When I call my mom for money, tapping into my poor-college-student lifeline, she always sends some extras down with Dale. She works late at the USPS handling building in Warrendale, but Dale gets done parking cars at Tivoli's around 10:30 or 11pm. Tonight he's bundled up in a pair of maroon sweatpants, sweatshirt and ski cap.
"Here's the stuff from your mom," Dale says. We're standing in the doorway of my apartment on Neville Street, only the light of the hallway illuminating us. Dale hands me a plastic shopping bag.
"Thanks." I rifle through the bag. There are a few magazines -- People Weekly, Coastal Living, and Vogue (which is funny, considering I rarely make it out of jeans and a sweatshirt on a daily basis). My mom slipped the Coastal Living into my care package because she has the uncanny ability to remember even the slightest thing I mention. I said once that I like Milano cookies. That was at least five years ago. I get them in every single care package. There's a four-pack of Angel Soft toilet paper. There are some snacks -- the Milano cookies, of course, and some cheddar-flavored Baby Goldfish.
"The Gamecocks, huh?" The team supported by Dale’s hooded sweatshirts is usually a toss up between the University of South Carolina or the North Carolina Tarheels.
"Yeah, check out my socks," he reaches down to his ankles, pulling the elastic ankle band of his pants away from his black and white Pumas. The heel of his sock shows another Gamecocks logo.
"How's school going?" he says.
"All right. I was just reading," I say. I'm lying. In actuality I was probably surfing the Facebook or checking away messages.
"Good. So you needed some money, right?"
I nod. Dale pulls two twenties out of the pocket of his sweatpants and hands them to me.
"Will that be enough?" I nod again. He fishes through his pocket his truck's keys and looks toward the door of the apartment building.
I thank him for the money, for coming down so late, for helping me out. Then I reach out both my arms for a hug. This is the first time I can ever remember us hugging, and I immediately have two thoughts. It is the most awkward moment we'd ever shared -- it feels like a move two young kids would make on a first date. And, at the same time, it feels like the natural thing to do.