* Sorry, it's not that great, but I don't have time to edit right now! Anyway, I hope you like it! *

I stood, nervously inspecting myself in the mirror. I automatically smoothed my shirt, trying to get the wrinkles out. What is wrong with me? I wondered. I hadn't cared about my appearance for months- I had been content to look like a bum 24/7. I had just been going through each day, not caring what I looked like to the rest of the world-my looks had been reflecting my mood. But all of a sudden, this guy I had just met, was causing my habits to do a complete 180. We had only been hanging out for a couple of days, and he was already bringing out bits of the old me. I couldn't help but wonder what longer could do for us...I snapped out of it, and hurried to the door to meet my family. We were on our way down to the restaurant, and I was already anxious.

The time on my phone read 5:58. I had told Mark after our morning together snowboarding that dinner was at 6. Personally, I didn't care if he was a few minutes late. My parents however...they were a different story. They were very strict-true believers in punctuality, discipline-you name it. All I wanted was for them to at least approve of Mark, so that I could keep snowboarding with him for the rest of the break. I couldn't stand the thought of having them take away the one person who I actually cared about.

“Am I on time?” An out-of-breath voice spoke up right next to my ear, and I jerked my head up wildly. Mark was standing right over my shoulder, looking just as uneasy as I was feeling. I took a small step back, taking in his appearance with my eyes. He was dressed in a sharp-looking pair of khaki pants with shiny brown leather shoes, and a purple dress shirt. “Wow McMorris, you clean up nice.” I joked, suddenly feeling under-dressed. I was wearing a pair of dark indigo jeans and a sparkly red top. My hair was down, but not straightened, and I still hadn't gotten to the point of applying makeup of any kind. He smiled back cautiously. “Same to you, Liz.” There was an awkward pause before I cleared my throat. “Should we sit down?” I asked, motioning towards the table where the rest of my family was already seated. My hands had become clammy and cold, a sign that I was nervous. I wasn't nervous about Mark-I was nervous for him. He looked at me and nodded, suddenly too shy to speak up. I lead the way to the opposite side of the room.

“Mom, Dad, Rose, Whitman, this is Mark.” I addressed my family members as we filled the two empty seats at the table. Mark sat in between myself and my brother. I prayed silently that Whitman would be on his best behaviour and not mortify me in front of my only friend. Everyone looked a bit uncomfortable. After a few seconds, Dad became the first one to speak up. “Hey Mark, I'm Bruce.” He held his hand out to shake, and Mark took it, trying to mask any anxiety he may have had. “Hey Bruce, how's it going?” He managed to get out. “And I'm Angelina.” My mother smiled, also holding out her hand. “Nice to meet you.” Mark responded, seeming to relax. I waited for my brother and sister to add something, but they just sat there, staring at the rest of us with blank looks on their faces. Freaks. I thought. “Mark, this is my brother and sister.” I explained, hoping that they would catch my drift. More staring. “Okay or not.” I muttered under my breath, wanting to get supper over with as fast as possible.

Ordering actually went smoothly, allowing Mark and I to relax a bit. He made small talk with my parents, who had so far managed to restrain themselves from being embarrassing. However, as we were sitting and waiting for our food to be delivered, an opportunity for more in-depth conversation arose. “So Mark, Liz mentioned that you're...20, I think it was? Are you a student at a University nearby or...?” Dad began, searching for an answer that would satisfy his high standards. Inwardly, I braced myself. This could go downhill very quickly. Mark must have been remembering what I had told him about my parents on our first day of snowboarding-how they were all about higher education-because he took a deep breath before answering. He glanced at me quickly, as if looking for a sign to start. I smiled, letting him know it was alright to tell the truth. “Actually, I'm not a student” He started, no longer sounding shy. In fact, he sounded more confident than he had all night, which made me happy, and a bit confused. “I dropped out after grade 9.”

I waited for him to continue, to hopefully keep my parents from having heart attacks. There was a dreadful silence, until my sister snickered. I felt my face growing red for him, wishing my family would wait before judging him. Dad looked as if he didn't know what to say. “Okay, so, uh, where do you work then?” He interrogated, desperate for a reassuring answer. This time, Mark didn't hesitate before answering. “I'm a snowboarder.” He stated, looking very pleased with himself. Another silence. I was getting ready to talk, to calm them down, but Mom jumped in. “That's it?” She asked, a shadow of disapproval coming over her. “Yup.” Mark nodded. And then I realized, he was messing with me. He turned his head to the side and gave me a small wink. It hit me-he was just trying to see my reaction. I wanted to slap my palm against my forehead. I knew it was definitely time to contribute to the conversation. “Guys, Mark's not telling you all of it. He's a professional snowboarder, with sponsors and everything. He's won multiple World Cups and is going to Sochi in February. He's not just a snowboarder.” I clarified, hoping to lower my parent's blood pressure a tad.

This excited my brother, because for the first time all evening, he spoke. “Really? Can I get your autograph to show my friends?” He half-yelled, sounding excited. Mark chuckled, obviously amused. “After a bit bud.” He agreed. My parents were sitting still, like they were in shock. “Seriously?” Dad asked, not sure whether or not to believe us. “She's not lying Sir, I promise. I actually do make a career out of snowboarding.” He confirmed. I waited for Mom and Dad to express their feelings. When they did, their response blew me away. “That's awesome.” Was all Dad could say. Mom nodded, showing that she was feeling the same. A wave of relief hit me, and I felt as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Thank. God. They had nothing against him so far, and it looked like they were actually beginning to really like Mark.

The rest of the dinner came and went in the blink of an eye. We all continued chatting with ease about everything from snowboarding to weather. Mom asked a few questions about why we were spending so much time together, but we both let her know that our relationship was based solely around snowboarding, and nothing else. She seemed slightly suspicious, like most mothers would be, but she dropped the subject after a subtle look from me and moved on. At one point, I turned to look at Mark. He was leaning with one arm draped around the back of his chair, looking casual and totally comfortable. He was laughing and joking, getting along with everybody. Without realizing, I had started to smile. Dinner had been perfect and painless, more than I could have dreamed for. Before the waitress brought the cheque, Mark excused himself to go to the bathroom. As soon as he left, I raised my eyebrow at my Dad, looking for a sign of approval.

“So?” I asked. “Can I keep hanging out with him?” I asked in a hushed voice, in case he happened to come back unexpectedly. Mom and Dad looked at each other, as if telepathically consulting. “He seems like a nice boy.” Mom said, and that was all I needed to hear. I started grinning again. “So we're good?” I confirmed. Dad nodded. “Good.” We saw Mark exit the restroom, and we ended our discussion, welcoming him back to our table. I felt like I was glowing from the inside out, pleased that everything was so great.

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