I guess you could say Allen likes Rhea - just a tad maybe.
|Allen sits at the counter of "Rhea's Diner" having a cup of coffee. He has come specifically to see Rhea. It's well after lunch and slow; Allen begs for a little of her time. Rhea obliges him, plants herself across the counter and tells him the latest as she wraps silverware. She ends her story by saying, ''You know, because of me being so scrawny and all."
Allen says nothing and the smile he had the whole time he listened her story vanishes with her self-deprecaiting, conclusionary declaration. He just looks at Rhea for a time with a strange look on his face.
After a time Rhea says, "What?"
"Do you see this?" says Allen as he draws an imagery circle around his face with his index finger.
"Do you see my face? Every time you say something disparaging about your looks I get this look on my face. Have you ever noticed it?"
"Umm, not really."
"I have an idea. Let's play a game. Wanna play a game?"
"From the sounds of it, my guess would be no. But okay, fine, it if makes you happy. What are we playing?"
"It's called the emotion recognition game. You're going to try to guess what emotions I'm feeling based on my facial expression. You should be good at this. Girls are supposed to be good at this kind of thing, right?"
"That's the rumor."
"What am I feeling right now, based on my facial expression?"
Rhea purses her lips and cocks her head a bit. "Actually, you look like you are in pain - perhaps you're constipated?"
"God, you're hilarious. I said what emotions I'm feeling, not what ailments am I suffering from. Seriously, quit screwing around and look at my face and tell me what emotions I'm feeling. There are three, so you're going to have to separate them out."
"Hmm, three emotions, that many huh? You're a very complex man. Let me see...'' Rhea studies Allen's face. "You look like you're mad."
Allen's face brightens. "That's right I'm mad. It makes me angry that someone as beautiful as you can think she is 'so scrawny'." Rhea's smirk dissolves a little. "What else am I thinking?" asks Allen and with this he tries to recreate the look he had on his face a moment ago, although he lessens the anger and puts the emphasis the other emotions.
Rhea eyebrows knit as she looks at Allen. "Now you look a little sad, maybe."
Allen's face brightens again. "That's right. I think it's sad that you think you aren't good looking. You're really good at this, by the way. You're so smart." Allen wipes the happiness from his face and replaces it with the expression he had previously, although now he puts the emphasis on the last emotion.
Rhea looks quizzical and her demeanor has changed. She seems more subdued, maybe a little shy. She looks at Allen, but she says nothing.
"Does the last one have you stumped?"
Rhea says quietly, "You look like you're feeling confused."
Allen slaps the counter that separates them. "Shazam! Nicely done. You nailed them all. You really were good at that. Do you know why I'm confused?"
Rhea says nothing, and now it's Allen's turn to study her face. He's afraid he's made her uncomfortable, that he has been to forward. Damn it Allen, you are such a horse's ass...you're blowing it he thinks. He is just about to apologize when Rhea finally says, "You're confused because you can't understand why someone as pretty as me can think that I'm not.'"
Allen smiles broadly, but Rhea's face remains unreadable to him and so his smile disappears. An awkward silence settles over the two of them, and then Rhea says, "Allen, I think maybe you're juuust a litle biased as far as how I look goes."
Allen's facial expression changes. He points to his face. "What am I thinking, now?"
Rhea laughs and says, "You're angry again."
Allen's face brightens, "Seriously, you're really good at this."
Allen and Rhea are out at a restaurant. It's posh and Allen is visibly happy Rhea has agreed to this date. At Allen's prompting Rhea is talking about a past boyfriend. She finishes, "And that's when he broke up with me to go out with my friend."
"He broke up with you?" asks a flabbergasted Allen.
"Yeah he did. She was a lot prettier and cooler than me."
Allen stares at Rhea. He is thoughtful.
"What?" says Rhea.
"You really have some serious self-esteem issues, don't you?"
"Oh boy, here we go again," says Rhea.
"Rhea, I bet could knock off a list of ten traits that you have that rock."
"OK, how about ten things about you that I admire. Is that better?" And with that Allen grabs a napkin from off the table. "Would you please lend me a pen from out of that honking suitcase you call your purse?" Rhea roots around in her purse for a bit, produces a pen, and hands it to Allen. Allen writes on the top of the napkin 'Top Ten Things about Rhea that I Admire.' He thinks the better of it and crosses out the 'I Admire' part and changes it 'Rock.' It is a glitter pen so all of the words are written in purple ink with pink sparkles. Allen looks at the ink lettering.
"Sorry, I pulled that pen out by accident. Do you want a more normal pen?" asks Rhea.
"Actually, this one is perfect," says Allen. Rhea smiles.
Allen begins and he talks as he writes. "Number ten. And these aren't necessarily in the order of their importance, is pretty." He looks at the napkin. "Hmm, that's not really right." He squeezes in a carrot-v between the 10. and the pretty and adds the word very. "Let me change that to very pretty. No wait." And with that he crosses out the very and changes it to extremely. "Number ten is that you are extremely pretty."
Rhea says, "Umm Allen, did you have anything to drink before we got here?"
"Very funny and no. And that brings me, appropriately enough, to number nine. Nine is you're modest."
Rhea laughs and says, "Well, at least you got one right. I certainly am modest. I have nothing to be stuck-up about."
Allen face's pinches from disagreement. Rhea looks at him neutrally. "Stuck already. I bet you won't be able to come up with ten."
"Bah, I could come up with fifteen easy. You've just thrown me momentarily off with your self-disparaging comments again." Allen thinks for a bit. "OK, number eight is that you are conscientious, as in your work ethic. I've never seen anyone whip around at work faster than you. You are always very professional when you work."
"That's great, considering I'm a waitress."
"And you're the best waitress I've ever seen. You spend all day on your feet and when the last customer comes in you're still all smiles. It's amazing. I couldn't do it."
Allen goes to write that down and pauses. "How the hell do you spell conscientious?"
"Hang on, slow down. I'm quite dyslexic."
Rhea spells it again for Allen slowly, with patience, as he writes it down.
"Thank you." Allen looks up at Rhea's face. She has an inscrutable look on her face, Allen can't tell if she is enjoying this list or not. He knows one thing for sure though and that is he enjoying making this list. He decides to carry on. "Number seven is that you are a good speller."
Rhea laughs. Allen continues, "Let me clarify and elaborate on that. I mean that not only are you a good speller, but you are very smart in general (he adds very smart to the list after good speller). You are always reading something, and you have such a quick mind. Rhea, I think you're smarter than me."
"Are you trying to set me up with the old that's-not-saying-much punchline?"
Allen laughs. "See what I mean? Number six is you are very funny. To be honest with you most girls aren't very funny. You break the mold on that one."
"Allen, remind me that when we do your list of top ten things you are, we include 'sexist' for you'."
Allen laughs. 'You know - I like that. I'm going to make a note of that up here in the corner on your napkin, just so that we don't forget.'
"That's spelled s-e-x-i''
"See, very funny - although I can spell sexist just fine though, thank you."
Allen pauses. He studies Rhea. Rhea thinks God, what now I wonder? - but what she says is, "Allen, the waiter brought your food five minutes ago. Why don't you eat it, it's getting cold."
Allen waves his hand dismissively in the direction his plate. "It's not going anywhere. This is more important." Rhea smiles.
"Number five is charming."
Rhea, who is taking a sip from her glass just as Allen says this, snorts and sprays some of her wine. "Charming?"
"Yeah, you're very charming. Almost everyone likes you. And you tell the funniest, most entertaining stories. Although most of the time you seem happy to listen to other people prattle on about this and that. Like take right now, for instance. I'm yammering away and you are listening, but I mean really listening. It's a very old fashioned quality in a way. You don't see it much now-a-days."
"Allen don't you think you're a little young to be complaining about the good old days?"
"Excellent point, which brings me to number four. Stoic. I almost never hear you complain about anything."
"Well, there's always a first time for everything. You're embarrassing me. Are you almost done?"
"Getting there. Number three is generous. You are the most charitable and kindhearted person I know. I have never seen someone as poor as you manage to somehow scrape together her extra money, not to mention her free time, to donate to her ridiculously varied causes."
"I hope that you aren't emphasizing the whole generous thing because you are trying to get out of paying for my dinner, are you?"
Allen laughs. "No, I'm paying. Anyway, number two is cool." Rhea laughs loudly. "No, seriously. You're very cool. Think about it. You are, and let's recap (and with this Allen reads off the napkin) extremely pretty, modest, conscientious, a good speller - very smart, funny, charming, stoic, and generous. How could you be all of those things and not be cool?"
"Um easy, because I'm not any of those things."
"And lastly number one is'' Allen is looking at Rhea, really looking her. His face is serious. "Number one is, and excuse me for being redundant but I feel as if I can't emphasize this enough, is beautiful."
Rhea is about to laugh again, but something about Allen's expression cuts her laughter short.
"And I mean that. I'm not just talking about your personality. Rhea you are a good looking woman. I love your hair. The way it curls and meanders its way down your neck and shoulders. And your smile is so pretty, it kills me. And when I look in your eyes, I swear to God I can barely think straight."
Rhea is quiet and so is Allen. He doesn't know what to say (for once) so he starts in on his food.
After a few minutes Rhea asks, "Allen, can I spend the night over at your apartment?"
Allen grins broadly and begins to bob and crane his head as he starts to do the 'butter-churn' dance with his arms. "Are you fucking kidding? Hell yeah, you can."
Rhea's eyebrows crinkle a bit and she says, "Allen, I'm sorry, but tonight isn't going to be the night. I'm on my period."
Allen stops "dancing" in mid-head bob. His face looks momentarily confused, then he understands. "I don't care," he says sincerely. Rhea smiles. He is wrong though because later, when they are kissing in his bed, he will care in a bad way, as will she. Little does he know that on Tuesday, the first day when Rhea's period is gone, she's going to come back over to his apartment, for the specific reason that he can finally score. Had Allen made her list on this particular day, he definitely would have written an entirely different number one reason for why Rhea rocks.
However, that is Tuesday, and this is today, and in a few minutes Allen will get up to use the bathroom, and while he is gone Rhea will reach over, pick up the napkin and put it in her purse.
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