"Hey," I said. He didn't hear me.
I was shy enough to have waited until the fourth day of driving school to say something to him, but not so shy that I wouldn't insert myself into company that didn't explicitly want me. I was selectively shy. Or I wasn't shy at all, but awkward and antisocial. Anyway, in this case, I had nothing to lose. This driver's ed course was only two weeks long, and I was only in Los Angeles visiting my dad for three weeks. He looked like the star of a movie about cool teenagers. His scarf and denim jacket were extremely impractical for the Los Angeles summer. His long mousy hair covered most of his face, so mostly what I was attracted to, I guess, was the exposed tip of his nose and his mouth and chin.
The class was mostly made up of adults who had been court-mandated to complete a driver's training course after what I presumed was negligent driving. There was one other nerdy teenage girl who was trying to get her learner's permit, like me and this boy.
"Hey," I said again, sitting down next to him on a bench during a class break. "I'm Chelsea."
"Sandy," he said.
I said nothing else, confident about where the conversation had gone.
It was as if my whole life to this point had just been practice, and this was the real thing. The perfect boy. The limited time frame. The rigid, semi-educational setting.
Sandy stood up and took a call on his cell phone. He walked to the street and kicked the fence halfheartedly with his white Converse. I watched him unapologetically, knowing immediately that I was in love.
I was really good at and experienced with being in love. I can't remember a time in my teenage or even childhood years when I wasn't hopelessly and obsessively in love with someone. It was just how I operated. The moment before I met Sandy, I was in love with Zach the angry raver, and before him a guy named Sage who I had briefly met and never really talked to, and before him Jake, who was technically my boyfriend but who I also never talked to, and before him a more positive raver whose screen name was CapricornBoi78 and who was three years older than I was and also gay, and before him a boy in my ceramics class who I made no effort to get to know and who I called Purple Shirt Boy, and that was just in the previous eighteen months.
"Cool scarf," I said the next day during our lunch break. "Kinda warm, though."
"I like the way winter clothes look. I wish it were winter all year long."
"Yeah, it looks cool," I said.
Sandy stood up and walked over to the bathroom. I waited on the bench. A few minutes later he exited the bathrooms and walked away from the driving school, onto the sidewalk, and out of sight.
The next day I wore my Beck T-shirt and red polyester plaid bell-bottoms and square-toed green plaid low-tops. This was my best outfit.
"Do you like Beck?" I said during our class break, the only ten minutes I would have with him all day.
"Beck's cool," Sandy said.
"I'm going to see his concert this weekend."
"Beck is my favorite musician."
"Who do you like?"
"I don't know. I've been listening to Rooney lately. They're my friends, though, so it kinda doesn't count."
"Oh, I haven't heard of them. I'll check it out."
"Yeah, their singer is the brother of the drummer from Phantom Planet."