By: John Yabes
Todd sits nervously in his chair, reading the Italian menu sitting in his sweaty palms. He’s berating himself internally for choosing this place, he doesn’t know how to read or speak Italian. He thought that it would make him look cultured, but now he realizes that this will make him look like an even bigger idiot.
Antipasto, he reads. He thought Italians loved this stuff, why are they against pasta? Oh god that doesn’t make sense, he thinks, as he takes a huge breath in. She’s not here yet. Maybe he can bolt before she arrives? Would it be better for her to have a story of a guy standing her up, rather than an encounter with an anxiety attack personified? He looks at his watch. It’s the top of the hour, so now she’s officially late.
Maybe he can criticize her for that? “Pump the brakes, Romeo, why are you inviting someone to something to criticize them,” he thinks? Why does he feel like he can feel his heart beating through his shirt? “Is this a heart attack?” Is he having a heart attack? Is he going to die on a date?
He distracts himself from his mental and physical breakdown by shifting his focus to his pits that are currently being stained with his sweat. “What? Why now, body? I can tell her I just came from the gym and this is just the after effect from getting good lifts. Good lifts? Why would anyone— but what if she asks me what gym I go to? I haven’t been to one in years. I can’t even make one up. Jim’s Gym. Oh god.”
“I wouldn’t be in this situation if Cynthia hadn’t sleep with my best friend,” Todd lamented. “This is all her fault in hindsight, anyways. I still have her number,” he proclaims, “I can angry text her right now! Tell her it’s her fault I’m in this awful situation! I’m sure that’ll ruin her day! Make her realize I’m the best thing she had going for her! I’m projecting again, just like Dr. Rosenstein said I would. If anyone could read my thoughts, they’d think I probably hate women,” he confidently confided in himself.
He thinks about the last time he brought anyone out to do anything. “That Laker’s game I went to with my dad,” he remembers. “That’s a good memory. My dad. Relaxing. Such a great guy, soothing voice… okay, this is getting weird. No, Todd, you are not attracted to your dad! Todd sinks into his chair.”
Strange, a woman is sitting down in front of me, Todd observes. “Holy Christ, my date! Todd jumps up. Get her chair, fool!” It’s too late, she’s sitting down, and he just jumped up like he saw a cockroach in his complimentary bread.
“Hello!” he shouts, “Diana, right?” He waves slowly, and then stops himself when he notices he is waving slowly. This wouldn’t be so awkward if everyone in the restaurant wasn’t looking at him… and the band would keep playing… and stop looking at him.
“Yes,” she laughs softly, “You can sit down.” An angel, “She’s got the voice of an angel,” he thinks. “I can’t do this, I’ll corrupt her!” He’s still standing. There’s no smooth way to get back in his chair. Everyone resumes their business.
The waiter flies over. “Oh god, here we go, he’s going to speak Italian and I’m going to be outed as an imposter.”
“A red wine,” she says. Todd looks at her. “Oh no, she knows Italian, I’m so doubly screwed. How much room is under this table?” He wonders. Maybe he can slink away. Then, a moment of brilliance…Acknowledge her intelligence.
“You know Italian, Diana? How impressive!” He winks at her.
“He asked us what we wanted to drink in English…” she says, politely correcting him. Todd immediately regresses his head, trying to shrink into shirt, trying to clear his throat, but something is making it hard for him to swallow. She’s looking around, he sees, she’s already trying to find a hard exit.
Save yourself, Todd, bring up something! Anything! “Your Twitter profile is interesting!” He says.
“My Twitter?” she responds, confused.
“Twitter? I meant Tinder. Sorry, the thing that we met on. Not that I looked you up on Twitter or Facebook or anything. Not that I would do that, look someone up on social media right after getting into contact with them, you know? There’s so many Diana’s out there anyway. But clearly, you are the best Diana. That I’ve met, anyways. Not saying I have an opinion on all Diana’s. That would be sexist, and I’m not that.” Todd can feel the quicksand up to his neck at this point.
“That’s fine…” she tries to chime in.
“Yeah, I’m totally not sexist, in actuality, I’m the anti-sexist… I’m all for sex,” he says, as he immediately bites his lip and slams his hand on the table. “I’m sorry.”
She laughs. “You haven’t done this in a while, huh? You can take a breath, Todd.” He relaxes, after all, he realizes, we are just human.
“Thank god,” he says, as they laugh again. He looks at his watch, it’s five minutes past the hour, and Todd looks uncomfortably into the distance.