"Was that - Ed Slaterton?" Lauren asked, with a bag in
"When?" I said.
"Before. Don't say when. It was. Who invited him? That's
crazy, him here."
"I know," I said. "Right? Nobody."
"And was he getting your number?"
I closed my hand on the bottle caps so nobody could
see them. "Um."
"Ed Slaterton is asking you out? Ed Slaterton asked you
"He didn't ask me out," I said, technically. "He just asked
me if he could - "
"If he could what?"
The bag rustled in the wind. "If he could ask me out," I admitted.
"Dear God in heaven," Lauren said, and then, quickly,
"as my mother would say."
"Lauren - "
"Min just got asked out by Ed Slaterton," she called into
"What?" Jordan stepped out. Al peered startled and suddenly
through the kitchen window, frowning over the sink
like I was a raccoon.
"Min just got asked out - "
Jordan looked around the yard for him. "Really?"
"No," I said, "not really. He just asked for my number."
"Sure, that could mean anything," Lauren snorted, tossing
wet napkins into the bag. "Maybe he works for the
"Maybe he's just obsessed with area codes."
"Lauren - "
"He asked you out. Ed Slaterton."
"He's not going to call," I said. "It was just a party."
"Don't put yourself down," Jordan said. "You have all
the qualities Ed Slaterton looks for in his millions of girlfriends,
come to think of it. You have two legs."
"And you're a carbon-based life-form," Lauren said.
"Stop," I said. "He's not - he's just a guy."
"Listen to her, just a guy." Lauren picked up another
piece of trash. "Ed Slaterton asked you out. It's crazy.
That's, like, Eyes on the Roof crazy."
"It's not as crazy as what is, by the way, a great movie,
and it's Eyes on the Ceiling. And, he's not really going to call."
"I just can't believe it," Jordan said.
"There's nothing to believe," I said to everybody in the
yard, including me. "It was a party and Ed Slaterton was
there and it's over and now we're cleaning up."
"Then come help me," Al said finally, and held up the
dripping punch bowl. I hurried to the kitchen and looked
for a towel.
"Throw those out?"
He pointed at the bottle caps in my hand.
"Right, yeah," I said, but with my back turned they
went into my pocket. Al handed me everything, the bowl,
the towel to dry it, and looked me over.
"Yeah," I said, trying to yawn. I was thumping inside.
"Is he really going to call you?"
"I don't know," I said.
"But you - hope so?"
"I don't know."
"You don't know?"
"He's not going to call me. He's Ed Slaterton."
"I know who he is, Min. But you - what are you - ?"
"I don't know."
"You know. How can you not know?"
I'm good at changing the subject. "Happy birthday, Al."
Al just shook his head, probably because I was smiling,
I guess. I guess I was smiling, the party over and these bottle
caps burning in my pocket. Take them back, Ed. Here they
are. Take back the smile and the night, take it all back, I wish
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