She came back a week later.
In the days following her initial visit I had gone over in my head countless times how I would ask her out. Despite the practice, I was still nervous but it thankfully didn’t show when I was finally faced with the opportunity. She agreed and our first date was set. Knowing the town like the back of my hand made it easy for me to plan dates; I knew the best places to show her.
“So, where are you gonna take her tonight?” Nadia asked curiously. Nadia was my best friend since middle school. We shared everything and were nearly inseparable. She passed the bowl of popcorn, I grabbed a handful and stuffed my face, popcorn missing my mouth and tumbling down my shirt.
“I wanna show her the art gallery in town. I figured we could meet at the courtyard downtown, get some ice cream, visit the gallery, then walk the park.” I detailed, passing the bowl back. We were now watching It Follows, the second movie in our traditional halloween scary movie marathon. Our scare-athon.
“Isn’t that where you took Jessica on your first date not too long ago? And Alex before that?” Nadia reminded me. She never bit her tongue and never hesitated to let me know that, “you’re such a player. Why don’t you just stick with one girl and settle down? You’re 25 now!”
“I don’t want to settle down because I’m 25. I’ve still got a few years left before I decide to settle down. I’m not even sure that I’ll want to do it then. Haven’t I told you this a million times already?” I explained for the millionth and first time.
“Sure you have. Doesn’t change the fact that I think you should slow down. You’re gonna mess around and get caught up.” She retorted matter-of-factly. Her last sentence gave me a chill but I shook it off and feigned indifference. Why did that bother me so much?
I scooped another handful of popcorn before adding, “Well, I gotta get ready to go. Gonna meet her soon.” I grabbed my jacket and headed toward the door.
“Have safe, be fun!” Nadia called.
“You know that’s backwards right?” I corrected, laughing.
“I know what I said. Call me later and let me know how it goes.” At that, I was headed out the door and on my way to meet Tiffany, butter stains on my shirt.
When I saw her at the courtyard I was stunned. Somehow she seemed to be more and more beautiful each time I saw her. A nearby streetlamp watched over her sitting alone on a bench. This was my chance. I snuck up behind her, held my breath so I wouldn’t be given away by the steam in the cool night air, grabbed her shoulders and yelled
“GIMME ALL YOUR MONEY!!!”
She nearly jumped out of her skin.
“Why’d you do that?” She asked puzzled, noticeably frightened.
“I’m sorry, I saw you sitting here by yourself and saw a chance I couldn’t pass up. Please forgive me.” I pleaded, nearly erupting in laughter. She should have seen her face.
“Fine. You got me. So where’s this art gallery you wanna show me?” She asked, interested. I grabbed her by the hand, leading her up off the bench and down the lit walkway.
“Follow me.” I instructed. And our first date began.
We walked to Basket Thompson’s for ice cream. I had cookies and cream, mint chocolate chip for her. Two scoops each. When she asked if I was dating, I told her I was single and exploring my options.
“So you’re a player?” She asked. I could hear Nadia now.
Tiffany didn’t look pleased with my answer. What was that look in her eye?
“Not exactly, I don’t see it that way.” I honestly contended.
“Well what are your intentions with me?” She was so serious, I respected it.
I thought for a second and told her, “Tiffany, you’re a cute girl. You’re new to town, I wanna show you around and get to know you a little better. Come on, the gallery is right down the street.” I hated getting into serious relationship guided conversations on first dates. Especially since that’s not what I was looking for. I wasn’t opposed to it, just not looking for it. I wanted to see if Tiffany was the type of person I would enjoy being around.
We entered the gallery, I paid the cashier for two tickets, and we strolled casually through the puzzled halls, pausing briefly at occasional pieces. She liked Dan Vogue, I preferred Quasbiat. I appreciated her opinions, she valued mine. I learned a lot from her, she picked up a thing or two from me. She told me she was from
“Cloudy. A small town in Southern California.”
“Never heard of it. What brings you here?” I asked.
“I wanted a new start. I moved here with my brother a few months back. It’s nice here in Clintville, very peaceful and friendly. Well, until recently. Hey, did you hear about that guy who was murdered not too long ago?” She suddenly asked, excited.
Who did she sound like?
“Yeah. Sad.” I wanted to get off the subject.
“Probably was messing around on her or something.” She assumed.
“Is that right?” I asked sarcastically, detached. If I was paying attention, I probably would have noticed she was smirking.
The rest of the date went smoothly. It was so easy to make her laugh, she really enjoyed my sarcasm. I walked her home later and ended the night with a light kiss.
The second date went well. The week following our trip to the art gallery, I drove us to the drive in theater in the next town where I soon discovered how difficult it was to watch a movie and make out at the same time. I would have to wait a year probably for the movie to be released on VHS.
The third date was as good as the first two. We went ice skating in Haboe, a city about an hour outside of Clintville. We stopped at Stardust’s later for hot cocoa before I drove her back to my place. I tried to get lucky, I admittedly failed. She was
“Not ready to do this right now. I’m sorry.” She had said.
“Don’t be. There’s no need to rush, I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.” We continued to make out and I drove her home later.
It had been a month since our first date, with a date following each week after. Three nights after our third date she invited me over for a movie.
I drove to her house in hopes that maybe she had gotten a copy of the movie we had missed at the drive in theater a couple weeks before, but dismissed it as unlikely. When I arrived I noticed a familiar car in the driveway but couldn’t pinpoint exactly where I knew it from.
I rang the doorbell and she almost immediately answered, excited to let me in.
She didn’t have the movie, we wouldn’t have watched much of it anyway. In other ways, I had a pretty lucky night.
But my luck wouldn’t last long.