All characters and situations in this piece are fictitious, except of course for the ubiquitously detestable hotel-lobby-experience.
She wonders what he’s going to be like. He sounded nice over the phone. But so does everybody else in these initial interactions. Then again, he’s a charming writer of letter and … well, other writing. But we always put our best foot forward despite ourselves, don’t we?
Her innards threaten to swallow her as she nears the hotel. Somehow this meeting-in-a-hotel-lobby thing is very shady. Suddenly she wants to get out of it. She wants to turn back and run. The thought of being nice is making her ill. She feels like a scamster, a common cheap con artist when she’s being nice to new people. It also puts her off when they’re nice to her for no apparent reason but that they should be liked. It’s a farce. And in such situations a part of her self invariably divorces her body and retreats to the roof-beam to look down at shell-of-her participating in this facetious game; scoffing, putting evil thoughts in her head, gunning at her brain with an endless cynical rant. And right now, she can feel that terrible split coming on. No no no. please no. Just hold yourself together for once.
She parks her car. Slowly. Deliberately. Her hands are cold. Sweaty. Uggg. Nothing’s more disgusting than cold clammy hands. She wipes them against her denims. Everything she does is studied and slow. If she moves any faster, she knows she will jitter like a… damned cliché.
She pats her hair down. Fluffs it a bit. Licks her lips. Checks her eyes for kohl smudges. One last toss of her head, and she’s off. It helps to have long legs. There’s a lot of uncertainty that you can hide with the length of your stride. She could be marching off to file a Public Interest Litigation.
She reaches the lobby. Looks around. He isn’t there. Or at least she’s convinced herself he isn’t there. She wouldn’t really know because she hasn’t ever seen him. It gives her a little more time and something to do with her arms. She always finds that in such situations she has limbs-in-surplus.
With unsteady hands she pulls out her phone. It threatens to slip with all the clamminess and she can’t seem to press the correct digits. Damn. After a whole minute of fumbling with it she manages to connect.
R? Hi. Ummm. I’m here… errr… I mean I’m here in the lobby. Are you…? Oh ok. Right. So, yes, see you. Oh, of course! No problem! Take your time. Bye.
Her telephone-smile fades as soon as she disconnects.
“Take your time???” Haaah. She hates HATES waiting for people. What’s he doing anyway? Putting on his make-up?
I knew this blind date thing was a bad idea. So annoying not to know what you’re setting yourself up for. Blast the blindness of this dumb bloody date…
But she’s secretly glad for this breather.
She looks around, seeks out an empty sofa and settles in. Her eyes sweep around the lobby. Lots of middle-aged men. Sitting, chatting, conducting business, meeting old friends and making new ones. Sometimes they glance up and catch her eye. She doesn’t like the way they smile at her. Do they think she’s a pick-up? A…a… a you-know-what?? Bastards. She tries not to scowl. Come to think of it, how different is a blind date really? Haaah. No no no. Don’t go there stupid woman. This is a DATE. And she’s here because he has a room here because he’s visiting from another city because they decided to meet because… well whatever. Nothing shady about it. Not really. No. NO.
Have I told myself how much I hate hotel lobbies?
Twiddle dee twiddle dum. Now what? She crosses her legs. Uncrosses them. Looks at her nails. Aaahhh. There’s a bit of skin along her left index finger cuticle that looks so bite-offable. Should she? Maybe just a quick nip. Nobody will notice…
She looks up with a start. A million thoughts rush in. Shit, this sofa is too sinky. Don’t get up too fast, you’ll fall back and look like an ass. Should I hold my hand out or should I hug him? He’s cute. Damn. He’s cute and I’m so goofing this already.
She stands up gingerly, taking ages at it. Smiles at him. He’s beaming back. He seems so… so comfortable with himself. Nice.
He asks her something.
He repeats himself. She responds. The entire evening she’s distracted. He notices. He asks, she smiles and says “Oh nothing”.
Blame it on the split. Bloody bloody stupid self-on-roof-beam won’t stop with the farkin’ commentary. Non-stop bloody opinion-factory.
It’s time to leave. She’s pleased he insisted on paying, but not too much. He wasn’t overbearing. He allowed himself to be taken out by a girl he’s met for the first time.
She’s happy. It’s gone, ummm, kind of well.
She of course hasn’t noticed that he on the other hand, is a bit confused.
He walks her to her car. Suddenly there aren’t any words to fill the space between them. They walk in silence. It’s that iffy moment when one must leave… but on what note?
As she’s about to get in and deliver a well rehearsed thank-you-I-had-a-lovely-time, she turns to him on impulse. She smiles. He smiles back. There’s a tiny tiny moment of now-what? Then jerkily, almost clumsily, she leans forward and throws her arms around him.
He’s pleasantly responsive. He hugs her back warmly, wholly and firmly.
That’sverynice she thinks fuzzily. She has this judge-people-by-their-hugs quirk. Suddenly she realises, self-on-roof-beam is silent for the first time.
… Not too soon after, and not too long after, it’s time for her to drive back home. Finally.