by Courtney Ludwick
When Andrew Puck asked me what my favorite color was, I lied.
“Pink,” I said. Instead of saying blue. I lied again when he asked about my favorite movie. And my favorite animal. And my favorite song.
Andrew Puck was different from the boys and girls I dated before dating Andrew Puck. He thought that round people could fit into square holes. He thought that spiders actually crawl into people’s mouths when they fall asleep. And at the end of our first date, Andrew Puck thought that I liked the color pink and giraffes and iRobot, the extended version.
Andrew insisted that everyone called him Drew for short. But nobody ever did. He also insisted that he was a writer, when, in fact, he was a Biology major with exactly two books in his possession. One was the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook—straight off a freshman syllabus—and the other was The Canterbury Tales, in Middle English. Now, this was odd. This collection of books was odd because Biology majors did not use MLA format; they used APA. It was also odd because I knew, for a fact, that Andrew Puck did not—could not—read Middle English. I also knew, for a fact, that he had never read The Canterbury Tales, cliff notes included. I knew this only because I asked him once if my smile reminded him of the Wife of Bath’s, and he had no idea who I was talking about.
So when Andrew Puck asked me what my favorite color was, yes, I lied. But it was only because I knew—deep down in my butterfly-devoid stomach—that Andrew Puck was not a writer. He was not a reader of Middle English. And he was not called Drew for short.
Despite his empty bookshelf, I dated Andrew for ten weeks. I counted in weeks because, with Andrew, days seemed too short, and months seemed too long. Apart from my dishonesty regarding iRobot—the extended version, always the extended version—my first date with Andrew Puck went pretty great. When the waitress placed the check in the middle of us, he didn’t even pause, didn’t even make me casually offer to pay for my bowl of pasta and his plate of pork chops. Instead, he threw his credit card down on the table—I’m still not sure how exactly he had it at the ready—and made an absurd twirling motion with his index finger. It truly was absurd.
Andrew didn’t kiss me goodnight, and I think that’s why I agreed to go on a second date. The possibility of free food without the expectation of sex made me want to roll the dice in Andrew’s corner, if not but one more time.
In the ten weeks we dated, Andrew and I went to the beach once. I drove because I had a Jeep with a removable top and because Andrew didn’t have a license. I never asked him why he didn’t have a license when he clearly had a car in his driveway. But I assumed it was an Andrew thing, sort of like the round people fitting into the square holes thing. And, in all fairness, Andrew Puck not having a license might have been the least strange thing about Andrew Puck.
The sun had started to set by the time we arrived, but Andrew still seemed excited. Even though he had wanted to leave at ten o’clock sharp that morning and even though he commented on the way I turned left—making sure not to miss a single left turn I’d made on the entire drive—he was happy. And happy was a strange place for Andrew Puck to be.
The first time I saw Andrew happy was during our third date. It was after the second—the second in which he had bought me dinner, again, and I had not had sex, again—and he insisted we go to an open mic night. Now, this was fine. I’m nothing if not a patron for the arts. But then, twenty minutes and a few beers in, the emcee called out for a ‘Drew.’
“Andrew? Drew for short? Is Drew here tonight?” And sure enough, Andrew Puck walked up to the stage and proceeded to serenade me for three and a half excruciatingly long minutes. I’m sure my face was red, and I’m sure a small piece of me died in that coffee shop, surrounded by twenty strangers who only knew Andrew Puck by “Andrew. Drew for short,” but that wasn’t even the worst part. The worst part was having to pretend that I really, really, really liked Andrew’s song. Because when he stepped off the stage, he had the biggest grin smeared across his face. It was maniacal. And I couldn’t—I wouldn’t—make Andrew Puck sad when he looked that happy. Even though it frightened me, just a little.
And when I saw him standing on the beach, with that same smile, something weird happened. I think I fell in love with Andrew Puck. It didn’t matter to me that he didn’t take his shirt off or stayed on the sand. I didn’t care that he didn’t have a license even though he owned a car. I might have still cared that he lied about being a writer and couldn’t tell me who the Wife of Bath was and had no idea that my favorite color was blue. But just then, I forgot about all that stuff.
We drove home a few hours later, and Andrew Puck kissed me for the first time.
`One day after our first kiss, Andrew Puck and I had sex. He was nervous. I knew because he told me. I also knew because his hands were shaking so badly that, for a second, I thought he was having a brain aneurysm and I might need to call for an ambulance or drive him to the closest emergency room or drill a hole in his head because I saw someone do that in a movie once. But Andrew Puck was not having a brain aneurysm. He was just nervous because he was having sex for the first time since becoming Andrew Puck. He told me this too.
Andrew Puck broke up with me a week later. He insisted that he needed to focus on his writing. He also insisted that his favorite color was green, and since mine was pink, we just didn’t seem very compatible. He also insisted that iRobot was actually a really bad movie, and he didn’t think he could date someone long-term who liked it, let alone date someone who liked the extended version. When Andrew Puck broke up with me a week later, I thought he was joking. And when Andrew Puck asked me if I was okay before walking out the door, I lied.
Courtney Ludwick was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up near Austin, Texas. She is a current graduate student at Texas Tech University where she studies literature and creative writing. Her work has appeared in Sinister Wisdom and Willard & Maple. When she’s not writing, she’s probably playing the ukulele or hiking with her dachshund, Khaleesi. You can connect with Courtney on Instagram @courtlud.