It was a rather strange Saturday night. Well, actually, everything had been going fine until the power had gone out.
Not to point fingers, but I am nearly ninety-nine-point-nine percent sure it was my mom’s fault.
About the power, I mean.
She’d been running the vacuum and the TV and her hair dryer and the oven and the toaster and about four more appliances.
“Mom!” I yelled in frustration. A moment earlier, I had been studying at my desk like a diligent student. Now I was engulfed in total blackness.
“What?” came the yell back.
I fumbled my way into the living room. “What did you do?”
“No, Fred Astaire. Yes, of course, you. What happened?”
“The power went out. Dang! ‘Road to Riches’ was on!”
“I can see that the power went out.”
Somewhere in the blackness, she snickered. “You can’t actually see it…”
“That was a very bad comeback. How am I supposed to study now?”
“Ah, yes. Studying. I understand. Pencils are my friends.”
I groaned. “Mom! You are not being serious.”
The phone rang, and both of us shouted, “I’ll get it!”
That’s the Gilmore way for you.
“Wait, wait,” Mom said. “How are we supposed to find the phone?”
“Last I knew it was on the kitchen table.”
“But then Sookie called and I went upstairs with it.”
“And then Lane called and I went downstairs with it.”
“After that my mother called and I went into your room with it.”
“What were you doing in my room?”
The phone continued to ring. “Understandable. So is it still in there?”
“No, because Michel called and I had to go upstairs with it to find some references.”
“Right after he called, Paris called to ask me if it was okay if she…”
“Just find the gosh-darn phone!” Mom ordered me. She has what Luke calls “Lorelai Gilmore patience” – none at all.
I went back into the kitchen and found the phone on the counter. Click. It was on. “Hello?”
“Hey, Mary,” a familiar voice said.
I sighed gustily. “What do you want?”
“Who is it?” the frustrated mother called from the living room.
“It’s a serial killer!” I called back. “He wants to know if he should cut out your eyes or your heart first.”
“Heart, please!” Lorelai Gilmore responded. “More blood.”
I rolled my eyes in the darkness – doubting she could see – and went back to Tristan. “What?”
“Well, since Paris and Dean went to an art show tonight…”
“Yes, I know,” I responded.
“And I’ve nothing to do, I started playing Truth or Dare with my cousins Timmy and Hannah.”
“Let me guess.”
“No, me first,” he replied. “Timmy said, ‘I dare you to call up a girl from your school.’ And then Hannah added, ‘And tell her about the first time you ever got kissed.’”
“And you said, ‘Oh. I can’t remember that far back,’” I deadpanned. There are worse things than talking to Tristan Dugray on a Saturday night when the power’s out; I just can’t think of any.
Mom came strolling into the kitchen. She’d found a penlight and was eagerly scanning the contents of the refrigerator. “What’s the killer saying now?”
“Who’s that?” Tristan asked.
“My mom. She thinks you’re a serial killer.” I put my hand over the mouthpiece and said, “It’s Tristan, Mom.”
“Oh.” She had found a doughnut.
“That’s gross! Don’t eat that doughnut!” I ordered her. “It’s from two weeks ago.”
She already had a mouthful. “Raspberry jelly.”
I grimaced and went back to Tristan. “So are you taking the dare?”
"Sure.” He sounded embarrassed.
“Timmy and Hannah are sitting right here, listening to my every word.”
“Don’t worry. My mom’s poking around in the kitchen with a penlight.”
“What’s the penlight for?”
“Our power’s out.”
“Oh. Should I tell you the story now?” He sounded like he was blushing.
“They’ve got me on speakerphone.”
“That’s not so bad.” Mom had come over to the table and was eagerly leaning forward, trying to hear anything and everything. “Mom, go away!”
“But there’s nothing to do,” she whined.
“Hey, Mary?” Tristan said. “I need to talk fast because I hear someone coming up the stairs and it’s probably Hannah and Timmy’s mom.”
“Go ahead,” I said, snatching the doughnut from Mom. I pulled a piece off and stuck it in my mouth.
The penlight went out as I waited for Tristan to begin his story. Mom swore through a mouthful of doughnut. “Okay,” Tristan said finally. “I was ten years old. It was at my Aunt Lucy’s house. There was a girl there, named Rebecca. She was the daughter of a friend of Aunt Lucy’s.”
“Rebecca?” I choked on my doughnut. Mom slapped me on the back. That made me cough harder. “Stop that!” I ordered her, and went back to Tristan.
“Yeah, Rebecca. Do you know her?”
“Okay, anyway, she had an older brother, named…”
“Please don’t say Norman!” I exclaimed.
“No. It was Sam. What’s up with Norman?”
“From Psycho, ” I explained. “Never mind.”
Anyway, Sam was bragging about how no one could touch his sister because he was all big and manly…”
Mom began one of her famous rants from behind me in the darkness. “You know, I really enjoy good fast food!”
“Mom,” I hissed. “Not now!”
“When I was a young girl, my parents never let me have any fast food.”
“And you wonder why?” I answered her. “Be quiet.”
“But fast food is the reason why Western civilization is doing so well,” she continued. “I mean, it’s so fast!”
“Hence the name,” I said, standing up and going into the living room. “What are you saying, Tristan?”
“Well, this Sam kid, he was just bragging so much that I decided I had to prove him wrong. You know how little kids are.”
“Tell me about it,” I replied as Lorelai followed me, still ranting.
“And it comes in those neat little packages!” she exclaimed. “I always used to love those packages.”
“So while Sam was off fighting with this other kid who I didn’t know, I went over to Rebecca. I was intending to tease her. Funny,” Tristan continued, “they were fighting like somebody out of a Jackie Chan movie.”
“And the food comes with those little tiny packages of ketchup,” Mom continued.
“Hold on, Tristan,” I said. “Mom! Be quiet!” I turned back to the phone. “What?”
“And so while I was watching Sam and this other kid fighting, Rebecca stood up and tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around. She kissed me.”
“Talk about a surprise!” I answered. “What happened then?”
“Fast food is just so handy,” Mom persisted. “And you can eat it wherever. Just the other day, I saw twelve people in their cars eating fast food.”
I groaned. Would I never get her off this topic?
“Sam came up to me and smashed a pie in my face,” Tristan answered. “And Aunt Lucy and Rebecca’s mom got so angry! Then I threw a pie right back at him! We started a major food fight.”
“Sounds like something out of a Monty Python movie,” I said.
“You like Monty Python?”
“I like Monty Python,” Mom interrupted.
“Hush!” I told her.
“You know,” Tristan said suddenly, “it’s been really nice talking to you.” There was a pause, and he added, “Rory.”
Whoa! I thought. He didn’t call me Mary! “Yeah, it’s been nice talking to you, too.”
On the other end of the line, I heard giggling. I’d totally forgotten about Tristan’s cousins. “Is that Timmy and Hannah?”
“Yeah. I should probably go downstairs and get them some dessert. We’re having a big dinner party and I have to watch them. The other two, Dana and Chris, are in the other room playing Nintendo. I wish Hannah and Timmy were as well entertained.” He paused to talk to his cousins. “I’ll go get you some in a minute! I’m talking to Ror – Mary.”
“You should probably go,” I said. For some reason, I felt unhappy by the prospect of his leaving. Don’t do this, I said. Don’t like him. He calls you Mary, remember?
“Yeah, I should,” he said. “ The cream puffs melt if you’re not careful.”
“Rory, get off the phone!” Mom said.
“What?” I asked.
“Cream puffs,” Tristan repeated.
“No, not you. I’m talking to my mom. What’s going on?”
“The power’s back on!” she said, dancing around the living room.
The TV flickered on in time to hear the announcer say, “And that was ‘Road to Riches’ for this week. We’ll be back next week with four new contestants.”
"Dang!” Mom repeated.
“Oh,” I said. “Well, bye, Tristan.”
There was no response; just the dial tone.
That made me long for his voice even more.
On Monday, Tristan met me at his locker. “Well, Dean and Paris had a really good time at the art show,” he said.
“Yeah, I guess they did.” I put away my geography book. “What’s that?”
He handed me a bag. “Cream puff. I saved it.”
“Thanks. You didn’t have to do that.”
“Yeah, I did. You had to listen to my rant about Rebecca and Sam.” He leaned down and gave me a very light kiss on the cheek. “Later, Mary.”
I watched him saunter off down the hall, feeling terribly confused. But there was another feeling. Elation? I wondered. Why not?