Snow Globe Romance: Double Dating

by Anna Chan

[ read the complete suite in correct order ]

 

Double Dating

Gilley’s Pub is in its usual frenzy, and we get to practice the fine art of shouting to be heard without spraying the other with spit.  Tommy orders beers and shots for himself and I.  Carli chooses a vodka martini.  She alternately stirs and sips in mechanical fashion, and I’m sure she’s replaying the past hour.  I am definitely rehashing the almost 20 second wrestling match between Tommy, my date, and Darrin, a recent ex-fiancée. 

I never envisioned that I would sit and have friendly drinks with the woman my ex dumped me for.  She doesn’t feel like a rival, because I understand that Darrin is a womanizer and manipulator period.  With big sisterly affection, I ask Carli if she needs to crash at my place tonight. 

Darrin, I know, will be in a fury when he sees her.  It will be Carli’s fault that she caught him cheating on her.  Carli threw his phone and broke it.  The phone smashed an expensive, stained glass window that will likely cost him at least a couple hundred to replace.  I know that what will rankle Darrin most, are the facts that he was busted in front of people, and that he is the one getting dumped.  I wonder if I should warn Carli that Darrin will try to resuscitate their relationship so that he can ultimately be the one to break it off with her. 

Tommy rubs his left shoulder.  “I haven’t wrestled like that since college.” 

The memory of him and Darrin rolling around in a sweaty heap thirty minutes ago makes me smile.  Darrin is 6’3” and sculptured solid.  His intimidating size seems to quell most potential opposition.  He failed to emerge victorious from his grapple with Tommy, and I know this has jarred Darrin’s universe.

“Carli!”

Three bundled figures join our table.  As warm layers peel away from faces, Carli introduces her sorority sisters.  “This is Mina,” she points to a friendly golden haloed girl.  “That’s Laylee.”  Lilac eyes and lips framed by plum tresses smile at us.  Before Carli gets to the third girl, Yessina throws her arms around Carli and envelops her in a bear hug.  Yessina grins and introduces herself.  We finish our first round of cheer.

“Tommy!”

Six feet of long legged, red headed femininity squeeze between Tommy and Mina. 

Tommy gives the name to the striking figure.  “Everyone, this is Regina.”  We go around the table again for introductions.  In a few moments, Tommy turns to me.  “She’s my ex, but we’re just really good friends now.”

I don’t know what to make of this.  “Oh.”

Conversations swirl.  I can hear what people are saying, but I can’t focus enough to join in.  Tommy orders a round for the table.  Carli is pouring out her soul, while Yessina comforts her.  The way she tucks Carli’s hair back behind her right ear has me thinking that Carli has found her balm of Gilead for the night.

Regina, Laylee, and Mina are comparing notes on the opening of a new deli in town.  They work in the same bank building.  Tommy adds his opinion.  He jokes about the location.  He and Regina both engage in banter only found between two people who have shared close intimacy.  I’m guessing that he will end up spending the rest of the evening with her, long after I’ve gone home.  Long after I’ve gone period.

Suddenly, I register that Darrin is staring at us.  He is standing across the street. 

The night, while not exactly unpleasant, has turned disappointing.  It’s Darrin’s fault.  If he would have followed the standards that he demanded from everyone else, I would not be a stranger tonight, squeezed at a table with ex’s and rivals.  My life, my emotions, and my stomach would not be like flakes in a snow globe – all shaken up.  We would be at our loft, cozy and satisfied.  Our three years together would have stretched into a lifetime of comfortable and familiar.  But Darrin’s appetites need plenty of side dishes to accompany the main course, and I am not a buffet item.  This is all his fault.

A hand on my right shoulder and a voice in my ear recall me from lapsing into absurd regression.  “Are you okay?” 

Studying Tommy’s face, I realize he is not asking from superficial formality.  I nod.

He leans closer to ask me, “Got dinner plans tomorrow?  I’d like to try this again.  Hopefully we can have dinner and drinks without the drama.”

The prospect of a quiet dinner tomorrow with Tommy recalls the euphoria I felt earlier tonight, when I first sat across from him at Martinelli’s Restaurant.  I realize that I get to have a first date all over again. 

Carli and Yessina make eye contact with Darrin.  Yessina whispers almost lovingly into Carli’s ear, as her arms lock around Carli’s shoulders again in a tight embrace.  The looks on their faces make it clear that Darrin’s grip has been broken. 

Darrin dangles keys in a clear gesture that he is still a force to be reckoned with.

Carli answers back with her middle fingers before sauntering off with Yessina.

Mina and Laylee leave us to join Regina’s office party at the pub next door.

Tommy leans back in his stool and exhales. “Such a beautiful night!  The sky is so pretty!”  This is a lie.  Cold wind and gray overcast are feeding a gloom, dark and damp.  My heart is pounding.  Tommy orders beers and shots for himself and I. 

I have purged Darrin and Bitterness from my system. 

 

 

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