Not My Intention
by Tony Noland
Sunday afternoon, and R.J. was hanging out in the laundry room, waiting for his dryer to finish. He always waited for his stuff. It drove him crazy when people just dropped their clothes off then went back up to their dorm room. Half the time, they didn't come back for hours or even days, and they were the ones who got all pissy if you took their stuff out of a machine. There were only six washers and dryers. He thought it was a matter of simple courtesy to get his stuff in and out as efficiently as possible.
There was no way they were going back up to read or study; they could have done that down here at either of the beat up old desks. No, they were going back up to watch TV or hang out. There were no bars or WiFi down here in the basement, either, so people couldn't use their phones or laptops. Only the dedicated students stayed and read actual books or went over actual notes while the laundry tumbled.
Dedicated, hard working, lonely, friendless students. He looked up from his book and shook his head a bit as he rejected the thought. Too hard on himself again. No, he thought, not friendless. I have lots of friends. Or rather, I have lots of classmates and a few friends. He'd just started down the old, familiar path of wondering if he had enough real friends when, as though on cue, one of his real friends walked in. Teegan was carrying an empty laundry basket.
"Hey, R.J.", she said.
"Hey, Teeg. Great minds think alike, huh?" He smiled at her. She smiled back, then turned to take her laundry out of one of the washers.
Teegan lived in Willott House with him, and she was in his American Civ and Calc 201 classes, too. She was really bright and was also kind of a smart-ass with the Civ TA. He thought that was a riot, although he never really spoke out of turn himself.
She carried her wet clothes to the one empty dryer, next to the wooden desk where he was sitting. He pushed back out of her way so she could start putting items into the machine. T-shirts, jeans, a towel, socks... white cotton underwear with pink elastic...
R.J. looked away, and lifted his book up with a bit of a jerk. He knew even as he did it that he was overreacting, that he looked silly. He was an adult now. He shouldn't be embarrassed at seeing a girl's underwear!
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Teegan smile very slightly as she shook out the wadded clothes, item by item, before adding them in. All except for the bras, which were apparently not going in the dryer. These she hung over the side of the basket. Beige satin, beige satin, gray athletic. R.J. felt his face grow hot.
"So, R.J.", she said, startling him, "what's the matter? You've never seen a bra before?" She pulled the bras down into the empty basket and stood up. She kicked the dryer door closed and began to fish in the right front pocket of her jeans for some quarters.
"Ah... I, uh..." He tried to think of something witty and cool to say, but drew a complete blank. The absurdity of the scene struck him. He gave a laugh and shook his head. Screw it. It was just Teegan. "All right, fine, Teeg, you caught me off guard. Must be a guy thing. Automatic response to lingerie or something. Sorry. It was just a... a thing, or something, I dunno. Never mind. Sorry." He should stop talking, just shut the hell up for Christ's sake, but she was smiling as she stood next to him, holding her basket with its three damp bras.
"It's OK, R.J. Don't worry about it." She turned away from him and reached over to put the six quarters into the dryer. Her T-shirt rode up in the back. She was wearing white underwear with pink elastic. He lifted his book slightly, but didn't look down at it.
She straightened as she turned around, repositioned her basket. She smiled at him again then headed toward the door. "See you around, R.J."
"Yeah, see you," he said to her back. He watched her walk toward the door and was swept up by the craziest goddamned impulse. Years later, he would marvel at going straight to Talk without passing Think.
"Hey, Teeg?" no no don't stupid stupid don't don't
At the door, she turned back to him. "Yeah?"
"I was just wondering," don't do it don't no don't stupid don't "would you maybe like to go out sometime?" NO NO DON'T SHIT YOU STUPID FUCK NO NO "You know, to a movie or something?"
Teegan's eyebrows went up, then came together as surprise was replaced by thought. She didn't answer right away, but just looked at him, considering.
"I mean, if you don't want to, that's cool." DUMBASS FUCK FUCK STUPID FUCK "I just was, thinking, you know, if you wanted to, but that's cool -"
"Well, to be honest, R.J., I kind of promised my mom I wouldn't date any white guys."
"But... yeah. Yeah, we can go out. I'd like that."
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