“I want to dance with somebody!”
Jess was dancing around her living room now, glass of wine in hand, while her friend Beth sat on the couch. She’d already had a few glasses, so she was feeling good, and open, and she was ready to tell Beth what was on her mind.
“You’re lucky. You have a guy you can dance with whenever you want. You don’t have to go on stupid dates from these stupid apps hoping that these stupid guys aren’t stupid. Which they always are.” She was always quite eloquent after imbibing. “All you have to do is go home and say ‘hey! Get up! Dance with me!’ and Jake will. How do I get that?”
Beth sipped her glass of wine slowly. “You go on dates with stupid guys from the stupid apps, I guess.”
“But that’s not how you met Jake. You met him at a party and knew right away. RIGHT AWAY. I’ve gone on like eighty billion dates and never felt anything with anyone. Do you think I’m dead inside?”
Beth laughed, “Yes, you’re definitely dead inside. But don’t worry, that’s all the rage these days.”
“Oh I know, I’ve always been on top of the trends. Ok, get up and dance with me. If I don’t have a guy to dance with, you’ll have to do for now.”
As Jess got ready for bed, she thought about the conversations she’d had with Beth over the years. Beth and Jake had met at a party and had been instantly drawn to each other. It always gave Jess hope that she would meet someone like that and feel the same thing, but after years of going on first dates that rarely went to second dates, she was running out of hope. She knew she was smart, funny, and pretty enough, but it didn’t seem to make any difference. She was still going to bed alone.
“Tomorrow, Pigglywinks,” she said to her stuffed animal. “Tomorrow will be different.”
The next morning, as Jess grabbed her chai latte from her usual coffee shop, she noticed a headline in the paper that someone was reading. It read “Do You Want to Dance with Somebody?” As she tried to get closer to the paper to see what the article said, someone knocked her chai latte out of her hand and all over the reader of the paper.
“I am so sorry!” she yelped. “I was just trying to see your paper and someone bumped into me and oh my goodness, I am so sorry.” She kept babbling on, but the man just stared at her, looking amused.
“It’s no problem at all. I was due for a bath anyway.” The man stood up. Jess dabbed him with some napkins, almost making it worse. She looked at him apologetically. “Let me pay for your dry cleaning bill. I can’t believe that happened!”
“Jess. That’s a good name. Nice to meet you. You don’t need to pay for my dry cleaning - how about you let me take you out for some ice cream instead?”
“But that doesn’t make sense. I spilled on you! If anything, I should take YOU out for ice cream.”
“Beth, you’ll never believe it. I met this guy after spilling my drink on him and now we’re going out tonight. How is that a real thing?”
“It’s your meet cute!”
“OH EM GEE you are totally right! I’ve always wanted to have my own meet cute story that I could tell my grandkids about. Maybe this is it!” Jess started twirling her hair, getting lost in her daydream.
“Calm down there, Lightning McQueen. This is your first date, you definitely should NOT bring up grandkids.” Beth shook her head. She had to admit it was good to see Jess finally excited about something.
The typical clothes pile appeared on the floor as Jess tried to figure out to wear. Once she finally picked the dress she felt best in, she stared at herself in the mirror. “Don’t be weird. Or be weird but like, not in a weird way.”
Their conversation had been going for hours. Ice cream turned into dinner, which turned into wandering around the city. Jess couldn’t believe how much they had in common and how easy the conversation had flowed. Around midnight they found a bench with a nice overlook and sat down.
Jess turned to Grant, about to say something completely mundane when he kissed her. It was a quick, soft kiss that took her completely off guard. When he pulled back, they just looked at each other, her with a goofy smile on her face, him looking serious.
“That was really nice,” Jess started.
“Jess, listen. I’ve had an amazing time with you tonight, but I don’t think this can go anywhere.”
Perplexed, Jess scooted away from him on the bench. She was completely silent, trying to process what he was saying. “Uh, what?”
Grant sighed, and ran his hand through his hair, trying to figure out the best thing to say. “I don’t know how to explain it. You’re funny, smart, and so fun to hang out with. Tonight has been one of the best nights of my life. But I can’t do this.”
Jess just stared at him. This wasn’t computing. She quickly played back everything that happened during their time together. They had a great time! They joked! They shared fries! What the fuck? “What the fuck?”
Grant stood up. “Let me walk you home.”
Jess just continued to stare at him. “I don’t want you to walk me home, I want you tell me what happened between a minute ago when you kissed me and when you said this couldn’t go anywhere. Like, seriously dude. Are you on drugs or something?”
“I don’t have an easy answer for you, Jess. Come on. Let me take you home.”
Jess stood up and started walking home. “Don’t follow me. You’re such a jackass. I don’t get it.”
“Jess, come on. I’m not going to let you walk home by yourself. It’s midnight.”
Jess didn’t say anything else and continued walking. He took that as a sign that he could walk her home.
After what felt like three hours of walking in silence but in reality was only 10 minutes, they arrived at Jess’s apartment. She turned to face him, arms crossed, confusion and hurt on her face. “I wish you could explain why this wouldn’t work.”
Grant sighed again. He shook his head, as if trying to clear it. “I wish I could explain why this wouldn’t bork, too.”
“Bork? Did you just say bork?”
“No. You misheard me. Anyway, I have to go. I’m glad you let me walk you home. I love walks. Walks are the best.”
Jess stared at him, confused about what was happening.
Grant started to back away slowly. “Thanks for a great evening. I’m sorry it has to end like this. I really did have a great time.”
“Me too.” Jess watched Grant as he walked away. He waved, then turned around. He stopped when he got to the corner to look at her again, and as he stood there, he turned into a dog.
Jess blinked in confusion, wondering if she was seeing things. “Grant?” she called. The dog came towards her. “Wait, what? Grant? Seriously?” The dog came a little closer, then ran up to her and jumped up on her. She wasn’t really sure what to do now. She’d never encountered a dude turning into a dog before.
As she knelt down to pet Grant, she whispered, “I don’t know why you thought this wouldn’t work. I love dogs!”
The next morning Jess woke up with Grant on the couch. As a human. Jess got up and made breakfast for them while he continued to sleep. When the smell of food started wafting out of the kitchen, Grant finally woke up. “So. I guess you know my secret now.”
Jess turned to him with a smile on her face. “I guess I do. Do you like cheese on your eggs?”
“Beth, I found my dance partner! He’s amazing, and fun, and loving, and he loves to go on walks...he’s incredible! And he’s so protective of me.”
“That’s so great, Jess! When do I get to meet him?” Beth was back on the couch. “And when did you get a dog?”