Boyfriend and I have been dating for almost 5 years now, so I’m glad to report that I finally made it to the east coast to visit him during winter break. I even managed to keep it a secret!
If you’re new here, you might not recall that I’ve attempted this trip before: said attempt was marked by a tragic lack of success (as you can see here). This time, though, the whole thing went off without a hitch. I got a redeye flight to avoid any delays during layovers (which is part of what screwed me last time). Once I arrived one of his friends, Coppertop, drove me to his place, then dropped me off at a mall where I needed to find a way to surprise him with some kind of subtly spectacular display of love.
I bought a pretzel (hadn’t eaten in over 12hrs) and wandered around the mall, chatting with attendants, feeling out who would be game to help me do something ridiculous. I settled on an employee with whom I had a brief conversation about tea selection at William Sonoma. She seemed nice, and their uniform is just an apron, so I figured if I asked nicely, she would let me wear an apron for a few minutes and hand out samples until Boyfriend came around, at which point I would treat him like any other customer and offer him one (and only one) sample before drifting off to help someone else.
This, however, did not pan out. I got a text from Coppertop: We’re here. Shit! I texted STALL!, scarfed the pretzel and asked the lady at William Sonoma if I could borrow an apron for a loving prank. She winced. “You need to ask my manager,” and pointed to the most stressed out woman in the mall: apologizing over the phone to an irate customer, ringing someone up, then dashing into the back room, she clearly wasn’t about to get on board with any shenanigans.
I hustled out of the store, and wracked my brain for new ideas while scanning the very thin crowd for Boyfriend and Coppertop. Then I heard it: toot toot! The mall had a children’s train that made a circuit around the mall. I got in line and fidgeted, eyes darting around, waiting to get caught. The train pulled into the “station.” Kids got off, kids got on, but there wasn’t enough room for all of us. I stayed in line with two more families in front of me while the train pulled away. I texted Coppertop I’ll be on the train in a few mins, and waited anxiously while the soft toot toot! slowly grew softer then louder. As I glanced around, excited that I had almost made it onto the train without being spotted by Boyfriend, I noticed a sign: “$2 to ride.” I froze. I dug into my purse knowing exactly what I would find: one dollar in quarters. I had spent my last three dollars on that damn pretzel.
Now I had a choice. I could wait for the train to come back and throw myself at the mercy of the “conductor,” or beg for a dollar from the mother in line in front of me.
I chose the latter.
I explained how we’d been together for so long, but I had never been able to visit him, and the last time I tried it all fell apart, and now I was only a dollar away from a fantastic surprise, and would she be so kind as to loan me a dollar for the train ride? “My boyfriend will pay you back, he’s a sweetheart,” I explained, but she was already nodding and reaching into her purse, as was the mother in line in front of her, who had over heard my sob story. The train pulled in just as I said my twentieth thank-you, and we all piled on. I pulled my ponytail out, put on some chapstick. I was ready to wow Boyfriend.
We choo-choo’d around the mall for a minute before I spotted them. Eventually we pulled right up alongside them. As we idled by, I sat up straight, waved like the Queen and called, “Hello, peasants!” He and Coppertop laughed as I pulled away. Then I became that weird adult on a kids’ train ride without a kid to legitimize my presence. So that was awkward.
The ride (finally) ended, and Boyfriend couldn’t stop smiling and laughing as we followed Coppertop around (he had some actual errands to run at the mall). He loves his friends, family and me so much. It makes him giddy when we’re all together. He’s a good person. I’m glad I got him.