Although Ellowyne had just met Penn, it was clear to Rufus that she was interested. She never looked at him the way she looked at Penn. Blinking back the hot tears welling up in his eyes, Rufus plugged in his smart phone and sat in his car, feeling too numb to drive home. He tortured himself by listening to love songs that reminded him of Ellowyne like Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing to Led Zeppelin’s All of My Love. Breakup songs like Love Hurts, Love Stinks, and Lonesome Loser gave voice to his feelings of loss and despair. When he heard a familiar tune by Cee Lo Green, he sang along. “I see you driving ‘round town with the girl I love and I’m like ‘Fu—‘“
Rufus stopped singing and turned off his smart phone. “Man up,” he said to his reflection in the rear view mirror. .“If Penn can make Ellowyne happy, then good for him. For both of them. It’s ridiculous to sit out here and sulk.”
When Rufus walked into Ellowyne’s house, the other partygoers, including Penn, greeted him warmly. Rufus poured a glass of punch and made a toast. “To friendship! After all, friendship is magic!”
Penn’s eyes widened in astonishment. “Are you a brony?”
“Yeah. A bunch of us in my cohort started watching it at the math and stats building as a way to ratchet down our stress,” Rufus answered.
Penn chuckled. “We did that, too! I had to take a course on linear equations and it just about killed me and the rest of the class. After class, all of us were so brain dead we needed something to relieve our stress. And the day of the course final, we all wore My Little Pony t-shirts, watched a couple of episodes, and then we did a bar crawl!
Everyone laughed except Rufus, who was dumbstruck. “By any chance, do you go to Berkeley? I think I’ve seen you on in the student lounge at Evans Hall. We’ve got sofas, snacks, and My Little Pony 24/7.”
“The Geek Cave!” Penn smiled broadly. “I’m getting my master’s in social work. About six months of classwork and my thesis left to do.”
“Awesome! I’m in my third year. Double major—mechanical engineering and math and stats for engineering.”
“You must be some kind of brainiac! I wish I had known you before taking that stats class.”
Wide-eyed, Prudence whispered to Ello and Lizette. “I think we’re witnessing the birth of a bromance!”
And Prudence was right. The guys exchanged cell phone numbers, Instagram user names, and added each other as Facebook friends. Soon they were hanging out regularly, studying together, playing video games, and watching whatever sporting events as long as they were in season. Rufus helped Penn understand nonlinear equations to help with his thesis. In return, Penn introduced Rufus to craft beer, poutine, and bibimbap, and gave him the confidence to finally tell Ellowyne how he felt about her. Of course Penn thought that Ello was attractive but he wasn’t going to poach his best friend’s crush. In time, Rufus introduced Penn to the girl he eventually married, one of the girls in his engineering program. And of course Rufus married Ellowyne when he finished graduate school, with Penn as Best Man.