#17 How to Interpret Mixed Signals (LASL)

About a week later, Joseph called. We had both been busy with work so we hadn’t really seen each other since the “awkward” night at my house. I was sleeping when he called, but I didn’t mind. I had planned on texting him when I woke up. It was good to hear from him… even if it was before eight o’clock in the morning.

He said he had a surprise for me. I nearly squealed as I sat up in bed, squeezing my pillow beneath my left arm. I probably wouldn’t have been so excited if I had known how the evening would turn out. But I’m getting ahead of myself. *clears throat* 

Joseph asked me to meet him at the train station around 6P.M. Thankfully I had the night off. He wouldn’t tell me anything else leaving me to my own devices. I had to figure out what to wear. He didn’t explicitly say date, but after a week ago, I kind-of assumed he was into me. What am I saying? I knew he was.

I went back and forth between casual, semi-casual, semi-formal, and formal. I figured the formal gown was probably best saved for a really fancy night. I had no reason to suspect this would be a formal gig, given we were meeting at the train station, which had a tiny cafe in its building, but nothing more. I needed to be prepared for anything. I opted for a scoop-neck dress in our joint favorite color – green, matching heels, and my pearls. I was halfway there when I thought I might be overdressed.

Turns out I wasn’t. Joseph was wearing a blazer jacket, clean white button down, tie, and dress slacks. He was wearing glasses tonight instead of contacts which gave him the whole “sexy nerd” persona.

“Too formal?” he asked, pulling at his collar.

He went to the restroom, and returned a moment later, sans the tie. He planted a small kiss on my cheek and said I looked nice while we boarded the train. I yammered on the entire trip about every topic under the sun from soup to nuts. I think I was hungry. Joseph graciously let me sit next to the window. I was fascinated watching the landscape change from red sandy desert to lush trees and green rolling meadows. He smiled adoringly, and I knew he was just being polite. I was acting like a silly little kid who had never been out of town before. Joseph mentioned how nice it was to be with someone whom he could talk to for hours and hours. I blushed at the compliment.

After one hour and twenty minutes, we arrived in Newcrest, Califorsimia.  I was thrilled when we stepped off the train in front of a Star Nut Coffee shop.

“This was your surprise?”

You like it?

I threw my arms up in the air. “Like it? I love it!”

Good.”

“This is surprising! And it was so expensive to take the train.”

He shrugged, as he checked his phone. “Cheaper than the gas I’d use.”

Joseph dropped his head.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

Aw…nothing...” he kicked at a weed sprouting through the sidewalk.

“What do you mean nothing?”

I didn’t get the promotion I wanted.

“Oh Joseph, I’m so sorry.”

Guess this means I’m stuck another six months as a media intern at Nookstone News,” he crossed his arms in annoyance.

“Well, you’ve only been there a little over three months…” I offered. “What was the job you were going for?”

Engagement Monkey.”

I couldn’t help it. I smirked. That was an actual job title?

I don’t think Mr. Nerdstrom likes me,” Joseph sulked.

“Is that your boss?” I said, trying to hide my smile about the title.

It was just too funny.

“Uh… let’s go inside… We’ll get a cup of espresso like you like. My treat,” I offered.

Really?”

“Of course.”

You’re a good friend, Lizzie.”

I couldn’t help but puzzle at his words. Friend? I got all dressed up for a friend? I thought this was a date and I was way overdressed for a hangout. Then again, he was too.

Thanks Lizzie. The espresso was just what I needed.”

Things got even weirder as the evening progressed. Joseph went to check his work email in case he misunderstood the phone call. It was an Internet cafe after all. I ordered an Earl Grey. Hot. I made a few Star Trek jokes,  but Joseph didn’t seem to be paying attention. I wanted some soothing tea with my dinner. I was pretty sure I saw Teresa’s dad, Larry Spinks. What was he doing in Newcrest? I wasn’t sure I wanted him to see me with Joseph since we were… well, what were we doing? What are we? Thankfully, Mr. Spinks walked right past me, and I was relieved he didn’t recognize me. I awkwardly sipped my tea while we waited for our meal. The kitchen was backed up for some unknown reason.

“Come on Joseph, let’s dance,” I sashayed my hips seductively. “This is a great song.”

Here? In a coffee shop?

“Why not?”

Not right now.

“Really? You don’t want to join me? On the dance floor?”

What dance floor?”

“Where’s your imagination, Joe? Do I need to get you another cupp’a’joe to get you in the mood to take a twirl with me?”

That got a little smile. Come on, Joseph. I’m pulling out all my stops. Dinner still hadn’t arrived. Despite the Earl Grey Hot, I was still feeling wired from the espresso. Maybe I needed something more relaxing. I ordered us both some Bernish coffees.

Maybe I was too relaxed. I gushed on and on about this movie involving alien invasions and cowplants. I even suggested we drop by the movies after our dinner to see this “masterpiece.” Newcrest probably had a movie theater nearby.

I don’t know,” Joseph shrugged.

The Bernish coffee seemed to have little effect on him. Me? I was waving my arms around like a maniac. I suggested we dance again when another clsssic song cascaded from the wall speakers. Joseph was still hesitant to dance.

“I have a hard time believing a stud like you is a wallflower,” I teased.

Oh is that a challenge?” he perked up a bit.

“Well, if it isn’t a challenge, then I’m not working my hips hard enough,” I flirted boldly. “I challenge you, sir…” I pointed my finger dramatically in his direction. “…to a dance-off.”

What are you doing?” he seemed hesitant.

“Bringing it down hard…” I said enthusiastically. “Come on Joseph, dance with me.”

Come on, Joseph,” a random bystander interjected. “The lady is asking you to dance.”

“Don’t make me come over there!” I teased.

That got Joseph’s attention. He began grooving.

He even sang a little. “Ooh, child, things are gonna get easier…”

Ooh, child, things are gonna get brighter,” I sang right back.

Ah!” Joseph relaxed his shoulders and got fully into the song and dance.

Unfortunately, his mood didn’t last as the cafe exploded with light as the sun finally set too low to see inside.

Hey! Who turned on the lights?” he yelled.

“All the better to see each other,” I smiled.

GAH!” he removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes. “Seriously! Who thought floodlights was a good idea in a romantic little cafe?

“Looks like our food is ready,” I remarked to the nervous looking waitress in a blue and white striped shirt.

I’m not hungry,” Joseph grunted, taking one look at the waitress.

“Yes you are,” I reached for his arm to guide him to a table. “We can sit in the back where the lights are dimmer.”

Don’t pretend to know what I want,” Joseph snipped.

“Well, okay then…” I took a step back. “What’s gotten into you?”

Where would you like your dinner?” the waitress interjected.

Not now Summer!” Joseph snapped.

“It’s Lizzie,” I frowned.

No, her name is Summer…” Joseph flung an accusing finger in the direction of the waitress who looked completely surprised.

“How do you know the waitress’ name?” I asked, placing my hands on my hips.

I can’t believe you made me dance.”

“I didn’t make you…”

“...and made me look stupid in front of her…”

Who? The waitress?” I said, flustered. “Summer?”

“That’s my name,” the woman named Summer sighed. “I can come back.”

“No, we’re leaving,” Joseph huffed.

“Mmm,” I grunted. “Hold on…” I motioned to the poor, flustered waitress and stomped toward the door,  expecting Joseph to follow.

Did I tell you nice tonight?” he said, softening his tone.

“Ughh! Joseph… you’re not acting nice,” I pummeled my fists. “What’s gotten into you? How do you know the waitress?”

We used to date,” Joseph admitted.

“Oh really? And that’s how you treat exes?” I narrowed and then widened my eyes. “Come to think of it, you brought me to a place where your ex worked?”

I didn’t know she worked here, I swear,” he said.

“Really?”

Yes, really.”

I sighed, slumping my shoulders. “Well… okay then. Let’s just go back inside and eat our dinner.”

I don’t really want to,” Joseph replied. “I should get back. It’s later than I expected.”

“We just got here,” I protested. “Come on… we can go somewhere else if you don’t want to eat here, then go to the movies or something, or stroll along the waterfront.”

I should get into work early tomorrow. I might be able to convince the boss to promote me anyway,” Joseph replied.

“Seriously?” I widened my eyes. “I’m not ready to go.”

I am.”

“Well, go then.”

Joseph hesitated, taking his glasses off and wiping the lens. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah. It’s not like you drove me here. I can take the train back later.”

Are you sure?”

“Don’t worry about it,” I said, a slight edge to my tone.

I wanted him to worry about it. I wanted him to apologize.

Good night,  Lizzie. That was a nice time. I’ll call you later…” he leaned in a placed a peck on my cheek. “Maybe?”

I watched him through the window as he picked up a trash can that had been knocked over by a raccoon. Joseph was completely baffling.

Was this a first date or had I just been friend-zoned?


Authors Note: Joseph asked Lizzie out on a date and took her to the Star Nut Cafe in Newcrest. However, upon arriving, he immediately received a phone call and then was inexplicably sad. His behavior continued to be puzzling throughout the rest of the evening. He complained about work, hence the lack of promotion. LegacySims2017’s other submitted Sim for this story, Goober Nerdstrom is Joseph Simself’s boss in game, ironically. And I discovered during the night that Summer Holiday was Joseph’s ex-girlfriend in game. Joseph also got angry later, and argued with Lizzie and Summer. 

On a lighter note, I was thinking about this scene from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 while writing this chapter, and borrowed the line about “bringing it down.” Ha. It’s a good song. Lizzie was a bit tipsy. You can listen to the song here on my YouTube Simspiration list

This chapter also featured skcaga6‘s Larry Spinks, in passing. FYI, Bernish is my Simworld version of Northern Ireland so a Bernish coffee is an Irish coffee. Lizzie had three before dancing with Joseph. Thanks for reading. 

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