When we left Daria on July 26th, she had come up with a plan to find Mr. Right and was given the option to try it out with a blind date…
I sat at a table by myself in the corner and people watched. It was a guilty hobby of mine. My finger traced designs through the condensation of my beer glass. Yeah, so most women my age in the city drank wine. I couldn’t stand the stuff and thankfully most of those stuck up women couldn’t stand my current choice of dive bar.
Chucky’s was a local tradition and we guarded it fiercely to protect it from tourists, college kids, and the snobbish. It was nestled inside an abandoned warehouse and looked like a horror movie waiting to happen on the outside. A simple wooden sign next to the nondescript metal door was the only clue of its existence.
Once inside, the place looked sublime, like an old friend. Or, at least, that’s how I saw it. To me Chucky’s was a Mecca, my place of refuge in the storm of life. I could easily slip inside, order a drink, and be left to my devices. Chucky’s was not a place to pick up men or women, or never had been for me. Nope, I was here to unwind before facing another blind date tomorrow.
I sipped my beer watching a big bosomed woman make two males fight for her attention. She floundered back and forth and was enjoying her night. Bitches like her make it harder on the rest of us. I have a hard time finding one guy who’ll pay me any attention and she’s hogging two or three. Not exactly fair and I indulged in a moment of creative imagination in which I plucked out her eyes, deflated her Barbie breasts, and rode the two men to victory.
The stool next to mine squealed in protest and I coughed to cover my choke. Busted, I thought looking over to see a man sitting next to me. Great, now I was so invisible to the opposite sex they would sit next to me without realizing I was present – did wonders for my current mood, let me tell you.
“Hi,” his voice drifted over to me and I turned my head to study him. “Do you speak English?” he asked slowly.
“Yes, don’t you?” I quipped. He smirked, revealing a dimple in his cheek.
I had to scan the room quickly to make sure I hadn’t missed some Twilight Episode opening credits. A man, in a bar (Chucky’s at that), talking to me… and I hadn’t approached him. I waited for an Angel to welcome me to the afterlife, none came.
“You doing okay?” he asked, eyeing me oddly.
“Um, fine. Just not used to, er,” I paused wondering if I should admit I’m a loser in the dating department or stick with I’m not in the mood. “Just not pleasant company tonight.”
As I was mentally high-fiving my quick thinking, studly interrupted to ask me another question. “Have a rough day?” Maybe he was worse off than me in the ‘lacks company’ department.
I chuckled. “Rough year.” Sheesh, what did a girl have to do to be left alone and enjoy her people watching in peace. Already I’d missed a fight between Barbie and one of her Ken selections.
“I’ll drink to that,” he saluted and raised his beer bottle. I automatically chinked my glass to his bottle and grinned, couldn’t help myself. “There’s a smile and it’s pretty.”
Whoa, me complimented? This had to be a practical joke. “Did one of your friends set you up for this? I mean, I can give you a number or name or whatever token it is they wanted you to collect.”
“Ouch, rejected.” He turned to look out over the bar. “Don’t have any friends with me tonight. Just moved back to the area and thought we two sad birds could cheer each other up.”
Sad birds? Now I was reduced to defecating on statues for fun, a new low in the simile department even for me. “What did you have in mind?” I asked the question casually and carefully, this pigeon wasn’t heading to his nest for anything.
“I noticed you watching the people. Want to create fake stories for them?”
Gay… had to be gay. My defenses relaxed some; I was used to being picked up by gay men to keep them company. Actually I enjoyed it. If it wasn’t for the battery bill, I would be perfectly happy marrying a gay man. Imagine the fashion advice?! I pulled myself from my little daydream bliss to find him staring at me again. Great, now I was a brain damaged pigeon. Squawk.
“Sorry, I was picking out a place to start,” I smiled and celebrated my quick cover story. “How about the blonde over there at the pool tables?”
“Miss Fake Tits and her Ken doll?” I nodded and he laughed. “Deal. I’ll play Ken.”
We made up a whole story and then played out their conversation. We laughed, we had a few more drinks, and I actually had a blast. After one particularly good exchange, I used my cocktail napkin to dab at my teary eyes.
“Shit, I haven’t laughed this hard in ages.” I grinned. “My name is Daria by the way.”
“Keith pleased to meet you.” We chinked glasses once more. “I’m glad you’re laughing. You have a beautiful laugh.”
Aww, he was too sweet. “So is the move to the area a permanent one?”
He nodded. “I didn’t like where I was, but I grew up here. I plan on sticking around this time.”
I studied him, really studied him. Keith had deep brown hair he kept a little longer than military cut. I’d bet it’d just curl over my fingers if I ran them through it. The thick locks looked like they’d have a wave to them if he grew it out. His warm brown eyes, straight nose, and full mouth were all offset by a strong square jaw. He was definitely a cutie, another one lost to my womanly kind.
I did have a friend though… “I know you’re new in town and probably getting settled, but I have a friend.”
“Really?” His brows arched and he angled away from me in surprise.
I’ll blame the three beers on my lack of noticing his odd reaction. Instead I plowed forward. “Jon is a sweetheart and he could show you around the city, what’s changed I mean…”
“You think I’m gay?”
His voice had gone from warm to frigid in a heartbeat and I was confused. “You’re not?” He shook his head harshly and my cheeks flushed. “I’m sorry.”
“Can I ask why you thought I was gay?”
Well now he was back on my side of the menu making me nervous again. “I just figured since you decided to chat with me…” I stammered to a finish and froze.
“I see. You’re too good for anyone here or you’re not good enough?”
“What?” Well, he was downright rude and I honestly wasn’t sure how to answer.
“Have a nice night, Daria.”
He moved away from my table with stilted movements and I had to resist chasing him down to explain. The body language all screamed pissed off heterosexual and I’d missed every sign. I sighed, blowing bubbles into the foam of my beer. Oh well, what the hell were the chances I’d ever see him again. If he saw me at Chucky’s, he’d probably head the opposite direction.
I pulled my notebook free and wrote: 4. Never assume a man is gay… EVER! :(
Okay, so the caps of the word ‘ever’ biting deep into the paper and the frown face were a little overkill, but I wanted to make sure I remembered this lesson. I had to chug the last of my beer and leave before I lost myself in the horrible what-if land of Keith The Not Gay.
I woke up late on Friday; a perk of my job seniority was receiving three day weekends for my hard work. It was already noon when the coffee maker started. How man survived before coffee I have no idea, I certainly didn’t. I tidied my apartment while I waited for my brew to finish up.
My daily routine ended at the refrigerator and I noticed the calendar. “Shit!” Blind date tonight and it would take me an hour to reach Pat’s house. I had no idea what was clean, what outfit to wear, should I shave??
“Don’t panic.” Did I mention my habit of talking to myself when I’m stressed? Works great and I’m usually stressed. “Coffee first, then rummage the outfits, something classic. Then I can shave without washing my hair…”
My mental checklist continued until the first sip of coffee hit my lips. The world slows down when I hold a cup of coffee, as if it triggers some time-space continuum. Might just be me, but I enjoy the hell out of a good cup of coffee.
After two cups of it, I was plowing through my check list. Classic outfit, check. Classic shoes, check. Legs shaved, check. I laid out everything and relaxed with a book for an hour. I read a little every day, hoping it will make me a better conversationalist.
When the clock chimed five, I was already in a taxi on my way to Pat’s posh townhouse. For once, I was early and grateful. I gave myself a once over on their sidewalk before ringing the bell. I wore a simple khaki a-line skirt and a navy blouse with pearls, a tan handbag, and tan shoes. All very neat and crisp.
“Daria, darling.” Again I cringed as Maggie pronounced my name in her drawn out way. “Pat, Daria is here.”
My worries were swept aside as one of my bestest friends in the world pulled me in for a hug. We’d practically been neighbors from birth and there was no one in the world I liked more.
“Daria! You look great and you’re early.” I playfully slapped him at the shock in his voice.
“It’s easier to be on time when it’s on my day off,” I joked. “So what kind of thing is this anyway?”
“Oh just a few friends, some games. I’ll get you out of here if it gets bad.”
Thank God for small miracles. Pat understood what it was like to have multiple blind dates and he was also well aware of my bad record with them. “Am I the first one here?”
“Actually, Maggie’s date for you got here just a few minutes ago.” Pat led me into their parlor. As we turned the corner a tall brunette turned. “Daria let me introduce you to…”
My heart sank. “Keith,” I answered for him.
Great the guy I’d accidentally insulted last night was now supposed to be my date for the next however many hours. Another wasted event and another disaster date loomed. At least I’d only insulted one of Maggie’s friends.
“Oh, you’ve met.” Pat interrupted my thoughts. “Keith and I go way back to college.”
Oh hell in a hand basket, I just bought a one way pass from horror into absolute nightmare. There was no way to bow out gracefully and certainly no going back to redo the night before. I was stuck, plain and simple. I plastered on a smile and marched forward determined to repair the damage. Out of the pot and into the fire…
Please return for the continuation of Daria’s journey on September 26th, only here on Digital Digest. Catch up on your favorite stories with our ebooks available on Amazon!
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.