One Friday afternoon, about an hour after the children arrived home from school, Serena–Julian’s ungirlfriend–came over to collect on her fancy dinner. Julian neither remembered nor expected her to come by, but there she was standing at their door.
“Heeeeeey! There’s my favorite girlfriend,” he joked.
“Hmph! I better be your only girlfriend! I’m here for my fancy dinner.”
“Heh heh…dinner? Oh…yes, of course….Your fancy dinner. I thought you may have called first so I could…you know…prepare?”
“Oh really? You were so confident at the park! Now you need notice? If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were scared.”
“Scared?? I am Julian Pruett. I don’t get scared! Follow me.”
They went inside, and he led her to the kitchen. Luckily for him, Viviana had been practicing her baking that day while she was off from work. There were freshly baked sugar cookies and plain doughnuts on the table.
“Please have a seat and help yourself to these fresh baked goodies,” he said.
“No, thank you. They’ll spoil my dinner,” Serena said.
“That’s the point,” he said under his breath.
“Mom, this is my…my classmate, Serena.”
“Hi. I hope you taught your son well, Mrs. Pruett. I have high expectations!”
“Oh! Don’t we all,” Viviana quipped. “You should get started, son.”
“Right,” he said and went over to the fridge.
He never got that cooking lesson. He didn’t think he’d need it, and there he was, standing in front of the fridge clueless as to what to do. Viviana desperately wanted to help him, but, if there was one thing she learned from having multiple children, it was that sometimes she just needed to let them learn from their own mistakes. She stood by quietly though just in case he needed her.
“Okaaaaaaay,” he sighed. “Milk…butter…cheese…hey! I bet mac ‘n cheese is easy to do.”
He gathered the ingredients and went to the stove and started to cook.
“Hmph…high expectations,” he muttered. “I’ll show you high expectations. This will be the most epic mac ‘n cheese EVER!”
Just as he was saying that, he dropped the pepper into the pot.
“Jumping freezer bunnies,” he yelled.
“Everything ok back there,” Serena teased. “I wouldn’t want my fancy dinner to not be fancy.”
“EVERYTHING IS FINE!”
Again, Viviana wanted to intervene, but she didn’t. However, she did get up to give him a little warning. She was cool and elegant like she was. She pretended like she was looking through the drawers, smiling the entire time.
“I hope you know what you’re doing,” she said in a sing-song voice through her teeth.
“I’m fine, mom! The top was closed,” he whispered.
“I’m not talking about dinner,” she said and went back to the table. “Callie, do you need help with your homework?”
“No, mother. I can manage a few algebraic concepts on my own, thank you.”
Julian finished up dinner without any other mishaps and served Serena and himself. He quickly took a bite to make sure it was edible. It was divine; Just like when his mother made it. Thank the Watcher for all our fancy, expensive appliances, he thought. Serena wafted her plate and then took a bite.
“Hmmm…it’s good,” she said incredulously.
“Isn’t it though,” Julian said confidently.
There was a knock at the front door. Brady was coming down the stairs at the time and said that he would get it.
“Hello…can I help you?”
“Hi. Is Julian here?”
“Would you like to come in? I’ll get him for you,” Brady said thinking he knew who she was.
“Thank you, but I’ll wait out here,” she said politely.
“Oh. Ok. Well…can I bring you some juice or anything?”
“No, thanks. That’s very kind, though.”
“Ok. I’ll get Julian for you then.”
What a polite young lady, he thought. As he walked to the kitchen, he called for Julian.
“Juliaaaan…oh Juliaaaaaan…your girlfr–ohhhh…
“There’s already a girl here…oh boy. Ummm, son…there’s someone at the door who wishes to see you.”
“It’s that plumnugget from algebra, isn’t it,” Serena shouted. “No wonder you weren’t prepared! You were expecting someone else!”
“Now wait just a minute,” Viviana started to say.
“Mom…I got this. Serena, you’re taking this girlfriend thing a bit too seriously! You’re not my girlfriend, and I’ll hang out with whomever I want to hang out with!”
And with that, he got up and went to go see who was waiting for him outside.
“Hey, Jeannette. I was hoping it was you.”
“Of course. What are you doing here?”
“You said you were coming to the party, man…”
“Yeah…I was, but I got intercepted.”
“Oh. Well, I only went because I thought you would be there, so…I left when I didn’t see you.”
“What if I was running late?”
“I guess that was pretty silly, huh?”
“And a bit stalkerish,” he teased. “We could still go if you’d like.”
“Nah. There’s a bunch of nerds there. None of them want to watch the game.”
“You like sports? You know…I’m a bit of an athlete myself,” he said trying to fake flex.
“Ha! A skinny kid like you?”
“Hey! Size doesn’t matter…”
“That’s what he said.”
“Never mind,” she laughed. “So…you said you got intercepted. Everything ok?”
Jeannette had a confused look on her face. Julian let out a huge sigh and hung his low anticipating his evening to be completely ruined now.
“Serena came by. She’s still here, actually.”
“Ohhhhh, I see! So, it’s true then?”
“No! It’s not true! Why won’t anyone believe me?”
“She’s very convincing.”
“She’s crazy! Like, for real crazy. She’s demanding and controlling, and she’s driving me nuts! This whole thing was supposed to be a joke! I thought she would understand. I mean, ok…maybe I was briefly serious about it…BRIEFLY…but I never said the words, ‘Serena, will you be my girlfriend!’ Freezer bunnies!”
Jeannette listened to him and smiled.
“I would never treat you like that, Julian.”
He was glad to hear it.
“Hey…would you like to try the most epic mac ‘n cheese of your life?”