If I'm blithely sliding my fingers atop my iPhone screen in public, 70 percent of the time I'm just scrolling through old text message conversations. Either it's because I'm on the subway and forgot to bring a book with me or, more commonly, because I'm just trying to avoid making eye contact with humans.
Almost always, I end up scrolling to this text message I received from an unknown northern New Jersey phone number in November. It never ceases to fascinate me. Cherish that antipasto...
I have come up with a whole backstory here. It was sent a few days before Thanksgiving, so I'm thinking that this girl -- her name is Natalie, I feel -- hosts an annual pre-Thanksgiving dinner for her best friends from high school, who live in different parts of the country now (they all just graduated from college) but reunite in NJ for the holidays. She'd always had a thing for this guy Vince. They were never really great friends, but Vince comes to Natalie's yearly dinner because one of his friends dates Natalie's best friend. For the November 2010 dinner, Natalie labored over an elaborate antipasto platter, which everyone -- especially Vince -- made a point of complimenting.
She'd been waiting a whole year to see Vince and make that antipasto all over again. Vince wrote on her Facebook wall on her birthday in March: "hbd lady! can't wait til november. been dreaming about that antipasto," and Natalie immediately both "liked" the post and commented "lol you will not be disappointed!!" (she immediately questioned if unveiled enthusiasm was the right move there).
November 2011 finally rolls around. Natalie spends hours getting ready for the dinner. Her best friend has just gotten engaged to Vince's friend, which only makes her more anxious about seeing Vince ("we could, like, go on double dates," her best friend screeches, making Natalie's stomach turn). At the dinner, though, Vince is... distant. He sits on the opposite side of the table from Natalie. She thinks she overhears him mention a girl named Madison? When he leaves, he gives Natalie a pat on the shoulder instead of a hug. "Wait," she says. "Let me put the leftover antipasto in a Tupperware for you." She doesn't know what else to do.
She spends the entire next day debating whether or not to text him. "just make it abt the antipasto, that's safe," her friend Vicki gchats her. "also, i think he got a new phone so u'll need to get the # from fb..." Natalie goes to his Facebook profile, instinctively clicking through the pictures she's clicked through so many times before. Finally, she decides to go for it and text him. She has nothing to lose.
Of course, she entered his number incorrectly into her phone -- I got the text instead of "Vince." She spent a few days holding her breath every time she got a text message, hoping it might be him. Maybe he'll suggest stopping by my place again while he's still home for Thanksgiving? But she never heard back. I'm hoping Natalie decides not to have her pre-Thanksgiving dinner this fall; a hopeful antipasto platter and a hopeless one are so often one in the same.