Scavenger Hunt

Of course we’re late. Because someone thought t would be a good idea to have a scav hunt at eight am on a Saturday morning. Now we’ve got less than twenty minutes to get moving when I bust into Tia’s room. I leap onto her bed, knocking over an uncapped bottle of water onto her comforter, amplifying her already legendary morning bitchiness.

“Rise and shine, Ti!”

Tia shoots me a glare that could tie steel into a ribbon. “I hate you so much right now.”

“My Tia Bia,” I start to sing. Tia flings the comforter off and water hits me in the face. Works every time.

We gather at the North Lawn. Pi Kappa vs. Delta Tau. Boys against girls. From the groggy looks of the boys, they’ve had a rough night. We’ll have this thing won by afternoon.

The rules are straightforward. And we were given the list a few days ago. Standard fare, for the most part: Dean Randolph’s signature, 30 points. A picture of Professor Deller smoking a cig is worth 45. Easier stuff, like a Robinson College lawn flag nets five points. A lame ticket stub from the basketball game gets you a measly point.

We’re about to get started when I catch Tyler’s eye and he grins. I arch my back and pretend I don’t have a stomach full of butterflies. I need to keep my game face tight, but I can’t fool Tia. Even bleary eyed and coffee deprived, she’s onto me.

“He’s got you so whipped.”

“Not even, I just…” I can’t look at her. Or even finish the sentence. But so what? Tyler stands out to me. Yeah, he’s got a smile that makes me think bad thoughts. And his effortless hair, thick with curls yet arranged like he just stepped out of an episode of Hart of Dixie, there’s certainly an attraction. But when we met at a party a few months back, we talked. It was nice. And now we’re, well, who knows, right?

Tia shoots me that look, eyes narrowed like she was reading my thoughts. Then she cocks her head, her eyes running across the lawn. “Too pretty for me, I like a guy with some character.”

From the looks of things, there’s plenty of character to go around. I grab Tia and we get off to a decent start. I’d mapped out the campus and the strategy is to hit the gym and snag the gimmie items first.

By ten we’ve got most of the stuff marked off the list.

Coach Millen’s whistle.

A quarter pound of chewed gum from under the bleachers (Eww).

Both basketball goal nets.

Cake. We’re in and out before the first hungover Kappa boy stumbles through the doors.

We eat lunch with the enemy. Typical, the guys have a keg on the lawn and the house is pretty much a tailgate party. We disclose nothing. But they go on about what measly items they’ve found. It’s clear we’re crushing the boys. I think most of them are only in it for the free beer anyway.

Tyler makes a peace offering. He hands me a solo cup and I thank him with a smile. As a junior, I’m not exactly unexposed to day drinking. It’s just what happens. The sun is out and Spring is unraveling in the yard. Tyler pumps the keg, his wiry arms coming alive with the movement. He looks back at me and I scoot forward so he can fill my cup. I spot Tia over near the grill, all arms crossed but smiling with some uh, characters. I’m not expecting it when Tyler leans over and kisses my cheek.

It’s nice. And Tyler’s nice. But all is fair in this silly war. On each list there was one secret object. Ours is the Kappa paddle. I glance over his shoulder to the house.  I have a means to an end.

We get back to the hunt that afternoon. By five or so we’re set, although Beth’s giggling nearly got us busted over at the Dellstein residence. It’s clear we have this thing won, but I want the paddle. And I want Tyler.

The sun has slipped down and the music is louder. I join Tyler inside. The floor is sticky because they are completely helpless. But Tyler smells good, musky, a hint of sweat. He leans in and we kiss again, near the steps. After a while he asks if I want to go upstairs. I do. Now, before Tia sees me. I’m not drunk, but at the same time I don’t need her asking me a bunch of questions. I’m fine. I’m ready.

I’ll leave out the details. But I’m ready—it’s not like I was saving it. Maybe in high school but Tyler is slow and sweet and it’s like he knows he’s the first. It’s great and not-so-great and a moment I will always remember for so many reasons. Sure, it would have been nicer if we were somewhere more private, somewhere without sticky floors and loud music and people yelling below us but again, this is college. I’m used to distractions.

But the yelling has turned to chanting. Faraway but then it feels like it’s closer, on top of me, in my face. It’s coming from the kitchen (I can hear them beating pots and pans) and it gets so loud I can feel it in the mattress. Tyler stands and gives me a nervous chuckle. Tia was right. He is perfect. He wipes the hair from his eyes and. I gave him a lazy smile.

“I have to use the bathroom,” he says, then leans over and kisses me on the lips. His lips linger and I close my eyes and it would be nice but for all the noise. Then he walks out of the room.

And that’s when I see it.

I’d forgotten about the paddle. The top item on my list. Now, in the heap of our clothes I spot a folded piece of paper peeking haphazardly out of his jacket.

His list.

It’s just like ours. With the same items and points. Some are marked and crossed out but it’s clear we’ve got them beat. The more valuable items are still waiting to be crossed out. My eyes run down the list, and my hands are trembling because it sounds like they’re chanting my name in the kitchen. I reach the bottom of their list. The list that is identical to ours save for one thing.

Like an item to a menu, I see my name.

Jennifer Brent’s Virginity – 500 Points!



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