Wow, so I got some really good feedback about “In the Courtyard,” and got a request to write more about Dan. So, I think I will – I find that writing about him comes along easily and it ends up being some of my best work, in my opinion. Maybe I should thank him for the memories or something… I still have a few memories about him that hopefully will shape up well – I will start working on another one to be the next post. In the meantime – this is the beginning of the Story of Rae and Dan.
He was 18 when I met him at the beginning of the first semester of the ’99-’00 school calendar, and still another year away from graduating. I was 16 then and one year below him in my first year of three at Kungsholmens Gymnasium.
I fancied him the moment I saw him. I’m not entirely sure I can put my finger on the why, but I found him attractive. Maybe it was the bad boy quality. Maybe it was because I liked and related to the alternative subcultures and Dan fit to an extent into that mould.
I had been working on myself in the regards of being more bold and confident, so I when I saw him I decided I must get to know him. I approached him at his bench – the bench in the courtyard he and his friends usually occupied. Smoking and laughing was occurring, kids milling around – having deep conversations and basking in the last of the summer sun and the swirling cigarette smoke.
My heart was going a million beats a minute; I could hear the faint pounding in my ears. He was sitting on the lower part of the bench with his head turned talking to someone, he looked up at me as I arrived in front of him. I pushed the fear down and I smiled and said “Hi, I’m Rae. I saw you over here and thought ‘that looks like someone I’d like to know.’ Soooo… Hi.”
Steve smirked and glanced at Dan, I suppose to see what his response would be. JD leaned back, cocking his head to the side to get a good look at me – I would guess he was making a silent assessment.
Dan had a look of slight surprise initially, but he recovered quickly. “Hi, I’m Dan.”
“Nice to meet you, Dan,” I said.
I then smiled and turned to walk away before my nerves gave me away. I attempted to walk with nonchalance, so hopefully they wouldn’t realize my face was getting red and would think maybe I’m cool – or at least gutsy. It’s very unusual in Sweden to be so bold to people you don’t know like that.
Of course I went straight to Svea to tell her all about it. I was yet to meet Maja for another five months or so. A week or so later, Svea and I were standing in the foyer of the school when Dan came breezing down the hallway. He even walked like a bad boy… Swoon. I told Svea I saw him coming, but as he approached I acted as though I didn’t see him or at the very least wasn’t bothered if I had. He wooshed past me, undoubtedly on the way to class, and as he did he said “Hey, Rae,” and smiled.
“Oh hey, Dan.” I said in response.
I waited for him to get out of earshot and turned to Svea grinning. He noticed me. He noticed me!
It was a slow start to actually going out, but I crushed on him that whole year. He and his friends allowed me into their little circle when I wanted to hang out in the courtyard with them – though I wasn’t a fulltime member because I didn’t really do anything with that group outside of school. It still felt nice that they were cool with me being around. At some point Dan gave me his number. I don’t recall if I gave him mine at the same time or not.
I remember calling his house for the first time one afternoon and introducing myself to his father as “Rachel.”
His father’s voice contained some excitement as he said “Oh! RAE! Lovely to hear from you! Dan is still sleeping – but let me see if I can get him up.”
As he set the phone down it dawned on me that Dan must’ve talked about me at home if his father A.) knew I went by “Rae” and B.) seemed really happy I’d called (instead of indifference or annoyance like most parents I’d dealt with on the phone.)
By the spring semester of 2000 – now we were 19 and 17 respectively – we actually went out on a date. We decided to go see American Psycho in the cinema.
I was certain I’d be earlier than him. I hated to be late, so I tended to be at least ten minutes early for everything if I could help it. He was a guy that had been held back the year before for not showing up to class, not doing the work, those kinds of things. He was a guy that didn’t seem to care about much, least of all how he appeared to others. He didn’t care about clothes – he wore old, plain items – a bit tattered sometimes. He usually carried an ancient backpack to school.
So when I walked from T-Centralen train station to the Hötorget cinemas, I did not expect to see him already waiting for me there in nice clothes. He was wearing a nice pullover cardigan in a light greenish-tan, khaki pants that were not scuffed or tattered, and nice new looking hiking boots.
“Wow, Dan – you look nice today.”
“There was nothing else clean,” he said.
“Well your shoes are nice too…”
He informed me they were new and just not broken in. Mmmhmm. Okay, Dan. I let it go at that.
We saw the movie, and as we sat in the darkened theatre I stole glances at him once in a while; especially when he’d make a cute comment or laughed. He laughed during the various murder scenes at different dark humour elements. He was impressed at the skill level needed to drop a chainsaw from the top of a stairwell and hit a moving target below. “Nice Aim,” he stated. Alarmed, he exclaimed “Not the kitty!” when Patrick Bateman tried to feed one to the ATM. I let a small smile creep onto my face when he said that. He was so adorable to me.
After the movie we decided that neither of us had to go home just yet, so we went for a walk down the side street by the cinema in search of a café. We talked and goofed around a little as we walked over the cobblestone lined road, eventually coming to a small café near the end.
We each got a coffee – basic cuppa joe – and sat down. He started putting several spoonfuls of sugar into his mug, then he stopped, peered in, put one more and looked again. “You need to see the sugar from the surface before it’s any good,” he said as he started to stir.
I smiled at him and laughed “A man after my own heart.”