So that's not the reason I included a little romance in Saving the Planet & Stuff. I included it because I think that out in the real world, teenagers hope for romance. It's part of what they're looking for in life. It's part of what teenagers look for in a summer experience.
I'm not a big reader of romance, though, so these two final scenes in the Annotated Saving the Planet & Stuff project, are not going to bring the Romance Writers of America beating a path to my door.
"Hey, listen," Michael said as he followed her. "You want to do something?"You can understand why Michael finds the story of how Walt and Nora met a big improvement on how he and Amber set up their first date.
Amber stopped suddenly and turned to look at him.
"Okay, we need to get something straight," she said. "I don't date guys."
Michael gasped. A lesbian! I've never met one before! At least, I don't think so. Wait until everyone hears about this. I wonder if there's some way I can send a postcard to Marc. This would cheer him up for sure.
"I'm not a lesbian, if that's what you're thinking," Amber went on.
"I meant I just don't date. And I don't date because I don't want to get involved with anyone from East Branbury. You get involved with someone from your hometown and then you're stuck there or else you're stuck going where he wants to go. I have one more year of high school, four years of college, then a master's program and a Ph.D. program before I can practice psychology. What do you think the chances are of my doing all that if I have a boyfriend back home? Zilch."
She's going to be a senior this year. So she is older than I am.
"I'm not from East Branbury," he reminded her.
"Oh. Well. That's a minor point," Amber said quickly.
"And I don't want to be your boyfriend or anything," he added, thinking he sounded very reassuring.
Amber didn't look reassured.
"I thought that was what you wanted—to not have a boyfriend," he said as he rushed to follow her along the balcony to the stairs. "Aren't we perfect for each other?"
"What kind of standard for perfection do you have?" Amber snapped over her shoulder.
"I don't know. All I did was ask if you wanted to do something. I'm not interested in going shopping for rings or anything."
"She took a big chance on me. I was drunk the first time she saw me. I was so shitfaced, I went into a coffeehouse looking for beer. They had a guy there sitting on a stool, reading poetry, so, as you can imagine, there were lots of empty tables. But I went and plopped myself down next to this woman who was sitting all by herself. She had a black cardigan sweater on that was buttoned all the way up to the neck. Her hair was red—not that orangy red like Bozo the Clown, but a dark, brick color, and it was in this twist along the back of her head. She turned and looked at me, and she didn't seem surprised to see me sitting there. She just smiled."Walt met a woman who wanted to save the planet. By the end of Saving the Planet & Stuff, it's pretty clear that Michael could deal with that, too.
"Why were you drunk?" Michael asked.
Walt groaned and rolled his eyes. "I knew you were going to ask that. You always zoom in on something insignificant. I don't remember why I was drunk, okay? Wait! Yes, I do! I was drunk because Nora and I were meant to meet that night. It was Fate. But since I would never have gone to a poetry reading in a coffeehouse sober, Fate had to make sure I was drunk."
Michael sighed. I want to meet a woman that way, he realized. Except for the poetry. I really don't like poetry. And except for being drunk. I've never been drunk, and what if I were drunk and went to the wrong coffeehouse or the wrong table? But otherwise I'd like everything to be the same.