“This is your last chance,” Holly warned as a dazzling smile danced across her beautiful face. “Do you want to attend my Super Bowl party?”
It was Super Bowl Sunday, so the friends were in their usual spots on their favorite bench overlooking the Penobscot River. For the first time in several weeks, winter had taken the day off, so they were able to enjoy the view without fear of catching frostbite.
“Thanks, but that’s a hard pass,” Aaron replied. “As much as I’d love to put myself in an uncomfortable social setting with a bunch of strangers during a pandemic, I do have to get up early for work.”
Holly nodded and sipped her coffee. That was the answer she had expected, but it didn’t hurt to ask.“Did you at least buy some snacks so you can enjoy the game in your unique, antisocial way?” she teased with a sly grin.
Aaron took a long drink of his Snapple.
“I believe I have purchased the appropriate amount of treats given my plan for the evening,” he explained. “As always, I expect to be pumped for the game, then slowly lose interest and only care about the commercials. Soon, those will also bore me, and I’ll turn it off at halftime since I have no interest in the halftime show. I’ll then go to bed and have to check in the morning to see who won.”
“So you bought a bag of Doritos and a bottle of Snapple?” she made an educated guess.
“You know me so well,” he confirmed with a grin. “I’d like to stay up, but work has been so exhausting lately. I’m putting in ten hour days and I arrive home completely drained of energy.”
Holly sighed. She knew he’d much prefer to write full time, but there were bills to pay.
“Are you at least getting some writing done?” she asked.
Aaron shook his head. “I”m completely wiped when I finally get home. It’s an hour later than usual, and by the time I have dinner, I’m ready for bed.”
“That sucks,” she declared.
“That’s an interest analogy,” Holly admitted. “Please expand on it.”
“Well, the balls at a driving range are old ones that aren’t good enough to be used for a regular round of golf anymore. So they get relegated to a bucket where they sit all day, unused and unnoticed until someone decides to hit the range. Then, when the ball is finally used, it’s placed on a tee, and a person smacks the crap out of it, trying to send it as far away as humanly possible.”
“Then once that ball gets driven down range, no one goes looking for it,” he continued. “It’s just left out there to recover from the pain of getting hit so hard, and sits in the grass like no one cares about it or gives a hoot if it’s ever seen again.”
Holly’s jaw dropped ever so slightly. She had expected an intriguing explanation, but not one that left her feeling so sad about her best friend’s current state of mind.
“That must be rough,” she consoled him. “I’m truly sorry you feel that way. If it’s any consolation, I don’t see you as a driving range golf ball. If anything, you’re one of those colorful beach balls that fans break out in the stands at a football game to make the experience even more exciting.”
Aaron smiled. “You’re such a sweet talker.”
Holly stood up and motioned for Aaron to do the same. He begrudgingly complied as if the mere act of raising his body from the bench took every last ounce of energy he possessed.
“Why am I standing?” he asked.
Holly stepped over to him, wrapped her arms around him in a hug, and rested her head on his chest.
Aaron had no choice but to hug her back.
“You might be a grumpy, exhausted, introvert, but I think you’re awesome,” she told him as she squeezed him a little tighter.
“That’s almost sweeter than the beach ball comment. Stop flattering me, or my giant head is going to get even larger,” he cautioned.
They eventually broke the embrace and returned to their assigned seats.
Do you feel more like an old driving range golf ball, or a colorful beach ball?