I have decided to start posting my "works-in-progress" on this blog in hopes to stay motivated and hopefully see some of this stuff through.

I am always fine-tuning my writings, so feel free to leave comments, point out grammatical errors, or any other sort of feedback that you think might help.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Date

Miriam rubbed the sweat from her palms and took a deep breath before hitting “send” on the email in front of her. “Well, here goes!” she sighed, leaning back in her chair. She wasn’t sure if the nauseating feeling in the pit of her stomach was one of excitement or regret over the fact she had just agreed to go on a blind date.

Although Miriam resisted the idea at first, she finally gave in when her friend Amy pushed her to join one of those dot-com dating sites. To be quite honest, she quickly learned she had good reason to be a little leery too. Within the first week, Miriam received more than one solicitation to meet a stranger for a “late night booty call” or what some referred to as a "hook-up". Miriam was beginning to think it was possible there weren’t any decent men left in this world. Just when she was ready to give up she received a private message from GymGuy21. After a few email exchanges, Miriam discovered his real name was Clint and he was a physical trainer for a local health club.
“This will be interesting,” Miriam sighed while getting dressed in front of the mirror. Miriam patted her tummy and turned from side to side, thinking she desperately needed to get back into shape. Her divorce had sent her into a slight depression and she had easily gained twenty or so pounds the last few years. Miriam suddenly felt like a frumpy, forty year-old with no chance of finding love.
As Miriam walked over to the café on the corner to meet Amy for lunch, she couldn’t help but notice each woman she passed. The more she scrutinized them, the more they seemed to all have tiny waists, perky breasts, white teeth, and shiny hair. It made her wonder why she hadn’t kept herself in shape all these years.

“Well, a lot of it’s fake,” Amy reassured her after their food had arrived. “All women our age feel old and frumpy. That’s why they do it; liposuction, implants, veneers, and extensions,” Amy continued.

As Miriam scanned the café, she wondered if it were true. Had all of these seemingly beautiful women actually altered their looks? “Hmm, maybe,” she conceded. “And I never said old,” Miriam added.

“What?” Amy asked in between mouthfuls of pasta.

“I said, I didn’t say old. I used the word plain.”

Amy nodded. “Right, that’s what I meant.” She went on as she twirled more pasta onto her fork. “They feel old because they look it. That’s why they have to get all that stuff done. You, on the other hand, look fabulous. You don’t need work.”

“Nice save,” Miriam rolled her eyes. “But look at these women. This is who I have to compete with, and they have brought their A-game. I, on the other hand, have thinning hair, Diet Coke-stained teeth, and haven’t seen a small waist-line since college.”

Amy waved her fork full of pasta as if dismissing Miriam’s insecurities altogether. “Yeah, but you have so much more to offer,” Amy explained between bites.

“You can’t even begin to understand,” Miriam protested. “You’re like a size zero and you sit here shoving your face full of pasta while I pick at my salad and fat-free dressing. You’ll probably order dessert too.”

“I am only going to say this once, so listen closely my friend,” Amy forewarned as she swallowed. “Most women spend tons of money to look good. And most of those women are superficial. Get it out of your head that all men go for that type. You, on the other hand are a breath of fresh air. Your beauty isn't just a façade. You are you, always. The real you. You say you feel plain, but you don’t need to cake on all that make-up. You have natural beauty. And I’m not just saying that because you are my friend,” Amy continued. “Trust me. If you were ugly, I’d tell you that you were a 'special spirit' or something.”

Special Spirit is code for ‘ugly’?” Miriam laughed.

Amy nodded and proceeded. “You have big dark eyes that most women would kill for. Your lashes are long and thick and curly. You have great skin with barely a wrinkle. You have a smile that is contagious and as luck would have it straight teeth. So you’ve put on a little weight. So what? It's not like you're vying to be Discovery Channel's next "Two-Ton Woman". You are well put together and above all, you are brilliant. In fact, I’d go as far to say you are the smartest person I know. Not only are you an intellect, but you are freaking hilarious too.” Amy set her fork aside and leaned forward with all seriousness. “When you are in the room, people gravitate towards you and listen eagerly as you captivate them with story after story. You are the complete package my dear and any smart man who takes a chance will realize that too.”

Miriam blushed and started to interject before being cut off.

“And quite frankly,” Amy added while reloading her fork, “I think most women are jealous of you. I know I for one would trade my high-velocity metabolism and forsake all of the bottomless pasta in the world to have half the qualities you do. So,” Amy stated matter-of-factly, holding her hands up in front of her, “I don’t want to hear anymore whining. Do you hear me? This pity party is officially over.”

“Understood,” Miriam smiled in gratitude and then sat silent for a few moments, letting it soak in. “You’re right,” she exclaimed. “I do have all of those qualities, and there is no reason for me to feel ashamed or less than anyone else out there.”

Amy sat back and smiled, pleased with her dissertation. “So, tell me about what’s-his-face. Where is he taking you? What’s he like? Is he cute?”

The week leading up to their date, Clint and Miriam exchanged a few more emails and spoke on the phone a handful of times. Through that, Miriam discovered that the art of flirting was like riding a bike. Once you get back on, so to speak, it all comes back. Miriam felt like a giddy school-girl, riddled with anticipation.

Friday night Miriam pulled into the parking lot of the pancake house and saw Clint jump out of a jeep parked a few spots away. She recognized him immediately from his pictures and waved as he walked over to greet her.

Miriam was pleased that Clint looked like his photo, but was a little caught off guard that he had one lazy eye. While she didn’t feel it detracted from his overall appearance, she wished he would have sent her a picture that revealed both of his eyes, instead of all from the same angle as she suddenly realized he had done. Miriam could tell that Clint seemed pleased with her appearance. She breathed a sigh of relief as they walked into the restaurant. This might actually go well, she thought to herself.

The food came fast and the conversation seemed to pick up right where it left off in their last email. Soon, however, Miriam noticed blood beginning to pool around the aperture of Clint’s nose. She kept waiting for him to excuse himself to take care of it, but he didn’t. To be quite frank, the sight of it grossed her out. Can’t he feel that? She silently asked herself. The pool of blood seemed to thicken and grow darker, which disgusted Miriam even more. She could hardly look at him while he was talking. Worried that he might pick up on her avoidance, Miriam determined it best to simply advise him of the situation.

“Um,” she stammered. “I think your nose is bleeding.”

“Oh no,” gasped Clint as he abruptly stood and rushed to the men’s room.

While Miriam sat waiting, she stared blankly out of the window from the corner booth. She noticed a man without any legs in a motorized wheelchair driving up and down the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. Why is he just riding back and forth like that? She wondered. Then she laughed at herself at how easily distracted she could be at times.

Clint returned and the conversation resumed as they ate their dinner. Miriam had asked Clint about his career. As he began to talk, she noticed the blood returning to his nasal base. What is wrong with him? She wondered. Just as before, Clint seemed oblivious to the seepage. And just as before, Miriam couldn’t bring herself to look him in the eye as he spoke. As she struggled to look anywhere but at Clint’s nose, Miriam’s attention was again detained by the man outside in the wheelchair. From the curb down to the stoplight and back to the curb again. Back and forth. Back and forth.

All of a sudden Miriam realized she hadn’t a heard a word Clint was saying. Focus, Miriam! She scolded herself. But as she turned her attention back to Clint, the pool of blood was still there and was growing rapidly. Miriam thought if she could just concentrate on his eyes, perhaps she wouldn’t notice the hideous scene before her. Despite her efforts, Miriam felt ill at ease. She then worried that staring at his eyes could make Clint a bit self-conscious. If she only looked at the lazy eye, Clint might think she was obsessed with his imperfection. On the other hand, if she only stared at his other eye, he might feel she was purposely avoiding the lazy eye and take offense. She quickly glanced from one eye to the next, but all she could see was blood.

Can’t you feel that? Miriam screamed inside her head. What is wrong with you? Your nose is bleeding and it is disgusting! I can’t bear to even look at you! Miriam’s irritation seemed to grow by the second.

Trying to hide her annoyance, Miriam found herself once again distracted by the man in the motorized wheelchair. And you! What on earth are you doing, riding up and down the sidewalk? I mean, who does that? As much as Miriam wished she could freely unleash the admonitions from her mind, she resisted and instead smiled politely and cleared her throat.

“Um, Clint,” she stammered, sort of waving her index finger at his face. “I think you’re bleeding again.”

While Miriam had hoped for another swift exodus to the men’s room, Clint’s knee-jerk reaction was to bring his sleeve up to his nose and wipe across, thereby breaking the pool of blood and sending it streaming all over his face.

Caught off guard by his own actions, Clint hastily reached for his napkin. Miriam wanted to be helpful but was so appalled by the scene, it was all she could do to turn away and hoped he accepted the napkin she held out for him. Clint, oblivious to Miriam’s disdain, yanked the napkin from her hand and made a mad dash towards the men’s room once again. In his absence, Miriam again returned to the man outside. You are a nut job, she sighed. And my date is a nut job, she sighed again. And you, she chuckled to herself. You are a nut job as well.

When Clint finally emerged from the men’s room, Miriam feigned a headache and thanked Clint for dinner. Clint paid the bill and walked Miriam to her car. As much as she had enjoyed flirting and talking on the phone to Clint all week, and as much as she had dreamt of a fun night possibly ending in a nice kiss, she was dismayed at what now appeared to be crusted-over, dried blood on Clint’s nose. Instead, Miriam extended her hand for a warm handshake, which Clint accepted before opening the car door for her.

Miriam hadn’t driven but a mile down the road before digging her cell phone from her purse to call Amy. As she replayed the events Amy couldn’t help but laugh hysterically. It didn’t take long for Miriam to see the humor and join in the laughter herself. By the time Miriam reached her home, she was in much better spirits than when she had left the restaurant.

True, the date wasn’t everything she had hoped for. And true, she also knew that the bloodshed of the evening was enough to haunt her from ever seeing Clint again. Nonetheless, Miriam felt the evening was a success. She had officially reentered the world of dating and overcoming the first obstacle, namely fear, was a step in the right direction.

As Miriam dressed for bed she passed by the mirror and paused to study her reflection for several minutes. Nope. I’m not ultra thin. I don’t have glossy hair, white teeth, or perky breasts. Miriam laughed and then added, and apparently I have the attention span of a poodle!

Then, looking deep into her own eyes she felt a surge of empowerment course through her. Fear and doubt had been replaced with faith and hope as Miriam settled in for the night and the new journey which lay ahead.

COPYRIGHT 2011. Emma C Miller. Any reproduction of this story may not be made without express written consent of the author.

1 comment:

  1. was the guy a coke addict? why was his nose bleeding? and it would have been funny if the guy pacing outside the restaurant was clint's friend. there to rescue him if the date was bad or something. anyway, i think miriam was well written. i could see myself thinking all those same things. i liked amy as well. it was nice to have someone else talk about miriam instead of having miriam take stock of herself. i mean, we got to find out about her in an organic way. a way that didn't seem forced.


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