September 8, 1996 Sunday
Last night Hoke and I worked at the Hub, like we do most weekends of either Friday or Saturday nights. While eating a dinner of hamburgers at a Kickapoo hole-in-the-wall called Ludy’s, Hoke and I discussed our Homecoming situation. Hoke has come around to wanting to go, and has finally asked someone, just as friends. He got shot down (sort of). He asked Haley Hollis, who he’s closer to than I am, when she worked during the summer at the Elmwood Country Club pool as a lifeguard. She said, “Well, we’ll see… I have to go now.” She hasn’t really even talked to him since, which is sad because they were friends before and Hoke’s great fun.
Okay, back to my story. We arrived at the Hub an hour early, pulling into the large dirt lot in Hoke’s grey 1993 Thunderbird while the sun was still above the trees. While hanging out by the tracks that runs parallel but a bit off from the dance hall I talked to Hoke about other possible dates. With how small our school is and our limited choices it looked bleak. We were down to family members, a dating service, or an inflatable woman. Dorris, the co-owner of the Hub with her husband Arlen (and Hoke’s aunt), suggested that I call Ainsley to see if she had a friend. Hoke wasn’t crazy about it. He gave me four words: “Call and you die.”
So later I was calling Ainsley, but she wasn’t home–and she wouldn’t be home until late. I left a message that I was at the Hub, and if it wasn’t too too late, to have her call me. About twenty minutes later she called, and I dove back into the office without Hoke seeing me. She was at a friend’s house, having been called by her mom. Ainsley said her friend would be perfect, but she would like to meet him. I said, “What are you doing right now?” They didn’t have anything going on. “Why don’t you come over to the Hub right now?”
Half an hour later they arrived, walking though the main entrance next to my bar, and Hoke had no idea. The name of Ainsley’s friend is Holly Andrews. She is slim with dark eyes and long wavy dark hair. She sort of laughs a lot, too. Arlen, Dorris and I were optimistic.
It didn’t start off too well. They sat at a table, at the edge of Hoke’s section, and Hoke wasn’t trying much harder. I guess she first just wanted to get a look. The phrase “sinking like the Titantic.” was thrown around a few times. Thankfully, I had little to do, so I could coax things along. I got them to go to the corner bar to talk to Hoke. Strike two.
Later I was in the basement with Hoke, getting ice and new bottles of liquor.
“I can’t do any better, Hoke!” I pleaded. It was true, too. Hoke was cautious. I stayed down there with him because there were no sharp objects in close proximity. I advised him to just ask and get it over with.
Even later still all four of us was at Hoke’s bar. I saw he was a mite uncomfortable, constantly jabbing the scoop into a very full ice bin for something to do. Ainsley and I went to a nearby table that was vacant of cowboys to leave them alone. So, finally, now it will be a foursome for Homecoming.
But wait, I’m not even close to being done. From somewhere came the idea for us all do to something next week, to better know each other. After all was decided, next Saturday night we’re all going to a movie. It was sort of awkward, and Ainsley and I carried the load of the conversation. Holly also now has a job at the Hub.
And Arlen now wonders who he’ll get to work to work the 28th. I suddenly don’t have to drive. And for Homecoming dinner we’ll be having, at the request/demand of Hoke, “anything but fish.” This all leaves me to wonder about the Saturday four weeks from now: Princeville’s Homecoming.
Days ’til Homecoming -20
“Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match…