“Negotiating Love” By Chad Robert Parker

My date asked if I wanted to leave before the crowd. Finally, I could be alone with her, away from my group of season ticket holding friends. We exited the stadium but not before 60,000 fans flooded out into the street with us, going every which way. So much for being alone, but here was the perfect chance to hold her hand.

We tried to keep close to one another through the mass of humanity. I spoke a casual word or two of conversation but we almost had to shout over the commotion. I was too nervous to just take her hand. This was only number two of our eight dates, after all. Neither her nor I had ever had a relationship with anyone before. I asked her if I could hold her hand. She timidly said “Yes.” Then she took the next words right out of my mouth, “I wouldn’t want to lose you.”

I was caught off guard. It was exactly what I had hoped she was feeling too, but wanting to be original, I didn’t know how to return the sentiment in kind. Suddenly I realized I was taking our date to a whole new level. My head started spinning. I was excited but I doubted. Was she even okay with this? Did this mean we would be a couple soon?

We barely crossed the street when we found ourselves at a crossroads. She asked me the time. I told her I didn’t rightly know. I was lost in the moment. It felt like no one else was around anymore, just her and me. She freed her hand of mine to check her watch, then seeing what she had done, she apologized, but didn’t take my hand again. It was getting late. We had spent the better part of the day together. Now here we were unsure of how to get back to where we had progressed. I wondered if I should take her hand again. I should have! Instead I felt it a sign of respect to let her make the next forward move. She never did.