Friday, July 21, 2006

In the Company of Strangers

She was driving down the busy road, no expectations of this date that was to be in twenty minutes. How long had it been since she last had a date? A long time, maybe a year or two. Now the cynic entered her mind. He will have nothing to say. She won't be attracted to him. What did any of it matter? He was returning to his country the next day, and who knew when or if she'd see him again? May as well just relax and have a nice evening. Besides, she was the older one here, so what was she nervous about? Nervous! The thought made her mad. Why should I be nervous? I don't have to prove anything, he's the one that asked me out! Okay, now she was starting to remember why it had been so long since she'd been on a date. It was torture, the uncomfortable feeling of spending an evening with a stranger. She reminded herself that she had met him the night before, and he was very sweet. A real gentleman, old-school chivalry, must've been the South American thing. And he had a really cute smile, reassuring, reminding her that everything was going to be okay. She was still nervous. She calmed herself thinking about how she would be like a big sister to him. Oh dear, that's not very romantic, she thought. Back to worrying. She pulled into the parking lot of Hamburger Harry's, it wasn't too full for a Friday night. Must be the rain. She left her name at the front to be called when a table opened up, and planted herself at the bar. She ordered a drink, but had no interest in drinking it. She looked up and saw an old friend who was a singer and was booked for that night to perform. She went up to her. The friend seemd angry about this establishment. She relayed a story about how she agreed to do this gig, but the last time she came here with her friends, the owner made them all pay for their drinks, so this time she refused to give them any business. She would play for them, but they all had their drinks before they arrived. Seemed strange to her, like you're going through with half of a vendetta, but it worked for the friend. Just then the restaurant hostess called her name on the loudspeaker. As she walked to greet her, her date had just walked in the front door.. Great timing. They greeted each other warmly and sat down. Somehow the topic of Americans and neurosis came up. The girl asked, 'Do you know about the great amount of mental illness that plagues this country? The majority of Americans have seen or are currently seeing a psychiatrist'.. The boy seemed very knowledgable in this, and replied, 'Yes, I know about all the cases where criminals get released by pleading insanity'.. She was impressed with his grasp of English as well as his following current affairs.. However, he missed her point. Ah, that may be more a gender difference than a cultural one. More material for the 'I hate dating' files. They discussed some stuff on training techniques, as they were both avid athletes. This was a good topic for them, neutral, no room for misinterpretion, and something tangible that they had in common. A little lull in the conversation, and the girl thought about how this boy was going to return to his relatives that evening. He didn't have a car, and she had a fear of driving up mountains in the dark, and that's exactly what she'd have to do to get him home. 'How are you going to get home?' she asked casually, though it's a tough question to sound casual about, expecially when you're only 30 minutes into the date. No matter, she thought it a good thing to know the answer to, especially since his uncle was still in the vicinity, and could therefore be of assistance here. 'That's what my uncle asked me', he said matter of factly. She laughed nervously. 'Are you worried about it?' He asked her. 'Well, no', she hedged, 'I just like to plan things'.. They both just sat there, him staring at her with a guilty look on his face, her looking down at her plate trying not to look worried. 'Are you worried? ' He asked her again, this time she conceded, 'Well, maybe a little'. 'Don't worry', he said confidently. 'But how will you get home?' she asked again. 'I'm not worried about it', he said defiantly. The girl thought to herself, 'Well then why should I?', but there were plenty of reasons for her to be alarmed by his lack of an end to this date. If he didn't have a ride home, and she wasn't going to drive him home, this date would never end! And she wasn't too fond of dating. It was then that she decided it might be a great idea to drink her entire martini, and that is what she did. She also decided that she truly was not going to worry about this strange turn of events in this date, and just have the best time that she could. They left the restaurant and drove to a spot where there would soon be a big fireworks display. She and her date walked around looking for a good spot for viewing. A corny band played songs from the '50's, and the fireworks begun. They were louder than she's ever remembered. She had to plug her ears with her fingers. A crazed-looking large man walked right over to her and started talking to her. 'Hey lady, wouldn't it be great if they didn't make so much noise? Then they wouldn't be firecrackers!' This guy seemed a few sandwiches short of a picnic, but the girl would never intentionally hurt anyone's feelings. She engaged in conversation with him. He talked about how he retired from playing music when he lost some of his hearing. He was standing too close to her, closer than the two foot comfort zone Americans require. He walked away and she was glad. She was enjoying standing with her date, watching fireworks, having a nice quiet moment where no worrying was happening. She had mentioned how she loved purple ones, and he kept pointing out all the purple ones to her as they went off. They didn't look purple to her, but she appreciated the gesture. Picnic man came back and again stood a few inches from her face. She didn't know what to do or say, but had the distinct feeling she wanted him gone. But she told herself this poor guy probably has no one in the world, and just needs a friend. So she asked him, 'Were you playing with the band?' to which he raised his voice, 'No, lady, didn't you hear me before?! I retired from music!' He looked really scary like he was going to hit her, and she felt embarassed that this stranger was yelling at her. It was so loud from the fireworks that no one else seemed to notice what was happening. She didn't like being yelled at, and yelled right back at him, 'No, I didn't hear you! Don't you remember that I had my fingers in my ears??' She started to walk away and her date followed her, and then in a sweet voice he said to the man, 'It was nice meeting you'.. What was so nice about it, she wondered? He then explained he had seen this man the night before, and knew he was crazy. The girl felt very strange, like she had over-reacted. But that guy was scary.. No, she acted appropriately, she decided. She and her date walked down some little side streets. He started asking her about why she'd never been married. This was always a topic of interest to foreigners. They think all women should be married by the age of 25. The girl was amused. Some young kids were loudly passing by, and the boy raised his hand to her face. 'Why did you do that?' she asked. 'To block your eyes, they were shining a lazer at you'.. 'Thanks', she said.
In the end the boy had called his aunt to pick him up. She had arrived and they exchanged some words, and then he walked her to her car. He gave her a little kiss on the cheek, and told her he'd like to see her again when he returned. She agreed that she would like that, and they went their separate ways. She drove home feeling pleased that everything worked out, and that she had overall had a nice evening. She marvelled at how difficult it was for her to just relax in the company of a stranger. A few hours went by, and as she played back the events of the evening, she decided this was a really nice guy. Maybe dating wasn't so horrible.

17 comments:

Jon said...

I'm glad it went well "for the girl".

I am shocked that you go that long without dating. Certainly there are guys that ask you out. I just can't understand.

He seems like a really nice guy. When does he come back?

I get pretty nervous before the first date. Actually I am nervous right before the first 3 or so dates. But once the date starts and everything seems good I relax and can be myself. Some women think I am not nervous at all. I think I must have some acting skills that naturally come out in that situation. Maybe it comes easier because I date more. No, I'm not a slut.

Myrsurv said...

Tamar, for God's sake "a little kiss on the cheek"???? what were you thinking????? especially after not dating for a while! but I am impressed you finished a martini...must be that Latin blood that threw you off.

anna lane said...

hi tamar,
i read your story, very cute, and realistic, i almost pictured it as it being similar to one of those reality shows. love anna

tamar said...

jon~ ha ha! that's cute, you're nervous, and the dates are clueless.. I think that truly was the first date I was asked out on.. I'm a tough nut to crack, ask myrsurv! :-)

myrsurv~ come, come.. cut me some slack.. how could I (the girl, rather..)possibly have allowed more than a little innocent kiss on the cheek when she KNEW this boy's entire family would be questioning him for the details?

anna~ Welcome to my blog! I'm glad you liked the post, maybe I WILL turn it into a reality show.. Then we can quit our thankless jobs and visit all the cat shelters in the world! 'Rich is feeding the cat too much tuna'.. xxxxxxxx
Tamar

~Deb said...

What do you get when you pass a fat retired band member, a foreigner with no ride home and a pissed off musician playing at Hamburger Harry’s? A FUN EVENING that Deb should have been at!

The drama at Hamburger Harry’s is a big one. Musicians in my opinion, should get to drink free. They market alcohol 300%...so it’s not a loss for them. She has a right to be a bit aggravated by it all…

The date seemed fun though. I think it was cute he was pointing out the purple fireworks for her…even if they were yellow. Maybe he’s colorblind? Now, you didn’t mention in the story of the girl conquered her fear of driving uphill to take him home. He had to call his aunt. I think it was a wise choice that she didn’t drive him home. Dates should leave separately in my personal opinion. It’s just safer that way.

In any case, sounds like a lovely time had in the land of Hamburger Harry’s. I gotta get up there sometime!

Jon said...

I still think you shoudl have slipped him the tongue, just to make sure he comes back. ;)

~Deb said...

Jon! We're talking about 'the girl'. Whatever gave you the impression that she was referring to herself??? *gives you the eye*

I have a "friend" who's an alcoholic lesbian who always slips the tongue on the first date. Always. I believe she's Christian too, or claims to be...even though she's such a heathen. Hmmm... I hope my "friend" doesn't find out I wrote about "her" ...

Okay! Back to the psyche ward!!!

Jon said...

Ooops, my mistake.

I'll bet Deb's Lesbian/Christian/Heathen friend is a great kisser.

Am I in the line for hell now?

tamar said...

kids~ they'll be no 'tongue slipping' (what a gross expression! haha..) on the girl's dates, thank-you very much.. And if there were, the girl is a bit old-fashioned, and it would either have to come from the boy, or the girl would need a few more martinis..

anna lane said...

hi tamar,
i hope i am doing this right. i just read your comment about rich feeding the cat too much tuna, that was cute, thank you
love anna

anna lane said...

hi tamar
i read you other comment about making your stories into a reality show, great idea
love anna

~Deb said...

Awe, hiya Anna!

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clement said...

Well, that is probably a cultural difference but I can tell you the nice guy of the story here was not french...
The ending would have certainly pleased a lot more Jon.
No, we're not sluts but we certainly know what we want and how to enjoy a nice evening in the nice company of this girl that seems to be quite charming but totally out of shape in the dating scene...