Continued from: Earworm: Part 9 — Seeming Dreaming
Friday morning, William sat across the kitchen table from Greta. He submerged a clover-shaped marshmallow into his cereal’s milk, holding it under with his spoon like a witch on a ducking stool, then letting it go, watching it spring defiantly through the white surface. Greta turned the page of her newspaper, scanning the headlines for the countless dangers of the world, sure to get a jump on the next disease or terrorist attack. William gulped a spoonful of cereal and said, “Greta?”
“Yes, William?” she said, continuing to scan the pages of war and famine and pestilence and death.
“What impresses a girl?”
Greta looked up from the paper and regarded him with great and sudden interest. “How do you mean, dear?”
“You know.” He shrugged. “What do they—you know, girls—like?” He lowered his head and scrutinized the marshmallow charms in his cereal, realizing that maybe he shouldn’t venture into this topic with Greta. But she was the only woman he knew.
“What kind of girls?” she said. She closed the newspaper, folded it, and set it aside, looking eager for an intense discussion about birds and bees and stingers and eggs.
“Like… I don’t know.” He looked out the window again, almost wishing he was out there. “You know… girls. What can I—a guy—do to impress one—a girl?”
“William, do you have a girlfriend?” Greta squealed, causing William to wince as if she ran her fingernails down a chalkboard.
“No,” he said. “I just… There’s this girl that I kind of think is, you know, pretty.”
“That’s wonderful,” Greta squealed, bringing her hands together in a loud clap. She then crooned, “Isn’t it romantic? La-de-de-de-da. Isn’t it…”
“Two days in a new school, and already a girlfriend… Now, who is it? Tell me her name.”
“No, really, it’s nothing,” William said, holding his hands out as if trying to calm a hysterical person, “I was just wondering what…”
“Are you going to ask her out on a little date?”
A little date? You mean they come in sizes?
“No. I just wanted to know…”
“Oh, I remember my first date, it was at the school dance, it was actually called a social, I think because calling it a dance made parents nervous back then.”
“Greta, please,” William said, “Can you tell me what girls like?”
“Well,” Greta said, puffing out the word like someone blowing out birthday candles, “Women like all kinds of things. Flowers and jewelry and anything romantic.”
“Oh, I don’t know, just things that… well, things that make her feel special. Early in our marriage, Stanley saved up money from each paycheck, and we went out for a night on the town, going to a fancy restaurant with a matre’d, valet parking, words on the menu I didn’t even know and could never dream of pronouncing. Lers and las and all that jazzy, foreign stuff.” She injected a high-pitched, girlish giggle that caused William to wince. “Oh, that was probably the most romantic night of my life. I was queen for the day.” She looked out the window in a momentary, dreamy fog, embracing that moment of joy.
The joy that was before the horror.
“But that was a long time ago,” she said, returning from that far off memory with a discreet shudder.
“So then, they like things that’re romantic?”
“Oh yes, definitely,” she said.
William ate another spoonful of cereal.
“You know what would really catch a girl’s fancy?” Greta said. “You find the one thing,” she held up her index finger and shook it to reinforce her point, “the one thing she wants more than anything else in all the world. You find that one thing,” she shook the finger in his face, “and you give it to her. I mean, you can give a girl jewels or flowers,” she held her hands like weighing scales, “or any other expensive doo-dads, but if you find that one thing,” again the finger in his face, “that one thing in the world she wants more than anything else, then her heart is yours.”
Continued in: Earworm: Part 11 — Breast Worshippers
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