“Stop fidgeting Steve! It will be over before you know it. Two tickets to Hawaii and five thousand in cash.”
Nan slapped Steve on the back of his neck hard enough to jolt him forward causing his glasses to slide down his face.
Steve reached for his glasses while trying to stabilize himself. It was clumsy.
“I…I know. I just…”
“Just nothing! Do what we practiced and all will be well.”
Steve took two hasty steps away from Nan; before she got any further notions.
“I just don’t think…” that was as far as Steve got, the curtains started to move apart and the voice of the announcer could be heard overhead.
“Just smile and don’t think!” Nan said through gritted teeth as she smiled for the 8 cameras looming ahead.
Steve and Nan did their best to keep straight faces and eyes open as the cameras clicked and whirled and the stage lights flickered red, blue, green and white.
“Aaaannnnddd Welcome to LOVE’S CAPER. I’m your host Marty Stanford and Today we have a couple.”
The announcer was sitting on a moving platform with a microphone glued to a podium stand in front of him. The three foot high stage swung around the large theater-like studio until the stairs ended up in front of Steve and Nan. The steps were lined with a heart railing and the couch ahead was shaped like a huge red heart with white heart shaped pillows.
Nan turned to Steve with the biggest saucer puppy dog eyes she could muster. Steve looked at Nan and tried not to barf. It was hard. He forced himself to smile at her.
“Awww! Aren’t they just the sweetest thing you ever did see?” Marty was leaning forward on the edge of his seat with his hands clasped around the microphone stand. His golden brown frazzled curls bounced slightly on his head as he nodded with approval.
“Well get on up here you two. You’re making me positively jealous right now. Oh the glow! The glow of love is more than I can stand.”
Marty stomped his feet and bobbed his head up and down like a three year old at the amusement park.
Steve looked at Marty and tried to hold the smile. It was hard.
Nan grabbed Steve by his shoulder and dragged him up the steps. Steve hesitated but it was to no avail.
“Wait! wait! wait!” he tried to whisper into Nan’s ear.
“No! no! no! Nan said through gritted teeth.
Soon they were on the stage. The lights continued to flicker and pictures snapped from every angle.
“The Contestants.” Marty said motioning them to the chair.
Nan dragged Steve along.
The lights and flickering died down and a warm red glow embraced the stage.
Nan looked at Steve with the saucer puppy dog eyes once more.
“So, here we are. I must say, I simply loved your profile. Oh and your interview was to die for. Tell us the story of how you met. I promise as long as I live, I will never tire of it.” Marty clasped his hands around the microphone podium again and sighed.
“Oh I know, it was just so wonderful. I really can’t believe the way Shnuckums and I met.” Nan said looking dreamily into the space before her.
“Shnuckums?” Steve asked a bit too loud.
Nan nudged him-hard with her elbow.
“Ouch!” Steve said uncontrollably.
“Oh…ha ha. I’m sorry. I know I’m not supposed to say that in public. Please forgive me darling.”
“Oh Shnuckums! I love it, I love it. Do tell more- but wait! A man’s perspective is always interesting. Why don’t you tell us Steve?
The red glow moved quickly from Nan to Steve.
“What are you doing silly. Say something.” Nan whispered through gritted teeth.
“I don’t know what story you told them dearest.” Steve whispered back.
“Come now don’t be nervous.” Marty chided Steve on.
“Just say something you idiot. I’ll guide you. Don’t you dare blow this for me. I…”
Suddenly Steve pitched upright in the chair. Something got into him.
“Oh darling, I do remember the first moments.” Steve said in a confident voice that surprised Nan.
She smiled nervously. She wondered what he was up to.
“Yes, I recall the first day I saw her.” Steve turned to look Nan full in the face. He was smiling. It was making Nan nervous.
“Fartums, you remember don’t you?”
“Wha…?” Nan’s face fell and her jaw dropped open.
“Excuse me? Did you say, Fartums?” Marty asked. Then he put his head back and roared with laughter. “Do tell!”
The cameras started a new round of whirring and clicking.
“Fartums. Yes. That’s my pet name. I think you can guess why.”
There was an incredible roar of laughter from the audience for the first time. Nan and Steve suddenly realized they were there.
Steve was inspired.
“Well, the thing is, Farty girls are not my style really but there’s a special way my Nan knows how to sound out the alphabet.”
Steve smiled with large saucer eyes at Nan.
Nan was about to die. The look of horror on her face was just what Steve was trying to conjure. Nan looked at Steve as though she was seeing him for the very first time. She tried to say something but no words came.
“Oh and at lunch time, she becomes my little drool face.” Steve cooed at Nan.
Nan was feeling sick in the stomach.
“Drool face. Oh do tell!” Marty was rolling over with laughter and so was the now engaged audience.
“It’s just something about the way food escapes the side of her mouth every time we eat. I think I may have that effect on her sure, or it could be the nerve atrophy she sometimes suffers from causing loose bowels- and at some of the most odd times I may add.
Steve was on a roll. It was the first time since he had agreed with Nan to concoct this idea that he felt he was a true part of any of it.
Nan on the other hand had had enough.
Marty was trying to compose himself but before he could get the next sentence out Nan jumped up from the heart shaped sofa and ran for the stage exit.
Steve rose up quickly and shouted at the top of his lungs-“Fartum drool face, my dearest love…wait for me”
And with that he chased after Nan, leaving Marty and the studio audience rolling over with hearty laughter