I stood next to her desk at work, nervously introducing myself and telling her that I had seen her around and would like to get to know her better. She told me her name, and agreed to meet me for lunch down at the Harbor Docks on Saturday.
I had asked one of my married female co-workers “how does a guy ask a woman he doesn’t even know for a date?” and she had given me this approach, word-for-word. “Start with lunch; it’s less threatening,” she said.
I followed her instructions. It worked.
That Saturday, I was sitting outside on the deck of the restaurant (overlooking the Gulf and not the “Harbor”, in spite of the name) when she arrived. She was wearing a white sundress, and looked stunning.
I have (and had) a horrible weakness for the sight of a girl in a sundress.
Joan was her name; she was new in town. Both she and her twin sister, Angela, had started working where I worked (in different offices) the same week. They were not identical, but people sometimes thought they were. I asked her about where she had come from (Tallahassee); what she liked to do (run and work out); and so on. I spoke some about the same topics for me.
It wasn’t long before conversation sort of ground to a halt. The date wasn’t working; it just didn’t feel right. I was accustomed, on dates, to being able to get the women I dated to laugh; however, nothing I said seemed to be particularly funny to her, which was a bad sign for me.
Girls did not typically date me for my looks.
Forty-five minutes in, she honestly seemed bored out of her mind. Still, lunch was good, and it was a beautiful day; and, I mused, as attractive as she was, she certainly shouldn’t have any problem garnering male attention. Hopefully for her, next time she would be having lunch with someone she was more compatible with.
I walked with her out to her car to say goodbye; after she left, I decided to take a walk down the beach. It was early fall, but the weather was still warm and breezy.
Being, at that time of my life, a lonely single guy, I wondered if I shouldn’t have tried to pretend to be the kind of guy she liked in the hopes of finding out what was beneath that sundress. I dismissed the thought, however: I wasn’t that good of a liar and I wanted someone to like me for me; so, I told my pesky male sexuality to pipe the f*** down.
Besides, it’s hard to pretend you work out when you don’t.
I saw a few stray people out walking, including a woman or two wearing sundresses. I’ve never quite been sure what it is I like so much about that particular fashion on women. I guess it’s like taste in music: you hear something, and you know you like it, but you’d be hard pressed to say exactly why. I’ve just always loved the sort of casual naturalness of that look, for whatever reason.
I was feeling down; I had entertained high hopes for that date. Although in my mid-twenties, some of of my friends had stopped this business of merely dating and taken to getting married. I had some longer-lasting relationships when I was younger, but not in some time — and I was lonely.
It was a loneliness slated to last roughly five more years; but I couldn’t know that at the time.
I picture me now at that age, driving back to my apartment, talking on the phone to one of my buddies who wanted to know how my date went (“It was a dud, man”). I see myself making a pizza in that little apartment that evening, with a glass of wine and my tiny cat for company, listening to music as the sun set down the beach and the night lit up with partygoers at the bars and clubs all up and down the way. There I am, after some hours of television and and some minutes in the shower, settling down in that old bed with its broad striped comforter, the cat sleeping on the headboard, dreaming my dreams of girls in sundresses — and that one girl in particular, whose face I never could quite see clearly, who’d smile when she saw me, and laugh at my jokes, and who would actually want to lay down next to me every night.
For Nano Poblano this year, I’m trying a prose post a day instead of my usual work in poetry. Thanks for reading. – S.B.