Day 31 – The Date – Olivia

Firstly: I’ve never been on a date before, so I’ve no idea how these things actually work.

Secondly: I know it’s shit, I didn’t really try and I got bored half way through.

Thirdly: tomorrow’s part is from James’ side (cue “ooooo”)

Word count: 2012

Black dress and a pair of peep-toed courts, Olivia stood in tense anticipation outside the Italian restaurant. It was a windy Saturday night, threatening rain whilst roof tiles teetered on the edge of being blown away. The hair she’d spent an hour curling, preening and sculpting into a fine piece of art was now unravelling into the interesting look of appearing not to have been brushed for years all the while accruing random city centre debris in its tightening knots and tugs.

Freezing Olivia was shivering on the pavement. She’d only a thin jacket to cover her goose-pimpled arms and she was beginning to regret not wearing tights on her skinny legs. But she looked gorgeous in that off-kilter sort of way. Her arms folded, she was focussed intently on the street ahead as she kept watch for sight of the man she would be meeting tonight.

Olivia couldn’t say he was handsome, hot or even attractive. They’d met a few months back at some party of a mutual friend of theirs and this meeting was purely the responsibility of the aforementioned mutual friend, who, by the end of the night, might cease to be both mutual and friend. As her heart gave a little yelp of nervousness at every face she caught sight of, she struggled to remember exactly what this man looked like. It seemed all the males on this street tonight could fit the description and generic profile of the man she’d only thus far spent a few minutes in the company of. She stroked the material of her dress down over her thighs to make sure she was suitably covered. As a gang of gaggling girls strutted by in their six-inch heels and hot pants, she became increasingly aware of her bare skin visibility.

It had been ages since she’d been on a date. Could she remember what to do, what to say? She worked in an office and had twenty-five days a year holiday. Could she really muster up the fabulous stories and experiences that would warrant a second meeting?

A jolt rocked through her body as a dark pair of eyes clasped on her to hers and were accompanied by a wide smile and a clean shaven chin. The mouth, chin and lips dived into her left cheek for a kiss whilst the left arm wrapped around the right hand side of her body. It was warm, strong and reassuring. Olivia’s mind was racing with subliminal messages telling her to keep calm and act normal.

“Nice to see you again, Olivia!” he withdrew from his hug as the awkward moment began to descend upon them both.

“Yes, you too, James!” Olivia rapidly recalled their first and only meeting. Party, kitchen – at least two in the morning – at least three-quarters of the way to being paralytically drunk – conversation possibly involving strange combinations of ice cream and savoury food items.

The awkward silence descended and encompassed them in an animatedly cold atmosphere.

“Shall we go in?” he gestured towards the door.

“Yes,” Olivia bit her lip in an attempt to agree quickly. She winced, but hoped she got away with it.

James pulled the restaurant door open and allowed her to enter first. Her entrance was finalised with him giving a little bow. Olivia looked around the restaurant. It wasn’t empty, but it was hardly full either. She’d never been to this place before. It was the typical Italian. Paintings and pictures of Sicily and the Colosseum, plastic grapevines dangling from papier-maché columns. Bottles of red, white and sparkling wine lined the topmost shelf behind the bar as waiters in smart white shirts and black waistcoats hovered by dining couples and flew by with hot plates of sizzling spaghetti.

“Table for two, please,” James said to the waiter.

“Have you booked?”

“Uh, no,” James replied.

Olivia squinted the waiter a look. They both knew what the other was thinking.

The waiter ushered them towards a quiet little table by the window. A solitary candle flickered in as the centre piece, separating the condiments and marking the edge of each other’s territory. Olivia sat on the side facing the window in the hope that the passers by were at least of some vague interest even if James was not.

The waiter handed them both menus and they immediately delved into the finer choices between pasta, pizza and sides. Olivia was more nervous than hungry. Over the tip of her menu she glanced at James every now and then, perusing his looks and weighing his attractiveness points up in her mind. He wasn’t bad, there was maybe the hope of a nice smile.

“I love this place – dead cheap and the food’s not that bad,” James attempted to stamp the silence into submission.

Olivia felt the price of her medium-cost dress rise slightly in comparison to its surroundings. Perhaps wearing silver earrings was a bit too much? She scooted her chair a little further in to cover up her black number a little more. She felt as if she were in the Italian equivilent of McDonalds now.

“So what have you been doing with yourself these days, are you still working in that office down near the theatre?” James was now diving into small talk.

Olivia was barely ready for this and took a moment to note that James had already remembered more about their encounter than she had, “Uh, yes.”

She sunk more deeply into her menu.

“Just act normal,” she whispered to herself.

“Sorry?” James asked.

“Nothing.”

“Drinks?” the waiter appeared from thin air.

“A bottle of wine?” James asked her, shrugging his shoulders indifferently.

“Red, no less than fourteen point five,” she smiled awkwardly at James. He seemed to smile calmly back. This made things even worse.

Olivia had already made her mind up what she wanted to eat within a few seconds of seeing the menu, but continued to feign deliberation in order to continue having something to action.

“So…” James began.

“Yep,” Olivia glanced up from her menu and briefly caught his eye. Terror struck her and like a magnet her eyes were focussed upon the salads once more.

The wine came. The waiter poured. The waiter took their orders. The waiter left. Olivia cupped the glass in her hand and took something somewhere between a swig and a gulp. James quietly sipped his. There was now nothing more to do than talk to each other. Olivia could feel her sweat glands soiling themselves at the thought of this tension. She gave a small thanks to whoever it was that encouraged her to wearing the sleeveless dress. She chugged down some more wine whilst desperately trying to think of something to ask him.

James was normal looking. He wore something that was casual enough to look like a pair of jeans and a nice shirt and smart enough to not look like denim and an un-ironed shirt. The wine was beginning to hit the pit of Olivia’s empty stomach. The fuzzy hum of tipsiness was fast approaching and from that moment onwards, she knew the night was doomed.

Just before the starters arrived, James extracted a deck of cards from his inner jacket pocket. They were not a normal pack of cards – they had strange creatures and writing on them. Olivia doubted that they were anything to do with the normal card game at all.

“Do you play?” James held the deck towards her.

“What is it?”

“It’s brilliant. You’ve got all these characters and special bonus points when you play a certain character against the other… I can’t believe you’ve never played. I spend at least an hour every day on tactics.”

Olivia suppressed a giggle as the garlic bread arrived. Things, however, did not progress much further towards seriousness from there as she successfully missed her mouth and a large piece of crusty, garlicky bread crash landed atop her bosom. James, fortunately, was concentrating too intently on slicing his bread up into linear chunks to notice as she fished it out of there, hoping and praying that no garlicky oil lingered behind as evidence.

Olivia was now wishing above all for mains to come. James had progressed on to how some foetuses are born will gills and how they have gone on to form an under race of humans that live in the sewers of New York. Olivia’s lip was now so swollen from biting back her hysterics that she feared blood would start dripping on to the table. Additionally there was a small fear that this might do it for him and escaping would seem even more impossible.

The poor trapped girl sighed. He wasn’t bad looking. He was just terrible company, or rather personality-less. As the pasta came waltzing in in the hands of the savvy waiter – who kept swinging by at convenient times to check how everything was – Olivia was really starting to feel the strain of his company.

“When you meet my flatmates, we’ll show you how to prove that black isn’t a colour. Even though,” he coughed, “it looks good on you.”

Olivia blushed. James scoffed a forkful of mushroom sauce in his mouth.

“Of course,” he chewed, “it’s all open to debate – but we’re great for those. We have a society. I’m chairman – most days. Oh, I’ve just noticed the pepper pots!” He picked up the pepper mill in the centre of the table, “I absolutely love these. I collect them. You know what makes a really, really good pepper mill? It’s the curvature of the handle. If you can’t get a really good grip on it, then you’re pretty much screwed and you might as well crush the pepper with a spoon and sprinkle it over your food. I mean there’s nothing worse than too much pepper on your plate, don’t you think? Well there’s possibly salt. That’s maybe a bit worse,” he chuckled to himself.

Minutes later Olivia was chewing the last shell of pasta left on her plate and savouring every moment she didn’t feel obliged to chat.

“… but that was just the way we used to do it, ha-ha. It’s funny how different people make mash potato, isn’t it?”

Olivia could barely breathe in her attempts to subdue her hysterics. All she could do was concentrate on the people walking by outside and hope that dessert would come before she’d verbally ordered it. For the past ten minutes she had been conveying her thoughts telepathically to the waiter to clear their table and ply her with thick chocolate ice cream and the bill.

Her wish was soon granted as the plates were cleared, the ice cream dolloped on a big fat slice of chocolate cake and the bill presented to her within a matter of fifteen minutes. James looked uncomfortably across at her and she instantly knew what was happening. Contrary however to how James was feeling, Olivia scooped out her credit card and gladly paid the entire bill to hasten their exit.

The coats were adorned and the chairs scraped back into place, the mints sucked on and the front door open wide. They were now in the fresh air again. Olivia’s cheeks were so red at trying so hard not to laugh that she felt as if she had a temperature. They stood outside the restaurant for a few seconds in utter silence. James had evidentially tired his exhausting knowledge of all things condiments and potato. His card game had, fortunately, been put away shortly before dessert.

“So,” he said, “This was nice. I enjoyed it.”

Olivia nodded, “Yes, uhm, thank you for an.. an.. evening.”

James glared at her – though it was more on the ogling side of glaring rather than the staring side. Olivia felt the burning sensation that he was about to move in closer. She pretended to fall over her heel and stepped back.

“Woops!”

“Woah, are you alright?”

“Yep,” she said, steadying herself.

“So, I’d like to do this again sometime, what do you say?”

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~ by S.G. Mark on November 7, 2011.

One Response to “Day 31 – The Date – Olivia”

  1. Foetuses with gills. Haha! Brilliant!

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