Strider Security




   Mandy was busy getting ready for a date. She’d been sixteen for a couple of months, and this was barely her third time to be asked out.

   Jordan was coming to pick her up in a few minutes.

   Mandy had been cramming to get ready on time and had been at it for quite a while already. Jordan had told her that they were going to be eating out at a nice restaurant first, before going to a youth dance at one of the chapels in his stake.

   Mandy’s hair had not been very cooperative. She’d showered just after noon, then she had intended to let it dry a bit before starting her blow-dry-curling-iron routine. But she kept getting interrupted by her mother and her endless list of things to do. By the time she got back to her bathroom, her hair had gone totally too dry. Now it was a mess, and she just didn’t have any more time to deal with it.

   Mandy and some friends had gone out and had fake nails done a couple of days earlier, and hers were still in really good shape. She spent several minutes putting on a new layer of her favorite color of fingernail polish before applying some airbrush decals. They really looked good.

   Her face was another project. Her light complexion made her look totally washed out if she didn’t do something major to it. So she’d put in the considerable time necessary applying eyeliner, shadows, mascara, lip gloss—the works. Everything was slowly coming together.

   Finally, with only minutes to spare, Mandy attacked her closet, spreading out an array of skirts and tops all over the bed and hanging from everywhere, mixing and matching and sorting until she came up with something that she thought would be appropriate for the occasion—not too fancy (it wasn’t a Prom, after all), but not too casual, either. Not too colorful, but not too plain. Not too skimpy (she had to meet the dance standards, of course), but not too prudish, either.

   Jordan arrived.

   Mandy heard the doorbell ring as she was struggling to get the chosen top on over her hair without destroying what was left of the hairdo. She quickly slipped into her shoes, then spent five whole minutes rearranging her hair, another two dabbing at her makeup, and yet another three fretting about which necklace and earrings looked best with her outfit.

   At last she was ready.

   Striking one last, quick pose in front of her full-length mirror, Mandy grunted, threw her hands in the air, and surrendered to the inevitable. After a quick, silent prayer (oh, please, please let him like me!), she put on her best smile and gracefully descended the stairs, holding her jacket and trying her best to look glamorous.

   Jordan was waiting nervously in the entryway dressed in khakis, a blue and white button-up shirt, black shoes, and a windbreaker. His hair looked very wind-blown, and Mandy momentarily panicked, stopping in mid-step, dreading what the weather might do to HER hair.

   Then she remembered . . . Jordan’s hair always looked like that. It was like he didn’t even care. “Voluminous,” he called it. And, oddly enough, it was one of the very things that made him so uniquely attractive to her. It made him look suave, debonair, and carefree . . . or something.

   She was momentarily jealous that boys had it so easy. As she had observed with her own brothers dozens of times, guys could spend the whole afternoon playing basketball and sweating like a horse, then walk calmly into the house, shower, dress, and be totally ready to walk out the door again in under fifteen minutes.

   Not fair, she thought.

   Jordan smiled and greeted her warmly, either liking what he saw or pretending really well. He played the perfect gentleman, opening the front door, allowing her to walk ahead of him to the car, then hurriedly holding open the passenger door while she carefully climbed in. He even addressed her dad as “sir” as he assured her parents that he would treat her like a queen and get her home at a reasonable hour.

   The moment Jordan started the car, Mandy was blasted away by the blaring, deep-bass music from his radio, accompanied by the powerful revving of the engine. Fortunately it seemed that Jordan sensed her unease. He quickly reached over and switched off the music. He glanced at her uneasily and apologized.

   Finally they were on their way.

   Mandy was beside herself wondering what Jordan would be thinking. Had she made a good impression? Did he like the way she’d done her makeup? Did he notice how her hair was a little strange and poofy-looking? She carefully rearranged her hands in her lap, stretching and wiggling her fingers a little so Jordan might see the immaculate polishing and decorating job on her nails.

   Finally, unable to resist a moment longer, she glanced over quickly at her date. She was shocked to see that he was staring down at her knees with a grimace on his face—eyes furrowed, frowning, the whole bit.

   She hurriedly faced forward, staring out the windshield. Then, carefully, without moving her head, she peered down at her knees to see what might be the problem.

   Was the skirt too short? she wondered. It covered her knees just fine when she stood in front of the mirror, but sitting in the deep seat of Jordan’s car, it crept up several inches. But it was still modest, she thought. She didn’t dare adjust it—not with Jordan continually glancing at her legs every few seconds. That would be too obvious. Covering them with her hands was also out of the question.

   Maybe he thought the skirt was too tight. It did sort of look that way at the moment. But she knew it would look much looser once she got out of the car. What did he expect? She tried to remember what other girls had worn when they were with him at dances and parties.

   Nervously, Mandy strained her eyes to see his face, again without moving her head more than absolutely necessary. He was still glancing down periodically at her legs and frowning.

   For heck’s sake. What could be wrong? She pulled her feet back and to the side as much as she could manage. But all that did was raise her bare knees higher in the air. After a few seconds like that, she slowly stretched them out again, being extra careful to keep her knees tight together and lady-like.

   It didn’t make any difference. Jordan was still frowning and obviously upset about something, and she was powerless to do anything about it. She was sorely tempted to just ask him straight out. But, of course, she couldn’t do THAT. You can’t just come out and ask a boy about those kinds of things. Heaven forbid!

   All she could do was suffer miserably until they reached the restaurant.

   Jordan never said anything about it, and acted perfectly natural the rest of the night.

The Same Date — from HIS point of view:

   Jordan had a date with Mandy.


   He spent the afternoon shooting hoops with some of his friends, and almost lost track of the time. Lucky for him, his mom reminded him that he needed to get ready. He glanced calmly at his watch, walked unhurried up to his room, dropped his sweaty clothes on the floor in the corner, showered, shaved, dressed, and after guzzling down a tall glass of cold milk with a handful of Oreo cookies, was walking out the front door only fifteen minutes later.

   No sweat, he thought, glancing at his watch again. Girls are always late, anyway.

   He was right. He had to stand nervously in her entryway for several minutes, making awkward conversation with her dad, before Mandy finally made her appearance.

   But it was worth it. She looked awesome, as usual.

   Wanting to treat her right, he opened the front door (admiring her slim and attractive figure from behind as she walked to the curb), then hurriedly opened the passenger door of the car for her—all the while hoping and praying that she wouldn’t scratch the paint of his shiny, forest-green mustang with her ring or purse or anything. Heaven forbid he should get even the smallest scratch on his “baby.”

   The moment he started the car, the loud music made Mandy jump and almost cover her ears. Jordan quickly reached over and switched off the CD player and apologized.

   What a stupid first impression, he thought.

   Finally they were on their way.

   He noticed it as he rounded the first corner.

   It was the first time in months that he’d driven his car anywhere without his music on, and he was suddenly aware of a funny tick-tick-ticking sound coming from under the floorboards somewhere. He looked down at the floor on the passenger side, trying desperately to picture in his mind what was under there and what could possibly be causing that kind of noise.

   Brakes? Steering? Suspension? Loose hubcaps?

   Repair nightmares suddenly flooded his mind, and he started to panic about what it might cost to fix. He’d just spent a fortune on the custom tires and the 800-watt sound system. He wasn’t sure he could handle a repair bill right now—not on his minimum-wage income.

   Fortunately for Jordan, the meal and the dance helped keep his mind on other things for the rest of the evening . . . at least most of the time.


Out of Print