Popcorn and Videogames
He told me we were going to watch some movies and play some videogames, so I stuffed packages of unpopped kettle popcorn into my backpack. It was my freshman year of college and he was the first boy I had ever known to have shown an interest in me… that was mutual. To say I was smitten was an understatement. We’ll call him… Quinton.
I was astounded. Things were happening, boy and girl things! I had given up hope that boy and girl things were to happen for me.
I had been an unlovable, allergy-riddled, nappy-headed, asthma attack-having, anime-loving nerd back home in high school, and had never caught the attention of any boy except for the ones that were just like me. I wasn’t interested in those types. I was interested in the bad boys, the tall guys, the ones who already had girlfriends and the occasional baby-mama drama. This new guy? He made me feel cute, he made me feel sexy. Looking at him made me feel hot all over, in that heady passey-outey kind of way. He told me that I had a nice shape when I didn’t know that boys noticed my body. We would sit for hours and study, while talking about his love for rap and rock and M.IA..
He mentioned how he wanted to “corrupt me,” which for some reason, I thought was the sexiest thing a guy could say to me. I was pure, untouched, and virginal and what was most important was that I didn’t want to be that anymore. The “New School, New Me” of freshman year was a failure. I wanted to be seen as desirable, I wanted to be seen as a catch. When I told him that to spite him I was going to do something bad and blame it on him, he replied, “Why don’t we do something bad and blame it on us?” I remember reading that text and swooning. We had a date on Saturday night, movies and games at his dorm.
Netflix and Chill
While the Netflix company has been around since 1997, the phrase “Netflix and chill” has its earliest origins in 2015, when I was a whole entire 24 years old. At 19, I wasn’t familiar with the concept of boys inviting girls over to watch movies while they made a move, although by all accounts I should have been. I watched Degrassi, I watched Clueless, I should have been more hip. But I stuffed my purse with Nintendo 64 and PS2 games and popcorn all the same and I said goodbye to my religious roommate who tells me not to get in trouble with this boy, and headed over to his dorm. He meets me at the door, smiling wide, and we walk past the reception desk. Normally you’re supposed to check any guest in, but I guess he just has that much pull, I think to myself. This guy runs this joint.
I step into his dorm and his roommate was there, sitting on his bed on the other side of the room. We greet each other, and his voice is soft as he tells me about himself. He’s from the South, his girlfriend is really nice, there’s her photo on his desk. He’ll be watching some movies with us but he has to sleep soon for an early class. Q says, “Yeah, he’s a punk, we’re staying up all night, right?” and I let out a half-hearted, “Yeah!” Q laughs at me and the night begins.
Our first movie is “Lord of War.” It’s an almost-good Nicolas Cage movie about an arms dealer navigating his past while trying not to get killed selling weapons to an African warlord. It’s a movie that I’ve somehow seen several times and I get comfortable on Q’s bed while it plays. He takes the moments in between ogling Liya Kebede to check on a soccer game playing half-way around the world. Perhaps an hour into the film, the door opens and another guy bursts inside the room. “They’re doing room checks!” he says breathlessly. All eyes fall on me. Q says, “You should hide.”
Under the bed
As I sit underneath their suitemate’s bed in the next room, hiding behind some plastic bins and a steaming hot rice cooker, I recall thinking that not only was this boy attractive, witty, and fun, he was also dangerous. He snuck me in! I bemuse to myself, He must know the guy in reception! He and I were both honor students on merit-based scholarships, yet here I was hiding in the boys-only dorm room under a bed. I could lose my scholarship! I could get kicked out of school even! The possibilities of trouble are endless, and I’ve never felt so exhilarated. I watch the RA’s feet as he checks around the room and engages the boys in conversation. I felt like a spy infiltrating where no woman has before. Eventually, the RA leaves and Q comes to get me. His suitemates offer us food from their prohibited rice cooker that they hastily unplugged and stored under their bed with me. We decline, and then return to his room.
It is at this point that Q offers me some weed. I decline, as he expects, but he smiles slyly and says that sooner or later, he’ll have me smoking too. My heart flutters at the possibility (me? doing illegal substances? I have ASTHMA! Asthmatics don’t do weed!) while he goes into the bathroom to smoke with his suitemates. They turn the shower on so as to dampen the scent, and I take it upon myself to pop some popcorn while we get ready for the next film, “Shaun of the Dead.”
After Q comes out of the bathroom, he turns the lights out. I ask him if he wants some popcorn, and he says that kettle corn doesn’t do it for him. I share with his roommate before he goes to bed (to which Q says, “Y’all DECIMATED that popcorn!”) and then Q gets into bed with me.
I should have known something was up when he rejected the popcorn. He lies behind me, and we spoon as they say. My head is racing trying to unpack what is going on. I can tell he’s not paying attention to the movie. He looks down at me and says that I have something on my shirt, using the moment I look up at him as an opportunity to kiss me. He uses tongue, which, after years of watching teen dramas I thought was several steps ahead of a typical first kiss. I retreat into myself, murmuring something about him being clever, while he starts to re-position himself under the covers. He turns up the film, which was just getting to the good part – you know, when Sean and his friends make it to the pub? – and attempts to make out with me. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I know it’s terrible.
We had skipped so many bases, it started to feel a lot less like “Sixteen Candles,” and more like, “For Keeps.” I fall asleep next to him and wake up with a text from my roommate that says, “Are you still living in sin?”
In the days after our first night together, I get a text from Q saying that we were better off as friends. At the time, I thought he was serious, and still attempted to engage him in friendly banter and conversation. Only later would I realize, after many cold receptions, that for a certain subset of men, calling a woman who you attempted to have sex with “a friend” often means, “You’re long division and there are calculators all over this campus.” I maintain the idea that Q thought that I was going to “put out,” like they say in all the movies, and probably had no clue that he was my first kiss. I’m sure he turned out fine though.
Only much later would I finally watch “Shaun of the Dead,” in full. It’s a lot better without all the kissing.