As Charlotte pulled into her driveway and finally parked her car, she let out an enormous sigh. The air she exhaled had been trapped for the bulk of her evening, and its release left her drained. She slumped forward in her seat and hit her forehead on the steering wheel. The night had begun with such promise and excitement, but had begun unraveling the moment she met her blind date in the parking lot of Denny’s. Even though he wasn’t her usual type, Tom seemed nice enough. He had a full head of strikingly black hair that was combed forward in a style that had been all the rage in 1976 when she had been in Junior High. If she squinted, he looked a little like Davy Jones and not Bob’s Big boy, so she decided to do just that. If nothing else, Charlotte was resourceful.
They walked into the restaurant and were seated right away. For a moment, all was well. Tom had pulled out her chair and told her how pretty she looked. But just as she had decided to overlook the jet black page boy haircut and give him a fighting chance, he removed his jacket revealing a rather thick shank of chest hair cascading from his unbuttoned polo style shirt. Charlotte could not take her eyes off his chest, and apparently the waitress who had just arrived at their table couldn’t either because she had to stifle a startled gasp. Tom didn’t seem to notice he was the only one talking, and with every breath his tuft of dark hair rustled slightly. It had a life all its own, and if she didn’t know any better, Charlotte would have thought he was smuggling a rather large pet squirrel into the dining room. No matter where she directed her eyes Charlotte could not get the image out of her mind.
When the dinner was placed on the table, she was relieved to focus her attention on buttering her pancakes. Just as she lifted the first forkful to her mouth she happened to look up in time to see Tom twirling a section of his chest hair between his thumb and index finger. She quickly swallowed her food and excused herself from the table under the guise of checking on her sick friend. Once securely locked in a bathroom stall, Charlotte reached in her pocket and tugged at her cell phone. Her plan was to have one of her friends call once she had gotten back to the table, so Charlotte could feign an “emergency” situation and leave Denny’s, Tom and his furry friend far behind. However, fate had something else in mind for her. Just as she pulled the phone out of her hip pocket, she lost her grip and she was forced to watch in horror as it landed with a shatter of spray in the toilet. She fished it out, dried it off and slunk back to her seat.
For what seemed like ages, Charlotte dissected her stack of pancakes first into slivers and then into tiny bite sized pieces all the while making small talk. What had she done to her friend Marnie to be paired with this guy? What did they have in common other than being single? Had Marnie actually met this person, or had she left Charlotte’s name and number scribbled on a gas station wall somewhere? And then the moment for which she had been waiting came along with the check. Once they had made their way back to her car, she fumbled in her purse for her keys. Only a minute or two longer and she would be on her way home. If only she hadn’t looked up and smiled she could have avoided the awkward bear hug and the words, “You seem like a good girl. I could teach you how to be bad.” With those words still hanging in the air, she yanked her door open, dove into the driver’s seat and gave a woozy wave gunning her car into reverse.
The very next day Charlotte met with her counselor and cried. Her mother would say she was crying because she was tired, and she would be right. Charlotte had slept restlessly, waking up several times with a start. In her dreams she was being chased through a maze by a pack of vicious squirrels. The counselor listened as Charlotte bemoaned her dating exploits. Charlotte reached the conclusion that perhaps first dates were overrated and too much sugar for a dime. Once she had bared her innermost thoughts her counselor nodded and suggested that many women Charlotte’s age had come to the conclusion men were not worth the effort and turned to other women for their romance needs. Needless to say, Charlotte spent another night tossing and turning, wondering if her counselor knew something about her she didn’t. When the dawn broke, Charlotte got dressed, combed her hair and contemplated the convent.