16. which part of it sounds innocent to you?

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After a late practice the night before, I woke up famished

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After a late practice the night before, I woke up famished. The heavenly smell of bacon and coffee wafted through the air. Having a roommate definitely had its advantages. Bacon was the way to my heart, and Ryan knew it.

Like a zombie, I brushed my teeth and threw on some sweats. My mouth started to water as I felt my way down the stairs, still bleary-eyed and groggy.

Food. I needed food.

Ryan was standing at the stove, flipping pancakes. She was fully dressed already, a stark contrast to my situation. Her dark-grey sweater plunged to a deep-v in the back and looked so soft that I wanted to reach out and touch it. Touch her. I gave my head a shake.  Clearly, I was still half-asleep and not thinking properly.

"Do you know what day it is?" she asked me, excitedly.

I had no idea. It was 8am. I just crawled out of bed. I hadn't had any caffeine yet and I was barely functional. How was she so perky this early in the morning? How much tea had she consumed already?

"Uh, Saturday?" I asked her, rubbing my eyes.

"It's December 1st, which means..." she prompted me, waving a purple spatula in the air. I half-thought she might smack me with it if I got the answer wrong.

"It's your birthday?" I guessed as I grabbed us plates out of the cupboard. It hit me that I had no idea when her birthday actually was.

She sighed and shot me a look of exasperation. "No, that's in June. It's time to go pick out a Christmas tree."

"A what?" I asked her, yawning as I poured myself a cup (more like a bowl, really) of coffee and dumped in some sugar. Even though Ryan wasn't a coffee drinker, she had started a pot for me and I was thankful for it. Two more of these and I might actually feel human again.

"A Christmas tree. You know, the quintessential North American symbol of Christmas goodwill and cheer? We made plans to get one today, remember?" she explained, looking at me like I had three heads.

It rang a bell... vaguely. I was still half-asleep. Inhaling the aroma of the dark roast brew, I took a sip of coffee and the sleep fog slowly started to clear. Yes, plans to get a Christmas tree. I remembered it now, but I hadn't thought she was serious. This was actually happening?

She played the pancakes and added, jokingly, "Where else were you going to put all of the expensive Christmas presents you've bought for me?"

I shouldn't have been too surprised— it had already become apparent that Ryan was crazy about holidays. All of them. Any excuse for a holiday. At this rate, we'd have a Valentine's Day rosebush or a colony of real live Easter bunnies. I pretended to complain, but secretly I kind of liked it. If nothing else, it helped get me in the spirit.

"I know that. I've just never had one before. I mean, I did as a kid. But not here in my own place. Will I have to water it and take care of it? That seems like a lot of work."

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