It was still freshman year, and Lukus, Brenden, Renee and I were all hanging-out nearly exclusively. Every now and then, I would ask Brenden if he liked Renee and he would adamantly deny it. I had no idea how Lukus felt about me, but I was beginning to feel more comfortable in our relationship, not so much agony as there had been. We were clearly becoming very good friends, and when Brenden and Renee started hanging-out on their own more and more, Lukus and I just had each other. We had other friends of course, but by mid-freshman year, everyone was pretty established in their crowd. I hate to say things like that because it’s reminiscent of high school cliques, but it wasn’t quite that way. There wasn’t a “cool kids” crowd, or “nerd group”, but everyone simply had their consistent group of friends that they hung-out with. Seeing as how we’d established what appeared to be an “us four and no more” kind of group, we were somewhat hung-out to dry when half of the group disappeared. Despite his constant denial, Brenden and Renee were both irredeemably twitterpated by the end of the year. That wasn’t the case for me and Lukus.
Lukus and I became best friends, indispensable friends. He had such big, vague plans, and I likewise, had big, vague plans. He was studying finance to be an entrepreneur, and I was in advertising because it was the most artistic degree at ORU without being an art degree. We had no idea what we really wanted to do specifically, but we were both sure it would change the world. I wanted someone who wanted to change the world with me, and he wanted someone who believed in him to do it. Ah, blissful, naïve Youth. How the memory of you mocks us as we grow older! But it supports the process of falling in love, at least.
I was beginning to get a hint that Lukus might be falling for me. He was calling me to do things more than I was calling him. He was becoming very attentive and could recall the details of every mundane little story I told him. Then, he asked me to go swing dancing with him. Swing dancing had made a huge come-back while we were in college, and it was especially popular for ORU students who found a loophole to the whole “no dancing at school” rule that ORU had at the time. Lessons and dances were going on twice a week at a local Baptist church gym (of all places), and Lukus, who really liked dancing, asked me to go.
I was so nervous. I didn’t know what to wear. I’d swing danced once before and knew enough that it made you sweat like a cow. I opted for black pants and a semi-sheer black top with a tank-top underneath. That seemed reasonable, cute but practical. I met Lukus downstairs and he was wearing khakis and a vintage-striped polo. He looked so good and I was really ready to see this guy dance.
We arrived in time for the group lesson, and from the get-go my palms were sweaty. By the time Lukus took my hand for that first time, my hands were dripping sweat. I realized too that my choice of attire was the worst possible choice I could have made. My tank-top, which I had planned to be my sweat-absorbing layer, was a poly-rayon blend and so was the blouse I wore over it. I was wearing two of the most sweat-producing fabrics there are. Fortunately, the fabric doesn’t show sweat because it doesn’t absorb, but it does get slick enough so that it’s like standing water on a countertop. You could literally whisk puddles of sweat off of my back as we were trying to dance. Lukus’ hands were a little sweaty, but my hands were so bad that he actually commented on my sweaty palms.
Lukus wasn’t a polished dater. In fact, he’d never been on a date, never had a girl-friend, never kissed a girl, ever-ever. He’d come from a very conservative family and was himself very shy, hence the behavior that I had initially interpreted as “stuck-up”. So that night, swing-dancing with me, was Lukus’ very first date and his brutal honesty about my sweaty palms didn’t offend so much as it displayed his amateur dating status. This fact actually served to give me more confidence, that I was the one who knew the p’s and q’s of dating, and he just might be the one who’s nervous this time. Finally, an even playing field!
But man alive, this shy, home-schooled, never-dated-a-girl-before guy, boy could he dance! Whereas most confident guys get shy on the dance floor, Lukus was completely unintimidated. He had the rhythm, he was smooth, and he unwittingly flirted with his smile the whole time. I had really wondered how a night of dancing would turn out with a guy who had been nervous about buying his first non-Christian CD, but swing dancing with Lukus that night turned out to be some of the most fun I’d ever had, and by the end of the night, his pit-stains were as bad as the dripping from my blouse. We didn’t care. It was totally worth the sweet moves we’d learned, and a girl never felt so good as when she’s tossed like a rag doll into the air and caught in some strong, tan arms by a good-looking, smiling guy. I knew then that Lukus was falling for me too.