Thanks for joining me on the verge of Paradise, as this chapter of my life unfolds. If you're new to Life by Chocolate, or just madly trying to catch up with your blog reading (Can we ever truly catch up?), this non-fictional story begins here. My last Paradise post is this one. While I strive for accuracy regarding place and time, I alter names as I see fit. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The rains halted to a drizzle.
I imagine Andrew’s still gazing at his wristwatch, wondering when I’ll arrive at his ballroom dance class as promised several weeks ago. Oops. I hope he’s grabbed a chair by now.
Next, the doctor doesn’t make house calls – not to this house anyway. That is, he never called after taking my number. Perhaps he’s scoping out the neighborhood in search of a lousy diner. I haven’t seen a Chuck E. Cheese’s so it could be a while.
That leaves Matthew, the writer. Well, not professionally, though his emails were impressively articulate: fraught with nouns, verbs, and appropriate punctuation. My heart raced with exclamation marks, as we made coffee plans.
The time arrived and I waited at Chico’s Fusion Café. And I waited. Fifteen minutes later, he called. He was lost. I was annoyed. Another fifteen minutes elapsed and I headed back to my car. Then, he ever so casually steered his truck into the parking lot.
“I was about to leave. I DON’T like waiting,” I ruthlessly lectured, as he approached with a warm smile. “You didn’t have a GPS or directions?”
My navigational skills equally challenged, I envisioned the two of us capturing the title of Biggest Losers on the Amazing Race, then voting each other off the island but inept at finding a way out.
“Yeah, waiting’s not fun. I had MapQuest but it was wrong. Oh, well. Wanna grab a bite?” He was still smiling.
The Café menu’s too trendy. (What does one do with a wrap on a sunny day?) He suggested Applebee’s, which would’ve involved further navigation by vehicle, so I proposed a nearby Chipotle. The fifty-yard walk was manageable, even without tom-tom.
“It’s my treat,” he said upon arrival. I was no longer irritated.
Our lunch discourse was interesting until it started. I was propelled into REM sleep by talk of carburetors, generators, alternators, tax evaders, and other four-syllable ors.
“Sorry if I’m boring you.” His consideration jarred me into wakefulness.
“No, I was just, uh, napping. No worries.”
I should say he’s very nice, patriotic too. Matthew joined the military during the Reagan era. “I still think of Reagan as my President.” He beamed with pride.
This wasn’t good, not good at all. How could I possibly date someone for whom Reagan rules? I’m too sensitive and honest. In an intimate relationship, I’d feel compelled to reveal that Reagan is, well, dead. I can’t fathom the subsequent tears and anguish. That wouldn’t be pretty. Not to mention his response.
Finished with our burritos, naptime, and four-syllable oratory, we wandered back to the parking lot.
That’s when it happened. He gave me a hug. I decided I’d earned it. Relaxing into Matthew’s arms, I appreciated a moment of paradise. It was just a hug, and we wouldn’t see each other again, but it wasn’t just a hug. It was a little big thing to keep me going. I’d been in a slump (not just during the date) and his embrace was uplifting. I’d venture to call it celibacy at its best.