She and Keldon stood there for a minute with the cups in their hands. Luna pulled her arm into the sleeve. The fabric folded, but she quickly saw it didn’t create an opening for the punch. She turned her head inside the costume to look for an opening.
“There is no way to eat or drink in this?”
“Yeah, I just noticed the same thing.”
“Other than meeting you, I’m thinking choosing this costume goes at the top of the list for bad decisions.”
“I’m sure there is some fun to be had,” Keldon had to turn around completely to set the glass on the table. “I had to go to three different stores before finding this costume.”
Luna imagined that somewhere in Ashbrook, Montana there was a room full of people in dinosaur costumes dancing. Or maybe they had planned to use the costumes for a flash mob.
Keldon waved his miniature looking t-Rex hand to point Luna toward the skee ball game at the corner of the room. “We should be a team.”
Luna wasn’t too sure how they’d play with the added weight of the costume. But playing anything with someone who was brave enough to attend a staff party in a dinosaur costume seemed like it would provide an adequate amount of levity to the evening.
Playing in the costumes was even funnier than Luna imagined. Their arms were too short for them to throw the balls any considerable distance. After three times of trying to throw the ball up the slope to have it roll back, she was beginning to second guess her costume decisions.
Next year she’d stay home.
Then, Brad as Fred Flinstone offered to help Luna. When he ran up to the line on his tiptoes, Luna saw the connection. In the cartoon, the Flinstones had—a pet dinosaur.
Although it was a brontosaurus.
But that was picking at hairs. They were having fun and that was all that mattered.
One of the Pac Man girls assisted Keldon. They alternated turns. One time the dinosaur took a try, then a fully handed person took a turn.
Every time Keldon and Luna tried and missed, the small group that formed at the skee ball game roared with laughter.
Luna was starting to get a little heated in her costume but was having so much fun, it didn’t matter. The turn of events pushed all her concerns off the cliff of second guessing her decision. Parties were about having fun, not trying to impress people with how attractive she could or could not be.
Finally, Keldon and the Pac-man ghost won by forty points.
The crowd cheered and dissipated for refills on their drinks, leaving Keldon and Luna standing alone in front of the game.
Keldon rotated into a complete 360 degree circle and stopped to face Luna. “I think I need to go outside, it’s getting hot in this costume. Do you want to join me?”
Luna’s heart leaped with excitement. Keldon was personable and obviously had a good sense of humor. Best of all he had spent time with the pac man girl but invited her to go somewhere quieter with him. This was a good sign. Somebody with a personality like hers liked her.
That never happened. The quirky guys always went after the hot, understanding women.
His tail barely missed being smashed by the elevator door as it closed behind him. Which threw them into a fit of giggles that didn’t settle until they were in the lobby.
“I have had fun with you tonight.” Keldon spoke with the air of someone who had attended one too many staff parties. Which struck Luna as ironic. She’d been to all the news station parties and hadn’t met him.
“Too bad you work remotely. Otherwise, I’d suggest we meet for lunch.”
“That can still happen.”
By this time they were in front of the hotel doors. Luna imagined she and Keldon looked like Mr. and Mrs. Dinosaur going off on their own adventure.
It was the first time she saw herself as a Mrs.
Hope filled her heart. One day it would be her turn to have a happily ever after. Even if nothing happened, Luna was grateful for the change. She saw a future and Keldon had a part in showing her it was possible.
The clarity jabbed at a tender place. Ever since her breakup she refused to hope for being a second half of a relationship. She felt a pleased flush in her cheeks and the gratitude expended. This time for the costume. It saved her from looking like a silly schoolgirl.
An increase in the chatter around them drew Luna’s attention. Off in the distance, two other dinosaur costumes walking side by side were approaching the entrance to the hotel.
Someone said, “Is there a dinosaur convention?”
“What are the odds?” Luna marveled.
“We should go in. All of us won’t fit in the elevator.” Keldon didn’t give Luna a chance to object. His tail bumped her and she was left in the wake of the swishing sound of his costume legs rubbing together.
“What’s the rush?” Anticipation of meeting some more like minds battled with nurturing her new friendship that she kind of hoped would blossom into something more. Something more won. Luna followed after Keldon.
He didn’t stop until they were in front of the elevator. “Is everything okay?”
Keldon pointed at the escalator that was off to the side. “I wasn’t thinking. The escalator would have been faster.”
This was so far from Luna’s wheelhouse. She was the type of girl who lingered in the back of the room. If people didn’t talk to her, she was fine. Thanks to a dinosaur costume, she made a friend, played games and interacted with people. People that would normally not give her the time of day.
The door opened just as the two other dinosaurs stepped onto the escalator. When they closed behind them, Keldon said, “I want you to know I had fun, and I really like you.”
Then it clicked. The change had nothing to do with the dinosaurs and everything to do with the bond Luna was allowing herself to build with a man she had just met. “I like you, too.”
The elevator doors opened and they merged with the two other dinosaurs.
One turned. “I knew you two would be great together!” Although the fabric muffled the sound, there was enough distinction in the voice for Luna to recognize who had spoken—Bob Hendricks.
She had to baby step to make the full turn to make eye contact with Keldon. When they did, he said “Hi, I’m Keldon Hendricks.”
Like Luna, Bob’s wife accessorized her costume. Her dinosaur wore a string of plastic orange beads. A large rhinestone heart rested where there would have been a collar, if she wore clothes.
“Hello Luna.” Her head bobbed.
Hi there, “Mrs. Hendricks.”
“Oh, call me Hattie. We’re a herd. That is what they call a group of dinosaurs? Isn’t it?”
“It is indeed,” Bob replied.
The sharp pricks of anger tapped at Luna’s conscience. She told Keldon she was avoiding Bob for this exact reason. She didn’t want the attention nor to be set up with his son.
Keldon should have been honest from the beginning and given Luna the chance to decide if she wanted to consider a friendship with him.
She held her tongue and decided then and there she’d find a graceful way to create some distance between her and the Hendricks.
She decided then and there wearing a dinosaur costume to the staff Halloween party was the worst idea ever.
*** that feeling when everything you try to avoid happens anyway.
***tomorrow we’ll see if Keldon can dodge the meteor coming his way.