The waitress was very fat and I did not like her hair, but she had a good attitude as she guided me to my seat. The restaurant was not full on a Friday, so I guessed that the concert next door was still on and that it would fill up with people who had terrible taste in music later (the group playing truly sucked). I knew that my name was on the reservation list, but I still had a twenty ready in case she gave me a hassle.
“I am ready to pay so that you will let me sit early…and not do anything to my food.”
“I understand. I was going to give you are hard time for being here on your own. Instead, I will silently judge you until your dinner date comes in. But I won’t touch the food…for now.”
At least we were near the main window so I could see if any homeless people were near my car (my brother let me borrow his BMW after I got his wife to accept my excuse for him coming home late from work). No one was begging for change tonight, so I felt good. And there was no music playing on the stereo. Usually, there is light jazz or Muzak on the PA of cheap or trying-not-to-look-cheap restaurants. But this was a special night.
A blind date… Usually, I would not agree to such things, but my manager said that he had a sister and I had already seen some photos on his desk of family and friends. Most of the women were quite attractive and I liked to gamble on this.
“I would love to go out with her.”
“Great, because if you did not, I was going to make sure you never got promoted again.”
“I know that, which is why I am doing this. And don<t think this will be forgotten when I see your wife at the Christmas party. She is quite flirtatious and…”
Oh, we laughed quite a bit for a while and then I made a reservation.
When she did finally appear, she stepped out of a taxi and walked past the car, observing it and never touching (a real turn on). A homeless man did appear, but she ignored him and walked up to the doorman who threatened to kick him if he stepped closer.
“I only want the money for alcohol, not drugs.”
“We know that. That is why we ignore you.”
Something like that was said, and then she appeared.
Should I describe her in detail?
I saw that she was arguing with the maître'd about having a drink at the bar as he explained that I was waiting for her. She wore a beautiful red dress that revealed a great deal of cleavage that was probably real. Her hair was done up with something gold and thin that kept it all in place (I should have had it appraised somehow). High heels – very nice (she kept her balance) and I stood up as she was guided to the table by that fat waitress.
“Nice to meet you. You look better than my manager promised.”
“You are an obvious liar, but I have not dated since Covid started, so thank you.”
The waitress smiled and we took our seats.
“So, you know my manager through family…”
She placed her clutch purse on the table, nearly knocking over a water glass and laughed.
“Oh, yes. He is my half-brother. My mom had an affair and she ended up with him. Glad that no one in the family respects him and that he got the job through nepotism. I mean, you’ve met him. Who would seriously hire that guy?”
“And no social skills to speak of.”
We both had to start laughing, which seemed to indicate to the staff that we were ready to order.
“Would you like to start with an appetizer, or just waste more time with your chat?”
Same fat waitress again. I was beginning to really like her.
“What would you like to start with, my dear? Remember that I will be judging you on your choices.” I picked up a knife to check my teeth and to see what the staff behind us were up to (one argument with a couple over a bill looked interesting).
“And I will judge you, too!” She looked over the woman taking our orders. “Wow, I am glad that you are not a sexual threat and that he could not have any interest in you. I would like a spring salad with vinaigrette dressing on the side and bread to make me feel full.”
“And I would like the same thing so that it appears to you that we are on the same page and that the date is going well. It is still too early to call it, but I do care about the opinions of total strangers.”
The waitress smiled again and looked us both up and down.
“It was very smart of you to get something that is not hot and can be accidentally spilled in your laps. When you get your salads, I do expect you to be ready with the rest of your order. It is a first date from what I can see, but I still expect you to be ready for my return and have everything chosen and set. The fish is the most expensive because the chef made us order it even though no one orders salmon here. That might impress her.”
She walked away, and we turned to look at each other.
“I knew that she would have a great personality.”
“She would have to, wouldn’t she?” Diane laughed again.
And what a laugh it was. From there, I could tell that things were going to go well. Through the main course and the complaints about the salmon and the other patrons, we laughed, shared stories that we knew were true (how could we lie?) and found out that we were enjoying ourselves and deserved each other.
And then, I ruined it.
It was over coffee and cake that I had to ask the wrong questions.
“How is the cheesecake?”
“I am only poking at it so that you think I am not going to eat it, but I will take a few bites.”
Michelle did sample it, teeth and tongue working so well over the fork that I knew it was a plan.
“Let’s try something.”
“Right here?” She looked around. “I usually wait until the second date, but you paid for a really expensive wine, so…”
“No, not that. I want to have us both say the same thing on our minds at the same time.”
I was a little nervous, and Michelle was very uncomfortable, but we stared at each other and knew what we were about to do.
“Are you sure? We just ate and it could affect our real thoughts.”
“I guessed as much. But I would like to see where we are.”
“On a first date?”
“In case I decide to ghost you for another one, sure.”
“Great. On three.”
She began the countdown, and I joined it. Some of the wait staff could not wait for us to leave after paying the bill, but I did not care (they got their tips, even the fat one).
Now, together: “Two!”
And then we said it, right there and out loud for everyone to hear:
“I LOVE YOU!”
The night ended there. I got up quickly, knocking over a chair and hearing a glass shatter as the waitress began to laugh at me and point. Michelle did not follow me as I got outside, pushed the same homeless man away from my car, got in and drove home too quickly (bribing the officer who pulled me over was a mutually wise idea). And I did not even look at my phone when it began to vibrate and play my favourite song (“Smack My Bitch Up” never sounded the same after that).
How could things go so badly so quickly? How could I be so blind on a first date?