Thursday, October 12, 2017

Chapter 3- The Blind Date

In case you missed the earlier chapters, I'd read them first. Here they are: Chapter 1 and
Chapter 2

Chapter 3- The Blind Date

The doorbell rang a few minutes before six o'clock. "Well, he's certainly prompt." Julie thought.

She opened the door to see Ricky, who looked older than she expected. His graying temples indicated years that Jill’s pictures had not shown. It wasn’t a bad thing; Julie actually preferred a man with some wisdom and experience.

"So, you must be Julie," Ricky said with a smile.

“And you’re Ricky."

He paused. “Well, I guess I am."

Julie furrowed her brow. It was pretty rare that people forgot their own name. Seeing her concern, he quickly said, "I'll explain on the way. Shall we?" He offered Julie his arm.

Julie was pleasantly surprised by his chivalry. She had never seen someone outside a movie offer his arm to a woman. She found it cute and was touched by how proper he was.

you," she said as she took his arm, and they headed for the car. He opened both the gate and the car door. He did it so naturally that Julie guessed he must date often, he was just too good at it to not be well practied.

they were seated in the car and on their way down the street, Ricky began to explain his pause at the door. “Ricky is my name, sort of, but I'm not used to being called that. Bry is about the only one who still does."

See, in high school, I thought Ricky sounded cooler than Rich or Richard, so I went with it. Once in college, I realized that being cool wasn't so important so I dropped it. But to Bry, I will always be Ricky."

"What would you like me to call you?" Julie asked.

"Oh, it’s up to you, but most people call me Rich."

"Rich it is,” she quipped.

"So what about you? Do you prefer I call you Julie or something else?"

This was a more difficult question then one might guess. Julie was already beginning to like Rich, and she would rather he call her “Jewels,” because that’s what her close friends called her. But would it sound desperate to ask for that kind of closeness so soon? Even though she was thinking tell him to call you Jewels, she said quickly, "Julie is fine."

“So what kind of music do you like?” He said, obviously using a preplanned chip at the ice.

Knowing that Larry was still anxious to take her to see Garth Brooks and fearing he may have her bugged, she went against country. "I like classical." That was a safe answer and made her look smart.

"Oh, I never could get into classical. I guess I've always thought only old people like it." Ouch, strike one, thought Julie. At least he's honest, I mean, who really is gutsy enough to admit they hate classical?

"Do you like monster ballads?" Rich offered.

"You mean, like guys with long hair, tights, and lipstick singing love songs?" Julie asked, with a hint of disgust.

"I guess I've never thought of them like that, but yeah."

"Here, let me see your CDs. I'm sure we can find something we both like." Julie reached for Rich’s CD case and began to flip through it.

Metallica, Led Zeppelin, ACDC... Clearly, if they had something in common, it was not going to be music. She was about to give up when she got near the end.

"Wait a minute, is this Celine Dion?” she said in a feigned surprise.

"Oh, is that in there?" he said, rather embarrassed. "I swear it was planted there by my enemies."

"Well, thank goodness for your enemies," she said as she popped the disc into the CD player.

His smile made it clear he was happy she had found something she liked.

"So, besides listening to bad music, what do you like to do?" he asked.

She remembered now why she didn't like first dates. What could she really say to that? The truth was, she liked to watch TV, but that was not a respectable response to impress a date. Talking to friends came to mind next, but that was not much better. A few lies crossed her mind, such as I like to run marathons, or I like to read scientific papers, but knowing that a lie might come back to bite her, she went with, "I like to cook." This was sort of true – she did cook on occasion.

"Really? What’s your specialty?”

“Oh, I try different things, but mostly I like to do Asian or Thai food.”

“Now there is something we can agree on. You are good at making Thai food, and I am actually quite skilled at eating it.” Rich gave her a sly smile.

Their conversation kept a steady pace all the way to Cheesecake Factory, where they were to meet with Bryan and Becky. Julie and Rich walked in to find that their friends had already been seated, which saved them an awkward wait for a table.

Becky greeted them enthusiastically. “Sit down, we have some appetizers coming!”

“Hey Ricky, did you drive the Mustang?” Bryan asked, excitedly.

“You know I won’t take that car out of the garage when I know I will be anywhere near you,” Rich replied.

“You could’ve picked me up in a Mustang?” Julie asked, trying to sound hurt.

Bryan added, “Not just any Mustang, but a ’67 Mustang. The same one we had in high school.”

We had? Bry is a bit mistaken by saying, ‘we had’. It is the Mustang that I had. I did make the mistake of letting him drive it once. That led to my having to put on the only non-original part that car has, the driver’s side door.”

“Oh, look, the food is here,” Bryan said, trying to change the subject.

“I want to hear the story,” Julie requested.

“It is not my husband’s proudest moment,” Becky said.

Rich settled in to tell the tale with a smile on his face. “Bry pulls up after taking it for a drive and sees Jill Schlesinger. He gets the bright idea to call out to her to give her ride. She doesn’t hear him, so he gets out to wave her down and leaves the door open without the parking brake on. The car rolls back past a gate at the school, and the door gets ripped off.” Rich chuckled. “And I couldn’t even be mad, because I was the crazy guy who let him borrow the car.”

More stories of Bryan’s and Rich’s past began to flow, and Becky added a few about Julie from their past. Time flew as the food came, and Becky got up and said, “I need to use the restroom.” She got up and stared at Julie. Julie looked back as to say, “what?” Becky gritted her teeth. “Julie, care to join me?”

Julie said, “Oh.” She had never bought into the companion restroom visits, but she knew Becky was not one to argue with, so she got up and said, “I’ll go too, just in case Becky forgets to wash her hands.”

Once out of earshot, Becky started in. “So, what do you think?”

Julie wanted to be coy but decided she wouldn’t be any good at it. “He is actually normal!”

“Wow, normal. Such a glowing review.”

“Okay, he is better than normal. I think I kinda like him!”

“What, did I just hear Julie, cold-hearted, man-eating Julie, say she thinks she kind of likes someone?” Becky teased.

“Speaking of glowing reviews, thanks for the cold-hearted, man-eating label!”

“Okay, you aren’t that bad, but I don’t usually hear you say you like a guy! I can’t wait for the wedding!”

“You just keep quiet and don’t ruin it for me,” Julie said, joking, but deep down she hoped Becky wouldn’t say anything that would ruin her chances with Rich.

The rest of the dinner date flew by in a whirlwind of laughter and chatter. The date plans had been restricted to only dinner, at Julie’s insistence. She was so used to blind dates going badly that she didn’t want to prolong the pain. Now, as Rich drove her home, she regretted this decision and wished the date could continue.

Once they pulled up to Julie’s house, Rich, as he had been all night, was the perfect gentleman and opened her door. They walked together toward the door, and Julie thought she better speak first. She didn't want to rush things, but she had to say, "Rich, I had a great time."

"Yea, it was a lot of fun." He said casually.

They paused at the doorstep.

"Well, it’s been a long time since I said good night on my door step. I think the last time I did, my parents were on the other side." She said with a smile.

"I guess it has been a long time for me too," Rich said.

There was a pause, and Julie hoped Rich would ask for a second date, but all he said was, "Thanks again, Julie," and he gave her a quick hug.

It was ending. The date would end, and she wanted to see Rich again. It looked like he was about to say good night, so Julie blurted out, "We should do this again soon!" She looked at Rich, hoping for a positive response. His facial expression quickly told her she had struck on a topic he wished to avoid and she instantly regretted saying it. If nothing were said she'd have hope but she felt that being suffed out as he spoke.

"Julie, I had a good time, but..." He paused. Oh, here we go, Julie thought.
Rich continued, "Bry asked if I would be willing to try a blind date. I thought I was ready but after tonight I'm convinced I'm not. That Celine Dion CD in the back of my case was Rachel’s. Tonight was fun, don’t get me wrong, but it made me miss Rachel too much. I'm not sure when or if I'd want to do this again." His voice trailed off as he finished.

Julie quickly jumped in, "I completely understand, that makes perfect sense."
There was an awkward pause, as neither knew what else to say. Rich broke the silence, "Well, good night, Julie, thanks again." He walked back to his car.

Julie watched as he drove away. Once his brake lights faded into the distance, she rushed inside, collapsed onto the couch, and began to weep. Part of her was angry at herself for crying. She had just met the guy! Earlier today, she had been happy, and nothing much had changed since then.

She hated that she had allowed her emotions to get wrapped up in a man she hardly knew. She hated that she had to keep lying to her mom, Larry, and Harold. Why couldn’t she just be happily single; why did she have to date? Her emotions were rushing through her, and she now found herself yelling and sobbing into the couch pillow. “If I were married, my mom wouldn't pester me all day! If I were married, Larry would leave me alone! If I were married, Harold wouldn't approach me! If I were married, there would be no blind dates, and if I were married I wouldn't have awkwardly messed everything up with Rich!”

With the last statement she broke out into sobs again. After a few moments, she began to calm down. She didn't think she believed half of what she said, but it felt good to get it out. She didn't really have any desire to be married. What she really wanted was to be single, and have everyone else think she was married.

As she sat up, her gaze went to the newspaper lying where she usually left it, half read, out on the coffee table. Her mind shot back to her earlier conversation with Becky and the strange ad that they had joked about.  She picked up the classified section, turned to the ad, and read it again. This time she had a very different perspective than she had had at lunch earlier that day.

No longer did she think this man was weird but very wise. This was likely a man in the same situation she was in. Of course, he was. Surely hundreds must be in their situation! He wasn't crazy, but courageous. He was brave enough to do something she wished she had the guts to do, even if it was not socially acceptable.

She grabbed the paper and headed for the computer. She had secretly speculated that, after the date with Rich, she might have a boyfriend. She now hoped, after this strange night, she might land a fianc√©. 

If you would like to continue reading here is a link to Chapter 4.

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