Nerd Romance—The Plan

“I have a plan. It’s just weird enough, it might work.”

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

This is yet another chapter in a series I “finished” last year, but my characters kept talking to me. Then Roz Warren convinced me into fill out the series into a book, so now I’m working on that. Most of what I’ve been doing lately has been filling in gaps or adding to existing material, but this chapter felt like it could stand without the reader having just finished the one before.

Short summary of the story to date:

The series covers two academic over-achievers with limited social skills (aka “nerds”) in the last semester of their junior year in a suburban high school in the 1970s. They call each other by their initials, so she is “E” and he is “K.” They were engaged in a “practice” relationship, working from an agreed upon list of goals, trying to learn to be more like regular people before they head off to college. Both kids agreed that this was a mutually beneficial partnership, and not in any way a romantic association.

Which worked really well. Until it didn’t.

They arranged a clandestine camping trip, during which they planned to have sex. The planned beautiful spring night actually was cold, wet, and awful, so while they did admit to falling in love with each other and shared a sleeping bag, that’s as far as things got. They also decided that the “practice” part of the practice relationship was over, and they were going to be actual boyfriend and girlfriend. That fell apart for a few days, and then everything came together and so did they, having sex in the guest room at K’s house while his parents were out of town.

On a school night.

So there was a frantic rush to get E home before anyone got suspicious. Didn’t quite work; E’s dad figured it out immediately, and when K got home he found his sister had covered up the “crime scene” so their parents wouldn’t suspect.

They looked forward to spending time together over the summer, and having senior year together; meanwhile they devoted their attention to finals (mostly — allowing for teenage hormones and all). Then Jenn, K’s older sister told them that K’s family would be moving hundreds of miles away. In a matter of weeks.

They met at his locker, as they had every day that week since Jenn dropped the bomb on them. After their long, long hug, E announced, “I have a plan. It’s just weird enough, it might work.”

Okay. I’m willing to listen. Oh, before I forget — “Oh! Mom & Dad finally talked to me last night. About losing all the money and Dad getting a job in New York and everything. I told them Jenn had filled us in on everything, Dad looked relieved, and I think Mom wanted to say more but Dad wanted to drop it.” K shrugged. “So, situation normal at home. What’s the plan?” K finished getting the rest of his stuff for morning classes out of his locker, E picked up her books from the floor where she’d placed them for their hug, and they walked down the hallway toward home rooms.

“Okay, my dad is faculty at NU, right? And because he’s tenured, any of his kids can go to school there for free. Well, free tuition, room and board will still need to be covered, but that’s got to be a lot cheaper than tuition, right? See where I’m going?” E was staring at K intently to make sure he was following her.

He actually wasn’t, so much. “So… you want your parents to adopt me?” Dad might accept a deal to sell me off, Mom would balk. Jenn… depends on the day, with Jenn.

She gave him a hard look to see if he was taking her seriously. Deciding he was, she responded, “No. Well, probably not. No, I’m saying if we were married, you’d be able to go to NU for free. As Dad’s son-in-law.”

Okay, I’ve identified the weird part of the plan, for one thing. “Hon, we can’t even buy beer yet, never mind getting married, and — ”

“We can with parental consent!”

“Okay, valid point, leaving aside the whole task of getting both sets of parents to agree to this. But, um, how can I put this… Are you asking me to marry you? Because you didn’t get down on one knee or anything.” K added a smile to show he was kidding.

E stopped walking; K, caught by surprise, kept going for several steps, then back-tracked. His girlfriend looked frozen in place; she blinked, then stared at him. “I… I… yes. I guess, yes, that follows, right, yes, wow, I hadn’t thought it through. Wow.” She took a deep breath. “Yes. I guess that I am asking you to marry me. For us to get married. To each other. Yes.”

K put down his books and put his arms around her. “I love you very much,” he whispered, “and I don’t ever want to lose you. But I think you need to talk to your dad tonight when you get home and see if this would even work, okay? Then we can talk about this more, okay?” He paused. “Okay, honey?”

“Okay,” she whispered back. She held onto his shirt with her free hand. “I don’t want to lose you either. I hadn’t, actually, thought it through, I guess. For smart people we can be pretty dumb sometimes.” She looked up at the hall clock. “We need to move, honey. See you in chem. I love you!”

“I love you too, hon! See you!”

“Thank you, Daddy! Sorry to bother you! See you tonight! Love you!” E hung up the pay phone, checked to make sure she didn’t get change back, then picked up her lunch bag and headed to the cafeteria. Her glum face forewarned K before she sat down next to him on his right.

“What’s wrong, E?” He scooted his chair closer to hers and put his right arm around her. She laid her head on his shoulder.

“I was talking to my dad. It won’t work.” And I have nothing else.

“Just now?”

“I used one of the pay phones in the basement. Anyway, in-laws don’t count as relatives of faculty. And even if they adopted you, there has to be some sort of waiting period or something, so that’s out. The only thing that would work is if you were a stepson or something. So… dumb idea, won’t work. Sorry.” She kept her head on his shoulder while reaching into her lunch bag for her sandwich. She unwrapped it and took a bite.

“So… we’d have to kill my dad, your mom, get my mom and your dad married, and then be brother and sister? It sounds like Columbo meets The Brady Bunch, or something.” That got him a smile and a smooch from her. She wiped some of her sandwich’s mayonnaise off his cheek.

They chewed in silence for a bit. “So how do you think you did on chem?” she asked.

K shrugged with his left shoulder so as not to dislodge her. “I spent the first five minutes wondering what it all meant, then my stupid brain finally clicked into chem mode and I zipped through it. You left early — too hard, or too easy?”

“Too easy. Well, not easy easy, but I only need a 79 or better and that was in the bag, so it seemed silly to run up the score. Know what I mean?” It’s getting harder and harder to care about school right now.

“Yeah. What difference does class standing make if I won’t be graduating with the class?”

“Plus I wanted to call my dad to see what he’d found out anything.” They sat together long after they finished lunch. The bell rang, they kissed, stood up, and trudged off to their next class.

So you’re young and in love, and the days are counting down quickly to when you won’t see your sweetheart for months, possibly years, possibly ever. Desperate times, desperate measures…



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Jack Herlocker

Jack Herlocker

Husband & retiree. Developer, tech writer, & IT geek. I fill what’s empty, empty what’s full, and scratch where it itches. Occasionally do weird & goofy things.