Saturday, December 14, 2013

December 26.

I hope everyone is having a lovely Saturday! It's snowing over here, which I definitely don't mind. I do live in New England after all, and since I don't have to venture out in it unless I decide I want to go for a wintry stroll or catch some snowflakes on my tongue, I can stay cozy and warm with a cup of hot cocoa while the snow falls outside all picturesque and sparkly. Not bad at all.

Today, Holli heads out on her first date, set up by her best friend Chloe. Enjoy!

If this is your first time visiting, don't miss the beginning! Head here for the start of the story.

Friday, December 26

Chloe was first. As my best friend, it seemed only right. Throughout dessert on Christmas my family and close friends worked out the details of their new venture, and after I conceded to the fact the only way I was going to get out of this debacle was if I left the state - and I was a fan of my apartment and my job and not a fan of packing and my cat Pepper hated car rides so that wasn’t going to happen - I figured she was one of the best chances I had for a tolerable date. She was also the only one who could get something set up for the day after Christmas, and they were anxious to get started right away.
Chloe knew me well enough to know I was more comfortable casual, so she told the guy – Tyler – to meet me at the coffee bar near my place.
It occurred to me only after I arrived that I had no idea what he looked like. It was a sign of my apathy toward the whole thing. I hadn’t bothered to ask Chloe for details yesterday aside from where and when, but I berated myself as I entered and looked around, ruling out as many guys as I could. I felt like a fool standing in the doorway, so I quickly made my way to the first guy I saw sitting alone. He was at the actual coffee bar – one of my favorite aspects about the place – with his back to me. I took a breath.
He turned toward me. Handsome. That was the first thought that came to mind. Not a bad start.
“I’m Holli.”
I held out my hand. He gave me a charming smile and took hold. Warm hand, firm grip: also not a bad start.
“It’s nice to meet you Holli… but I’m not Tyler.”
Everything screeched to a halt. Holly berries. I knew my cheeks turned redder than holly berries. They always did. There was no way to hide when I was embarrassed and I blamed that on my name, too.
“Oh my God I’m so sorry!”
He gave a laugh. “Don’t worry about it, no harm done.”
I quickly turned away and gazed desperately around the room. There, on the opposite side of the bar, sitting in a corner was another solo guy, his gaze locked down on his phone. If that was Tyler, at least he didn’t see me make a fool of myself. I let out a whoosh of air and headed over – I could feel the guy behind me watching as I walked away. Great start, stupid.
Another deep breath.
He looked up. Not as handsome as the wrong guy, I couldn’t help but think, but still easy on the eyes.
“That’s me!”
He stood up and held out his hand and I took hold. Grip not as firm, hands not quite as warm... ok, why was I comparing a guy I just met to another guy I just accidentally met? I tried to shake it off.
“It’s nice to meet you.”
“You too! Chloe’s told me a lot about you.”
I took a seat in the chair next to his. He’d chosen a corner table, which meant his back was to the wall while mine was to one of the large windows on the front of the building.
“Only good things I hope.”
“Only good things.”
I smiled at him and gave him another glance, trying to appraise him without comparing him to Mr. Whoever-He-Was. No, not bad at all. Tall, sandy brown hair, blue eyes – he looked like he belonged in California.
One of the wait staff headed over for our drink orders. As I ordered my Vermont Coffee – that’s coffee, cream, rum and maple syrup - I noticed Tyler pick up his phone and type out a text. Was this going to be one of those dates where I spoke to the top of a guy’s head as he had a relationship with his phone?
“I’ll have a coffee and Kahlua,” he ordered to my disappointment. As a regular here, I’d become a bit of a coffee cocktail aficionado. A coffee and Kahlua was probably the most amateur coffee cocktail you could order.
“So, Chloe, did you have a nice Christmas?
“It was alright – it’s always an adventure getting together with my family. They love Christmas,” it was strange for me to say “they” instead of “we,” but the days of my holiday cheer were over. “We usually have friends join us too so dinner can turn into a pretty big event.”
“Sounds fun. Usually it’s just my parents and me so it’s a quiet affair, but it’s nice to get in the holiday spirit and take a break from work.”
“I actually can’t wait to get back to work after the holiday.”
“What is it you do?”
“I work at a travel agency. I make dreams come true.”
“Really? That’s interesting. Do you get discounts?”
“Sometimes. Why? Do you want to get away?”
“Joking, joking. I don’t usually take guys I just meet on vacation.”
“You don’t ‘usually?’”
“Well, I haven’t yet, but never say never!”
“Very true.”
“Do you like to travel?” One of the perks of working for a travel agency was that I always had a great topic to use as an ice breaker.
“I do.”
“What’s your favorite place?”
“I like to get to California whenever I get the chance.”
“I knew it.”
“I had an inkling. Do you like to surf?”
“Some, but...” he paused as his phone vibrated on the table where he’d left it. Moment of truth. Would he answer? He gazed down, and I could tell he was itching to pick it up, but instead he looked back up at me. “I uh, like the weather, too.”
Good choice buddy.
 “Me too.”
“What about you? What’s your favorite place?”
“I haven’t found it yet.”
“What do you mean?”
“There are so many places I haven’t seen, it doesn’t seem fair to pick a favorite when I haven’t given all the contestants a chance.”
“TouchĂ©. In that case, what’s your favorite place out of the ones you’ve been too?”
“Ah, now that I can answer – England.”
As our cocktails arrived, I took a sip and let myself relax slightly. This was actually going ok.
“I’ve always wanted to go there. Does it rain as much as they say?”
“Yup – but there are so many other wonderful things about it a cloudy sky becomes a small price to pay.”
            He took a sip of his drink, leaned back in his chair and gave me a smile.
            “I like the way you think.”
            As his phone went off again, his smile went away.
            He looked at me apologetically as he picked it up, unable to resist.
            “Oh. Sure.”
            I took another sip and acted like it didn’t bother me. But really, it did. It bothered me people were so attached to their phones they couldn’t have a conversation with someone they were talking to face-to-face for the first time without going back to it. If the stuff people did on their phones could be turned into physical things social interactions would look pretty ridiculous and dinner for two would be dinner for two dozen. Imagine that. Anytime someone sent or checked a text the person actually appeared. Anytime they scrolled through Facebook, as they passed a status the person who posted it would show up to read it aloud to you. It’s practically the same thing, just in your head. Pay attention to me! I was as guilty as the next person of being on my phone too much at times, but I’d turned it off before I arrived. That should be a part of Dating – or any form of socializing – 101.
            Well, at least I could give him credit for apologizing, although if he felt the need to apologize maybe he just shouldn’t have done it. Or maybe I was just overreacting. I did that sometimes.
            I watched as Tyler looked at the message, frowned, typed a furious response then put his phone back down none too gently.
            “Sorry. It’s just...” he took a giant gulp of his drink. “Kerry.”
            “My girlfriend –“
            “YOUR WHA –“
            “Ex-girlfriend. I meant ex-girlfriend.”
            “Oh. When did you break up?”
            “A couple weeks before Christmas. So I lied. I didn’t really have a nice holiday at all.”
            That was a pain I knew all too well. What was with people breaking up during the holidays? How much of a Scrooge can you be? Tyler suddenly looked so distressed I felt bad for him. But at the same time, I began to feel disappointment knocking and mentally smacked myself in the head; so much for “this was actually going ok.” This guy was in no way ready for someone new.
            “What happened? Do you want to talk about it?”
Maybe I shouldn’t have asked him, but those blue eyes had turned so sad at the mention of the ex’s name I couldn’t help it. And clearly he wanted someone to talk to about it because he required no further prodding. For the next hour, as I went through my first and second Vermont Coffee, I learned the love story of Tyler and Kerry from the beginning all the way down to how she broke up with him basically, Tyler said, because she missed him since she lived in California (hence his favorite place) while he was over here but he hadn’t been able to see her because flights have been so expensive and she said it hurt too much not being able to see him so it would be better if they went their separate ways but he told her he was going on a date and she was upset about it and what did that mean and blah blah blah. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what it meant for the two of them. There was a big chance the whole “missing you hurts too much to handle” crap was just that – crap - and she wanted to have a clean conscious when she slept with her Pilates instructor or the random guy who promised her he’d make her famous or whoever it is girls are likely to lose their pants for in California.
Then again, I didn’t know her and really shouldn’t make judgments or assumptions. So while I didn’t know what it meant for them, I knew what it meant for me. Date number one was a bust. Well, not entirely. I mean, Tyler wasn’t a stalker and he didn’t seem like a psycho killer and apart from his poor choice in coffee cocktail and the addiction to his phone, which I guess was somewhat understandable considering the situation, he didn’t seem bad at all.
“Do you love her?”
He paused, clearly torn. He probably thought admitting he loved her would put the nail in the coffin of any chance the two of us had, but that nail was already there. I knew he did. I wonder what Chloe was thinking, setting me up with a guy who didn’t even have a heart to call his own. Actually, knowing Chloe, she probably thought we’d help each other since we’d both been through a similar situation. Although, in my opinion, having your girlfriend break up with you two weeks before Christmas because she’s flighty and can’t commit (there’s that assuming again) was a bit different than having your fiancĂ© break up with you three days before Christmas after you’d already picked out your bridesmaid lineup and started looking at wedding gowns and venues and color swatches. I mean, really.
            “Yes. I do love her.”
Well there goes that. There was no way I was going to get involved with some kind of twisted three-way thing. And I wasn’t a fan of the idea of investing my time in someone who wasn’t even really there to invest in. If you’re not 100 percent available you shouldn’t get involved with someone. And when I say 100 percent I mean 100 percent. I don’t care if you’re 98.2 percent available, that’s still not 100 percent and if it’s not 100 percent it’s not fair to the person who’s willing to give 100 percent to get 98.2 percent back. Rebound relationships are horrible. The only real way to get over someone is time and acting like getting with someone else will help is ridiculous. It should be mandatory for people just coming out of a relationship to go to some kind of relationship detox retreat where they get to sit by themselves and drink tea and try to think about who they are and what they want and meditate three times a day to help them fully move on.
 “I just wish there was a way to talk to her face to face. Technology can only do so much.”
            Exactly! Hence why people should really think more about working on their literal relationships and less about the online world, but that’s neither here nor there. Regarding Tyler: cue light bulb moment and irony.
            “Maybe I can help.”
            “What? How?”
            “I work at a travel agency, remember? Why don’t you stop over Monday and we’ll see about getting you to California. You can surprise her or something.”
            That way he had a greater chance of finding out if she was sleeping with Mr. Pilates.
            “Why would you do that? Aren’t you upset? This is a date for the two of us.”
            I shrugged.
            “No sense crying over spilled milk. You’re not over your ex. I’m not going to get pissed off at you for that. I would have been upset if you hid that fact and this went somewhere and then I found out you were still talking to her and secretly hoping something would change and you’d get back together. I’d be furious then. Furious. But, thankfully, that didn’t happen. So we can be friendly and I can see about helping you. Plus it’s the day after Christmas. I wasn’t very generous this year.”
            I was turning into the Grinch after all.
            “Maybe helping you will improve my chances for a switch over to the ‘nice’ list next year.”
            “I doubt you’re on the naughty list Holli. But I’m definitely not going to turn down the help. Wow.” He raked a hand through his hair. “Going would be so amazing.”
            “There are no guarantees, but I told you I’ll see what I can do.” I took out my business card and handed it to him. “Here’s where to find me. Now why don’t we call our losses and head home?
            “Losses? I don’t consider this a loss. I’m happy I met you Holli.”
             “Well, then I’m happy I met you too.”
            We called over the waitress then, split the bill and said our goodbyes with a plan to meet next week. As I headed toward the door, bundling my scarf around my neck to prepare for the cold, I caught sight of the guy I’d accidentally introduced myself to talking with some girl. I guess he was on a date as well. He looked over and caught my eye just as I pushed open the door and was hit with the frosty air. I gave him a friendly smile I hoped conveyed “good luck on your date – may it go better than mine,” and he gave me one in return. But that, of course, caused the girl he was with to turn around and look at me. I quickly headed outside. I didn’t need a friendly smile to be misconstrued and cause their date to take an unplanned turn like mine had – it looked like they were actually talking about more than their ex’s and had a chance. And from the quick glance I got of his date she was stunning, so the two of them would look perfect together.
I let out a sigh. Not that I was actually expecting anything to come of my own date with Tyler. The odds were not in my favor. Nice try, Chloe.

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