it that long deserves a medal of honor.

When I was offered the lead role of Gumshoe at the age of fourteen, she hesitated to let me take it. She hated the way my dad’s career had forced him into the limelight. She absolutely hated the man it turned him into. She said before he became a household name, he was wonderful and charming. But once fame started getting to his head, she couldn’t stand to be around him. She said 1993 was the year that led to the demise of their marriage, the rise to his fame, and the birth of their first and last child: Me.

So of course she did everything in her power not to let the same thing happen to me when I started acting. Imagine transitioning into the cusp of womanhood while being an up-and-coming actress in Los Angeles. It’s pretty damn easy to lose sight of yourself. I saw it happen to a lot of my friends.

But my mother didn’t allow it to happen to me. As soon as the director called wrap on set each day, I went home to a list of chores and a firm set of rules. I’m not saying my mother was strict. She just didn’t show me any type of special treatment, no matter how popular I was becoming.

She also didn’t allow me to date before I turned sixteen. So in the first few months after my sixteenth birthday, I went on three dates with three different guys. And it was fun. Two of them were coworkers I may or may not have already made out with once or twice in a dressing room on set. One of them was the brother of a friend of mine. And no matter who I went out with or how much fun I did or didn’t have, my mother would have the same conversation with me every time I came home from a date, about the importance of not falling in love until I’m at an age where I genuinely know myself. She still has the same conversation with me, and I don’t even date.

My mother went on a self-help book binge after she divorced my father. She read every book she could find on parenting, marriage, finding yourself as a woman. Through all of these books, she concluded that girls change more between the ages of sixteen and twenty-three than at any other time in their lives. And it’s important to her that I don’t spend any of these years in love with some guy, because if I do, she fears I’ll never learn how to fall in love with myself.

 

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