American Contemporary Fiction

Word count: 1,230 words


Addie, an introvert, had agreed to this date with Justin on a whim. They both lived in New York City - Addie had only been there a year, since graduating from college. She had thought New York would be an exciting place to live for someone as shy as herself, but was beginning to find that the aggression she experienced in such a big city was overwhelming.  

She was a temp receptionist and had met this guy, a young entrepreneur, at a law office she’d been temping at. She remembered what she’d been wearing that day: a red rayon shirtwaist dress she’d bought online. It made her feel sophisticated, at the age of 22, and less of an introvert than she was. She’d been trying to be a little more outgoing and to ‘experience’ life, but Justin was hardly what she expected.

He had come into the office to negotiate a contract, and after speaking with her for a few minutes while waiting for his appointment, asked her out on a date. She assented, but ended up being sorry she had.

As they sat at the Italian restaurant waiting for their lobster pomodoro, he began quizzing her about herself, and she found his questions repellant.

“Have you ever been to bed with a transvestite?” he asked as they were sipping white wine.

“What?” she answered, annoyed. She’d never even known any transvestites.  

“Have you ever been to bed with anyone at all?” Justin laughed. “You seem rather shy.”

“It’s really nobody’s business if I have or haven’t,” she answered carefully. She wasn’t about to spill her guts to a guy with whom she was on her first date.

“I went to UPenn,” he said boastfully. “Ivy League. Was the president of my class. Slept with lots of girls -- they loved dating the president of the class.”

“How nice for you,” she answered, again carefully. The wine tasted sour to her - she wasn’t much of a drinker and didn’t care for it. And this guy was awfully forward and bold.

“If you had been to bed with a transvestite, you’d have learned a lot. I slept with a dominatrix once - she wanted to beat me up with a whip and put me in handcuffs. But that was a few years ago.” He slurped his wine.

“Oh.” She hardly knew what to say.

“Why do you do temp work? You could be on your way to becoming an executive! Or does the idea intimidate you too much?” he asked, peering at her across the candle-lit table.

She took a sip of ice water from her glass to clear the sour taste of the wine.

“Not exactly. I just don’t know exactly what I want to do with my life. I studied Botany in college, but it doesn’t interest me much anymore.”

“Good god! The study of nature and plants and flowers and junk like that? Sounds a little boring. I’m a go-getter, that’s what people always say about me. I’m trying to do a start-up of a new software program.”

“That sounds boring to me,” Addie answered a little spitefully. After all, he’d just put her youthful ambitions of the study of botany down.  

“It’s not!” he exclaimed. “I could make millions by the time I’m 30!! Hey -- look at that woman over there at the next table. She’s got a dress cut so low I can almost see her nipples!” He laughed again.

Addie looked over at the next table. The woman’s dress was a v-neck, but not cut that low.

“I think you’re being awful,” she said to Justin. “Her dress is lovely. And she looks like she’s having a good time.”

“Oh, well,” said Justin. “I’m only trying to entertain you.”

Just then the waiter brought their lobster pomodoro and they sat there, digging into their food in silence. Really, Justin seemed too outspoken and frank and inquisitive to Addie.

“Ever do drugs?” he finally said, breaking through their silence as he chewed a forkful of lobster.

Addie paused while eating and spoke slowly.

“No, I’m really not into that.”

“Well, let me tell you -- heroin’s easier to quit than cigarettes!” He laughed once more. “I know -- I’ve used both, and I used to be addicted. But only for six months. Then I wised up and quit, cold turkey. It took a secretary from Long Island to get me off the stuff -- heroin. She provided good sex -- that’s what helped me quit.”

Addie almost choked on her food. Good God -- why had she gone out with this man? He was far too forthcoming on a first date.

The waiter approached to refill their water glasses but then left them alone. Addie almost wished he’d stick around.

“By the way, I hope you don’t think that because I asked you out, and I’m on the verge of making big bucks, I’m going to be buying you fancy jewelry or anything like that next week.” Justin guffawed. “I save things like that for girls who put out.”

“I’m a woman, not a ‘girl,’” said Addie deliberately. “And I certainly don’t expect jewelry from a man I just met.”

“Hmph,” he answered. “Ever read Town & Country Magazine? It’s full of stories about moguls who buy incredible jewelry for their wives.”

“I don’t read magazines -- I read nonfiction and sometimes bestsellers,” answered Addie, now very irritated. “And you’re no mogul, and I’m not your wife.”

“And probably never will be…” said Justin thoughtfully as he sipped his wine. “A girl who never did drugs, doesn’t read about what’s ‘happening’ in Town & Country, and doesn’t seem to like sex.”

Addie stayed silent through the rest of dinner. She was too much of an introvert, probably, but this guy really was preposterously insulting and rude. She was regretting the whole evening.

Finally the waiter brought the check, which Justin made a big deal out of examining for its accuracy, and then whipped out an American Express card to pay for dinner.

“I’ll tip the waiter well...I always do. Some people are tightwads. Are you? You are a little uptight,” he said, signing the receipt. “I’m kind of sorry I asked you out. You’re hardly my type. I just thought, in that red dress you were wearing in that office, you’d be a firecracker!”

“I’m not,” she practically spat at him, “and if I thought our ‘date’ would provoke me so much, I would never have gone out with you.”

But Justin only laughed, and he did -- Addie was almost surprised -- hold the door for her as they exited the restaurant.  

“Say -- want to drive out to Coney Island one day and go on the rides? A girl like you could use an escapade. Maybe it would loosen you up -- being on a roller coaster!”

“No, thank you,” Addie said as they parted. “I think this is the end of our time together.”  

“Man,” he answered, “you are one religious-right female. Or at least you seem like it.”

He leaned towards her as if he at least expected a kiss on the mouth, but she felt repulsed.  

“I’m not into roller coasters,” she said. “I’m not ‘into’ transvestites or whips and chains. Or heroin. And I’m definitely not into you.” She turned away from him but did look back over her shoulder to utter one last sentence.  

“I’m never going out with you again.”


July 24, 2021 05:52

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