Charm, Coffee, and Challenges

As I looked out the window of the student union, I envied the students passing by.  They had such easiness about them as if the words “finals, projects, and homework” didn’t exist in their vocabulary.  In fact that’s where my problem starts.

Along with my major in Advertising, I’m also the president of the ballroom dance club.  At first, I thought that the role of being a leader in a club would be gratifying.  Boy, did I have the wrong idea.

Not only did I have about 3 projects in my Ad classes, but I also have to plan the big masquerade ball that a majority of the students at the University attended.  My calendar on my iPhone looked like a colorful tie-dye shirt.  Something was happening every day… all day.

Just as I was about to rip my hair out from stress, a voice caught me off guard.

“Excuse me, Miss, is anyone sitting in that couch next to you,” asked the gentleman before me.  I couldn’t tell if his gorgeous brown eyes made me lose my focus, or if it was the British accent. If anyone knows me, they know I have this thing for accents.

“Oh, no! No one’s sitting there. So, please make yourself comfortable.”

Damn, it! Why did I say that? What did Aurora say about formality? Oh yeah, guys hate that!

“Thanks, I just needed some place quiet to read my book for English class.”

“Oh, really? What are you reading?”

“Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.

“Oh, I love that play! I went with my best friend, Ariel, to see it in high school. I’ve loved it ever since.”

Oh, dear God. It’s bad enough that I’m frazzled from my busy schedule, but this unbelievably cute and charming gentleman probably thinks I’m a dork.

“Yeah, I love it too! Wilde’s one of my favorite playwrights. Along with Shakespeare and Shaw.”

“Oh, so I’m guessing you’re a English major.”

“That I am, indeed. What’s yours?”

“I’m in advertising.  You know, I just realized. I never introduced myself. I’m Jasmine, like the Disney Princess.”

“Nice to meet you, Jasmine. I’m Alan Meister, but you can call me Al. So, that’s an interesting way to introduce yourself.  Are you a big Disney fan?”

“Yeah, once you get to know me, you’ll come to find that I’m one of the biggest Disney fans out there. In fact, if I get accepted, I’ll be leaving for Florida in a couple years to work as intern in their program.”

“Wow, I’m impressed. I’m just hoping I get my Masters, and you’re over here ready to take over Magic Kingdom.”

“Haha, not exactly,” I bashfully replied.  If I blushed any harder, I would’ve looked like a baked lobster ready for the daily special.

He was so sweet, and what was strange was that throughout my stress I forgot all about my busy schedule. I felt so relaxed and at ease with him.

Everything was going so well.  Then, out of nowhere he starts squinting his eyes like he had trouble seeing.  I was thoroughly confused, but the way he crinkled his nose was adorable.

“Wait a minute… I think I know you from somewhere. Yeah… you’re Jasmine Nguyen.  I thought you’re name sounded familiar.  Professor Jameson reads your poems out loud in our class. He absolutely adores your work.”

“Gee, I had no idea he did that.  Guess I’ve been way too busy all semester to really know what my professors thought of me.”

“Yeah, you’re very talented. I love your poem called, ‘A Chilling Realization.’ It was very moving.”

“You’re far too kind. I just write for class.  It used to be a hobby of mine, but I’ve kind of neglected it after high school.”

“Well, Jasmine… I hate to cut this conversation short, but I’ve got to head over Dale Hall. Class starts in 10 minutes. We should have coffee sometime.”

“That sounds great! Starbucks is like my home base here on campus.  You can’t tear me away from my white chocolate mocha.”

“Alright, here… hand me your phone, I’ll punch my number in.”

“You have to be careful, my iPhone can be very unforgiving.”

“Done. Ok, well I’ll text you, and maybe we can do coffee soon! See ya!”

“See ya!”

Wow, what just happened?  A nice, cute boy gave me the time of day, and as usual I looked like a big idiot.  My conversation skills matched those of Steve Urkel on “Family Matters.”

Jasmine, focus. You cannot think about a guy right now. You have way too much on your plate.  You need to work on your Contemporary Developments in Ad project, plus hire the DJ for the Spring Ball.

While I was sitting in the Lindsay and Asp Agency, I stared at my laptop for the longest time.  How could I come with a catchy slogan for the Bing and Associates client, now?  My brain was exhausted.

Great, as if my stress bar wasn’t raised enough… Penny Langston had to come into the agency to ruin my peace.  See, normally this wouldn’t bother me.  She was just another one of the spoiled legacies of “orthodontists kids.”  However, with my brain reaching the near point of insanity, now was not the time to mess with me.

“Well, if it isn’t little Miss Sunshine who thinks she owns the class,” said Penny.

“Look, Penny… on any other day I could drown out your annoying little bits about how you own things like Gucci and I don’t, but you really don’t wanna push me today. I’m super busy, and I’ve got a client meeting in 2 hours. I need to perfect this slogan.”

“Awww, Is Miss Perfect scared?  Well, stands to reason seeing how I’m going to the Ball with Jason McMahon, and I’m getting an “A” on my project. Plus, daddy’s lending me his Mercedes for the Ball. It’s like a little fairytale, isn’t it, Jasmine?”

“I swear, Penny if you don’t leave…”

“You’ll what? Rat me out for teasing you? Kick my butt with your Kung Fu mumbo jumbo?”

“Ok, what are you 12? By now you should know that not every Asian knows martial arts. Plus, I don’t fight with violence. We’re girls, remember? We don’t damage faces, we damage reputations.”

“Well, fine… we’ll see who’s the best at the Ball.  You play your cards. I’ll play mine.”

“Whatever you say.”  I couldn’t even look at Penny when I said that. No one pushes my buttons, and certainly not when I’m beyond stressed.

It was getting down the wire.  Final projects were turned in, finals were taken, and now what everyone was waiting for was the big party to celebrate before everyone left.

Coming home felt really nice.  Even though my parents lived an hour away, they thought the test of independence living on my own was necessary.

All I wanted was to hide beneath the covers of my bed.  If only I could take a mini vacation in Napville for a little bit.  Just as I was getting settled in my room, I heard a knock on the door.  It was mom.

“Jasmine, there’s someone here to see you,” my mom said with a smile.  I wasn’t expecting any visitors. Who could it be?

“JASMINE,” screamed Ariel.

“ARIEL,” I screamed in return. We haven’t seen each other in months, and it’s very rare that we do.  We’re best friends, but we lived about 60 miles a part, causing visiting each other to be a rare and special occasion.

“Oh, my gosh! You’re in town! How long are you staying?”

“I’ll be staying tonight, and all the way through Sunday.”

“SO, you’re going to the ball! Oh, that’s awesome! I can’t wait to show you what I’ve been working on! Plus, you can meet Al!”

“Al? Who’s he?”

“Oh, no one special.  Apparently we have the same Creative Writing Prof. I invited him to the ball.”

“Wait, isn’t the guy supposed to ask the girl to the ball?”

“Yeah… The poor guy just moved here this semester from London.  So, I figured I would just be nice invite the dude.”

“Uh… Huh… Well, I can’t wait for the ball! ‘I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it!’”

“Haha, I’m excited too! Finally all this hard is going to pay off! I’m just glad and your sweetie, Eric, could go. It’s going to be so worth it. The music, the dancing, and even if I’m wearing an old dress, I still get to make it sparkle with some accessories!”

The night finally arrived.  The theme was “A Parisian affair.”  Yeah, I know… sounds like something from the high school prom days, but with all the connections you have in the Ad world, you’d be surprised at what decorations and other swag I got: A DJ from Club Santana at a great discounted price, the kids from the broadcasting department graciously put their set building skills to work on the monumental Arc de Triumph and Eifel Tower sculptures.  Jack Brown from church hooked me up with his interior designer from his firm to supply us with elegant furniture, and finally food was done through University Catering.  I always see them doing events, and they always seem to do a nice job.

Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.  Even Aurora who got asked by her dream date, Phillip.   Ariel’s smile was as big as the one on Mr. Peanuts on the Planters can.  She gently held onto Eric’s arm as they walked in and took in the sights.

Everyone was having a good time, but something was missing.  Where was Al?  I thought he agreed to meet me at the ballroom.

I stepped each step with caution.  It wasn’t like a mass murderer was on the other side of the hallway, but I had a feeling something was wrong.

Just then, I saw Penny… not with Jason, but with Al. Not only were they together, but she was obviously wasted trying to get him to kiss her.

“C’mon, cutie,” she said with an idiotic drunken slur. “Kiss, me…”

I couldn’t believe it.  What was he doing with her?  I was so upset, I just wanted to take off my heels and run.

“JASMINE, WAIT,” he screamed with an urgency in his voice.

I was tired of waiting. He turned out to be like every other guy I fell for, a jerk. They would turn on the gentleman charm at first, and then out of nowhere they crush your spirits like a little bug.

“Jasmine, I can explain.”

“Oh, please… C’mon… what is there to explain? You’re like every other guy. Instead of going for a girl with substance, you choose girls like her. The tramps that throw themselves at guys that’ll give exactly what they want.”

“Jasmine, you’re not listening to me.”

“To hell I’m not… Why should I?  I thought you were different.  I thought you had value. I thought you were sweet.”

“Jasmine… I asked Penny for her help.  My guy friends don’t know how to shop for girls, and I figured a girl like Penny would. I wanted get you something as thank you for inviting me to the ball.  So, I asked her for her help.  Next thing I know, I show up to her house to go shopping and she’s wasted… in the middle of the day.  Luckily, I went to the shop I had my eye on and got you this.” Just then, he pulled out a charm for her charm bracelet.  It was a high heel shoe with a diamond in the middle. It almost looked exactly like the shoe she had on.

“Oh, my gosh… This is beautiful.”

“I knew you liked dancing, so I thought I’d get you a little token… You know, to remind of something you like to do.”

“Thank you so, much. That’s very sweet of you. Listen, I’m sorry for barking at you a minute ago. It’s just I’m not a big fan of girls like Penny. It’s because of girls like her, I don’t stand a chance with any guy.”

“Look, Penny may think she’s pretty, but trust me beauty can’t always hide from what’s really underneath… which is inner beauty.”

“Haha, Wow! Could you be any cheesier?”

“Haha, a ‘Friends’ reference. I see potential in you, Miss Nguyen.”

“I see great potential in you, Mr. Meister.”

“Well, shall we? I’ve been wanting to Tango all night, expect Drunky McDrunkster over there was being a buzz kill.”

“Haha, I didn’t know you knew how to Tango. You know, something tells me this is the start to a beautiful friendship.” I took his arm, and we went back into the ballroom for an enchanting evening of dancing, friends, and best of all laughter.

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