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Saturday, November 4, 2017

Three Snippets from Unexpected Blind Date – Joanne Rawson


Frankly, if you asked me six months ago if I would give up my Tuesday quiz night with the girls, or go on a blind date, then my answer would undoubtedly have been, “Blind dates are so tacky. They are definitely for the desperate.” From the age of sixteen I have had fourteen years of dating, ten boyfriends, six of them lovers and, up until a year ago, had been in a four-year relationship that hit more icebergs than the Titanic. No, my blind date love boat days have well and truly sailed. I am so over men.

However, two weeks ago, Glenda, Nell, Christine and I, hit Cupids Cave—Nottingham’s notorious Saturday night hot spot for eighteen to twenty year old blushing brides to be, celebrating their last weekend of freedom. It was reluctant moral support for Glenda, who had been press ganged into her younger sister’s hen night. Like every member of our group, Glenda was proud not to be married.

Tucked away in a corner, I was not sure if I was more depressed that we were the oldest women in the club, or that I recognised so many of my ex pupils I had taught biology to in the past few years. At least three acknowledged me, flashing their diamond solitaires under my nose. They may not have found any ecological break-through, but one thing was certain, they had discovered a biological phenomenon that was oblivion to me, how to get a man and keep him.

Snivelling into my fifth Sex on the Beach cocktail, I began wallowing in a state of drunken remorse. Leaping from my bar stool I declared the fate of my future. “I will never have sex again, let alone have sex on a beach.”

“Of course you won’t, sweetie,” slurred Christine, pulling me back down. “You’re in a friggin nightclub full of friggin loved up women.” As Christine had told us a thousand times already tonight, a club with no men was sad as someone going into a wine bar and ordering coffee. “No offense, Glenda, but I need to find a club with some hot blooded men, and show those bad boys a good time.”

Nell, thirty-nine, a suffragette for women’s lib, now on her third pitcher of margaritas, for herself, slammed down her glass. “Sod it. It’s against all my princ—princ—oh bugger it.” She took a breath to stifle a hiccup. “Princ—iples, but the time is right for you, Grace, to meet Adrian. He has been with us only a few months at the nut house.” The nut house being our name for Fur Tree Mental health clinic, where Nell worked as a drama therapist. “He is single, thirty eight, very fit, plays a lot of sports, and owns his own house, and the catch is this; all he wants is a good time. Hell, if he was a woman I’d make a play for him myself.”

I shook my head vigorously. “No, no, no. No blind dates,”

Somewhere between my second and third tequila slammer, the girls had quashed all my issues of concern, emphasising all he wanted was a good time. And, as Glenda, quite rightly pointed out, “Jeez, Grace, you don’t have to marry the man.” I found myself agreeing to meet Adrian.
The night of my date with Adrian, did not start good. I was already tense and sceptical about what I had let myself into, and to make matters worse, my head of department called an emergency meeting that was now running over schedule. So, when the announcement my proposal for the renovation of the greenhouses I used for my botany classes had been overruled to bring the prep rooms up to date, my normal quiet persona left my colleagues gobsmacked as I stormed out of the staff room, bellowing, “Come on, this is a Nottingham High School, not bloody C.S.I Miami.”
The traffic was horrendous, and when I finally arrived home, with just enough time to shower and throw on some clothes, my bundle of joy, Minnie, a puppy I had bought to replace men, showed how insulted she felt about being left all day on her own. She had turned my kitchen into a minefield of poop.
Contemplating my wardrobe, I played back my two messages. One from Mum, enquiring about Minnie, and how had she coped on her first day at home alone. I shouted at the answer phone that I would be dropping her off in the morning. Mum continued.
“Dad has taught me how to wave the net.”
“Surf mum, its surf the net,” I howled. The other day she asked where she could buy a twitter.
“I have a Jamie Oliver recipe for chicken in a bread crust. I thought I would try it out on Sunday. Did I tell you Fran and George would be coming to dinner too?”
Great, that meant their forty-year-old bachelor son, Theodore, would be there, a complete and utter dork. He still lived at home, worked as a librarian in town and spent his weekend doing charcoal rubbings of tombstones. He still suffered from teenage acne, and had a big crush on Kylie—the eighties years. No doubt, I would have to suffer him drooling opposite me, over his chicken breast, trying to be suggestive, asking if I would like to pop around and see his etchings.
Next message was my extremely fertile elder sister, “How you still have the energy for this dating stuff I do not know.”
No neither do I, I thought, as I rummaged through my drawer wondering if I should go for white Sloggies or Victoria Secret black lace.
My sister continued, “I went last night to a session of stretch class. I tell you I have never felt so embarrassed, all single thirty something women, with big men agendas, just like yourself. I tell you these women lay on the floor, concaved stomachs, and pert breasts, just like you. So, when I finally managed to get down with what bit of dignity I could muster, my stomach spread across my hips making them look twice the size, and my drooping breasts after breastfeeding five ravenous babies, hung like deflated air balloons under my arm pits.”
It was awful I know, but I could not help but laugh, as I imagined my rounded four foot nothing sister in Colin’s t-shirt and her leggings.
“When I got back,” she continued, “Colin said why bother, who did I have to impress with a flat stomach and pert boobs? I think he’s right. Oh! Have to go. James is spreading peanut butter on Colin’s Clapton CD. Oh, by the way, can you babysit next Friday? Some work do of Colin’s we’ll be attending. Please say you will. It means I can wear proper clothes without spit up on them, and make up. Do you know how long it’s been since I blow-dried my hair? Call me.”
Throwing myself down onto my bed, now I was even more depressed. Part of me today did not want to go tonight, but what if Adrian was the one, and I had blown him off? My only option left would be to marry Theodore, have a brood of charcoal rubbing, acne children, surf the net for ideas for Sunday lunch with drooping breasts, and hips the size of battle ships, looking forward to someone babysitting so I could look and feel human, for one night. Freaked out by what could be my future, I leaped up off the bed, and ran to my closet. It was time to break out the sex clothes. Forget the jeans and jumper, this was a crisis, we’re talking animal print and leather.
I took a table next to two elderly women with blue rinses and pearls, and a businessperson reading his newspaper—I assumed he was a businessman—I could only see his legs, but the trousers said they were part of a suit and expensive at that. I pondered on the wine menu, nearly dropping with heart failure at the price of one glass, as I wondered how much money Adrian earned in a year. Ordering a glass of house white, I thought tonight better be worth it. I could have stayed at home and bought a whole bottle, for the price of one glass. I noticed a man standing in the bar, eyeing the tables in my area. He was of average height, and surprisingly tasty, the clean cut, suave city type, not at all what I had imagined Adrian to look like. He gave me a smile, so I raised myself slightly from my chair, the biggest smile on my face. Not bad, not bad at all. Things could be starting to look up. Then Mr Suave waved, and gave the most mind-blowing smile, the only sort you would see in a soppy Chic Flick. I was sure I could hear Barry White singing in the background. Ok, so Mr Suave thought the same as me, tonight was totally worth it. I was now standing, moving myself away from the table so Mr Suave could embrace me, and tell me how wonderful I looked. It took one millisecond to check I still looked as hot as I was feeling, when I felt the light brush of his arm on mine.
“Sorry,” he said as he bypassed me, for the hot blonde sitting behind me.
“No, it was my fault. I thought I saw my friend, but I was mistaken.” I realised I was talking to myself, sat back down and spotted two eyes, regarding me over the top of a newspaper.
A glass and a half of chardonnay later, I had been waiting for over half an hour for Adrian to arrive. I began to feel slightly uncomfortable as I caught the looks of pity from Tyler, from behind the bar, and the entertainment value I had given Helen and Yvette. If Adrian didn’t turn up soon, I would be the talk of the sixth form common room. To make matters worse, the man at the next table had dropped his paper a couple of times to glance my way, and the last time as he turned the page, it felt a little longer than necessary.
I pulled out my mobile, and in a fury punched out Nell’s number. “Typical, her damn answer machine,” I muttered, drumming my fingers impatiently on the table, waiting for the message to finish. “Well thank you very much. You should have stuck to your principals. Adrian has not shown. You can tell him from me, he’s just like the rest of them, a complete ass.”
I must have said this a little too loud, as once again the man dropped his paper slightly, and gave me an amused smile. I was mortified. Not only had a complete stranger heard but Yvette and Helen, too. I’d been stood up by my blind date.
Glancing back at the gentleman who was still watching me, I felt obligated to say something to him. “Sorry if I’ve disturbed you, I was supposed to meet someone, and they haven’t shown up.”
“So I heard. What a fool he must be.” His eyes never left mine.
* * * *
When I first noticed him watching me I didn’t take much interest, now I felt compelled to look at him. Well ring-a-ding-ding. He was in his forties, thick brown hair, not too short and not too long, just how I liked it, and chocolate brown eyes. His smooth, slightly bronzed face obviously from a winter holiday, showed no signs of stubble.
“Let me buy you a drink?” Without waiting for an answer, he called over a waiter and ordered a glass of wine for me, and a whiskey for himself. The easiness of the question, made me wonder if he did this all the time; it was one thing meeting someone on a blind date, but I’m not in the habit of being chatted up by a cheating husband. Well, he had to be married since he was too hot to be single. Let’s face it. Over the last few months, I had found out all the best men out there were either married or gay.
He must have sensed my hesitation as he quickly said, in his deep husky voice. “Don’t worry. I’m not married, and I’m not in the habit of asking attractive women for a drink, unless we have been formally introduced, but I feel I need to restore your faith that not all males are, what was it you said, asses?”
I couldn’t help but smile at his perception. What a bummer he was likely gay. No, he oozed testosterone, so what was left? He didn’t look like a murderer or rapist, but then again I’d never met any.
A waitress promptly placed a drink in front of me. I was astounded when the words came out so confidently, “It would be rude of me to say no. Will you join me?”
Moving from his table, he towered over me. He was much taller than I’d expected. I could feel my stomach churn as my eyes wandered over his lean hips, up to a flat stomach, and a strong chest covered with a crisp white shirt and black waistcoat. Before sitting, he offered his hand. As I shook it, mine seemed so small, and fragile inside his that was strong and firm. “Oliver, Oliver Holland.”
The name rang a bell, but for the life of me, I couldn’t think why. “Grace Worthing.”
“Yes, I know.” He leaned back with ease in his chair and took a long swig of his drink, his eyes watching my every move over the top of his glass.
“Have we met?” Part of me wanted to say if I’d met him then I surely would have remembered.
“Your father and I go to the same club. I mentioned to him I was taking my father’s place on the board of governors at Parks High School. He said you worked there.”
“But how did you know it was me?”
“He showed me a picture of you. Very proud he is of you, and he has good reason too.”
Then the penny dropped. “You’re Holland of Holland Builders?” I was sitting opposite the man who built luxury houses with swimming pools and stables.
“Well actually my father does, I’m just a boring surveyor.” He leaned over the table and looked deep into my eyes. “What I am more interested in is why you felt the need to go on a blind date?”
“And what makes you think it was a blind date?”
“By the way you shot up in your seat, a hopeful look on your face, when you saw that male enter, followed by the disappointment on your face, when he joined the voluptuous blonde.”
“Are you saying that I couldn’t pull a man like that? That he wouldn’t look twice at me?”
My forthright question seemed to entertain him. “I was making no judgment on him, and his choice of women. It was you and your reaction that fascinated me.” Again, he sat back, as if waiting for me to reply with another candid question. However, I was not taking the bait. Let Mr Smarty Pants make his own assumption.
“Ok, when you first saw him, you looked surprised, as if he wasn’t what you were expecting and, to be honest, so was I.”
Midway between taking a sip of my wine, I began to laugh, well actually snort, only to be horrified as wine shot out of my nose. Now that’s why I didn’t have a date with Mr Suave. Oliver, without any embarrassment or a word, gallantly passed me a napkin. Composed and wine snot free, I smiled civilly. “Well, Oliver, for a man who has only seen a photograph of me, you certainly seem to think you know me. So what surprised me about him? I’m very eager to hear.” “Hair product, and quite obviously, dyed, no hair is that black.”
“Sorry, what was that?” I had to ask the question again, because as silly as it sounded, as Mr Suave glided across the room to Barry singing Your My Everything, that had been the first thing that had gone through my head. Too much hair gel, and definitely dyed.
Oliver repeated the answer, and went on to say, “You just don’t seem the kind of woman who would go out with a man who spent more time on his hair than you, that’s all.”
Instinctively my hand went to my boring, straight, shoulder length brown hair, pushing it behind my ears.

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You can also find this book in Life’s Unexpected Adventures Anthology Volume One PRINT and Ebook
Chic-Lit  Short
Heat Level: 3 Boiling
Sensual, yet more explicit love scenes, and the language may be more graphic and direct.

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