The Innately Awkward Properties of the Collision Theory

Baljeet knew that chemistry had always come easily to Ginger; in fact, she had told him it was her best subject. So when she Facebook-messaged him asking for help with understanding a concept, he was surprised.

Still, he knew better than to ruin a chance to get closer to her, so he had eagerly agreed to help her study.

He knocked on the door, a little nervously, perhaps, and was greeted by the cheerful Japanese girl.

"Hi! Thanks so much for coming over to help me. I just can't get this stuff straight in my head."

Dr. Hirano gave Ginger a suspicious glance as they passed her in the living room.

"Gosh, Mom, Baljeet's helping me study for the chemistry test tomorrow."

"Well, okay, but if I come up there and find you two doing anything inappropriate, there will be consequences," Dr. Hirano replied, turning back to the television.

Baljeet shivered. "I never knew your mother could freeze things with a glance."

"It's a skill she refined when Stacy was in high school." Ginger opened the door to her room. It was purple, but not ridiculously girly. Random band posters and other paintings covered the walls. Baljeet walked over to a particularly beautiful picture of a beach at sunset.

"These are fantastic! Did you paint this?" he asked her.

"Yeah, that one's from eighth grade," she answered absently. "Here, I'll show you what I'm stuck on." She flopped down on her bed, flipping through pages of the chemistry book as quickly as she could. "Here is the bane of my existence...kinetics. Specifically, the collision theory."

Baljeet sat beside her on the bed and studied the textbook for a second. He took out the notes he had taken on the subject - he was in the same course, though he had a different teacher - and began to explain how the collision theory works.

"Well, basically, the collision theory states that there are two factors that influence the reaction rate: amount of kinetic energy and collision geometry."

Ginger interrupted him. "Yeah, I know that. That's just the book definition. But it just goes in one ear and out the other. I don't know how kinetic energy and collision geometry actually work. It just seems like particles that hit each other ought to, you know, react."

Baljeet looked down at his notes again. "Well, my teacher explained it...but in kind of a...different...way. In a way that I am sure that your mother would not approve of."

"I'm desperate at this point, Baljeet. The test is tomorrow and I have no clue what I'm supposed to put."

"Okay, here goes." He sighed. This was going to be awkward. "You know that amount of kinetic energy of the particles is one of the factors of the collision theory, right?"

Ginger nodded.

"Okay. Imagine the particles are human beings at a nightclub. And the music that is playing is kinetic energy."

"Okay..." said Ginger, looking a little confused.

"So if the music is, uh, that dirty kind of music they play in nightclubs, then the humans are more likely to...to make more collisions. With each other. Because they are dancing, and, uh, doing other...things. So they...react. You know what I mean."

"Oh." Ginger replied, still confused. Then she apparently realized what Baljeet was implying. "Oh! That kind of reacting. Okay, I get that now. The particles speed up and hit each other more often, so they're more likely to react. So what's the other part?"

Baljeet consulted his notes, unsure as to whether he should really be talking about this. "Okay. The next part is collision geometry. It is the orientation of the molecule that is speeding around. If it is not facing the right direction, then the reaction cannot occur." His palms were sweating as he read the next part to Ginger. "Okay, so remember how human beings are particles? They're still particles now. So, um, if two human beings...collide...and it's at the right speed and everything, but the humans are facing away from each other, then it's difficult for them to...react."

"Uh-huh," said Ginger. "I still don't get it."

Frustrated and blushing like crazy, Baljeet stood up and practically yelled out an explanation. "Say that I was going to kiss you right now. I could not do that if you were facing the wrong direction. I can only kiss you if you are facing me, and you are moving at the right speed..." Baljeet trailed off, embarrassed that he had shared so much emotion. "And if you, uh, wanted...to."

He closed his eyes and rubbed his head. Suddenly he felt the strangest feeling: cardboard hitting his chest. He opened his eyes and saw Ginger in front of him, holding a beautifully decorated box with his name written on the lid.

"I...I've been saving these for you. Since I was ten. Open it and see."

Baljeet took the box from her, and opened the cover. Inside, there were scores of Fireside Girl patches...all identical, with an eye and a heart on each.

"It's the I Just Saw a Cute Boy Patch. I earned 75, which is the maximum amount they let you have so you don't become crazy lovesick. They're all in there."

"You think that I'm...cute?" he asked her softly.

"That's one thing about the collision theory of humans that isn't in particles. Cuteness is a factor in picking a human to collide with." Ginger smiled.

"Did you lure me over here just so we could have this conversation?" Baljeet asked.

Ginger rolled her eyes. "Did you really think that I wouldn't understand something as simple as collision theory? I wanted to see if you'd go for the whole humans-in-a-nightclub example. Luckily, I was right."

"Well, you know what this means," Baljeet told her as he set the box down next to him.

"Let me guess: we ought to do a little colliding of our own?"

"Just a little," Baljeet said, gaining confidence. "But not enough to worry your mother. Otherwise, her freezing glance will get rid of all of our...kinetic energy."

Laughing, Ginger kissed him.

Chemistry in more ways than one.

A/N: This is based on an actual lecture from my chemistry class. And yes, my teacher did use the humans-in-a-nightclub example. I kid you not, I had my lecture notes sitting next to me right now as I wrote this. Good method of studying! =)