“I have a date tonight,” I grumble into the phone, curled on my side, tucked beneath a fleece throw.
“Good for you,” Leslie cheers as she rinses a dish. In the background, over the trickling water, I hear Olivia and Anders giggling.
“He’s from Iowa.”
“Paige, can’t you find someone local for once?”
“No, he lives in Philadelphia. He grew up in Iowa.”
“Ooh, even better. Those corn-fed boys tend to be a nice group.”
I throw back the blanket and push myself to an upright position. My eyes adjust to the forty-five degree shift, my stomach gurgles. Standing in front of the full-length mirror propped against the back wall of my closet, I assess the situation. My hair needs a brush. It also needed some color, stepping closer to confirm the presence of a stray gray hair.
I dress in jeans and boots, a long sweater cinched with a wide belt. A multi-strand chain loops my neck. As I grab a scarf from the shelf, I catch a glimpse of the finished product. Considering the level of enthusiasm (nil) and time within which I dressed (five minutes), I look surprisingly cute. The kind of cute that leads me to walk with a little more sass in my step.
“Steve?” I ask as I enter the restaurant.
“You must be Paige,” he answers, a broad smile consuming the bottom half of his face.
We grab two seats at the bar, each ordering a Blue Moon as we settle onto our stools. After an hour, I order chili with a side of sweet-potato fries. He goes with meat loaf. Football flashes from the televisions above the bar. Sometimes kitchen staff pops out to check the score, watch a play. And when the clock strikes nine, I let out a sigh and mention an early morning.
“Well?” Leslie excitedly asks the next day as she idles in the carpool line.
“Iowa is number one in corn production.”
“And number one in soy. But it’s only number two in cattle, behind Texas.”
“Um, are you okay?”
“It’s also number two in wind energy. It has to do with the way the air comes off the Rockies and swoops across the Plains. Do you want to take a guess at who’s number one?”
“Wow, that bad?”
“An hour in I realized I was asking all of the questions, so I stopped. He said nothing. Nada! Zilch! And to be honest, if the Eagles weren’t on mute, I probably would’ve enjoyed it. But after ten minutes of total silence, I cracked and went back to interviewing him.”
“Oy. That’s bad.” Leslie admitted.
“He asked me exactly two questions. Both close ended. Oh wait, I’m sorry, three questions. As I fled for my car, he wanted to know if I was interested in going out again.”
“Well obviously he likes you! Maybe he’s shy. Or nervous?” Leslie reasoned.
“Sure. And that’s totally fine. Really, it is. It just isn’t fine for me.”