Even though I was never any good at asking women out, I still went on dates. I always wanted one of those dates you see in movies where everything just kind of comes together naturally and provides an amazing time for the couple. I’ll never forget the first time it finally happened for me. The night I had one perfect date. Emphasis on one.
To be honest, I was part of the reason I never had that movie moment date before. Okay, so I was all of the reason. I over planned before dates and way over analyzed after. I thought about my dates so much that they could never seem spontaneous or natural. True, I occasionally had a few moments during a date, but never the whole date.
Perhaps the reason this particular date went so well is that I didn’t have time to plan, much less over plan. I asked out a waitress and we made plans for after her shift that night. I barely had time to run home and change. I did of course. And brushed my teeth, and put on extra deodorant, and made sure my hair looked decent, and spent a few minutes repeating, “You’ll be fine,” at the face in the mirror. He seemed unconvinced.
I made it back to her restaurant just before it closed. I went inside and tried to ignore her ex-boyfriend who was a cook and who clearly did not try to ignore me at all. I shifted on my feet uncomfortably and attempted small talk with the hostess. She wouldn’t stop smiling and told me how happy she was that I was about to take her friend out. It just added to the pressure and my nervousness.
Finally, my date walked out. She wore a brown leather jacket over her uniform. She looked tired from her shift. There was a grease stain on her collar and some other food stain on the front of her blouse. She was breathtaking.
She looked at her feet as she walked over. She looked up at me. Her eyes seemed larger than normal, but no too big for her slender face. They were wide open, eager. My heart beat quickly.
“Hey,” she said.
“Hey,” I managed, “Ready to go?”
“Sure. What are we going to do?”
My heart beat even faster. In panic. I had no idea what we were going to do. I had been so busy preparing for our date that I never got around to planning it. I had nothing to offer. I’m not a cool guy, so I couldn’t think of anything cool people did. I couldn’t even think of anything uncool people like myself did. I thought I managed to destroy our date before it even started.
“Uh, whatever you want to do,” I said thinking it would at least buy me a little time.
“Really?” she asked, “What I want to do?” Her eyes widened (which didn’t seem possible) and she looked at me differently. She seemed to express amazement, but that confused me.
“Yeah,” I said, “What you want.”
The edges of her eyes glistened like a perfectly still pool under a waning moon. I worried that I upset her, but she spoke a moment later.
“Wow,” she whispered. “Can I think about it for a minute?”
“Of course,” I said. We walked outside into the chilly air. I hustled in front of her as we approached my truck. I unlocked the passenger door and opened it for her.
“Are you opening the door for me?”
“Uh, it’s just what I do.”
She didn’t say anything, but I think she mouthed “wow” again.
She got in and I shut the door behind her. I smiled to myself as she leaned over and unlocked the driver’s side door. That was one of my few tests and she passed.
I got in, shut the door, stuck the key in the ignition and asked, “So, know what you want to do?”
“Yes. I want to do something fun, but I want to go somewhere we can talk.”
In a moment of inspiration I asked, “Do you like pool?”
“Then I know just the place.”
We took off down the highway. We talked a bit in the truck, but the conversation kept faltering because we were both nervous.
“What’s this?” she asked me as we pulled in the parking lot of Zelner’s Putt & Play.
“It’s an indoor miniature golf course,” I explained, “And it has pool tables.”
“But it’s closed.”
“I work here. I have a key.”
I unlocked the doors and secured them behind us. She looked a little nervous about the locked doors.
“Do you want to do something else?” I asked, concerned.
“No, sorry, this is fine.”
We went to the pool table and I put in two quarters. Neither of us played very well. The game ended when I sunk the eight ball (yes, I know I should have let her win, but I’m a little too competitive).
I reached in my pocket for more quarters when she asked, “Can we just sit and talk?”
We walked over to the stairs. We sat down and talked. For two hours. Somewhere in the middle of the conversation she looked down and twisted her feet. She cocked her head and bit her lip.
“What?” I asked.
“Can I ask you something?”
“Sure.” I must have been smitten because I normally would have said, “You just did.”
“Why did you ask me out?”
“Seriously? I thought you were beautiful the moment I saw you. When I got to know you a little bit, I found out how just plain nice you are. I would’ve asked you out sooner if you hadn’t been in a relationship.”
Her face darkened for the slightest moment, but then her mouth spread in a toothy grin and she laughed. I never heard such laughter before and the music of it filled the empty room.
“You think I’m beautiful?” She looked at me a moment and then scrunched her eyebrows. “What is it? Are you laughing at me?” She misinterpreted my grin.
“Well, it’s just that I realized I want to do whatever it takes to see you smile and laugh again.”
“Because you’re even more beautiful when you smile.”
She looked down at the floor, but kept on smiling.
“I’m beautiful,” she repeated.
We talked a while longer until she had to get home.
“I don’t want to go,” she said.
“I don’t want you to.”
I took her home and we stood on the stoop in front of her house. The night was quite cold by then, but I felt warm. We stood and talked far longer than we should.
She caught me off guard when she said, “Did you know your eyes are beautiful?”
“It’s because they’re looking at you.” Yes, I quoted Jermaine Jackson. Sue me.
She looked down again, which she had done all night, but this time it wasn’t for as long. She leaned up a little and said, “I really want to kiss you.”
“So kiss me.” I leaned in our lips brushed lightly. It wasn’t an overly passionate kiss. Instead, it was a tender, eager one. All too soon, it was over.
“I really need to go inside,” she said.
“I know.” She turned to open her door and I continued, “I think this is the best date I’ve ever been on.” It was certainly the least expensive.
“I know it’s the best one I’ve ever had.”
It was my turn to say, “Wow.”
“Goodnight.” she said as she gave me a quick peck on the lips.
“Yes, it was.”
“Call me tomorrow.”
I stood for a moment after she went inside. I smiled in the moonlight as I went back to my truck. As I drove home, I put my fingers against my lips and smiled more. It was a great date. It was perfect.
I couldn’t wait to talk to her in the morning. I couldn’t wait to ask her out again. I couldn’t wait until our next date. I’m glad I didn’t know that night, that perfect night, would be the only date we ever went on. I’m glad I had that moment to sigh and remember one perfect date without knowing there would not be another one with her.