Once A Cynic, Always a Cynic

Submitted into Contest #237 in response to: Write about a cynical character who somehow ends up on a blind date.... view prompt

2 comments

Fiction Romance Sad

Your argument is terrible. I didn’t see an ounce of logic in there. You’re the perfect example of the idiocy that’s polluting humanity. 

Fernando leaned back in his office chair as he hit the return button of the keyboard, smiling smugly. He was sitting in his tight cubicle in the darkest corner of the office room. There was only room for a small desk and an office chair, which made the cubicle pretty claustrophobic. Even though he had claustrophobia, Fernando was fine, even content, with his limited space.

That day in early February he was supposed to be working on a report about his company’s recent customer acquisition rate. Instead his desktop was open on Reddit, and he had already engaged in a grueling Internet battle. Today he was fighting with a person who had posted about a stranger’s kindness. Normally Fernando would ignore posts like that but he was outraged that it had ended with “#faithinhumanityrestored”. He immediately began his usual argument of how terrible society was, and how humans had a miserable existence. Of course many people had rebuffed him in the comments, but Fernando knew they would come to his side eventually. In his mind, everybody would inevitably realize how horrendous humanity really was. If you couldn’t already tell, Fernando was somewhat of a cynic, and he shared his opinions openly. He….hadn’t had the best experiences in life.

As Fernando typed away angrily at his keyboard, his phone lit up with a message from his friend, Sam.

Hey, you still up for the date next week?

Fernando laughed at this. His friend Sam had been trying to set him up on a date with this girl called Lexie. He had found some fancy Italian restaurant that everyone liked. He believed that Fernando’s outlook on life could be changed by finding love. Sam sent another message.

Look man, she’s really nice. I think you guys will get along great.

Fernando picked up his phone and typed back.

I don’t want to go on a date. You know how I feel. The restaurant sounds interesting though.

Sam typed back.

You know what, we should go just the two of us. The food is great. I’ll see you there at 6:00 PM on Friday?

***

Fernando strolled into the restaurant. He was actually looking forward to catching up with Sam, and getting to eat a nice meal while doing so.

As soon as he walked over to the hostess, she eyed him and looked down at a card she was holding.

“Are you Fernando?” she asked.

Fernando was alarmed that this random lady knew his name, but he showed no hint of it.

“What’s it to you?” he retorted, scowling.

She scowled back. “I’m supposed to escort you personally to your table.”

Fernando blinked. “It’s already set up?”

She nodded. Fernando thought that was weird. He hadn’t seen Sam’s car outside, unless he parked across the street. Fernando shrugged it off and followed the hostess. She directed him towards a table in the center of the room. Fernando would have sat down if not for the other person sitting at the table.

She had light brown hair, which was curled nicely, and wore a crimson dress. She looked good.

“Are you sure it’s this table?” Fernando asked the hostess.

“Yes, I’ve had specific instructions.”

The woman in the crimson dress looked at both of them. “Maybe I’m at the wrong table?” She gave Fernando an apologetic look. The hostess shook her head and started reading from the card.

“You’re Alexandra Torres?”

The woman nodded.

“And you’re Fernando Hensley?”

Fernando nodded.

“I’ve been specifically instructed to take both Alexandra and Fernando to the same table.”

Fernando frowned. “I didn’t make a reservation with her.”

“I’ll check with my manager,” the hostess sighed. She walked away towards the back room.

Now left alone with Alexandra, Fernando felt awkward. He fidgeted a bit as he stood by the table, waiting for the hostess to come back. Alexandra gave him a curious look.

“Why don’t you sit down while you wait?”

Seeing no other choice, Fernando sat across from her. He leaned back in his chair and glanced around the restaurant with an air of boredom.

Alexandra gestured towards him politely. “So, what brings you here?”

Fernando rolled his eyes. “I’m supposed to be meeting with a friend, but he’s not here yet.”

Alexandra smiled. “I’m also meeting with a friend.”

“Nice,” Fernando grunted.

“I guess they sat us at the wrong table. It’s kind of weird though.”

“Why is that?”

“I come to this restaurant all the time, they never mess up their seating, or their dishes, or really anything.”

Fernando shrugged. “That is weird. Maybe that one cooking guy should come and fix it up. He’ll just yell at everyone.”

Alexandra’s eyes widened. “You’ve seen that show?”

The two of them launched into a discussion about a TV show that has recently aired on the local food channel. Surprisingly, Fernando enjoyed their conversation. Alexandra was a funny person, and Fernando had nothing else to do while waiting for the hostess. Might as well avoid boredom while I can since there’ll be so much unavoidable misery in my life.

Eventually the hostess came back.

“I spoke to the manager, and she says the instructions were clear. You two were to be seated together.”

Fernando exchanged a confused glance with Alexandra.

“Um, why is that?”

“I’m not sure, sir. If you’d like to be moved to another table I can try to do it. There’s not a lot of room though.”

Stupid restaurants. They always get everything wrong.

Fernando started to get up, but Alexandra held up her hand. “Wait! If there’s not enough room he can stay here. We’ve already made friends anyway.”

Fernando frowned. He didn’t think talking to someone about a cooking show made them friends, but he obliged. It would only be for a few minutes anyway, until Sam arrived.

The hostess smiled and handed them both menus.

“I should probably call my friend,”

Fernando said. “See if he’s coming.”

He stepped outside and dialed Sam’s number. Sam picked up quickly.

“Sam, where the hell are you?”

Fernando could hear Sam wince. “I’m sorry man, I don’t think I’ll be able to make it. My car just broke down on the side of the road and it needs to be towed.”

“Are you serious?” Fernando demanded.

“Yea, sorry. You can still have the reservation though. You’ll just have to eat alone. I’m sorry.”

Normally when something like this happened, this Fernando would be seething with anger. He considered broken promises one of the main poisons of society. But the thought of getting to talk with a woman over dinner excited him a bit, which was a lot more than he would like to admit.

“Wow, I hope you’re okay Sam,” he said in an uncharacteristically sympathetic voice. “And don’t worry about dinner, I found someone else to eat with.”

“Oh really?” Sam said teasingly.

Fernando chose this moment to hang up and save himself from Sam’s jeering.

He returned to the table and saw Alexandra putting away her phone.

“Well, my friend can’t make it,” she sighed. “What about yours?”

Fernando shook his head.

“Aw man, I guess we’ll have to eat together,” Alexandra said with mock disappointment.

“I can’t believe it,” Fernando played along. “I have to eat with someone who watches the cooking channel.”

They both laughed. For a moment Fernando paused and studied her. He noted that she was very pretty. “You know, you look familiar?”

Alexandra looked shocked for a second and then her expression turned to confusion.

“That’s odd. Maybe you’ve seen me somewhere. I go to a lot of events.”

Alexandra quickly changed the subject, picking up her menu. “What are you getting?”

Fernando scanned the menu. “Probably a salad. I don’t see the need to indulge myself in flavorful foods.”

Alexandra thought he was joking. “Wow,” she laughed. “I was also thinking of getting one of the salads, but topping it with pizza.”

Fernando gaped at her. “Pizza?”

“Yep, salad and pizza, it’s amazing together.”

As they continued the conversation, Fernando found himself very interested in Alexandra. It turned out that she owned her own business which helped pet owners find their lost animals. She was extremely passionate about her cause, and talked about it in an, almost, endearing way. Fernando couldn’t help admiring her passion, but he knew it was for nothing. Eventually she would lose that enthusiasm and see how lost her cause was.

Fernando didn’t share much about himself. He liked Alexandra enough that he decided not to unleash his usual cynical arguments on her. He still made dark comments like always, but Alexandra seemed to assume he was joking.

Fernando barely felt the time pass, but he and Alexandra talked for 2 hours. They discussed everything from world events to the cutest dog breed. That night Fernando showed a different side of himself. He made clever jokes, and Alexandra seemed genuinely interested in what he had to say. At one point she even called him a “pretty smart guy.” Fernando was also interested in her. She was a very witty person, and it was fun to hear her take on different things. He found himself blushing many times.

Eventually the two finished their meals, paid the bill, and walked towards the door. Before she could exit, Fernando stopped Alexandra.

“It was so nice to talk to you. I would love to have dinner a second time with you. ”

Alexandra smiled. “Right back at you.”

He hugged her. As Alexandra pulled away, she paused for one small moment and stared into his eyes, almost as if….no. Fernando scolded himself. No, I can’t.

As Alexandra finally pulled away, Fernando heard a booming voice.

“Whoa, look at you two!”

Fernando turned to see who it was. Sam stood there with his arms spread out, beaming.

“Sam! You made it.”

“Yep.”

“How’s your car?”

Sam chuckled. “My car? It’s fine! You really believed my story?”

Fernando stopped in his tracks.

“What? What story?”

Sam stopped laughing and stared at him.

“You actually believed the story that my car broke down? Are you that gullible?”

Fernando glanced at Alexandra and then back at Sam. “What? How am I gullible?”

Sam’s eyes widened.

“You think that ending up alone at a table with Lexie was a coincidence?”

Fernando stared at Sam in astonishment. “What are you talking about? Who’s…..Lexie?” Then it hit him.

Alexandra.

Lexie.

He turned toward her and stepped back with shock.

“You’re Lexie?”

She nodded. Fernando gave her an accusing glance. “You’ve been lying this whole time?” He turned back to Sam. “And you, you planned this! You gave the manager the instructions!”

Rage pulsed through him.

Sam looked at him apologetically.

“Fernando, I didn’t want to lie, but it was the only thing I could think of. I really thought that you and Lexie would like each other. I had to get you to go out.”

Lexie nodded. “I really wanted to meet you Fernando. You sounded like a cool person. And Sam was right, we ended up liking each other.”

“No, he wasn’t right,” Fernando spat. “I don’t like women who run silly charity businesses with no prospects! Women

who’ll bluff through an entire dinner just to find a date. I don’t like liars!”

Lexie looked outraged. “You just asked me out on a second date. And we almost kissed, I know you noticed that. But it’s okay, you can just lie to yourself and say you had a terrible time.”

Fernando couldn’t think of anything to say. Lexie kept going. “You see, you’re a liar too. I guess you don’t like yourself.”

Lexie knew that was a pretty nasty thing to say, but she was mad. Fernando had insulted her when she only had good intentions.

“Yea I don’t like myself. Or anyone else for that matter. This world is cruel. Why are we even here?”

“How could you say that?” Lexie looked horrified.

Fernando looked coldly at Sam. “I knew I was right. There’s no point in finding love. Everyone is just going to lie to you.”

Lexie and Sam just stared at him, too amazed at how cynical he was.

“You know Sam, I actually thought there was a chance I could find someone. That I could have a future. You two have proven how wrong I was.”

Sam knew that Fernando was wrong about love, but how could he possibly convince his friend otherwise? Privately he thought that he and Lexie had only proved the lengths people would go to in order to help each other.

And Fernando had only proved one thing. Once a cynic, always a cynic.

February 16, 2024 12:24

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2 comments

Stevie Burges
08:45 Feb 22, 2024

Well, Roger, I am so glad I'm not Lexie. What a horrible man - even if the excuse is 'He doesn't like himself' - not surprising. I didn't like him either. However, it is a well-written story with a good beginning, middle, ..... and a 'good' end. Thanks for writing and sharing with us.

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David Sweet
20:38 Feb 17, 2024

Man, he really is cynical! It is interesting that he didn't have a change of heart. You decided to not go with the cliché, and that's good. Not sure Lexie would have been able to stomach the jerk in the long run; although, one does hope he might change for the right person. The reality is that most people won't change, especially in adulthood. Thanks for sharing the story. Best of luck to your in your writing.

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