Date Night by Titus Burley

So maybe she should have chosen a more recent photo for her dating profile. It wasn’t a flagrant misrepresentation necessarily but people do change over six years. A sedentary thirty-seven year old may lack the – oh what was the phrase she was looking for? – skin elasticity of an active and exercise obsessed thirty-one year old.

              Glad I got past that phase, thought Dana. Talk about self absorbed. The money one could blow through on a healthy kick differed not a great deal from the dough one could squander on a destructive vice. In fact the occasional pack of cigarettes and fifth of vodka cost a lot less than a monthly gym membership, bottles of nutritional supplements, a Jack LaLanne power juicer, and those special arch supporting cross training shoes. And that didn’t even factor in the cost of groceries. Try eating only organic, non-GMO foods and see what that costs a person? Sheesh. If she had maintained a healthy life-style for any longer than the year and a half she obsessed over it, she’d be in hawk to the credit card companies for the rest of her life. Well, that would probably happen anyway; which was one of the reasons she’d slipped in that preference for a mature, financially stable fellow when she signed on to the Heavenly Yoked website.

It sucked to be going through an acne breakout. In fact it seemed cosmically unfair. Had she inadvertently bumped some old dude off the sidewalk into the path of an oncoming bus when she was a youth? She had friends who believed so strongly in karma that they would do weird things like capture spiders alive and transfer them from inside a house to an outdoor garden rather than crush the creepy things. The fact that she did not go to those extremes to find harmonious balance (where did they come up with this crap?) should not have turned her into karma’s pin cushion. Even the self evaluation she completed on the Heavenly Yoked questionnaire suggested Dana to be amongst the elite of compassionate souls.

So why the sudden flurry of zits? Wasn’t there an age cut-off for pimples? Thirty? Thirty-five at the latest? Anxiety did that. Always had. Her mom owned photo albums full of rite of passage Dana breaking out pictures; senior prom, high school graduation, her first marriage. These days those pictures when snapped digitally could be edited and enhanced, but her mother’s trusty Kodak predated all that modern convenience. Needless to say she hadn’t used one of the photos her mother had taken of her for a profile picture. She used a “from shoulders up” boudoir photo taken from a shoot she won with the purchase of a five dollar fund raiser raffle ticket.

Oh man, she thought, if that photographer could see me now I doubt he would be so anxious to get me into any high priced lingerie. Maybe her date would be so taken with her mysterious eyes that he wouldn’t notice the twenty-five pounds and six years that had been added since that Aqua-Velva smelling, mouth-breathing, camera toting Euro slime bag had encouraged her to arch your eyebrow just a little more. Give me your sultriest come hither look. The hidden cost of freebies! The photographer, Raphael something or other, had pestered her for days afterward for a date. But who in their right mind would go out with a guy who exclaimed in the midst of taking a series of pictures, “Mon Cherie, you make me bulge.”

Of course if she had been completely honest she would have admitted that mysterious eyes was advertising speak for has pale almost imperceptible blond eyelashes and eyebrows so applies copious eyeliner and creates illusion with mascara. And maybe her clear blue eyes – the one feature on her face that hadn’t varied much over the years – would be arresting enough to keep her date’s eyes off the heavy foundation needed to cover up the inconvenient acne outbreak. Packaging myself as a product, she sighed. How ludicrous. But right or wrong first impressions mattered. So a woman slipped her feet into two and a half inch heeled boots that lengthened the proportion of her physique; she squeezed herself into jeans that if left on for too many hours would cut off circulation to her ankles; and enhanced her cleavage with a bra that hefted her bosom to the prominence of the prow of a battleship.

And Dana did all this, went through all this anxiety, so that she could dine with a stranger, some cyber man she had never met named Bob. I hope you appreciate the inner turmoil I’ve gone through, Bob, she thought as she walked as steadily up to the restaurant entrance as a woman under the influence of a Xanax and chaser glass of Merlot could. Her stomach rumbled with a combination of hunger and nerves. The nerves – and concerns about food lodging in her teeth – would effectively nullify any joy a meal at a decent restaurant would provide. Well, she could always take her uneaten dinner home in a Styrofoam carryout.

A new anxiety attacked when she approached the reservation desk and glanced around. Wouldn’t it be her luck to go through all this fuss, all this rigmarole, only to be stood up? She glanced toward the dining room, the lounge, listened to the normal restaurant din, breathed in the tantalizing smells, but saw no one recognizable.

From the lounge a man approached. She experienced a vague tinge of familiarity. He bore a slight resemblance – at least around the eyes – to the Bob she had spent a week corresponding with on Heavenly Yoked. But the approaching figure lacked the full head of hair, the chiseled chin, and the purported medium height of the Bob who had provoked so many LOL responses from her over the last few days. The short, paunchy middle-aged man stopped directly in front of her, offered a molar chipped grin, and thrust out a trembling hand. “Dana,” he said, in a voice pinched to a higher than normal octave, “I’m Bob.”

Dana laughed then. She couldn’t help it. Consuming her dinner would not be a problem after all. She would order an appetizer, an entrée, and even dessert. And if the food on the plate looked nothing like the photos of the dishes on the menu, oh well.

 

*Titus Burley is a writer of maudlin poetry, navel gazing bloggery, stinging satire, and riveting short and long form fiction. He also authors memorable private messages to friends on social networks. His blog is viewable at titusburley.wordpress.com.