“I don’t even know what I am looking at, let alone how long I've been looking at it,” Myles explained on the phone, hoping to get some motivation or at least some inspiration to keep going.
He had been wandering the mall for the last four hours looking desperately for that right gift. With less than an hour before needing to produce a gift, he was more at a loss than when he started looking four hours ago. Calling his roommate was his last resort, but desperation makes people do desperate things.
“Just go get a box of chocolates and flowers. It’s foolproof, dude. Make it happen, You’ve got this. Good Vibes, man.”
“Worst advice ever.” Myles groaned.
“Listen, you asked for my advice. I’m telling you, I have a sixth sense about females. This one is giving off some turquoise and white waves, man. You can’t go wrong with the classics. Okay, I’ve said my piece. You do with it as you wish. I’m meeting up with some of my people tonight, don’t wait up. Love ya, bro. Be good.”
The roommate had hung up and Myles was still sans gift. He cursed his roommate's name as he shoved his phone back into his jacket’s inner pocket and headed out of the hipster boutique store that wanted him to donate money to some starving art student who was pursuing their dreams by being useless to society. Myles knew he was getting crotchety and resentful, everyone in the damn mall was buying gifts left and right and he couldn’t find one.
He thought about a blanket, but he figured that was too practical for a first date. He then held on to a Blue-tooth portable speaker for a hot minute, before ditching it on a shelf it didn’t belong on. A gift card was thoughtless, and a chain bracelet would have been tacky. He was trying, but failing miserably.
“I don’t even know her! How am I supposed to know what she would like when I haven't even met her?” Myles muttered under his breath, but not quietly enough for the customer service associate to ignore him.
“Are you looking for something specific?” a man with a name tag that read Stephen popped out from a clothing rack like a magical mythical holiday creature ready to spread some holiday cheer.
“Yes, I am looking to get a Christmas gift for a girl I am about to meet for the first time in about fifty minutes.”
“A girl?” Stephen asked, very suggestively, looking for something more. “Is this a date?”
“Yes, a blind date,” Myles confessed.
“Well, how about some nice perfume?” Stephen asked, but it was clear he was making as much of a shot in the dark as Myles had been.
“Sure, Stephen!” Myles scoffed, “What a great first impression! Here you go, I don’t know you and you don’t know me, but I like this smell and I think it would smell good on you. I would like you to smell like this.”
Stephen wasn’t amused with the sarcasm. He put a hand on his hip and rolled his eyes, annoyed that his first idea was shot down so bluntly.”
“Besides, the perfume here is overpriced and smells like my grandma’s furniture, no offense.” Myles blurted in his panicked state of being.
“So, no to perfume,” Stephen noted out loud. “How about a nice lamp?”
“You know what, Stephen? I appreciate your willingness to help, but if you’re going to keep throwing random household items at me as ideas, I’m going to leave this store and never come back. You can crawl back into your hiding spot and try your surprise attack some other innocent customer. I don’t have time for this Stephen.”
Myles sprinted from the store, leaving Stephen is a shocked stupor. He looked out into the vast selections of businesses, praying something will stick out to him. He walked by window after window of ugly Christmas sweaters and the newest device that no one could even afford without a payment plan or their daddy’s trust fund. Nothing called out to him in any way. It was agreed that they wouldn’t spend more than twenty dollars on each other, but Myles knew better than to fall for that. First impressions go a long way, and twenty dollars wasn’t going to cut it. Neither was showing up empty-handed.
With twenty minutes left to go, before he met her at the restaurant on the other side of the mall, he knew that he had to start making his way over if he was going to make it in time to claim his reservation. If he wasn’t going to show up with a gift, he certainly wasn’t going to lose their dinner reservation by not showing up in time.
Myles's phone started to vibrate in his pocket, and he whipped it out to see who it was. It was his date, texting him to let him know she was on her way and would be just in time to meet him outside the restaurant as they planned.
Myles got her number from a friend who arranged the whole blind date in the first place. Originally, his friend wanted to plan the whole evening. Myles wasn’t down with that. Then his friend didn't want either of them to have any contact until they first met, but Myles was also not okay going into a date that blindly. So he coerced her number out of his friend and arranged the date by text message. All he gathered so far was that she went by the name Ari and that she would be more than willing to go on this blind date as long as it included a dinner, a booth, and a gift exchange, being it was nearly Christmas. Myles had no idea what he was getting himself into, and that caused him more anxiety than he was comfortable admitting.
He was nearing their arranged meet up spot when a woman working at the stationary store caught his eye and pull him into her retail trap. She was giving out thirty percent off coupons to the traffic of people walking past the store. Myles knew this was his last chance to find a suitable gift. He browsed the store for a few minutes, checking the time constantly to ensure he would still be on time.
“In a hurry?” a young employee, probably in her teens asked Myles innocently.
“Yes, I don’t have a gift for my date tonight, and this was my last attempt to find something.”
“The first date?” the worker asked.
“Yep.” he returned, anxiously.
“Follow me, I think I have just the thing.” the worker leads Myles through the shelves of greeting cards and calendars to get to the very back of the store. She reached up on a shelf and pulled down a white box.
“What is it?” Myles asked, not able to see any markings on the outside to give away the contents inside.
“It’s twenty-five dollars. It will be perfect, trust me.”
Myles purchased the box and had them wrap it with paper and ribbon. It was heavy, but at this point the time it would take to look and see what it was had come and gone. He would have to trust this kid knew what she was doing.
He walked to the restaurant and checked in with the hostess to confirm his reservation. He only had to wait a moment before his date arrived. Ari was real, which was Myles's greatest fear that his friend would use him as the victim of some practical joke, but this was no joke. Ari's eyes were emerald green and her long hazelnut hair was braided to the side.
They exchanged hellos and Myles went to shake her hand, like a damn business deal. She laughed and shook his hand willingly. They were quickly seated and Myles finally felt at ease. The conversation was fun and carefree, and it was clear that the two of them were hitting it off. They shared appetizers and agreed to order different main dishes if they could share. They ended up switching plates altogether. They talked for over two hours. Their plates were empty and their waitress had returned several times to refill their glasses. There was no rush, and time didn’t seem to exist while they got to know each other.
“Oh! That reminds me.” Ari interrupted Myles in the middle of his sentence. “I just about forgot about this.”
She handed over a neatly wrapped gift. Myles had completely forgotten about his torturous day of shopping until he was handed his gift.
“Open it.” Ari insisted.
He carefully unwrapped the paper and opened a cardboard box that contained a blue and gold scarf, toque, and mitts. Myles tried on the mitts, they were lined with a cotton lining and fit perfectly.
“Do you like them?” Ari asked hopefully.
“I do, thank you.” Myles genuinely replied.
“I had a feeling that gold and blue might be your colors. It was also the only yarn I had left to use, so even if it wasn’t your color, you were destined to get it anyway.” Ari admitted, laughing at her candor.
“You made these?” Myles asked, half knowing the answer before he even asked. “I am so impressed.
“Well, I am glad you like it. I won’t ask for it back then I guess.”
Myles removed the mitts and placed them back in the box with the scarf and toque. His heart dropped to his stomach as he retrieved the white box he had purchased and handed it over to his date. He was trying to figure out what he would say if it turned out to be something terrible. After an entire day of finding nothing, he took a shot in the dark and now he felt embarrassed for buying it without knowing what it was.
Ari carefully unwrapped and opened the lid of the box. Her emerald eyes lit up as she removed a snow globe from the box. The base of the globe was made out of a cross-section of a tree, and inside the globe stood two white polar bears, majestically posed, as the snow particles fell all around them. Ari watched mesmerized, as the last pieces of snow settled around the bear's feet. She looked up into Myles's eyes and he could see she was touched to be given such a beautiful gift. She leaned across the table and kissed Myles without warning. He was taken aback at first but quickly kissed her back.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that.” Ari sat back in her seat somewhat embarrassed of her impulses.
“No, I am glad you did. I mean, I don’t mind.” Myles stumbled, searching for the right words to say.
“Your gift, it means a lot to me. Thank you. It’s beyond perfect. Now I feel silly giving you my gift.”
Myles shook his head no and placed the toque on his head.
“Nope, nothing is more priceless than a toque that fits this head. I think it’s a fair trade.”
“You’re being modest, Myles. I have to admit, I’ve been on a few dates, but this one has been the best, I can’t lie.”
“Now, look who’ be modest. Dinner and gift exchange aren’t much to brag about.” Myles tried to downplay her comment, although he full-heartedly agreed.
“No, I'm serious. This has been amazing. Thank you.”
“I am glad you took a chance on me.”
“Me too,” Ari confirmed and took one of Myles's hands to hold with hers.