Food, Cats, and Being in Love

I don't want to think about it
I don't want to talk about it
When I kiss your lips
I want to sink down to the bottom
Of the sea

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19. Chapter Nineteen

The movie theater was nothing special. In fact, I think it was kind of old. Not in a cool vintage way either. Like it was made in the seventies and the seats were uncomfortable and metal and the screen kind of looked scratchy and beat up. It wasn’t fancy and decked out like normal movie theaters, and as I stood there in the small line standing next to Vincent, I decided that I just liked it better that way. It fit him better. Not that he was kind of beat up or old or anything. Or that he didn’t fit in a regular movie theater. Just that it seemed so natural and right. Vincent was definitely the kind of person to know about old movie theaters that still played old Godzilla movies.

And I didn’t even know what that meant so I turned to look at the small menu of items hanging over the snack bar. I could see him turn to me from the corner of his eye.

“You know what you want yet?” he asked.

“Um—just popcorn, I think,” I replied.

“Are you sure? They have soft pretzels. But I guess since you’re a super fancy chef now you probably don’t like pretzels anymore.” Then I rolled my eyes and turned back to him.

“I’ll have you know that soft pretzels are in my like top three favorite snacks. Especially with cheese.” He put his hand over his heart dramatically.

“Mm,” he said. The same way he did whenever he tasted my food for the first time. “Love that synthetic canned cheese sauce.”

“I can make you the best cheese and pretzels you’ve ever had in your life.”

“I was waiting for that.” Then he turned to me and smiled, and I realized I’d gone back to staring at him instead of the snack selection.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I questioned.

“Just that you’re supremely talented and I know if you make me cheese and pretzels I’ll never be able to eat anything but yours for the rest of my life.” I rolled my eyes again, but I couldn’t stop myself from smiling. “You’re blushing,” he noted.

“Shut up,” I replied.

He ordered us two drinks and some popcorn but decided against getting himself a pretzel even though he swore he loved canned cheese sauce. We headed into the big dark room and found a seat toward the back. Then sat there in the silence waiting for people to file in. I decided to people watch while he got situated.

“So who’s your favorite Godzilla character?” he asked, already digging into the popcorn.

“Um—Mothra,” I said.

“See, that’s what I was going to say. But I wasn’t sure. Also, I didn't know his name. Just that there was a giant moth.” I turned back to him as he dug through the popcorn, seemingly oblivious to the fact that my eyes were narrowed.

“How did you know that I liked Godzilla?” I asked him. He looked back at me blankly.

“You had a Godzilla poster on your bedroom door, didn’t you? Or am I thinking of someone else?”

“Yeah, but it was the poster for the newer Godzilla. With Matthew Broderick.”

“Was it? I don’t remember.”

“My mom got it for me for Christmas. She really tried. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.”

“Either way, I guess it stuck. I also know that you like the movie, Superstar. But I haven’t seen them play that here.” He dug around in the popcorn again.

“How’d you know that?” He looked back at me.

“We watched it together once.”

“Did we?”

“Yeah, Pip.”

“God, I have terrible memory.”

“Apparently. Next you’re going to tell me you don’t remember Craig.”

“Who the fudge is Craig?” He looked back at me and grinned. Then I realized he was just messing with me. So I rolled my eyes again. He needed to stop being cute. He was making me mad. I was trying not to like him that way.

Thankfully, the movie started, and we were too distracted by subtitles to be able to talk. We only interacted when we passed the popcorn back and forth or bumped elbows, which always made him mutter out a “Sorry” and pull his arm back to himself. There was one small part of me that was worried this was a date instead of a hangout. But he’d never said the word “date” and didn’t seem to be treating it like one. I insisted on paying for my own ticket, and he didn’t put up a fight. But he did buy my drink when I wasn’t looking.

That didn’t mean anything, did it?

When the movie was over, we headed back out onto the street. It was freezing, and the overcast clouds were illuminated by city lights. It looked like it was going to snow soon, but the air was still clear and crisp. He still kept to himself though as we walked back to his car.

“Are you hungry?” was the first thing he said to me since the movie let out. Well, aside from “Do you want this?” in reference to the leftover popcorn.

“A little bit,” I admitted.

“I know this bar that serves really good soup. It seems like good weather for soup. Of course it’s not as good as your soup, but it’s sufficient.”

“You want to go to a bar?”

“Well, it’s a bar and—what do they call bar/restaurant combos?”

“A bar and grill?” He shrugged.

“Something like that. Only they don’t grill anything. More like a—pub.” Honestly, I was worried we were headed into “date” territory. Especially if we were going to end this “hangout” at a bar. With drinks. But I didn’t want to go home yet. So I nodded.

“Yeah, that sounds good. I probably shouldn’t drink, though.”

“Oh, yeah. No worries. I wasn’t going to drink anyway. It’s just that it’s getting late. And I didn’t really want to end the night in a Denny’s.”

“Then it sounds perfect.”

The bar wasn’t that far from where we were, so we decided just to walk the rest of the way. Even though it was freezing. When we got there, I was pretty confident that my face had turned pink and my teeth were chattering. He apologized like thirty times as he let me in and we found a booth in the back. I told him it wasn’t his fault. I was the one who made the suggestion anyway.

I tried to take note of what he ordered when the waiter came to take our orders. Mostly so I could figure out what he liked. He seemed to like everything that I made for him, but they were things I’d picked out for myself, and I wanted some inspiration.

He ordered potato soup. So that didn’t help.

At least I knew he was being genuine when he said he liked my soup.

We only ordered water and soda and then sat there talking until the food came. We mostly just talked about Godzilla since he admitted he’d never actually seen a Godzilla movie (that didn’t have Matthew Broderick in it) before. So I had to go back and explain Godzilla’s true origins to him, and he sat there looking very intrigued by the story of a giant lizard in Tokyo.

I hadn’t even realized how long I’d been rambling about Godzilla until the waiter came with our food.

“Wow, that was fast,” I remarked once the waiter left and we were alone again.

“To be fair, it was probably made this morning in a giant vat and only reheated. Honestly, we should be upset that it took so long to be microwaved,” he said. I smiled.

“To be totally fair, I doubt it was microwaved. I used to work at Penis’s, and we reheated our soup on the stove. Potatoes take on a weird consistency when you microwave them.”

“You used to work at Penis’s? I remember that place.”

“Surprisingly good food at Penis’s. If you’re ever over that way again, you should really try the Pip Steak. It’s my recipe.” Then he stopped leaning over his soup and smiled at me. He probably knew damn well that he was the only person who ever called me “Pip.”

“You named your secret recipe a Pip Steak?” he asked. I shrugged and focused on tearing apart my bread roll.

“It was cute,” I admitted. “Like pipsqueak.”

“Since I’ve called you that since the dawn of time, does that mean I get free Pip Steaks?” I only rolled my eyes again, but he was sitting across from me hunched over his soup looking stupid and adorable, and it was getting on my nerves. So, of course, I was still smiling.

“I can make you a Pip Steak.”

“I feel so special.”

“You should.” I had to divert the conversation immediately. We were in a booth, and he was sitting too close to me, and he was right in my line of sight being all stupid and cute. Every time I adjusted my legs, my knee would brush against him and make me get all nervous again. I had to find a way out. But all I could think about was soup. “Have you tried this mushroom soup? It’s really good.” He shook his head in the middle of a spoon full.

“I don’t like mushrooms,” he told me.

“What?”

“Sorry, Super Chef.”

“I’m offended. That’s crazy. How can you not like mushrooms?”

“It’s a texture thing. They’re always weirdly rubbery and gross.” Then I set my spoon down and focused on him. So much for diverting the conversation.

“I’ve made you mushroom gravy before. It had chunks. Thick chunks.” He looked back at me.

“Really?”

“You’re full of it. It’s a texture aversion. Not a real dislike. You probably just had a bad experience and attribute every mushroom to that one nasty one.”

“I doubt it. I really hate them.”

“Vincent—try the soup.”

“No thanks.”

“Please?”

“Nah I’m good.” He went back to eating his soup.

“Please, please, please, please?”

“I’ll only try mushrooms if they’re your mushrooms. And only because I like you.”

“Vincent, you’re being a big baby. I’m the super chef, remember? I’m telling you this is good soup. Trust me.”

“Nope.”

“Dip it in some bread. It’s really good.”

“Nope.”

“Ugh.” I tore a chunk off of his bread anyway and dunked it in my soup. Then I held it up to him. He leaned his head on the back of the seat and smiled at me.

“I’m not eating it, Pip.”

“Are you messing with me?”

“Maybe.”

“Please eat the soup?”

“Why do you want me to eat the soup so bad?”

“To prove that mushrooms are delicious.” I held it up closer to his mouth, but he just smiled. “Please eat the soup. For me?” I moved the bread closer, and he finally opened his mouth. So I popped it in, but my stupid finger touched his lip and then my heart jumped.

God, he was kind of really pretty.

I should not have thought that. Should not—have thought that.

“It’s okay,” he decided. Then he went back to his own soup, and I sat there feeling flustered and confused. I wasn’t even sure why I was so determined to make him eat it. I could say that I just wanted to prove that mushrooms were good, but I usually didn’t care if people didn’t like things. I hated onions, and that was practically a staple food.

“Can I ask you a question?” I asked before going back to eating.

“Sure,” he replied as he took a sip of his soda.

“Do you really hate mushrooms?” Then he smiled and kept his eyes looking out over the bar. “You were messing with me again, you asshole.” He turned back to me and smiled wider. Gah.

“In my own defense, I did hate mushrooms up until you made that mushroom gravy. I only lied about not remembering the gravy.”

“So you like mushrooms now?”

“I’m still on the fence. But it was good. I promise.”

“Good, but not great?”

“I’m sure you can do better.”

Thankfully he turned again so he wouldn’t see me blushing.

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