part two I said something stupid. In my defense, I didn't know that it was stupid. I had no idea - no idea at all. But from the look Gene gave me and the card that Brett sent my way, I made a big boo-boo. The question was about Fannie, requiring us to name a certain part of her body. "Big" was the key word in the question. The only people playing were me and Brett. Brett wrote down "mouth". That, of course, left me to look like a pervert when I said, "boobs". It was a match, but everyone knows that counts for little unless you're a contestant. Fannie pretended to slap me and I turned to Gene and said, "I think she wants Richard back." The audience liked it, but the second I saw the look that flashed over Fannie's face, I knew that she didn't. She's a good actress, though, and covered it well. I felt like a jerk, and I didn't know why. She was quiet throughout the rest of the taping. After we'd wrapped for the day, I approached Charles. I figured I had more of a chance of getting a response from him. "What's up with Fannie?" I was wrong. "Sorry, Mac. Classified information." He made a throat-slashing gesture. I grinned and shook my head. "At least tell me if I should apoligize." "She knows you didn't mean anything by it." "I didn't. Hell, I don't even know what I would have meant if I had meant something." Charles laughed and walked away. The mystery of it intrigued me. But it was more than that. I'd taken a liking to Fannie Flagg the first time I met her. She was my idea of a perfect woman. Unattainable, by the likes of a guy like me, but perfect nonetheless. She was beautiful, she was smart, and she was funny. . When she was booed and hadn't been expecting it, even when she just playing around and that chin started trembling - I always want to put my arms around her and protect her. That I had said something to hurt her truly bothered me. Had it been anyone else, I probably would have shrugged it off and hoped that they wouldn't hold a grudge. But it was Fannie and I didn't particularly want her hating me until the end of time, so like the complete idiot that I am, I showed up on her doorstep at eight thirty that night. I knocked on the door. Fannie answered, wearing a plain white shirt and blue shorts. I don't think she would have been any more surprised if I had been Clark Gable wearing blue silk polka dotted shorts. "McLean! What..." "Hi, Fannie. I came to... well..." Speechless, a state in which I often find myself when faced with a beautiful woman. For those of you who might think its just a stage persona that I put on, here's to proving you wrong. It was drizzling outside, and she decided to take pity on me. "Come in." "Oh, thanks - it's, uh, kinda wet out here." Fannie's house was small, but comfortable. It smelled like cinnamon and chocolate and the front hallway had pictures lined up on the walls. "How long has it been raining? I hadn't even noticed." "About twenty minutes... ah, Fannie... I'll bet you're wondering why I'm here." "Well, yes... you want something to drink? I just made some cocoa." "That sounds nice, thanks." Yes, I did feel like a real dummy by that point. "I came by to apoligize... I said something at the studio today that obviously upset you and I didn't mean to, I'm not even sure-" "You can stop right there." She motioned at an empty chair in the living room. I sat down, and she poured me a steaming mug of hot chocolate. "Marshmallows?" I nodded. "You don't have to apoligize. I think it's really sweet of you to come all the way out here just because you thought you hurt my feelings, but it wasn't neccessary. " "I still wanted too, all the same." Fannie smiled. "Is that the real reason you came over?" "Cross my heart." She sat on the couch a few feet away. "Well, then. What now?" "I guess I'll go." It came out as more of a question than I'd intended. "Or you could stay a while." "I could, but I think I'd be imposing." "On what?" She gestured. "I'm not exactly planning a night out on the town. This is pretty much it as far as I'm concerned." "Well, if you want some company - I suppose I could be enticed." She was grinning and so was I. Flirting, I think, would accurately describe out transactions. I stayed until almost ten o'clock. Once we started talking, we just didn't stop. Nothing about the night hinted at romance or even mild attraction, we just talked. After about an hour, she raided her refridgerator managed to come up with enough ingrediants for two very fattening and very delicious ice cream sundaes. We sat in her kitchen, talking about everything under the sun. There wasn't a dull pause the entire time. Like I said, it wasn't a sexual thing. But it was a thing and it didn't stop after that night. I saw her twice in the time between that night and the next time we were together on the Match Game, which was a little over a month. Three times in four weeks - doesn't seem like too much, but it was more of a commitment than I'd had in years. Most of my dates didn't make it much past the restraunt. It wasn't that they were all that horrible - I just have this silly idea that when I meet someone, sparks should fly. I should correct myself - about a year ago, I had what I considered a semi-serious relationship. But it turned out that she was having one too - just with someone else. So sharing a homecooked meal with a gorgeous, funny lady like Fannie was a real treat. We did lots of things together. I ended up trying lots of things that I wouldn't have ever done before, too. Like roller skating - geez, they should put warning labels on those things. "Do Not Use If Over 30". It was an experience, but not one that I'll likely repeat. That's right below 'sky diving' and 'running naked through the halftime show at a Lakers game' on my list of things to try. Fannie was excellent at it, of course. She was also a good swimmer - and a good tennis player, a good golfer, a good pitcher, and a good basketball player. Not to mention playing a mean game of ping-pong. We raised a couple of eyebrows on the show that next time we were on together, too. Everyone noticed that the chemistry between us was a little more prominent. She teased me, I made suggestive comments. It wasn't anything that we hadn't done before, but I guess there was something in our reactions that just let people to believe that we had grown closer - which we had, but not in the way that they were thinking. I gave her a ride home that night. She invited me in, and I accepted. We had a nightcap and I got ready to leave. We were standing at the door, I was putting my jacket on. She just leaned over and kissed me. It wasn't short, but it wasn't long, either. Not exactly a kiss that a sister would give a brother, but it wasn't spine tingling passion either. Not that it didn't make my heart beat a little faster. Then again, that doesn't take too much at my age. When Fannie called me the next day, I knew that something was wrong. She asked me to meet her at a resteraunt. I'd always picked her up before, but I didn't argue. I learned my lesson - when you have a woman that beautiful in your grasp, you let them make all of the little decisions. Keeps them feeling like they're in control. She showed up five minutes late - as opposed to my ten minutes early - wearing a black v-neck dress. She looked hurried, and distracted. I asked her what was going on, but she shrugged off my question. "Mac, we need to talk." "Sure, honey. What do you want to talk about?" She gave me an odd look when I called her honey. I hoped that she wasn't taking it personally - I certainly hadn't put any distinction to the word. "Fannie. Look at me." I waited until I was sure that she was giving me her full attention. "Now, what do you need to talk about?" If I hadn't known her better, I'd say that she almost cracked a smile. "I kissed you last night." "Yes, you did." I agreed. "And... well, McLean, I like you. I like you a lot." "I like you a lot, too, Fannie." I said with a grin. "Thank you, but please don't interrupt me." "Yes, ma'am." She definitely smiled that time. "Mac, the last relationship I was in with a man ended horribly. He hurt me very badly and I'm not sure if I'm ready to take that kind of risk again." She paused, but I followed orders and didn't interrupt her. "You're so sweet and I really hope you don't take this the wrong way-" "Fannie, I'm sorry, but can I say something?" She nodded. "I like you, too, Fannie - I like you an awful lot. But if you're not ready for a relationship, I'm the last person that's gonna pressure you. I don't have too many friends like you, Fannie, and I'm not quite ready to lose that just yet. So if you want things to stay the way they have been, that's more than okay with me." She looked like a huge weight had been lifted off of her shoulders. "Thank you, McLean." She smiled at me, a real smile this time. "Aw, shucks." I acted bashful. Before five minutes was up, I had her giggling like crazy. Back to the Fannie I knew and loved - none of this deep, worriful stuff. Just as I'd promised, things stayed exactly the same for the next few months. Fannie and I grew closer than ever - so close, sometimes, that it scared me just how easily she'd fit herself into my life. We didn't go a week without seeing each other, most of the time at least every two or three days. But things weren't the same, not really. It hit me one day. I was at her house, we were watching tv. It was around 10 pm and Fannie was stretched out against me. I had my arm around her shoulder and her head was on my chest. I looked down and found her sleeping peacefully. My first thought was to move, but I didn't want to disturb her. As I watched her, it dawned on me, completely unexpected and unprepared for - I loved her. I could smell her shampoo, lavender scented, and the faint trace of perfume that she dabbed on her neck every morning. My heart felt like it was about to explode. somwhere along the line, without realizing it, I had fallen completely in love with Fannie. I had promised her no pressure, and I would keep my promise for as long as I needed to. But friendship wasn't all that I wanted anymore. Every time I saw her from then on, I wanted to kiss her. I wanted to hold her close to me and feel her body against mine. I wanted to run my fingers over her lips and through her hair and I wanted to hear her say that she loved me, and only me. It was worse than being a teenager; it was exactly like being a teenager, except only more intense and deeper. But I wasn't the only one affected. I began to see the change in her eyes when she looked at me. We spent more and more time talking, and less time laughing. It wasn't a change for the worse - we were just suddenly very intent on knowing everything we could about each other. Things were moving in the right direction... maybe slower than I wanted, but still moving. And then something happened that neither of us expected. We'd been to the movies. Fannie looked entirely relaxed, wearing jeans and a blue button down shirt with a white t-shirt on underneath it. I was wearing jeans and a green t-shirt (not that it really matters what I was wearing - if you're anything like me you're much more interested in the pretty lady). "You have to work tomorrow?" Fannie asked. I shook my head. It was an unspoken invitation to come inside and have a drink with her if I didn't have to be anywhere the next day. The movie theater was in walking distance from the park and I suggested that we take a walk before we go home. Side by side, we walked. I held her hand loosely in mine. She looked like a ghost, in the twilight. Her hair was getting longer and she had lost a little bit of weight - not that she'd needed to before. She might have been wearing makeup... or maybe not. I'm not a good judge of that. But whether it was natural or not, the flush in her cheeks and the redness of her lips was driving me crazy. We reached the edge of the stream that divided the park. Fannie looked at me, shyly. I leaned in and so did she. We kissed, and this time, it meant something. When it was over, Fannie was still smiling. I took that as a good sign and I kissed her again. We spent maybe fifteen minutes standing there, but it felt like an eternity to me. I never wanted to leave. I noticed her shivering. "You cold?" She nodded and I put my arm around her shoulder, rubbing my hand up and down her arms. "Why don't we head back?" "Okay." We walked that way, with our arms around each other, back to my car. She asked me again if I'd come in with her. I wasn't sure quite what she meant - was the invitation for drinks, or more? I decided I'd leave it up to her. No pressure, remember? Well, as it turned out, the evening never progressed that far. When we got to her house, there was already a car in the driveway. I saw the look on her face. "Uninvited relatives?" I guess, laughing. Fannie had described her mother and father to me - I was interested in meeting them. Anyone who can raise a daughter like Fannie Flagg earns points in my book. "No... it's not family." She said. "McLean, maybe this isn't the best time for you to come in. I'm sorry." She said. I could tell from her eyes that she really was. She leaned over and gave me a quick kiss. "Call me, tomorrow, all right?" "I will." I grabbed her hand and kissed her again before I let her leave. I was mildly disappointed, but my spirits were still high. I'd been waiting for tonight for weeks - waiting for the moment when Fannie was ready.