A somewhat (but certainly not too) awkward first date – or second, but probably first – is happening at a Starbucks in downtown Glendale. She’s wearing a shiny summer dress with alternating deep orange and blue stripes and a lightweight black sweater, he his finest pair of camouflage-print pre-distressed cargo shorts and untucked loudly branded polo shirt. She nervously clutches at her dress from time to time, probably not noticing him awkwardly touching his gelled-to-helmet-perfection hair. As I sat down, they had evidently just begun to fumble for clever things to say. Settling on the mundane, she selected an old line of conversation deemed unfit for continuation earlier. Better that than awkward silence, because they obviously weren’t familiar enough with each other to interpret pauses correctly.
“So, you, uh, like salmon sashimi, huh?” She tried to sound like she cared about the answer but she didn’t quite pull it off. He didn’t seem to notice.
“Oh, I really like, um, small, ah, yeah?” Witty repartee was unfortunately beyond his mind’s pitiably short reach. He paused eternally, determining a final change of subject before he gave up. “You know, uh, this is actually pretty funny… So, friend of mine’s getting a divorce, because his wife of two years was a functioning alcoholic that was able to hide it from him until recently. Pret-ty crazy, huh?”
His macabre gamble had worked. Her eyes shone with schadenfreude. “No kidding. How much did she drink?”
“You know those big bottles of vodka? The BIG ones. Yeah, like one of those per day. Then one in the morning, too. That was later. Passing out on the way to work. Nodding off at her desk. That’s how they found out.”
“Wow, that’s terrible.” She didn’t sound like she meant that either.
“So, you fed your meter?” he asked while adjusting his white gold necklace. He was really turning on the charm now.
“Yeah, I have a while left.” If she stuck it out, she could at least end up with some California Pizza Kitchen, if nothing else. She hesitated. “Wanna go get something to eat?”