Saturday January 4, 2003:
I got so nervous before the date that I almost chickened out. Can you tell it’s been a while since I got any action? But Gordon was a good pal: he gave me a solid pep talk beforehand, telling me that I was the best shot in Black Mesa, ruggedly handsome, and a legend in uniform. By the time he finished his spiel I probably could have marched up to Dr Breen’s office and asked him on a date.
I got to the place in time and found Lauren waiting for me. I ordered a black coffee, and she got an iced latte, and we talked about the differences between the UK and the US: Lauren said that all the food tastes better here, apart from our chocolate, and that she really misses something called ‘brown sauce.’
“Brown sauce?” I said. “I thought all British food is brown?”
“This from the culture that invented Cheez-Whiz?”
“Hey Cheez-Whiz is great!”
She talked about her younger sister Amanda, and her mom and dad, and she showed me pictures of her little cat Winston. We talked about what bands we liked, movies and stuff. I screwed up by letting slip that I watch the X-Files.
“Oh God you’re not an anorak are you?” she asked.
“A sci-fi nerd. Do you go on weird message boards talking about flying saucers and the men in black?”
“No! … okay, a bit. But come on, are you telling me you don’t believe there’s life out there?”
“Of course not, it’s ridiculous.”
“I don’t believe this,” I scoffed. “We’re working in a top-secret government base, and you seriously don’t think there’s stuff going on we don’t know about?”
“Barney,” she said, “My life is paperwork. If Anomalous Materials really were keeping dead Martians in the freezer, don’t you think I’d know about it?”
I had to admit, she had a point. I shifted in my seat.
“Okay… what about Bigfoot?”
“The Loch Ness Monster?”
“You can’t be serious.”
I listed every paranormal thing I could think of, and we giggled more and more the longer I went on. I lost track of time, and soon it was six in the afternoon. I walked Lauren back to her place, and said goodbye.
“So,” I said. “Now you’ve outed me as a … what did you call me?”
“An anorak,” I repeated. “What now?”
“Now we part ways Mr Calhoun,” she smiled. “And I’ll call you tomorrow.”
I really wanted her to invite me into her dorm, but it was only the first date. So I just smiled back, looked into her eyes, and gave her a quick kiss.
“Lookin forward to it,” I said.
I bounced back to my dorm, feeling twenty feet tall, and spent the rest of the night telling Gordon all about her.