“An arranged marriage.” I huffed into the mirror as I applied a dark shade of lipstick. “I mean, it’s 2019! My parents need to wake up and taste the new era.”
Gloria, my best and only friend, sighed. “But you’re still going on this first date for it?”
I capped my lipstick. “Ah, yeah? If I don’t my parents will completely cut me off. I just have to entertain this little proposal until I can think of a way out of it.”
Besides, they probably only want this marriage to get some connection to a big brand or something. It’s not like they really care.
“Isn’t the wedding at the end of the month? You sure this is gonna work?”
With a flip of my chestnut brown locks, I replied. “Of course. I’m too perfect for anything to fail.”
She sighed again. “Whatever you say.”
Around six pm, my parents arranged for me to meet someone named Gerhard Weber at Marcelo’s—the most expensive restaurant in town. Despite the whole ‘outdated arranged marriage’ concept, there was another flaw about that night: he was late. I checked the wall clock and leisurely sipped my fourth martini. It was nearly seven now. An hour of my life, wasted. I signaled for the waiter. If I was gonna drink this much alcohol I was gonna need some food in my stomach. “Hello, can I have the lobster with a side of truffle mashed potatoes? And make sure you charge the bill to Keith and Margot Eclon, the ones who made the reservation. Thanks.”
“Wait! Wait!” An out of breath voice called out.
From across the dining room, a sweaty men in a cheap grey suit was sprinting over to my table.
Oh, please God, don’t let him be… “I’m Gerhard Weber. I’m sorry I’m late.”
I bit down on my knuckle to keep from swearing. Gerhard was a slightly plump, round-faced, short, version of a man. Was this my parents’ sick and twisted way at getting back at me for maxing out all my credit cards last month?
To my dismay, Gerhard sat down at my table. “Er, waiter, can you please actually wait a few minutes so I can look at the menu. Thank you.”
The waiter nodded and walked off.
But, my lobster!
I was practically glaring at Gerhard from across the table. He tugged at his suit’s collar. “Is it hot in here…”
No, that just my stare melting you into a puddle.
“Or is it just you?” He tried to smile, before instant apologizing. “Sorry, sorry I was just trying to break the ice.”
I propped my head up on my hand. “You sure say sorry a lot. What are you, Canadian?”
“Yes. Well, half. My mother is Canadian and my father is German.”
“Well, half-breed, it’s pretty impolite to be an hour late. Why were you?”
“Oh, sorry about that again. I got caught up at work.”
“Work, huh? What do you do?”
“I design advent calendars.”
I nearly spit out my martini. “Design… advent… calendars?” I croaked.
He scratched his ear shyly. “Yeah. I know it’s not a usual career, but I really like it. You know what they say: if you have a job you love you never have to work a day in your life’.”
Why in the world would my parents chose this guy to marry me off to? “That’s cute, but I think the real saying is: ‘if you have rich parents, you never have to work a day in your life’.”
Here it comes. I’ve seen this a thousand times. Unrivaled jealousy for my lavish and fabulous lifestyle. Ah, well, at least I can pin this as one of his faults and make my parents call off the wedding. “I feel bad for you.” He said.
I nearly spit out my martini for a second time. “Are. You. Kidding. Me?! My life is amazing! I get everything I want!”
“You never had to work for it.” He replied in a somber tone.
“Exactly! Isn’t that the dream?”
Gerhard shook his head. “Shouldn’t a dream be something you work for? That’s where the satisfaction comes from. A life without effort… it sounds unfulfilled.”
I scoffed. What does this guy know? He’s designs advent calendars for a living; that’s like the lamest career out there. Toying with my fork, I sighed. This was going to be one long date.
The next morning, I laid flat across Gloria’s couch while her girlfriend went to pick up breakfast at a nearby diner. “I’m telling you, Gloria. This guy was insane.”
I clutched a throw pillow. “I mean, first he nags on my life like I’m the pathetic one. Ah, hello! Wake up, buddy, I’m not the one who makes advent calendars for a living.”
“Designs them.” She corrected. “And you’re right. You’re not the one who designs advent calendars. Why? Because you’re twenty-six, unemployed, never been employed, alone, and mooching off your parents so much they arrange a marriage just to get you to move on with your life.”
“Hey, Gloria, I’m venting about Gerhard right now, alright? I don’t need logic, I need someone to listen.”
“Alright, fine. Go on.”
“Thank you. Then, after insulting me, he spends the rest of the night talking about advent calendars. ‘Advent is the four-week period beginning on the Sunday nearest the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle and is derived from the Latin word for “coming”’ he says. ‘1851 was when the first handmade advent calendar was made’ he says. ‘Advent calendars originate from Germany’ he says. ‘I was named after Gerhard Lang, who was the first person to print advent calendars’ he says. Ugh. Gag me with a spoon and top off my martini because it was a long night. I seriously hate that guy.”
Looking at me with a sly eye, Gloria asked. “Do you? Do you really?”
I turned to her. “What are you talking about?”
“You have have a crush on Garhard!”
I gasped. “I so do not!” I denied. “All he did was insult me and bore me!”
“Yet you actually paid attention! You only ever pay attention to boring things when it’s important to someone you like. For instance, I pretend to like bird watching because it earns me brownie points with Merida.”
“Hey! I thought you loved bird watching!” Merida called out for the doorway. “Okay, no. I knew you were lying.” She kissed Gloria. “But I never cared.”
“Does this mean I don’t have to go on that bird watching trip next week?” Gloria asked.
“No, I bought the tickets. You’re going.” Merida handed Gloria a big brown paper bag. “Got your food by the way.”
“Thanks. I’ve been stuck here babysitting a lovesick Lindsey.”
“I’m not lovesick!” I snapped.
“Care for a second opinion?” Merida offered.
I crossed my arms. “Fine.”
“Alright, babe. Here’s what happened.” Gloria explained. “Lindsey went on a date last night with this Gerhard guy. He shows up late and insults Lindsey’s life. Then he just says random facts the rest of the date.”
“Sounds like Lindsey wouldn’t be in love with him.” Merida reasoned.
“But…” Gloria added. “Lindsey remembered them.”
Merida plopped down beside me. “Oh, yeah. She’s got it hard.”
I gasped. “I do not!”
“Lindsey,” Gloria said, “you’ve done nothing but talk about Gerhard this entire time. You’re smitten.”
I turned away from her. “I am not.” I murmured. I rolled back over to Gloria. “But hypothetically, let’s say I did have a crush on him. Why would I?”
“Because he’s the first person to actually critique you life.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You’ve been spoiled your entire life, Lindsey. Everyone does what you want and everything is perfect for you. Now suddenly, there’s this one guy who stands out and actually tells you the truth. That’s why.”
“But how do I get him to like me back?” I whined.
“Well,” Gloria pulled out a piece of paper from the bag. “I’d say you hypothetically fill out this job application at the diner. Then you hypothetically start working there, where you hypothetically prove him wrong—that you’re hypothetically no longer a spoiled brat because no one wants to marry one of those.”
I took the application. “How did you know I would need this?”
“We had the same talk while you were drunk last night. Now here’s a pen.”
My first day of work was literally the same day. Apparently, they were short staffed and Merida had already talked me up on orders from Gloria. So, despite having zero skills and references, I began my first shift.
Before I was even allowed to shadow another waitress, Wendy, the manager had to explain everything three times because I kept staring at the ‘sale’ sign on the department store across the street. It was so close, yet so far.
At last, I was allowed in the field. Let me just tell you something: working is hard. People actually expect you to work which is boring. Some customers are just mean to you—for no reason. They change their minds or have a bad day and decide everything is your fault.
The biggest tragedy of the day? My hair. Rushing in and out of the grease and steam filled kitchen wreaked havoc on it. It frizzed and twisted and every which way. I had to borrow a scrunchie from Wendy. Imagine that? Me, wearing an out of style scrunchie!
In the last five minutes of my shift, I was leaning over the counter, zoned out, and out of fucks to give. About three different customers tried to call me over, but I was out.
Out of the corner of my peripheral vision, I saw a man sit down beside me. “Hello? Can I order?” His voice echoed in one ear and out the other. “Lindsey?”
I snapped to. How did this guy know my real name—the manager had given me an old name tags that said ‘Samatha’. “G-Gerhard!” I stuttered. Oh my god, did I just stutter? Am I actually flustered?
I felt a warm blush reach my cheeks and tried to hide it with a menu. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m on a lunch break.”
“And what about you? I think it’s too early for you to dress up for Halloween.”
“Actually, it’s a uniform. I work here.”
His eyes widened. “Really? I thought you ‘never worked a day in your life’?”
“Well, now it’s ‘worked one day in my life’.” I joked.
“Hey, listen. I’m sorry about being late last night. I would love to take you out for dinner tonight.”
A smile crept onto my lips. “Yeah. Oh, actually. My shift ends in five minutes, so if you wanna turn that into a lunch date…”
He beamed. “That’ll be nice.”
I slapped down the menu and tore off my apron. “Actually we can go right now.”
“I thought you have more minutes. It’s your first day, you shouldn’t ditch early.”
Grabbing his hand, I reassured. “Don’t worry. Me and the manager are tight.” I hollered. “I’m leaving now Dale!”
“My name is David!”
After leaving the diner, we got some sandwiches to go and began to walk around aimlessly at the park until it got dark. “Damn, look at that frozen naked lady.”
“That’s a fountain statue.” Gerhard chuckled.
I smiled and discreetly intertwined his hands with mine. He gave my hand a squeeze and stopped right in front of the fountain. Gerhard gazes into my eyes. My heart was beating a mile a minute. Come on you idiot, kiss me already!
I closed my eyes and puckered my lips, but then Gerhard said. “We should really get back. It’s dark out.”
Are. You. Freaking. Kidding. Me?!
“Are. You. Freaking. Kidding. Me?!” Gloria shouted as I took sanctuary on her plush pillows around. “He didn’t kiss you?!”
I nodded slowly. Merida busted out of their bedroom. “Gloria, what’s going on? Get back to bed. It’s late.”
“Lindsey went on a long lunch date with Gerhard, gave him every sign, and he didn’t kiss her at the end.” Gloria explained.
Folding her arms, Merida asked. “Well, you have been out of the game for a while, he may have missed them. How obvious were the signs?”
“My eyes were closed and my lips were puckered.” I whispered into the pillow.
In the middle of our conversation, I heard a tap at the window. The second story window.
“Did another dead bird fly into the window?” Merida inquired.
There was another tap. I hopped off the couch. “I’ll go check.”
Upon opening the window, I discovered that it wasn’t a bird that caused the sound, but a half-German man a story below.
“Lindsey!” Gerhard yelled.
There was something big and blocky behind Gerhard. Several men in black were propping it up. “Gerhard?” I called down. “What are you doing?”
“I came to make things right!”
“What?” I cupped my hand against my ear.
“I came to make things right!”
“I CAME TO MAKE THINGS RIGHT!”
“MAYBE YOU SHOULD JUST COME DOWN!”
“WHAT? YOU KNOW WHAT? I’M JUST GONNA COME DOWN.”
Stepping outside the apartment complex, I asked. “How did you know I was here? What are you doing here? And what is that?”
“One: your mother told me. Two: I came to make things right. Three: that’s how I’m gonna do it.”
“What are you talking about? You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Yeah, I did. I should have kissed you instead of letting you get away. Because Lindsey,” he took my hand in his. “I really like you.”
“Woah there, buddy. We’re engaged. You might want to take it easy with the L-word.” I joked.
Gerard laughed. “I like you too.” I added.
“So do you—“
“Oh, just up and kiss me already.”
And we did. Only to be separated by Merida’s and Gloria’s cat calls from the window. “Get a room!” Gloria hollered.
I blushed. “So, what is that thing.”
“Oh, it’s…” Gerhard clapped his hands and the cloaked men unveiled it. “A giant advent calendar! I designed it myself. To count down the twenty-five days till our wedding! Each day has its own romantic surprise!”
Scratching the back of his neck, he stuttered. “It’s too forward, isn’t it? God, I overdid it, didn’t I?”
“No, no.” I breathed, entranced by its intricate work. “It’s amazing.”
I think I finally understand why my parents chose Gerhard: because he has a huge heart and would always try make me happy.
“How did you even afford this?”
“Oh, I’m loaded. I’m the sole heir to Weber’s Christmas Co.”
That’s explains it. Ah, well, as I looked at Gerhard, I knew that didn’t mean a damn thing to me.