My friend Penny and her new beau Serge set me up with Greg. The double-date evening started out innocuously enough: with three recovering addicts and I was elected designated driver. To top it, they opted to take my mommy minivan, and were seemingly not pained by the image (found out later it offered high-school-style seclusion in the way back).
We decided on Outback Steakhouse and settled comfortably into our booth. Conversation flowed easily from foot massages to diet plans to how the world will end.
“I thought I had a kid once…” was perhaps Greg’s best quote of the evening, “…but then after 15 years I found out it wasn’t mine.” Holy shit, that sucks! I thought losing my kids to their biological father in divorce was the pits, but apparently my problems are far from the worst. Greg shrugged it off, and the conversation kept galloping.
When Serge adamantly refused the chocolate tower dessert due to the fact the calorie count exceeded his weekly intake, the waitress promptly booted us. Paying the check was a mildly awkward moment, when it sat on the table for a full 20 minutes before Greg recalcitrantly swiped it and we went three-zees (Greg, Serge and me – Penny was somehow exempt).
Despite a quick detour to satisfy Serge’s frozen yogurt fetish, we made it to Azar’s, the best dive in Million Maples, while the night was still young. The band, Tasty D’s, was hot. And please remind me not to wear my thickest wool Icelandic sweater next time I go dancing. Real women wear skimpy tanktops.
The date’s highlight, by far, was unexpectedly seeing Jake, my 6-year-old daughter’s future father-in-law, and receiving the most rotund, elongated, sincere hug from him. School dropoff hugs are in an entirely different hug league. While my date may have been taken aback by Jake’s Long Island ice-tea induced affection, I was elated. My daughter loves his son, and his son loves her back. We were just keeping the love circle going.
My date demonstrated true sportsmanship after the Jake hug extended remix series by dancing with me to Violent Femmes’s Blister in the Sun. If my shouting tuneless lyrics, “I- stain-my-sheets-and-I-don’t-even-know-why” at the top of my lungs did not turn him off, I’m not sure how else I could repel him. However, nothing could make a slight, slender, willowy woman feel more beastly than slow dancing while resting her chin on Greg’s bald spot.
Penny and Serge surprised me after a few dances with their wedding announcement – this September in Atlantic City. I’ve never struck such fortune after dating a mere two months. Between the two of them they will have eight and a half children and six marriages. California continues to exceed my expectations when it comes to disposable spouses.
The fact that I danced, completely sober, served as a not-so-distant reminder of why I spent middle school dances eating ice cream sandwiches in the school cafeteria while my more mature peers aroused themselves in the darkened gymnasium. Those were fine, young days. I’ve grown up a little, but not a lot.
Greg’s sweetness only deepened when he surprised me with flowers upon my return from the restroom. Given my black thumb, these flowers will be lucky to live through the weekend, along with my memories of the date.