Greetings and Salutations Acclaimed readers of the blog,
Sorry I’m late, but I was unaccountably delayed due to lack of interest. Truly, life happened, as it so often does, in combination with a certain amount of lassitude on the part of the author.
Todays story is titled Blind Date. I’m often asked where my ideas come from. Never from dreams. In truth they come from a myriad of places. This one in particular was triggered by a friend of mine who manages a restaurant. She recounted a story similar to this one. Blind Date embellishes the circumstances many times over however. So without further delay I present to Blind Date.
By Dave Benneman
Sean Connor fussed with his shirt, combed his hair for the third time noticing how much grey had been added since the last time he objectively scanned his appearance. Next, he inspected his teeth again, and checked his breath again. He washed his hands, and then wiped off the marble top. Expensive faucets and fixtures set an elegant tone in the men’s rest room at Mastro’s. Tasteful music played and scented candles removed any evidence of the room’s true purpose. Alone, he paced in front of the mirror. A glance at his watch told him he only managed to kill a couple of minutes. Straightening his shoulders, he pulled open the door and strode out.
At the bar, his glass containing club soda sat in a puddle, condensation ran down the side. The room was crowded and a little noisy. While he waited for his date, the second-hand on his watch crept around the face at mutant slow speed. He kicked himself for agreeing to this date. He was long out of practice. In the four years since his wife of twenty-three years had died, he hadn’t dated. Yet, here he sat, and on Valentines Day. His wife often complained about how he was not very observant, and so, he inadvertently picked Valentines Day.
Arriving early seemed like a good idea, but now as he drummed his fingers, he second-guessed the wisdom of his plan. A tap on his shoulder nearly had him jumping onto the bar even as it snapped him out of his thoughts.
“You must be Sean,” she said.
“Uhuh, I mean yes, I’m Sean.” When he tried to extricate himself from the fancy stool, his feet tangled, almost sending him pitching on his face.
“I’m Marissa.” She extended a hand. “Sorry if I scared you.”
“Great first impression.” His face warmed with embarrassment, he shook her hand. “I’m not always clumsy. Just around pretty women.”
Her laugh sounded forced. “It was my fault.”
“Are you hungry? Let me get you a drink, then I’ll check on our table.” He waved to bartender.
“Thank you.” She gracefully slipped into the padded bar stool with no effort.
She was pretty, in an all business sort of way, slender but not skinny.
“Sorry, I guess I’m a little nervous.” He smoothed a hand over the back of his head. “Are you hungry?”
“Let’s get that drink.” She ran a hand through her auburn hair cut in an easy to maintain style that set off her brown eyes. A fashionable skirt suit and sensible shoes told Sean she was practical as well as attractive.
Her smile put him on edge. He didn’t want her pity. He’d be much happier if he could spend tonight sitting in his favorite chair with a book, a bowl of popcorn, and a Perrier. Surrounded by what he had come to think of, as his old life. Heaven knew he craved the normalcy he carved out of his routine with an acute hunger.
The bartender stopped in front of them, all politeness. “What can I get you?”
Marissa turned, her smile changing targets. “What do you suggest?”
“We specialize in Martinis.” He produced a drink menu out of with a showmen’s flourish. “We have them in every imaginable flavor. Tonight’s special is a Banana Fosters Martini. It’s been very popular.”
She waved off the menu. “That sounds fine.”
“Can I get you something else sir?”
“I’ll stay with the club soda,” Sean added.
“Very good sir.” The bartender turned on his heel.
The spice scent of Marissa’s fragrance wafted over to him. It was nice. He studied her in the mirror gracing the back bar only to find her looking back. Heat surged under his skin, scalding his face. “Sorry I’m new at this.”
“Relax Sean. I don’t bite, not on the first date anyway.”
He nodded. “Why don’t I let the maître d’ know we’re ready? Be right back.” Grace promised Marissa would be attractive and witty. His sister was at least half right. He fantasized bolting for the door while waiting for the maître d’. Fear of his sister was the only thing keeping him there. She would kill him if he bailed on her friend. Grace had been trying to set him up for months. Each time he managed to beg off, until last month when she out witted him. His resentment at being played still festered.
He returned to his seat at the bar and slid back in. “He said it would be a few minutes.” Sean sipped his drink and made a point to be pleasant. They talked about the weather, and the traffic, but every time Marissa mentioned Grace, his face warmed. His older sister had always been overbearing. Truth be told, she was down right pushy. Like the Terminator, Grace couldn’t be bargained with. She couldn’t be reasoned with, she didn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. In fact, she absolutely would not stop, ever, until he agreed to take Marissa on a date.
He wouldn’t be surprised if Grace already had Marissa’s dress picked out for an imagined wedding. Grace was that convinced that if he would just go out with Marissa once, he would, in her words, “see for himself.” Disappointing Grace would be a pleasure and no matter how well this date went, one thing was sure, he would never marry again. Not after Sarah. She was the love of his life, his rock, and his best friend. Grief might fade, but missing her never would. A soft touch on his sleeve brought him back to his assigned date. “Hmm?”
TO BE CONTINUED
In an attempt to hold myself accountable for showing up late, The conclusion to Blind Date will air tomorrow.
Todays quotation comes from Mick Jagger,
“Lose your dreams and your might lose your mind.”
Thanks as always for making time to stop in.