Friday the 13th was my lucky day. In the final minutes of my last day of a two-week stint as an office temp, Mr. Tall and Gorgeous asked me out on our first date–a concert on Sunday, the 15th.
On Saturday, my dad’s Chicago cousin and her family came to stay with us in L.A., eager to see all the tourist traps. I must have been drifting through some sort of euphoric fog because I have no memory of their visit.
Except on that fateful First-Date Sunday.
My dad had taken his relatives to an amusement park for the entire day and were not expecting to come home until late in the evening. Of course I didn’t go because of the BIG DATE.
At five o’clock, I was dressed to kill and ready for the doorbell to ring, wondering if Mr. First Date would have trouble finding my address. Our house was on a very busy four-lane boulevard. It was also so close to the freeway on-ramp that cars accelerated like a jet taking off from LAX. It was so bad that first-time visitors to our house had been known to whiz by with the flow of traffic and find themselves in the next suburb in the blink of an eye.
I had stomach-churning visions of Mr. Dreamy Date, dazed and confused in Pico Rivera, searching helplessly for an opportunity to turn around (not an easy trick), then finally heading back toward my house, only to discover the impracticality of parking across the street. Over on that side, the off-ramp from the freeway shot Indy drivers onto the boulevard faster than the Jet pilots on my side. NO one crossed those lanes on foot.
Okay, so now the guy was ten minutes late. Maybe he’d made a second pass and missed again. Maybe I should’ve told him to come around to the alley where everyone else parked.
Nooooo…Mr. Knight-in-Shining-Armor’s first impression of my humble abode would NOT be a pot-holed alley lined with graffiti-scrawled cinderblock walls and smelly trash cans.
Twenty minutes late.
Oh dear lord, please don’t let this be happening.
It’s bad enough to be stood up, but worse if it’s a FIRST date! What could be worse than that? Being stood up when your dad has his Illinois cousin visiting so that your personal mortification becomes a pathetic anecdote spread throughout the entire family, far and wide, retold at holiday dinners in Chicago and beyond!
Thirty minutes late.
I heard voices at the back door. My dad and his relatives were home early!
Panic! I had honestly expected to be long gone when they came back â€“ either on my date or â€¦ well, anywhere else but home so I didnâ€™t have to face them.
As they came in the kitchen, I glanced around. No where to run. No where to hide. Oh good god, why me? WHY ME?
I think I had been wearing a red dress. I don’t know for sure. I just remember thinking as the heat rose to my cheeks that the bright pink flush of embarrassment might not be noticeable. Maybe they’d think it was the glow off the dress. Yeah-right.
Needless to say, everyone stopped when they saw me. Their smiles froze. Awkward silence. Then hellos all around. They shuffled into the living room, saying what a great time was had by all at the amusement park, and it was too bad I’d missed it. And had they realized I’d still be here when they got back, they would’ve insisted that I come along in the first place.
Yeah, well…I did have a date to get ready for.
Ah-yes, “the date”. (Did I detect a wink between my dad’s cousin and her husband?)
Then she said, sweet as you please, with a tad of empathy thrown in, “Looks like you’ve been stood up.”
ACK! SHE SAID IT! SHE SAID THOSE DREADFUL WORDS!
I know I didn’t say this out loud because there were no gasps of shock and their eyes didn’t pop out.
Instead, I kept my smile firmly in place. Still, I have no recollection of anything else I may have said or done as the minutes ticked by.
Finally the doorbell rang.
Saved â€“ literally! — by the bell.
And, yes, we had gotten our wires crossed. According to him, he was right on time. (I soon learned he wasâ€”and still is– a man of his word and always, ALWAYS on time!)
Our date was a John Denver concert under the stars at the (then) open-air Universal Amphitheater. The music was wonderful, the night perfect. It was just chilly enough to snuggle together for warmth. Many years later we met John briefly through friends, and had the opportunity to thank him for making our first date so memorable.
As time went by, I realized that my dad had brought his relatives home early for personal reasons. He had been eager to meet this young man that his little girl was going to marry someday.
Multi-published author Gillian Doyle writes paranormal suspense. She invites you to drop by at her blog and say hello.