Teresa Persefoni seemed too good to be true and Daniel Bianchi couldn’t believe she’d agreed to go on a blind date with him. He’d tried all the major dating websites over the last few years and he’d never met anyone worthwhile, until now.
Daniel had overheard his co-workers in the lunchroom discussing the new dating app that focused solely on personality compatibility and didn’t allow any pictures or physical descriptions. He even loved its name - SimpaticoSynchronicity.com.
Sure it seemed like a throwback to old-school internet chat rooms, but he’d always been self-conscious about his looks and this allowed him to have a woman get to know him without all the usual trappings of social media and photos getting in the way.
After filling out the exceptionally thorough personality questionnaire, he’d been immediately ‘SimSynced’ with Teresa.
They’d been corresponding with each other for two weeks and he couldn’t believe how much they had in common. They liked the same movies and music, shared a love for the city’s baseball team the Cedar Rapids Kernels, hated hiking and adored Italian food. He was thrilled her religious and political views so closely matched his own.
The written conversations with Teresa had been engaging, challenging and funny. Every one of them left him wanting more. He’d finally gotten up the nerve to ask her out and was relieved and excited she’d accepted.
They agreed to meet at Giuseppe’s for dinner on Saturday night. It was her turf, her favorite Italian restaurant. In his opinion, Giuseppe’s didn’t hold a candle to Gino’s in his neighborhood, but he wanted her to feel comfortable and she’d reserved table number eight for their date.
Teresa put on her favorite light blue sweater and debated between jeans and black dress pants. She wanted to look nice, but not too dressy. She opted for the black pants and pulled on her scuffed up black boots and a jean jacket. She checked her watch; she had ten minutes to kill before leaving for her date with Daniel. She sat on the couch and sighed. She just wasn’t sure he would live up to her expectations. He seemed perfect on paper, but the last two guys she’d met through SimpaticoSynchronicity.com had been nothing like they’d portrayed themselves online.
She thought about the added pressure of having her family members in the restaurant watching the date and judging Daniel from afar. Her Uncle Giuseppe had thrown the last guy out the front door halfway through dinner when he’d admitted he was married. The family knew how important this was to her and how hard she was trying. She was grateful for their support to help her find the one.
Daniel changed his clothes four times before finally settling on a Kernels polo shirt and khaki pants. He hadn’t been on a date in nearly a year and he really liked Teresa. He just hoped she was at least average looking and that she thought he was okay-enough looking too.
Teresa knew it was Daniel the minute he walked into Giuseppe’s. The Kernels shirt, glasses and his fidgety self-consciousness were dead giveaways. She took in his slightly overweight frame, surprised by how tall he was. His black hair had been carefully combed after he got out of the shower and she could tell he’d struggled to make it stay in place. She stood and waved at him. She pointed to the number eight placard on the table.
He waved back, stunned by how pretty she was. He hadn’t expected her to be so good looking. He took in her long, dark brown hair, big brown eyes, slim figure, and welcoming smile as he crossed the restaurant.
After the initial awkwardness of the first hello, they settled into a conversation like those they’d been having online. He barely remembered looking at the menu or placing his order until the waitress brought out his food. He thought Teresa seemed to be enjoying the date as much as he was and couldn’t suppress a grin as he dug into his chicken cacciatore.
Teresa covertly glanced around the restaurant for her family’s feedback as she ate her pasta aglio e olio. She got a subtle thumbs up from Uncle Giuseppe. Aunt Ramona nodded her approval and her cousin Anthony tipped his drink in her direction. Her cousin Angelo flipped her off, then quickly shot her the okay sign. She sighed with relief. Finally, the right one! She turned her attention back to Daniel.
They discussed their favorite foods and how he was trying to eat healthier these days, last night’s Kernel’s game, and their jobs.
Teresa asked about his family. He looked a bit uncomfortable but realizing this was a common thing to discuss on a first date, he explained he’d been orphaned at twelve and had been shuffled from foster home to foster home until he turned eighteen. After a brief pause, he told her it bothered him that he had no family; no one to call his own. She explained her family was huge, and everyone was always butting into everyone else’s business. She laughed saying it was both a blessing and a curse.
After their first few dates, Teresa admitted to Daniel that Giuseppe’s was her uncle’s restaurant and a few of her relatives had been there the night they met. He complimented her on being so careful, then smiled and reached out to take her hand as they walked down the street toward his favorite ice cream parlor. “I think I’ve put on a few pounds since we’ve been dating,” he said as he held the door open for her.
“You look just fine to me.” Teresa blushed as she replied.
They continued to meet for dinner and movies every other week or so over the next few months.
Teresa was pleased Daniel seemed to be everything he’d claimed he was during their online chats. He was a bit clumsy and shy, but kind and gentle too. He seemed overwhelmed that she was continuing to go out with him. She knew without discussing it that she was the only person on his social calendar; it just made her more certain he was the one.
Daniel couldn’t believe his luck. A beautiful girl wanted to spend time with him. With him! Teresa was sweet, had a good sense of humor, and she knew more about the Kernels than he did. She seemed to be a bit hesitant at times, but he assumed it was because she’d been hurt in the past just like he had been. Even though they hadn’t even kissed yet, Daniel was starting to think he’d finally found his match.
In early November, Teresa asked him if he’d like to come to her family’s Thanksgiving celebration which was always held at Giuseppe’s. He was nervous about meeting her family, but delighted she’d asked him. He readily agreed and asked what he could bring.
Around 5pm on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Teresa called Daniel and asked if he wanted to have a late dinner at Giuseppe’s with her. She’d been thinking about him and wanted to see him, but she needed to finish up a few things at work first. Since Teresa’s office was less than five minutes from his apartment, they agreed she’d pick him up around 8:15pm.
On Thanksgiving Day, Teresa’s family congratulated her on finding Daniel. Her stomach growled as the enticing aromas of the roasting meat and all the accompanying side dishes filled the restaurant. She mingled with her parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and the rest of the extended family as Uncle Giuseppe and Aunt Ramona put the finishing touches on dinner.
She listened to Uncle Luca arguing with her aunt Maria and cousin Angela about who had the best stuffing recipe. “Just wait until you try my stuffing today,” Luca bragged. “I finely chopped some of the liver and kidneys this year and then added two kinds of onion, celery, two different types of apples, some of Giuseppe’s special Italian seasoning blend and craisins.”
“Craisins!” cried Angela. “They don’t belong in stuffing. What were you thinking!” Teresa patted Angela’s arm as she removed herself from the conversation, glanced at the door and then her watch, and made her way toward her mother and Grandma Rose who were sitting at the bar drinking wine.
At exactly 6pm, Uncle Giuseppe tapped his wine glass with his fork and the crowd quieted. “I want to thank you all for coming to share this holiday with us,” he said. “And a special thanks to my beautiful niece Teresa for her contribution to this year’s Thanksgiving feast.”
Everyone clapped and cheered as Anthony and Angelo, along with Teresa’s dad and Uncle Luca, carried out the platter with a well-roasted Daniel on it. “Who’s hungry?” Giuseppe asked as he began to carve slices, placing them on several large serving dishes which were passed around with the typical arguments about whether white meat or dark meat was better.
Soon all that could be heard was the clinking of silverware against plates and the occasional request to pass a dish down the table as everyone started eating.
“Oh my God! The brine you used this year made the meat so tender!” Aunt Ramona praised Giuseppe as the others murmured their assent.
“It’s just perfect with Julia’s rosemary mashed potatoes,” added Cousin Angela. “And Luca, you really have outdone yourself on the stuffing this year … craisins included. It’s fantastic!”
The food was delicious, the company wonderful, and Teresa couldn’t remember spending a nicer day with her family. She hoped there would be leftovers of Daniel to take home. The day after Thanksgiving, she loved nothing more than a thick white meat sandwich on one of Aunt Ramona’s amazing cardamom rolls.