By Dianne Moritz
My mother has three hard and fast words of warning about men and dating: “Never spend the first date at a movie. Why waste two hours sitting in a dark theater, when you could be getting to know each other? Secondly, don’t be timid about ordering exactly what you want in a restaurant, despite the price. Finally, plan to visit his apartment as soon as you can. Men can be the most horrible slobs.”
I usually ignore Mom’s advice, but eventually, after too many bad boys and horrible fix-ups, I’d learned enough to realize Mother knows best.
One night, seeing a handsome, blond guy at my local bookstore, I went over to introduce myself.
Jeff had blazing blue eyes and the sunniest smile I’ve ever seen. He loved books, movies and dining out….my perfect kind of guy. But when he invited me to a movie, I suggested coffee instead.
“How about now?” Jeff asked. “And I could use a quick bite. I’m famished!”
“Sure! Let’s go!”
So we sauntered off down the street to Joe’s Pizza.
“How did you know this is my favorite place??!!” I asked, giggling.
We walked in, found a back corner booth, and continued to chatter like jay birds. We ordered a carafe of Chianti, salads, and a sausage and mushroom pie.
As Jeff began to tell me some awful tale of an internet date, I interrupted. “Let’s not tell our sad, depressing stories!”
“Isn’t that a movie quote?” he asked.
“Busted! JERRY MCQUIRE, one of my all time favorite movies.” We enjoyed a hearty laugh and continued to talk till closing time.
Later, Jeff escorted me to my car and promised to call.
He telephoned the next evening.
“Hey!” he said. “I really enjoyed meeting you. I’m having a few friends over for cocktails after work on Wednesday. I’d like you to come, if you’re free. I recently moved into my new apartment, so it’s kind of a housewarming party. But, no gifts.”
“That sounds like fun.” I said.
The days flew by and, soon, Wednesday night arrived, a soft, cool, moonlit night. I’d bought a little black dress, telephoned Mom, and made “just breathe” my mantra during my meditations. I was well prepared as I drove down the lovely, palm-lined streets to his house near the beach. I nearly swooned as I climbed the terracotta steps to his second floor, Spanish-style duplex.
Jeff greeted me at the door with a warm smile and hug, dressed in a pair of stained sweats. “Welcome, Jenna!” he said. “You look amazing! Come in, come in.”
Luckily, I was unfashionably early. No guests were in sight as I entered a cluttered living room, filled with boxes, more boxes, and heaps of bulging plastic bags. Pieces of work-out gear littered the scuffed, wood floors. “What a dump,” I thought, as my heart raced with anxiety.
“I hope you don’t mind,” Jeff said. “I told you I just moved in.”
“Well, uh, actually…” I stuttered, “I need to go.”
I rushed out the door, clattered down those gorgeous, tiled steps, and ran to my car.
“What kind of nut would throw a party in a mess like that?” I thought. Relief flooded my body. I was sure I had escaped a complete wack-o. I laughed hysterically, Mom’s words echoing through my head.
Dianne Moritz writes poetry and picture books for kids. Her latest, HEY, LITTLE BEACHCOMBER, will be out in May, 2019. Adult poems have appeared in Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Drabble, Haikuniverse, The Haiku Foundation, Better Than Starbucks, Failed Haiku, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, and others.