I try to imagine Christian as a college student. I imagine Twinkies instead.
"That's funny," I say. "I can't picture you as a student throwing your graduation cap up into the air."
"I didn't. Those things cost money."
He looks at me.
"And," he says, "speaking of money..."
He's had one hand hidden behind his back the whole time. What has he been hiding? Could it be a graduation gift? For me? Ooh, what can it be? A ring? One that I wear on my finger?
He brings out a bird cage from behind his back and proudly holds it up. It's covered by a shiny black cloth, perfectly tailored to the cage.
"...I bought you a gift for your graduation. A rare Liberian parrot from west Africa. It's rare because it doesn't have Ebola. It was very expensive."
He removes the cloth.
"His name is Monty," he tells me.
I look into the cage. The parrot is laying on the bottom of the cage on newspaper and mangy feathers. Its legs are sticking stiffly straight up into the air. Like Kate, only with less enthusiasm.
"Is he, um... okay?" I ask, not wanting to get too close.
Christian cocks his head and gives his gift a quizzical look. Unfortunately, that's the only thing he's cocked lately.
"Hmm..." he says, and arches an eyebrow.
He gives his chin a thoughtful rub, shakes the cage from side to side, then up and down. Nothing.
"He's just resting, dear," he tells me.
"Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure. He's just had a busy day."
He sticks his index finger between the bars and gives the motionless bird a little push.
"See?" he says. "It moved."
"No, it didn't."
"Yes, it did."
"No, it didn't."
"Yes, it did."
"No, it didn't. I saw you. You pushed it with your finger."
"I was just giving him a massage, my dear. He likes that. It relaxes him. See? He's taking a nap now. Nighty-night, Monty."
He hands me the cage.
"He likes to take long, long naps," he says softly, almost whispering. "Try not to wake him."
Just then, a man with a gun runs up to us.
"This is a stick-up," the man yells, thrusting his gun forward. "Your money or your life!"
I grab Christian's arm, and try to hide behind him. He beats me to it.
"What?" Christian says, peeking out from around my delicate girth.
"I said, your money OR YOUR LIFE!"
Christian stands there, thoughtfully thinking, putting a forefinger on his temple to thoughtfully think some more.
"Well?" the robber says.
"WELL?" I say.
"Give me a second," Christian says. "I'm trying to decide."
Fortunately, Christian doesn't have to think for too much longer. The robber gets tired of waiting, grabs the cage from my hand, and runs off.
"Oh, my gosh, Christian," I exclaim, practically in tears. "I was so scared."
"Nonsense, my dear. You were in good hands."
"Yes, I was, and you can them off my ass now."
He comes around from behind me and I give him a grateful hug, trying to absorb some of his courage. He grabs me gently by the arm and leads me into a janitor closet located convienently close by.
"Christian," I say, "you were so brave, so brave."
"Yes, I was, wasn't I?"
"What's that smell?" I ask, crinkling my nose distastefully.
"That's the smell of bravery, dear one."
"You were so brave you deserve a reward."
"You do. I'm going to sign your contract, Christian," I tell him, and I rest my head against his chest. "I'm yours, all yours."
"Yes, all yours."
"Dear Ana, I'd just like to say that you may not be the prettiest, you may not be the thinnest, and you may not be the funnest..."
Somewhere in the distance, a dog howls.
"And?" I say, encouragingly.
"Aren't you going to complete your thought?"
"I thought I did."
He looks at me. There's something he wants to say, but he can't quite get it out.
"I don't want you to worry, Ana," he says, finally. "I'm not talking about pre-marital sex..."
My heart leaps in my chest.
"...because I don't plan on marrying you."
"Christian," I swoon, "I'd just like to tell you..."
"Let me interrupt for a second here, Ana," Christian says, interrupting me for a second. "Why is it you constantly feel the need to introduce everything you're going to tell me? 'Christian, I want to tell you something...' 'Christian, you won't believe this...' 'Christian, of course it's edible...' Why don't you just tell me straight out so I can get back to ignoring you?"
I love his honesty, his compassion.
"Please be tender, Christian," I say to him, hoping this doesn't turn into some kind of horrible monkey paw wish.
He must see my vulnerability, because he takes my hand in his and tells me, "Don't worry, Ana. I promise you I'll be tender. Do you know why?"
I shake my head. That means no.
"Because of your heart," he explains. "You have the biggest heart I've ever come across. No, wait... I was thinking of something else."
"Ana! Ana!" I turn around, hearing a familiar voice calling me from a distance. It's my stepfather, Ray. The man who's sacrificed so much for me.
I turn back around in time to see Christian quietly sneaking out a window.
Fifty Shades of Funny