11: Dreamboat

11: Dreamboat

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Campus Chronicles


The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of.

~Blaise Pascal

Even when the sun was out of my eyes, I was totally blinded — by him. Sitting on the sidelines of the field in the evening summer heat, I listened as the other girls nearby whispered about him. Whispered about his wind-swept shaggy hair, about the way he jumped and ran and moved. I looked over at them, and we shared a knowing look. Everything about him was so perfect. In fact, he was so unattainable I figured I could stare as much as I wanted. So I kept on staring.

It was my friend Jeff’s idea that I come to play Frisbee that first time. We had been working out at the gym together the summer between sophomore and junior year of college, and he was trying to get a few girls to join his mostly-boys bi-weekly Ultimate Frisbee game. I was feeling shy and nervous and had been holed up in my room for the first half of the summer, coming home from work only to read novels in my comfy green chair. I was scared to commit too fully to life back at home in the room I had inhabited since I was four years old. I thought I was only biding my time while I was living with my parents, waiting for my real college life to begin again in September. I turned out to be very wrong.

At my second Frisbee game, I was the only girl playing, but I wasn’t scared. I was defending a big, doofy-looking guy who couldn’t run very fast and I was determined to prove myself to all the boys there by keeping him from even touching the coveted little disk. Sweaty and beet-red, I tried to keep my eyes down. I wasn’t there to make friends, only to get a little exercise. That’s when he caught my eye for just a second.

“How ya doin’, Maddy?” he asked, the dreamy one who jumped what seemed to be miles in the air to catch the Frisbee, the one all the girls had been whispering about. I just smiled. Words wouldn’t come out of my mouth.

The next week, he came up to me, his hair wet with water he had poured on himself to combat the summer sauna we were playing in, and I scrambled to make myself presentable in some way. I brushed my bangs off my forehead and caught some sweat, but tried to ignore it. He was talking to me. Nothing else really existed.

He said he wanted to pick my brain, that he needed me to help him out with something his sister was working on, and he said he wanted to “send me some questions.” It sounded oddly like an excuse to talk to me, but it couldn’t be. Absolutely not. He was dreamy, and I had slipped back into my sad, shy, single life that included only work, home, and falling asleep watching TV on my best friend’s couch.

That night, I awoke with a start from a dream I had. In it, I was on the Frisbee field, my breath heavy and labored. I stopped and turned and there he was. I was prepared to stare, to be invisible, to simply be around him. But he was looking back at me. I woke up from the dream and tried, in vain, to fall back into it.

On my last day of Frisbee, he picked me for his team — but I hadn’t heard from him about any “questions” or anything of that sort. I was sad about it, although I hadn’t really gotten my hopes up. This dreamboat, I had decided, was out of my league. Ten thousand leagues out of my league. When the game was over, I went to retrieve my car keys and my water bottle, knowing I was going to be unable to come to Frisbee for the rest of the summer. I looked over at him sitting on the bench — in that moment, something compelled me to walk over. I thought I would be overcome with fear as I approached him, but I was oddly calm.

“Hey,” I started, “Are you going to send me any questions?”

He glanced up from the bench, squinting, looking like a model in a photo spread. My heart skipped a beat. I couldn’t believe that after this day I wouldn’t see him again. We would go back to our separate colleges, back to our separate worlds, and that would be that. We would most likely never reconvene at home again.

“Actually,” he started, “I would rather...”

“Just not send questions?” I cut him off mid-sentence, trying to save face. Of course he wasn’t going to try to contact me. Of course. What was I thinking?

“... ask you them over dinner sometime.” I was shocked. Dreamy had asked me on a date. A real, live, take-me-out-to-dinner-and-a-movie date.

“Sure,” I said, surprising even myself with my nonchalance. “Do you have my phone number?”

Four months later, I was lying on my couch in my dorm room, on the phone. My feet in the air, I rolled around and twirled my hair, listening to the voice on the phone recount what sounded like the plot of some teen movie, but was, in fact, my real life.

“You know,” he said, “there was a bet going between me and Mike.”

I giggled. “What about?”

“It was a bet to see who could win you on the Frisbee field. I almost gave up. I never thought you’d go out with me.”

I smiled a huge, luminous smile that the owner of the Dreamy voice on the line couldn’t see. Although I knew I had won the ultimate, shaggy-haired prize, I also knew that his Frisbee bet had taught me another lesson — that I was worthy of real love and affection from someone who liked me for all the reasons that I liked me. Because for the first time in my life, I had been someone’s dreamboat — and I hadn’t even known it.

~Madeline Clapps

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