An original work of fiction
STANDARD DISCLAIMER: The following is based on a true story. It is at least as true as any current Made-for-TV movie now being shown. All names have been changed to protect any affected party. Some names have been changed several times. The author reserves the right for any vaguely autobiographical portion of the following to reflect more positively on his persona than would otherwise be true in reality. Please cut some slack to any recognized person, place or thing, however fictionalized it may be. END DISCLAIMER
This is the third installment of Lefty's continuing saga. You may want to read the first and second installments to give you some idea of the trials and tribulations leading up to the current dilemma.
Dating in the 90s:Parity Error
Chapter 1: The Perfect Babe (Installment 3)
Saturday is here!
I'm cruising the 405 freeway on the way to Manhappening Beach. I feel good, in a nervous, twitchy kind of way. Of course I am taking the 30 mile drive to her apartment. I figure it will give me even more time to get ready for our date. And, as I had learned years ago, the female of the species rarely drives.
Leah and I have set up dinner and a movie down in her neighborhood. A few minor wrong turns and I arrive. I pull up just down the street from her apartment where there is free street parking.
As I walk up the stairs looking for Leah's apartment number, I hear an incredibly yappy dog announcing an intruder into the complex. Yep, that must be Leah's apartment, according to my notes.
I knock on the correct apartment door. I know it's correct because not only does the apartment number match the one I had been given, but there is a monumental increase in the yapping emanating from within. I wonder how anyone can even hear my knocking, but in a few moments the door opens.
There she is. Leah is wearing faded blue jeans that look like they were custom shrunk to fit on her legs. She has a low cut blouse tucked in her jeans. Her brown hair is loosely coifed so that it looks casual but fashionable. She is a vision of loveliness.
I am wearing Dockers.
"Hi, come on in! This is Jai," she introduces me to the yapper.
And so is the dog
In order to get inside, I have to negotiate my way through the incredible barking dog. I try "nice Jai!", "good boy!", "barking bad!" but the dog doesn't budge. Jai's just a little guy, so I finally walk over him.
Leah closes the door behind me. "You are right on time, Shermie! How was the drive?" She sits down on a couch and smiles up at me coquetishly.
I give her a big sloppy grin. "It seemed like only twenty miles tonight!" I slide onto the couch next to her. I stretch my arm out on the couch cushions.
Leah pats me on the knee. "Ready for dinner, and then maybe a movie?"
I slide closer to her. Jai, on the floor, manages to wedge his body between our legs. He's like an umpire getting closer to the play action.
"Sounds good to me," I say dreamily, looking into her eyes. I hear strange sounds coming from Jai's throat.
"Allrightythen," Leah says heartily. She pats me on the knee one more time and stands up just as I slide over again. Jai scrambles out of the way. I am sitting askew on an almost empty couch.
Leah picks up her leather jacket which was neatly draped over a chair. "What are you waiting for?" She grabs my hand to lever me off the couch.
"Uh, my back is a little sore," I mutter while standing up slowly.
We're out the door, accompanied by another barkfest from Jai the Yapdog. Leah makes herself comfortable in my car and we start off for the restaurant.
"I've been meaning to try this restaurant for some time, Shermie! There is a live band there tonight."
That sounds good to me.
"Also, I love Cajun food, and they're supposed to have some real spicy dishes."
Oops, that's bad. I have never developed a taste for spicy dishes. My mom, God bless her, is probably the world's worst cook. Even for a Jewish mother. Her idea of a good dish is boiled chicken. Any seasoning might spoil the true flavor, she reasons. Sometimes, in a moment of weakness, she may add ketchup to a recipe. Salt should never be used because it's bad for the heart. I had not been introduced to the world of food which tastes good until after my teenage years. Spicy hot dishes may forever be beyond the abilities of my palate.
"That's interesting, Leah. Uh, how spicy?"
"Well, you know Cajun. It should be torch-your-tongue kind of spicy. It could be scorch-your-sinuses kind of spicy. But it might only be toast-your-tonsils kind of spicy."
I could tell her about my mother's cooking. Or I could suggest another restaurant. Or I could try an experience that I don't often partake of, and be in exquisite misery for some undetermined time during and after dinner.
Between tears, gasps for breath, and gulps of water, I try to keep up my end of the conversation. At tables around us, everyone seems to be commenting on how good the food is. So I lisp around my distended tongue, "This food exhibits extremely special culinary qualities."
Leah looks at me with sympathy welling up in her soft brown eyes. "Too hot for you, huh?"
I gasp, "Not at all", in a manly way. "My mouth is enjoying this experience. Can I borrow some water from you?"
The band starts playing. Loudly. It is zydeco music which I kind of like. However, it pretty much ends all attempts at dinner repartee. Too bad, because I am sure that I am making a good impression with my small talk. Also, Leah is trying to fill me in about the world of social work and all the juvenile delinquents with whom she meets daily. It is clear that Leah is a woman of high moral character who looks sexy while chomping down shrimp.
Our dinner comes to an end. I pay the tab, drain one last glass of water, and we walk out the door. I very casually slip an arm around Leah while walking.
We discuss possible movies to see. I'm not really paying that much attention to the movie discussion because my consciousness is focussed on the fact that she hasn't slapped me silly for my arm's forwardness. My arm feels very comfortable where it is. We'll probably wind up seeing a chick flick. But nooooo, surprise city. The theatre we are heading for is only a block away. One of the movies advertised on the marquee is "The Usual Suspects". Leah suggests seeing it.
One of my buddies, Ski Coach Pieter, is convinced that he will only like a movie if there is at least a bodycount of 5 in the first ten minutes of the film. The way to determine the bodycount is that you add one for every body that dies in a visible way. I learned of this method of accountability the first time that I, my ex-girlfriend, Coach Pieter, and Coach Pieter's wife went to see "Terminator 2" starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. T-2 surpasses the mandatory five bodycount rule. T-2 is far and away a superior movie. Coach Pieter and I agree on that.
I have seen a review for "The Usual Suspects". Three stars. But it was also lambasted for some gory parts. At least a five bodycounter. A chick flick, !NOT! A movie *I* want to see. The conundrum being whether the movie is appropriate for a first date.
So I say, "Sounds great, let's do it!"
The movie turns out to be excellent. Just as gory as the review had foretold, with bodies being torn asunder, blown apart, mauled, and generally goried before my sight. And it turns out to be romantic. Not the movie. Just sitting side by side with Leah, sharing popcorn and having my arm fall asleep around her shoulder. When we get up, the pins and needles feel like cute little goosebumps.
We drive back to her place. Jai the Yapdog is begging for a walk, so we accommodate him. My hormones quickly take charge. With first date awkwardness, I pull Leah closer and give her a tentative kiss. More tentative than I had planned because Jai is trying to wake up half the block.
We continue our walk and share Jai with the other half of the block. We end up in front of her apartment.
I decide to break one of my oldest "first date" rules. Any feedback that you get in the heat of the moment is usually not worth beans. No nice person is going to blurt out, "No, I don't like you, I find you totally unattractive, and I never want to go on another date with you." Although that did happen to me once.
Nice people, especially women, will instead screen their telephone messages and never call you back. Yet, I am feeling in desperate need of feedback. I am not willing to wait for tomorrow's possible telephone conversation. I need at least a partial validation of my feelings. Beans or not.
"Leah, I had a wonderful time with you this evening. I think you are incredibly attractive and I would like to see more of you." I give it to her straight from my hormones.
Leah gives me a little hug. "Shermie", she says with a small quiver, "I also had a great time and I'd love to get together with you again next week. I'm freezing here", (I realize her quiver was really a shiver and an expression of the weather), "and I've got to go in. Be careful on the drive back to your place."
I experience euphoria the entire thirty mile trip back to my condo. "Yabbadabbadoo", to quote a famous personage. This is it. I have finally felt true love and it has felt me back. I had made no serious gaffs. I had exuded all the pheromones I had been capable of exuding. I had felt vibes move freely between two adult bodies. I had felt testosterone, like raging rivers, coursing throughout my body. What more could have happened? OK, I suppose it could have gone better; we could have had Italian food. But there is no permanent damage done to my oral facilities. The burning sensation in my tongue will probably clear up tomorrow. Leah and I will get together sometime next week. AND I don't have to wait until tomorrow for a feedback phone call. But there still is an important call I would have to make the next day.