“I think it needs some more parmesan,” Eric said as he tasted his pesto.
“Dude, it looks so good. Can I have some?” Larissa asked as she stared down Eric’s pesto.
“Back, you fiend,” he said with a laugh and put the cover on the food processor. He pulsed it as he added more cheese and olive oil.
Larissa leaned against the counter and waited for Eric’s final verdict. He dipped his spoon and tasted. He offered her a taste and both nodded in agreement.
“Perfecto!” Eric said.
Larissa added a healthy dollop onto her bowl of plain pasta.
“Thanks, man. Lunch is served,” she said as she hopped onto the counter and began to dig in.
“You’re lucky I love you as much as I do, you mooch,” Eric said with a smile.
He spread the pesto on his homemade ciabatta, added the buffalo mozzarella, slices of heirloom tomato, and gave a quick glug of olive oil. He took the prosciutto out of the toaster oven and put it on top of the tomato, then added the other slice of bread, and plated the sandwich.
“You gonna take a picture?”
“Totally on it. Behold the world’s most perfect sandwich,” Eric said as he took several photos with his camera.
“Now all I have to do is take this over to Professor Atley and sweet talk my way into her Women, Food and American Culture class.”
“Dude, it’s kinda scary that you managed to find out what her favorite sandwich is,” Lardo said.
“I have my ways,” Eric said as he wagged his eyebrows.
He wiped his hands and took the plate. Eric loved cooking in the student kitchens. He loved everything about Samwell, actually. He loved the diversity, the inclusivity, the fact that it was a traditional four-year college, and he could major in culinary arts. Because of that, he had friends that were econ majors (like Adam), bio (like Justin); there was Chris who was a computer science major, and of course, Larissa, who was his best friend and one of the best artists on campus. He loved his school and would love it even more if he managed to get into Professor Atley’s class.
“Wish me luck,” Eric said as he walked out with plate in hand.
Eric whistled as he made his way out the student kitchens, through Building C--which was a handy-dandy shortcut to the Culinary Arts Building--and through the block of student dorms. Just as he passed by dorm 115, the door opened and out popped one of the most gorgeous guys Eric had ever seen; tall, icy blue eyes, dark hair, and muscles for days.
The two froze in place, and Eric saw the guy’s eyes grow wide.
“Oh, good! You’re here with my sandwich,” he said as he grabbed the sandwich from Eric’s plate, took a bite and walked down the hallway.
Eric stood flabbergasted.
“Hey! HEY!” He yelled as he chased the guy down the hallway.
He turned around and had the nerve to have some pesto smeared on his cheek. The utter nerve!
“That’s my goddamn sandwich,” Eric said as he marched right up to the guy, plate still in hand.
The guy smiled. “It’s really good. Thanks!”
He turned again and kept going down the hall until Eric saw him knock on another dorm room door and walk right on in.
Now Jack could admit that he wasn’t the smoothest, not by a long shot, but even this was lame for him.
“Shits, I’m such an idiot,” Jack groaned as he plopped himself onto Shitty’s bed. The sandwich sat on Jack’s abdomen, staining his Habs t-shirt with grease.
“Whatchu do now? And why do you have a sandwich on you?” Shitty asked as he closed the door behind him.
“I finally talked to him,” Jack said, still on the bed, as he pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes.
“The tiny blond? The chef kid?!” Shitty asked with glee. “Out-fucking-standing!”
Jack propped himself up in his elbows. “Not really…”
Shitty sat next to Jack, picked up the sandwich and took a bite.
“Kermit, Piggy, and Gonzo! This is a good sandwich,” Shitty said.
“It’s his. His sandwich. I just stole it, off a plate he was carrying,” Jack said and then groaned.
Shitty looked at him then began to cackle. “What?! Jack, what did you do, you goon?”
Jack first noticed Eric last semester. He was arriving at Faber for team practice (his usual one hour earlier than the rest of the team) and noticed there was someone on the ice. Once a month, Faber hosted an open skate; that’s when he saw him. He was the only person still there. He skated gracefully, fluidly, with a strength and ease Jack had never seen.
Jack stood there mesmerized and watched as Eric began a complicated jump. Jack hadn’t even realized he was holding his breath until Eric landed his jump.
Eric huffed and puffed, and smiled to himself as he skated off the rink.
Jack didn’t know what to do and wanted to meet the mystery skater, so he did the only thing he could think of. He ran into the locker room and hid.
Jack would see Eric around campus. He knew Eric was a culinary arts major, was from Georgia, and he baked a lot of pies. The Baking Club had regular sales, and while Jack never got the nerve to buy anything in person, he’d send Johnson in his place. He would sit with Shitty and eat Eric’s baked goods.
“You could just introduce yourself,” Shitty suggested one day as he took a bite of chocolate pecan pie.
“How? When? Where?” Jack helplessly shrugged.
“And sometimes why?” Shitty laughed. “Jack, you’re a gorgeous hunk of hot maple candy. The next time you see him around, just introduce yourself. Just say, ‘Hello, I’m Jack Zimmermann and I love you.’”
Jack frowned. “You know I’m not good with…” he began and waved his arms.
And so, he admired and pined for Eric from afar, just as nature intended. That was until he now found himself sitting on Shitty’s bed as his own personal human buffet. It happened so fast, he hadn’t even realized what he had done until after he did it.
Jack walked out of his dorm room and found himself face to face with Eric. He could have said hello, he could have introduced himself, he could have invited him to coffee. No. Instead, he panicked and stole Eric’s sandwich, took a bite and ran off--like a complete loon.
“So you didn’t say anything?” Shitty asked as he cuddled up next to Jack, sandwich still in hand.
“I said it was a really good sandwich. And then I said thanks.”
“Well, at least you were polite. Brah, you are hopeless. Oh, and you have pesto on your face, by the by.”
“Great, just great,” Jack said and sat up.
“Why don’t you just go look for him and say, 'Sorry I stole your sandwich'?”
“I don’t think I can do that,” Jack said as he took the sandwich back from Shitty and took another bite. “It really is a good sandwich.”
Shitty nodded as they passed the sandwich back and forth.
“Of all the nerve,” Eric said as he marched back into the student kitchen.
“What happened? Atley turn you down?” Larissa asked still sitting on the counter where Eric left her.
“No, I didn’t even make it there. Some person--some rapscallion--took the sandwich. My sandwich!” Eric said as he slammed the plate onto the counter.
Larissa smirked. “Rapscallion?”
“It’s not funny, Lar. I was walking through the dorms and this sandwich thief, a very hot sandwich thief--totally not the point, but still--walked out of his room, said thanks and took my sandwich. Damn hot sandwich thief.”
“Okay, but that’s kinda funny… especially since you mentioned he was hot, like twice.”
“If I ever see him again, he’ll rue the day,” Eric said.
“As God is your witness?”
“Oh, hush!” Eric replied as he took out more sandwich fixins’ from one of the fridges.
Three weeks later, Eric had yet to see Mr. Hot Sandwich Thief, and he still had the mind to go right on up to his dorm room and demand an apology.
Still, he felt silly holding on to a grudge this long, especially for a harmless prank. But, still, still! If he ever just bumped into Mr. Hot Sandwich Thief serendipitously, he’d give him a piece of his mind.
Eric walked into classroom 329, and frowned when he noticed most of the seats were taken. There was one in the middle of the room, which wasn’t too bad. He hated sitting far back in a classroom. And, he really couldn’t complain. He was just thankful that Professor Atley took the bribe---nay, the persuasion--and let Eric join the Women, Food and American Culture class.
He happily walked over toward the empty seat and asked the person next to the chair, “Is anyone sitting here?”
“No. No one is sitting here.”
When the person looked up at Eric, they both froze.
“Well, well, well,” Eric said as stunned blue eyes gazed at him. “If it isn’t Mr. Ho---Mr. Sandwich Thief himself.”
The guy fidgeted in his seat as Eric sat down.
“I’m really sorry about that.”
“What do you have to say for yourself? Defiling a perfectly innocent sandwich in that way?” Eric asked as he crossed his arms in front of his chest.
“It was really good?”
“Yeah, you said that.”
“And I have no excuse…”
“And?” Eric demanded.
“And I… just really wanted to talk to you but didn’t know how. So I panicked. I’m sorry I stole your sandwich.”
“Oh,” Eric said dumbfounded. “Oh.”
“Um… hi. I’m Jack, by the way. Jack Zimmermann.”
He looked over at Jack and how awkward and sweet he looked. Eric couldn’t help but smile.
“Oh boy, you are going to be trouble, aren’t you? You charmer.”
ERIC + JACK
“So you two met in college, right?” George asked Eric at the Falconers’ monthly family skate.
A line of children zipped past them as they laughed. Eric and Jack waved at one extra enthusiastic tiny skater who smiled brightly at them.
Jack put his arm around Eric. “Go ahead, you tell it. You tell it better than I do.”
“Jack stole my sandwich,” Eric replied as he wrapped his arms around Jack’s waist.
George laughed. “He what?”
“Jack stole my sandwich,” Eric said again as Jack nodded.
“It’s true, I stole his sandwich.”
“This one was so shy. He had a crush on me and didn’t know how to talk to me, so one day I was walking through his dorm building just as he was walking out of his room, and I had a sandwich on a plate---”
"Bits was going to bribe a professor,” Jack added.
Eric waved him off. “And this man took my sandwich.”
George laughed again. “Jack, no!”
“Right?” Eric said as he beamed at his goofy husband.
Jack leaned in to press a kiss onto Eric’s temple, as Eric smiled and squeezed Jack tighter.