“Do you need help with your hair,” my best friend, Fanny was almost as nervous about this first date as I was.
“Oh, thank you!,” I gave up fighting my mane of unruly curls. “I can’t seem to do anything with it.”
I sat at her vanity mirror, watching as she deftly piled my hair into a controlled up-do, leaving a few stray tendrils forming a soft frame around my face. I was surprised to see that it made me look younger than my 36 years.
It had been a long, lonely year since my divorce, and friends and family had finally talked me into diving into the dating pool again. Not like it was when I was younger, today that meant dipping a toe into the Internet waters of eligible men. I had agreed to three different dates, one of which could be Mr. Right.
“Who are you going out with tonight,” Fanny mumbled around the mouthful of hairpins she held between her teeth.
“I thought I’d work my way from oldest to youngest,” I said, handing her the hairspray. ”We’re meeting at The Copper Pot for dinner. He said he had a surprise for where we were going after that.”
“A surprise?” Fanny tipped her head to the side, her hairbrush fist on her hip, waiting for me to look up to make eye contact in the mirror. “Is that a good idea?”
“Don’t fret, I’m driving to the restaurant, I’ll make him tell me there,” I reassured her. “If I don’t want to go, then I won’t”
Pursing her lips, she made one final pass with the Aqua Net, harrumphing her disapproval.
“Keep your cell phone handy!” She called out the front door once I finally left her apartment.
My first date was with Barrett, a bear of a man, who didn’t match his online bio very well. He was at least 6-foot-2, barrel-chested, with a grey tuft of hair escaping from his shirt collar. His face, ruddy and rough above a full beard, was far from friendly. His thunderous voice, and matching disposition, made the night uncomfortable.
He growled at our waitress for any number of perceived shortcomings, and continuously interrupted any attempts I made to engage him in a conversation.
After dinner, I excused myself, feigning a need to visit the powder room. I toyed with the idea of simply walking out the front door with no explanation, but thought that was too cowardly. Gathering my nerve, I went back to our table, blurting out I didn’t think we were a good match and that it would be best if we ended the date right here.
His reaction shouldn’t have surprised me, considering how difficult he had been the entire evening. I ended up paying for both our meals and leaving as soon as the waitress returned with my receipt.
My second date ended just as disastrously, only this time Arthur, my companion for the evening, was depressingly soft. Our initial handshake was like holding a wet fish. His clothes hung on him like a little boy wearing his father’s suit. I continuously had to lean forward or ask him to repeat what he said, his voice was so faint.
He talked exclusively of his mother during dinner, asking our server for a doggie bag so he could bring her his leftovers. I was shocked to learn he didn’t still live with her.
After dinner we attended a performance of Carmen, where he cried like a baby. Mortified, I could only hand him copious amounts of tissue and listen to his honking nose blowing. At least one couple moved away from our seats and his crescendo of wailing during José and Carmen’s duet “C’est toi! – C’est moi!” in the final act.
I almost cancelled my final date in the trifecta, but Fanny bolstered my spirits with “third time’s the charm,” and “saving the best for last.” I couldn’t imagine how it could get any worse.
When Torben called to set a time and day for our date, I was first intrigued by his voice – a rich tenor, with a slight accent I couldn’t place. I later learned he was Dutch. His viking heritage evident in his pale blond hair and rugged good looks. He wasn’t too tall, nor too short. Just the right height should I care to wear heels, but he didn’t tower over me in flats.
We met at an artist opening at a local gallery, then had a pleasant dinner at a bistro a few doors down. We enjoyed easy conversation, learning we had many interests in common. A midnight stroll along the river, a tender kiss, and plans for a second date ended a wonderful evening.
Over the next several months, we continued to see each other, our friendship growing into an exclusive relationship. I was falling fast and knew he felt the same way about me. I wasn’t surprised then when he invited me to stay one evening after he had cooked me dinner at his home.
I never made the connection, but he prefaced his invitation by telling me he shared his sprawling house with two roommates. He explained they had apartments in separate wings and they rarely saw each other. It didn’t matter, I would have stayed regardless.
The next morning, over fresh koffie verkeerd and a steaming bowl of krentjebrij, a traditional Dutch porridge made of steel-cut oats, dried apples and raisins, honey and cinnamon, I did meet Torben’s roommates… Barrett and Arthur.
For this weekend’s Trifextra Challenge, we were tasked with retelling Goldilocks and the Three Bears, with no limits on word count. We could change characters, locations, but the story had to be recognizable.