I was really excited that Cryztal said yes to dinner, and glad that Jason was up for it too! They mentioned bringing another friend, but I’m not sure what I was expecting. When I pulled up, the three of them were waiting outside the restaurant. Cryztal was looking cute, this time wearing a red cardigan and a black dress going just past her knees, and bright red lipstick. Maybe she wanted to look a little fun today. Jason looked like he just got off work, wearing his dress shirt a little unbuttoned. And their friend was in a t-shirt and cargo shorts, both very wrinkly. They hadn’t really told me anything about him.
As we sat down and ordered drinks, the server asked for our IDs and the friend said he was too young to drink. How young was this guy? While I was transfixed on our strange arrangement, Jason seemed to notice me staring.
“Nai-bu, this is Kyle. He actually played an extra on the show a few times.” Jason said, handing me a menu. “We thought it could be fun if it was all kids from the show, right?”
An extra? Must have been a really minor role because he didn’t look familiar. I was honestly worried that Cryztal had a little brother she never mentioned before. Something was a little similar in their faces. But knowing he was just some guy wasn’t any better.
“It’s thanks to Cryztal that I’m being included at all. She’s so cool, right?” Kyle said, wearing a big grin.
When our drinks arrived, I realized I absentmindedly ordered four shots despite Kyle being too young to drink. I just decided to give one each to Cryztal and Jason and take two for myself. My hope was to commemorate our friendship as adults!
“To our restored bond! May we forever pretend again!” I shouted, thinking it was clever.
As we clinked our shot glasses, Kyle bumped in with his water and drank some as we drank our shots. I immediately downed my second shot right after. Didn’t want it to get warm. I also didn’t want to think about Kyle, honestly.
While waiting for our food, Kyle would not shut up about the show or how cool he thought Cryztal was. Kyle was sat inside the booth, with Cryztal on the end next to him. I sat across from Cryztal, with Jason next to me. Any time we tried to have a conversation with Cryztal, or she and Jason would tell a story about high school, Kyle would cut in with something irrelevant then try to guide the focus to be on Cryztal. And even though it was awkward, she seemed like she didn’t mind. To spite him, I ordered a pitcher of beer. At least that was something he couldn’t insert himself into.
“You wouldn’t believe what the principal said when I walked into his office in pigtails.” Cryztal said, talking about junior year of high school. “You’re distracting the other students!”
“And it would always be at the end of the day! I swear it had to be someone in your last class emailing the principal!” Jason said, laughing. “I’d be asked to pick up Cryztal from the office and he’d ask me. ‘Why is your friend like this?’ and I’d always ask him why he thinks he can hara--”
“I’m sure he’s laughing at himself now that she’s a big shot!” Kyle blurted out, then started laughing. No one else laughed with him.
Sometime after our food arrived, Cryztal stood up and said she needed to go to the bathroom. I decided to follow her. Standing up made me realize how much I had been drinking, but I was fine, and needed to talk to her privately.
In the restroom, Cryztal just kinda stood at the sink staring into the mirror.
“I don’t even know what I think I’m doing anymore…” She said, hanging her head.
I stood next to her and rested my hand on her back. “What do you mean?”
“Kyle...he’s just so annoying! And I’m sure he’s bothering you and Jason, and on top of it all, would you believe this is the first time Jason and I have gone out to eat in probably three years!” She seemed really frustrated. “I just didn’t know what else to do but invite him.”
“Did you invite him because...you like him?” I asked, shyly.
“Oh god no! I invited him because he won’t leave me alone and I don’t want him to spill the beans about me having been on TV! If he didn’t have that, I wouldn’t even be talking to him!”
“Then let’s tell him to leave us alone! And it will be just the three of us again!” I insisted, trying to cheer her up.
“I don’t think that’ll work.” She was frowning, but then looked at me in the mirror and smiled. “But thank you for putting up with it. Aside from the annoying fanboy, it’s been great seeing you again.”
“Y-You’re just being nice…” I said, pretending I wasn’t blushing.
“No, I’m serious. I hope we can plan dinner again sometime.” She grabbed the hand that I had placed on her back. “Let’s get back and finish this one first, though.”
Oh gosh! Did she really say that? And she looked really cool saying it!
As she walked us back to the table, still holding my hand, I was so flustered I couldn’t think what more to say. I couldn’t even hear Kyle’s annoying voice anymore. When I sat down, I kept looking between my plate and Cryztal’s face. I noticed my glass was empty so I poured more beer into it. Finishing up our meals, I didn’t realize that I was the only one using the pitcher. By the time it was empty, and my glass was empty, I’m not sure I considered how much alcohol I had in my system.
Once I stood up to leave, I blacked out.