By Lori Cramer
I awaken to the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee—which is strange because my roommate Suzanna always sleeps in on Saturdays. Pulling a hoodie on over my PJs, I head for the kitchen.
Suzanna’s not there. Instead, Tyson, her Flavor of the Week, is seated at the table in plaid boxers and a T-shirt. “Oh, hey.” He sits up a little taller. “Good morning, uh…Kayleigh.”
I can’t fault him for not remembering my name—we’ve spoken only once—but is that my favorite Diamondbacks mug he’s drinking out of?
“Hope it’s okay that I made myself some coffee.” He runs his hand through dark, messy curls. “Didn’t look like Suzanna was getting up anytime soon.”
“Yeah, she’s not much of a morning person.” I pluck the K-cup from the Keurig machine and plop in a new one, expecting Tyson to slink silently back into Suzanna’s room while my back’s turned. A moment later, though, the Breakfast Blend is brewed and Tyson’s still seated.
On my way to the table, I glance down at his pale, hairy legs. How at home he seems, slurping coffee in his underwear, apparently oblivious to Suzanna’s short attention span where men are concerned. His meter’s about to expire—and the guy’s got no idea.
He taps his toes against the linoleum. “How long have you and Suzanna lived here?”
“About five months.” I don’t have much experience making small talk with boys at the breakfast table, but my mom raised me to be polite, so I do my best to keep up the conversation. “How’d you like the restaurant last night?”
Tyson laughs. “The menu said ‘small plates,’ and they weren’t kidding! Tiniest ones I’ve ever seen.” He holds his thumb and index finger a few inches apart to illustrate. “Twelve bucks apiece!” He shakes his head, then shrugs. “But that’s where Suzanna wanted to go.”
The guys Suzanna dates take her to expensive places, unlike the starving-artist type I tend to attract. It’s just as well, though. I’d rather eat at a kitschy diner than some trendy, overpriced eatery.
“If you’re hungry, we’ve got cereal.” I gesture toward the cabinet.
“That’s okay. I’ve got everything I need.” He lifts the D-backs mug and flashes an affable grin.
His teeth catch me off guard—brilliant white, like in toothpaste commercials. I try to recall what Suzanna told me Tyson does for a living. Maybe she didn’t. She doesn’t care how he spends his days, as long as he can afford to take her wherever she wants to go.
He leans forward. “Can I ask you something? You know, about Suzanna?”
“What does she say about me?”
I take a sip of coffee, buying myself some extra time. Suzanna’s criticized his hair (too unstylish), clothes (too preppy), and kissing technique (too “tame”). But I don’t like hurting people’s feelings, so I reply in the kindest way I can. “She and I are on different schedules. We don’t get to talk much.”
“I don’t really know her that well,” he admits. “Does she have any hobbies?”
“Um, she likes shopping.”
Tyson nods. “I’ve noticed. We spent, like, three hours in Nordstrom the other day. What about sports? What’s her favorite team?”
“Suzanna hates sports.”
He taps the D-backs mug. “So, then, this is yours?”
“Think they’ll make the playoffs?”
“They’d better! They haven’t had pitching this good since 2001.”
“You’re not kidding. Remember two years ago when they were lucky if they got six innings out of the starters?”
“Six?” I snort. “Try five.”
“And the bullpen—”
“Tyson, can you come in here?” Suzanna calls sweetly from her bedroom.
He scrambles to his feet like a well-trained puppy. On his way out of the kitchen, he glances back at me and grins. “Great talking to you.”
“You too.” I get up and unplug my phone from its charger, then sit back down and scroll through Twitter while I finish my coffee. The tweets go by in a blur. Poor Tyson. No doubt Suzanna’s cutting him loose. Such a shame. He’s so much cooler than the egotistical posers she usually brings home. Would’ve been nice having him around, chatting about baseball. Too bad. I’ll bet Suzanna’s already got her next guy lined up.
Ten minutes later, Tyson, now fully dressed, reappears in the kitchen.
“She broke up with me.” He sounds bewildered.
“I’m sorry to hear that.” I should have warned him
“She said I’m too nice for her. What’s wrong with being nice?”
“Nothing.” Not a single thing.
“What’s that old expression? ‘Nice guys finish last’? Never really thought about that before.’ He stands motionless for a moment, as if contemplating the concept. Then he musters a smile. “Guess I’ll see you around. Maybe we’ll run into each other at a D-backs game sometime.” He heads toward the door.
I feel awful for him. He never even saw it coming. I jump up. “Hey, Tyson, wait!” He turns. “I’ve got two tickets for tonight’s game. First base side. You want to go with me?”
“Not like a date or anything,” I clarify. “Just two fans rooting for their team.” I cringe at my choice of words. Lame.
“You know what, Kayleigh?” He smiles. “That sounds really…nice.”