In class I imagined her as a bourgeois, wealthy Italian fashionista, with arms tired from the countless bags of Armani merchandise she wouldn't stop buying on the weekends. She wore sunglasses, the big kinds, and red lipstick that screamed for a hero to kiss her lips. A glamorous queen of trends she was, that when it came to her dress for the day, a black and white combination of Prada and Ferragamo was keen to cover her supermodel physique.
Brooke seemed like the type of girl who'd abide by such “White Telephone” lifestyle, more so, when I found out she belonged to an exclusive, lavish sorority. Despite my preconceptions and initial thoughts of her being way out of my league, her incomparable beauty completely vanquished my lack of confidence and with certainty, I finally attempted to make my first move.
She sat next to me, her face transfixed by an electronic chat box that popped off from her laptop. I attempted to catch her attention by fiddling around with and dropping my phone on my desk, but that was no help. The blue-colored boxes of ciphered messages still kept her unmoved. Switching up my plan, I remembered old memories from my youth and an idea emerged. My notebook was in between Brooke’s laptop and mine. Almost angrily, she pushed it towards me. Perhaps the notebook was taking too much of her space. It wasn’t the best of ideas, but I ripped a small piece of paper from my notebook and with a golden pen I miraculously found on the floor next to my foot, I wrote Brooke a note. I folded the note twice and signed my initials with an added heart, like a 5th grade romance. Like a spy, I slowly passed the note to her, managing to tightly squeeze it under her laptop. She didn't notice this, but after a minute or so, Brooke's eyes had found a new target.
She picked up the piece of paper, longingly staring at my initials. After seemingly knowing I was the sender, she gave me an awkward look, but still opened the note. My heart pounded as her mouth made out each word, and when she stopped reading, the most glorious and impeccable smile stole Brooke's complexion. Looking for a writing utensil herself, she quickly stole the golden pencil and started to write on the back of the note.
When she passed it back, only three words made up the top of the piece of paper: Please fuck off. But under her definitive statement to leave her alone was a phone number, with the following surprising words: Text me later.
Brooke and I went for coffee after I fathomed the perfect text message to send her. We had texted for a while, and after a week, I asked her out on a date. The coffee shop we went to wasn’t far from campus, but I was afraid the coffee they served wasn’t as sophisticated as the coffee I imagined bourgeois individuals drank. She liked it though, as the shop emitted a type of familiar feeling. I was surprised, though, that I had gotten this far. If Brooke was rich and wealthy, then it would be ludicrous of me to think that she’ll ever be interested in a guy like me. Why would she even say yes to a date? She soon laid those worries to rest.
“My family came to America in the 1900s. When I was a child I would ask my father if we had come from a wealthy family; our surname is kind of a big deal,” she said.
“Do you come from a wealthy family?” I asked.
“It depends who you ask, really. If you ask my mom, she would say no, that we are as normal and lower middle-class as many other immigrants. But if you ask my dad, as I did, then yeah, there’s like nobility and ties to old Roman kings that spans all the way back to the Byzantine empire.”
“But I’m asking you, though.”
Brooke looked at me with a silly smile, interested and intrigued. “Why are you so keen in knowing this precise tidbit about me?”
“Do you want me to be frank?” I said.
“By all means, yes,” she said, without hesitation.
“Two weeks ago, I had no idea who you were. All I knew was that you were Italian and part of a sorority. I never noticed you in class since I always sit in the front. But when I came late that day and the only seat available was the one next to you, you completely took my breath away. You see, when I see girls as beautiful as you, all I think is that they must already have a boyfriend. ‘Cause there’s no way in heaven that girls like that are single. I didn’t have a chance.”
Brooke listened closely, never taking her eyes off mine.
I continued. “I thought you were probably like one of those rich women from the old ‘White Telephone’ movies. You know what I’m talking about, right?”
“Yeah. Though I’d consider myself more of a neorealist, like mom.”
When Brooke said that, I almost dropped my coffee all over me. Not only was she beautiful and smart, she was an expert in Italian film history.
“Okay, now let me guess. You are asking yourself that if I’m as you thought, then why would I even be here, right now, with you?”
“Exactly,” I said.
“Why do you think so little of yourself? I like that you thought so highly of me, but you shouldn't do the opposite for you. And stop assuming so much shit. Be proactive.”
I laughed. “I don't know, really. I guess sometimes when I see a pretty girl, my mind creates these marvelous stories about her that I become the peasant in the field while she shines as the queen of the land.”
“That’s sweet. But now that you know ‘White Telephones’ don’t suit me, did you ever think that instead of coming from a wealthy family, that I might perhaps belong to a family of mobsters, like in The Godfather?”
Brooke went from White Telephone films to Italian neorealism and all the way to Italian-American mob films. She was cinematic perfection, a living Oscar trophy. Nevertheless, now I imagined her as the daughter of a dangerous Italian crime lord. And that terrified me.
Was my honesty about how I first envisioned her going to cause some secret hitman to break my fingers? Was she being watched and I was about to get a beating by one of her exuberantly-built bodyguards? I started to panic.
“Relax, you big fluffy Teddy bear. I’m just messing with you,” Brooke said.
After we finished our coffees and a batch of cookies we’d also bought, we gave each other hugs and she kissed both of my cheeks to scare me even more. When she left, I went back into the coffee shop to buy some more cookies. At the counter, a funny-looking golden pen caught my attention. I kept staring at it with an odd feeling of deja vu. When I left the shop, I found Brooke waiting for me at the door. “Hey, I just wanted to ask you something real quick. Did you ever think of how that golden pen found itself within your vicinity right when you needed it?
I couldn’t believe it. “How did you know I would find it within me to write you a note?”
“Charlie, you may have never noticed me ‘til two weeks ago, but I have always noticed you.”