DATING IS HELL. I stared at my computer screen. I was supposed to be working on my weekly report, but the words just popped up. It was true I guessed. When it came to dating I'd been cursed. Not any real curse, just my own clumsy nature. I was jealous of those girls in the movies with easy grace, the ones in real life whose social calendars were full, and everyone with a love life that did not require Energizer. My social calendar did okay, but the events usually meant nights with all my not single friends and a blind date.
They mean well, couples always assume their single friends need a hand. Maybe they think we have a disease, they say single with the same tone as flu. I had a debacle of a setup last night. I guessed he was Clary's choice, all muscle and no brains.
David claimed to work as a model but didn’t remember who he worked for last. He also mispronounced Gucci, an unforgivable sin in my book. Hey, a girl needs standards. I tried to be polite, for my friends’ sakes. He took my friendliness as an invitation. I'd been trying to make my exit at the same time. The combination resulted in him having a bloody nose and me wearing a stained shirt I’d spent a week earning.
I should’ve known better. The way my dates ended I should've worn Goodwill, but I remained forever hopeful, ever the optimist. Most of my closet had been destroyed as a testament to my optimism.
An idea formed as I thought about the damaged gear dating had claimed from me. A dark idea, a way out of the purgatory of dating hell and into the bliss of wedded status. My current social adventures wouldn’t lead down the aisle unless the state of Ohio unexpectedly allowed me to marry my Turbo Rabbit. A nice thought, but not likely to happen so something had to change.
If I started writing down my misadventures, a pattern might emerge. The list could be my own personal tracking device, an experiment to find out what didn’t work. I mean, if I knew what didn’t work all the remaining options must work… right?
The idea stuck in my head and I became determined to see it through. I emailed the brief notation to my laptop and stole a mini notebook for my purse. I would need to make notes when I dated or hit the town. I remembered whipping out a computer on a date did not equal a turn on. His name was George and he’d been attractive in a suit. Not so attractive in jeans and a shirt, but I would learn this lesson later.
“Daria, are you free tonight?” I should have walked away when he hadn’t let me answer. George was a big shot in a different department and much whispered about in the ladies room. I’d been curious, sue me. “Good, there’s a benefit tonight I need to go to and most everyone has a date. I need someone to come with me… dress for cocktails and I’ll meet you here at six o’clock.”
He’d left me stunned speechless while I tried to think of how to juggle my to-do list. Granted, most people would have told me to stand his pompous ass up, but well, ever the optimist, remember. I had three reports due the next morning and a presentation to finish.
I raced home, picked out a simple cocktail dress with Manolo Blahnik strappy heels, and threw my hair up. I applied a little more makeup while trying to finish the presentation. My eyes tracked the clock, but time ran out before I completed my task. I grabbed my big bag and figuring I could get some work done in the taxi, packed my netbook inside.
By the time I’d pulled up to the office building, I still wasn’t done. When I noticed the classy black sedan waiting, I forgot about work. I climbed out of the taxi as gracefully as I could, which means I probably flashed the bum on the sidewalk, and walked over to the man leaning on the sedan.
“Is this for George Banks?” I asked the person I assumed to be the driver.
“Who?” He had a gruff accent and a rough look. My brain screamed mob for some reason and I backed into the stairs skinning my knee.
George eventually showed in another taxi, waving me in from his comfortable seat. I slid in as he looked me over and almost asked if he wanted an appetizer from my menu.
“You clean up well.”
“Um, thanks.” I couldn’t return the compliment. He wore jeans and a t-shirt, both stylishly distressed but certainly not cocktail attire. “What kind of benefit is this?”
“Some boring one. I got picked to be a model and this is my getup for the night.”
I nodded. So if he worked the crowd as a walking billboard, what the hell was I supposed to do? I nodded appropriately as needed but I still tried to find a way out of the dilemma I found myself in. Work definitely ranked more important than standing around watching a guy model.
I resigned myself to the situation. Then, I congratulated myself on bringing my netbook. Finally, I hoped the end of the night would be worthwhile. He was adorable so maybe I would finally get lucky. My optimism bit me in the butt.
Later I’d regret my decision to stay. He showed me off until he needed to leave for the show. As soon as I gained my freedom, I slinked away to a far table and pulled out my netbook to work. I managed to finish my presentation, but I hadn’t paid attention to the time or the show. George marched over none too happy with me.
“You weren’t watching at all were you? Were you?! I can’t believe it. You know how embarrassing it is to have your escort disappear? I had to walk off the stage alone!”
I blinked at him. “Excuse me?” My supposed participation was a surprise to me. The end of the night idea had been ruined by his designer hissy fit. I packed up my bag and walked away. “If you expect a girl to do something, you should clue her in first…”
And that was the end of George. He didn’t even visit my floor at the building anymore. He probably feared I’d told everyone about the fiasco. I hadn’t uttered a word to anyone, also too embarrassed by the events.
I paused in the elevator and pulled my pilfered notepad and a pen from my bag. The unscheduled reminiscing provided my first rule. I flipped the cover open and wrote in my neat script
1. No work on dates and no dates at work.
It made sense the rule would work both ways and since dates at work were not allowed anyway, why not add the rule. As I walked past the ever present bum on the sidewalk outside, I slid him the usual dollar and wrote another gem.
2. No more flashing the bum outside work.
Sure I hadn’t flashed on purpose and only the once, but better safe than sorry. I decided the rule was worth writing as I walked the short distance home. Walking was easier than hailing a cab at this time of day and I wore my comfortable shoes. A lady walked by with her fancy boots and a hidden pained look on her face. Would I want to be like her anyway?
A handsome man bounded up to her and kissed her soundly, mindless of the walking crowd parting around them. I sighed in my unending hopeless romantic way. Yes, I very much wanted to be like her. I took a quick glance down at my own outfit. How would I feel if my Mr. Right stumbled upon me the way I looked right now?
3. No more comfortable shoes. I should always dress like Mr. Right will walk out of thin air.
I smiled and tucked my notepad back in my bag. I walked with my head held high. Not bad, a few hours into my new project and I’d already discovered three truths. Next up, Mr. Right. My phone interrupted my thoughts. Wonderful, the caller id said Maggie…
“Daria.” I answered in my standard greeting; always worried someone would forget me.
“Daria, darling…” I hated the way she drawled my name, making the word sound like diarrhea. She was lucky I let my best friend marry her. I should have kidnapped him and mailed him to Florida. “You must come. Pat will be sooo happy to see you.”
I pictured her having her nose stretched while she spoke and missed the details. Crap. “I’m sorry, distracted by the crowd. Come to what?”
“You’re always so flighty, child. Our place, tomorrow night, six o’clock. Honestly, darling, I don’t know why I bother to find you dates.”
One, she’s two years younger than me and two - I did not want any piece of her date for me. Maybe Pat helped pick him? My optimism reared its ugly head again and roared. I thought about my new project and the insight gained from another date. I sighed dramatically into the phone.
“Yes, I’ll be there.”
Please return for the continuation of Daria’s journey on August 26th, here on Digital Digest.
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Copyright © 2011 Jennifer Feuerstein
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.