Putting her coffee on her desk near her phone, she opened her computer while taking her messages on her voicemail. A hint of relief untied her stomach when she heard the voice of Michele announcing her delay. Clara was far from bored with her boss! Relaxing a little, she glanced at her personal email. There were two alerts from the dating site telling her she had received messages. She connected to the site. She had recoiled at the sight of a long message from a man about fifty years of saying he dreamed every night of love him dearly. His picture made him look like a sexual predator like she saw on TV. She was covered with a shudder of horror. No chance that such a man approaches me! She erased the message and passed to the next.
It was from BBOY. She hastened to open it, a smile of her lips.
SORRY FOR YESTERDAY, BUT MY FRIENDS WERE WAITING FOR ME. I HOPE TO TALK TO YOU SOON. IT WAS NICE TO HAVE AN INTELLIGENT CONVERSATION FOR ONCE! ANOTHER TIME, I HOPE.
She bit her lower lip, seeking what she could answer him. They hadn’t discussed for a very long time. She didn’t expect to have scored at this point. She told him that he didn’t have to apology to her for living and that he could send messages whenever he wanted. Sighing, she left the site to focus on the day ahead.
As promised, Michele arrived a little before the end of the morning. She didn’t seem in high spirits. So Clara decided to avoid her whenever possible. She took a lot of messages, but when her boss reluctantly agreed to talk with a man, her attitude changed. She closed the door to her office before taking a deep breath and then answering. But what happened to her? The young woman continued to observe her by the corner of her eye. She suddenly realized what was happening: she spoke to her lover! She vaguely remembered hearing Michele asked him to be careful during his trip. He should now be back since it’s been almost two weeks. Michele looked like a teenager, playing with the telephone cord while she was talking. She laughed and smiled. Clara was amazed to witness that scene. The change in attitude was obvious! Then she remembered: her boss even had someone in her life. It wasn’t fair.
She scowled in her chair, crossing her arms on her chest. It really wasn’t faire. Michele could be very nasty when she wanted. And she wanted very often! How has she met a man who can stand her?
There were unsolvable mysteries…
“Are you serious? Tonight?”
“Yes. Why? You already say yes! Don’t chicken out now that I’ve arranged everything!”
Clara sank down on the couch, stunned. Mary had arranged everything with that nurse that night. She wasn’t ready!
“You told me during the week. Not so early in the week!”
“What’s the difference? The sooner you’ll meet him, the faster you’ll fall in love! Then you have to join…”
“Because you won’t be there?”
“Of course not. What an idea! I have other things to do than chaperoning!”
The young woman wanted to curl up and start crying. She had thought that Mary organized a double date. Not a blind-date! She didn’t want to be all alone with a complete stranger to please her girlfriend. But the so-called friend didn’t seem to understand this principle.
“He’ll wait at the restaurant for 6:00 p.m. And don’t forget: he’ll wear a cap backwards black or blue.”
“You don’t know the color of his cap?”
“He told me, but I forgot. Whatever. Prepare yourself and don’t be late, please. You must do a great impression on him!”
“What’s his name?”
“It doesn’t matter, of course!”
“I’m not going to call him nurse all night long! At least his first name!”
I feel that the evening will not go very well. In fact, it’ll be crappy. Like every time a friend organize this kind of thing for another single friend. What a crap! Her hopes were not really flying high. She wondered why she had agreed to meet this guy. It was a waste of time for them both. Mary could be very insistent when she wanted. Clara promised not to be late for her date and give all the details the next day. As if something was really going to happen! She put down the phone, groaning with horror. She didn’t want to go, even though she had promised.
Reluctantly, she prepared herself without actually putting the effort. She even took her time getting there. She slowed when she saw a man of medium height wearing a cap backwards and looked around him. I assume it’s him. He looks good. Very slowly, she approached him, slightly fearful. She wasn’t afraid of him. She just didn’t want to get the wrong guy.
“Are you Carl?” she asked with a shy voice.
He turned to her, frowning.
“You are Clara, right?”
She was about to reply when he raised his hand, without looking directly at her, saying with a voice a little nervous:
“I’m not going to waste your time.”
“There has been a misunderstanding with Mary. She doesn’t listen to me! I hope you’re smarter than that.”
“You know she’s my friend…”
Clara was speechless. Gay? Why Mary had organized a blind-date with a guy who’s gay? She didn’t understand. But her friend didn’t mention this little detail that was, for her, very important. But Carl hadn’t finished with his little speech.
“I’m gay and I told Mary but she didn’t listen!”
“Wait! You said it to Mary?”
“Yes! But you know her better than me, right? She doesn’t listen!”
Suddenly, he turned into a chatterbox who did nothing but vomit words without stopping. Working at the clinic not far from Mary’s office, he began to discuss about anything during their breaks. He explained that Mary had invited him countless times but he refused each time, repeating that he was gay. Each time, she acted as if he hadn’t said anything. A week earlier, she offered an evening at the restaurant before dancing. He refused each time and it didn’t change a thing.
“She promised me that it was the last time she invited me!”
But why is he telling me all this? She folded her arms across her chest, without enthusiasm. She wasn’t really listening to his story. He seemed a little hysterical.
“Finally! Don’t get me wrong, but I’m gay.”
“Why did you bother to come here?”
“To tell you everything. I believed it’s better than not showing, right?”
She raised her eyebrows, understanding his point. She would rather know the truth. Since he preferred men, she didn’t waste his evening. He placed his hands on her shoulders, apologizing for the inconvenience. Then he wished him a good evening and walked away at fast speed. She looked at him, wondering if she should be relieved or annoyed because she had just learned. Mary had tried to seduce him in the past. What should she understand about that?
On the way home, she took her cell phone from her bag. She sent a text message to her friend: “DO ME A FAVOR AND DON’T EVER DO THAT AGAIN”. She put her phone back in her purse. She had enough for the evening. Being hungry, she stopped on her way back home to order a club sandwich with fries. She sat down at her computer to do some research while eating. She connected to the dating site and found that BBOY was also there. She sent him a small greeting when her phone rang. She took a sudden gesture, knowing who was calling. She hadn’t time to say a word that the hysterical voice of Mary could be heard.
“For how long do you know him?”
“Not very long. I ran into him during a break outside. But what difference does it make?”
“You asked him out how many times?”
“Ah! He told you about that? A few times but he always refused.”
“And of course you knew he’s gay, right?”
“Hmm… I think he mentioned to me, but it means nothing. He’s too cute to be gay, of course!”
Clara tried to control her anger as she could.
“You didn’t believe he was serious?”
“No! That’s what he told you? Oh...! He thought you were not pretty enough and then he found and excuse. Poor you…”
“It never came to your mind that if the guy told you he’s gay, it means HE IS GAY!?!”
The young woman had enough. Her best friend thought she had been rejected because she was ugly. Great diplomacy! But she began to think about it a little more. Can a man lie about his sexual orientation only to escape a woman who wasn’t pretty for him? She bit her lower lip without hearing a single word of apology from Mary. She merely warned again to never do that before she hanged up on her. Meanwhile, BBOY had replied.
Clara swallowed some fries before writing:
“WHAT HAPPENED? THE DAY WAS THAT HARD?”
“I JUST HAD TE NIGHTMARE FEARED BY ALL SINGLE.”
“OH! AND SINCE YOU’RE BACK, IT DIDN’T GO VERY WELL. YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT?”
“CAN I ASK YOU A QUESTION?”
“WOULD YOU TELL A WOMAN YOU’RE GAY IF YOU DON’T THINK SHE’S PRETTY?”
She ate another piece of chicken that was still before her. Without knowing why, she felt nervous. Mary’s comment had really upset her – with all the reasons – and now she was trying to convince herself that Carl was gay. She didn’t hope to be the cause of this pathetic evening. BBOY replied.
“HONESTLY I HADN’T THOUGHT ABOUT IT. THE DIRECT METHOD IS ALWAYS THE BEST, IN MY OPINION. BUT TACT COULD BE USEFUL SOMETIMES. THEN HE TOLD YOU HE WAS GAY?”
“AND NOW YOU WONDER IF HE LIED?”
“DID HE MENTION A BOYFRIEND?”
She frowned, searching in her memory. He chattered a lot, but he didn’t mention a boyfriend.
“NO. WHY? DOES IT PROVE SOMETHING? I WOULDN’T HAVE ANY EVIDENCE OF IT.”
“TRUE, BUT THERE’S A WAY TO SAY IT. IF THERE’S A LOT OF ENTHUSIASM WHEN HE MENTIONED THE NAME OF HIS BOYFRIEND. THIS MEANS MUCH, BELIEVE ME.”
“DO YOU HAVE FRIENDS WHO ARE GAY?”
“YES! WAS THE GUY WELL-DRESSED WHEN YOU SAW HIM?”
“NO TIE, BUT HE LOOKED VERY GREAT… NO WRINKLE ON THE SHIRT… OH! HE’S GAY!”
“I DON’T THINK SO. WELL I HOPE…”
She swallowed half her meal, unhappy. She felt so stupid for agreeing to meet this guy! She had never had any luck in love and she knew it. No serious relationship for quite some time. Not even a single date! Even gays rejected her! Was she so horrible to look? She seriously began to question herself about it.
“AND YOU? EVERYTHING GOES WELL?”
She finished her food before receiving his response. She was sad for him. His situation wasn’t enviable.
“DID YOU TALK TO HER?”
“YES, BUT IT ISN’T GOOD NEWS.”
“WHY DON’T YOU STOP EVERYTHING? LESS PAIN FOR THE BOTH OF YOU.”
“I… I JUST DON’T WANT TO…”
The young woman didn’t know what to say. She didn’t want to be mean by asking this question, but they had to do something. He wasn’t ready to let her go. Could she blame him? She knew what if was to be in love, even if it’s been a long time since it happened to her. She tried to lift his spirits somewhat.
“THEN EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE.”
“I WANT TO BELIEVE YOU, BUT THANKS FOR THE LIE.”
She smiled. She may be right. Or maybe not. There was only one way to find it and it doesn’t concern her.
“I GO TO BED. TAKE CARE OF YOU.”
She felt exhausted too. A good night sleep would surely be a good idea. She wished him a very good night before she closed the chat window. She didn’t have anything else to do on the dating site. She switched off her computer and gathered her things. She brushed her teeth, feeling a little heavier because of her tiredness at each movement. She slipped under the sheets, unable to keep her eyes open any longer. She was fast asleep and spent the night dreaming about her prince charming.
* * * * *
“Take all my messages”, Michele said the next morning. “I don’t want to be disturbed.”
Her boss rushed into her office, closing the door behind her. Clara couldn’t understand which mood she was dealing with on Tuesday. Michele looked very exhausted, but not angry. Could she have one without the other? The young woman would have to be on guard. The storm could strike at any time. On the corner of her eye, she sometimes took a glance at Michele. But there was nothing unusual to report. She seemed very calm.
To her surprise the morning passed without incident. At lunchtime, she refused to leave. She had forgotten to pack herself a lunch and it was raining a lot outside. She went to the vending machine near the coffee machine and bought a sandwich that didn’t look very appetizing. She returned to her computer to look at her personal email. Mary had sent her a long message of apology, saying she was convinced Carl had pretended to be gay because he wasn’t interested in her. Clara sighed before destroying the message. She also received an alert from the dating site informing her she had four messages waiting for her. Wow. I’m getting popular now! She went to the site to take a quick glance. There was very little chance that her prince charming will be one of them. A man in his thirties offered her romantic getaways everywhere around the world while another in his twenties already imagined her naked on a white bearskin rug in front of a fireplace. Laughing, she erased those messages. Her smile widened when she saw a message from BBOY. She hastened to open it, but her smile quickly while reading what he wrote.
I HAVE FOLLOWED YOUR ADVICE AND I CALLED MY GIRLFRIEND YESTERDAY. IT’S ALL OVER NOW. I’M DISAPPOINTED, BUT A LITTLE RELIEVED TO KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON. THANK YOU FOR YOUR ADVICE.
She bit her lower lip, sad for him. She might have had to hold her tongue and keep her comments for herself. Other people’s problems don’t concern her. She was busy enough with her own! BBOY was very kind and no one deserved to live in doubt. Sighing, she opened the fourth message. She was horrified just reading it! A man named Ken asked her to simply be his Barbie. What a horrible cliché! She could almost imagine his brown hair made with plastic glued on his head and his fixed smile. He hadn’t luck. She disconnected herself before finishing her sandwich.
The afternoon passed the same way: quiet and long. There were a few calls, but nothing that could hold her attention more than five seconds. She returned home at the end of the day to spend a quiet evening in her apartment. She made some job research and even sent a resume. She read the rest of the evening until she fell asleep, her book on her chest.
Michele’s mood didn’t change the rest of the week. Sometimes she even seemed to have her mind somewhere else than in her work. Clara remained on guard until Friday afternoon when her boss told her she would be absent from the office on Monday for an ethics training to work outside the city. It won’t be luxury for you, anyway! But she merely smiled at her and marked a note in her agenda while Michele was already walking away. It was almost 5:00 p.m. The day – and the week – was truly over. She could take the way back home too.
Before returning to her apartment, she stopped at the grocery store near her home. It had stopped raining, so it would be easier to carry her bags without being drenched. Back home, she put everything before getting a huge bowl of salad and sit in front of the television. She looked for something interesting to watch. There were a few movies, but she didn’t want to watch. It seemed as if all channels had passed the word to present the most romantic movies of cinema history. She sighed deeply, pushing her bowl. She realized she was alone on a Friday night. For a single person it was the ultimate horror. Is she really going to spend the rest of her life like that? All alone every night? The young woman huddled on the sofa and put her knees under her chin, head full of images. She imagined herself in the same position in twenty years. A pseudo-old girl passing all her evenings at home alone while the others were having a good time.
Could be a bad or a good day at work, she would be alone once in her apartment. Nobody to ask what kind of day she had… Her mind became confused for a moment. She felt confused and uncertain of what she wanted or didn’t want to change. Now that she thought about it, it was a little bigger than she expected. She closed her eyes and rubbed her eyes. She didn’t know why she now doubted what she wanted. Immersed in her thoughts, she frowned when she heard the beeping sound characteristic of her cell phone telling her she received a text message. It was still in her purse. She took it out and looked at the screen. Mary had sent her the message. She raised her eyebrows while reading it.
JOIN US AT THE 2 JACKS
Clara knew exactly where her friend was and Edward would be there too. The idea of staying alone at home really didn’t please her. Alone with her thoughts… She took her jacket and her purse before leaving. Once in the street, she motioned to a taxi that was passing by. She got in and went to the bar The Two Jacks downtown. She went inside and tried to find her friends. She spotted Edward in seduction mood. Seen him at work was always great fun. She didn’t linger very long to observe him, not wanting to distract him. She pushed her way through the crowd, seeking for Mary. There were lots of people! Suddenly she heard a voice.
She turned just before Mary jumps into her arms.
“Oh! You came!”
“Yes! I wanted to get out a bit for fresh air.”
Mary offered her best smile to accompany her friend’s response. She took her by the hand and led her to the bar where they ordered two cocktails before finding a small table in a quiet corner.
“Did you saw Edward?”
“Yes and he was working.”
“He warned me he would be hunting tonight. That’s why I asked you to come.”
“He had a prey!”
“Lucky!” Mary moaned. “I’d like to be the prey of a man, me too. But I don’t see anyone interesting. What a bummer.”
“Does the lack of sex disturb your mind?” Clara asked in a mocking tone.
“It’s quite possible.”
“So your hormones require what kind of man?”
Mary shrugged, looking away. She had just seen a tall man who offered her his best smile. Clara wondered why she had come to see her friends. Both of them appeared in hunting and she didn’t want to sit in a corner to watch in action. She was surprised to see Edward moving towards them. He dropped a cocktail in front of her, smiling. She raised her eyebrows.
“Why is that for?” she asked him without taking her eyes from him.
He shook his head, still smiling.
“I always assume what I do, but this glass doesn’t come from me.”
She looked at him, stunned.
“No? And from whom then?”
“When you guys returned with your drinks”, he explained, leaning toward her, “there’s a guy who followed your every move. As I was near him, I’ve decided to… clarify the situation.”
“And what did he say?”
“That you’re pretty.”
The young woman was suspicious of what Edward could tell her. He sometimes has a tendency to exaggerate. He had often lied not to hurt her. She asked him who he was talking about. He turned slightly his head to the right and told her to take a look at a guy with light brown hair near a pillar that was talking with two other guys with darker hair. As unobtrusively as possible, she leaned a little forward for a better look. He was cute, but she hasn’t very high esteem about men met in bars. She still had remained diplomat. She took the glass and laid eyes on him. He did the same. She gave a slight nod, but she never expected him to come to her. She forced a smile, panicked.
He drank a long draft of beer.
“I’m panicking right now.”
“And why, my dear friend?”
“Because he’s coming this way and I don’t know what to say.”
He laughed without answering.
“Do something! What did you told him? He asked questions about me?”
Edward shook his head.
“I don’t know and I don’t know what to say…!”
A strange smile lit up her friend’s face. He leaned over and whispered something into Mary’s ear. Mary smiled too. Clara felt a wave of panic overwhelming her again when her friends got up and waved away. Mary gave her a wink with a huge smile. They leave me alone with this guy? I shouldn’t have come here tonight! Edward, you’re going to pay for this! She tried to look calm when he came near her. He whispered in her ear a greeting word, saying his name – Jeremy – which allowed her to smell his aftershave. He smelled so good! She told him her name and the music stood between them while they were silent. He finally asked her if Edward was her brother. She shook vigorously her head, laughing.
“Only a protective friend.”
He looked away for a moment before saying:
“It may sound silly, but you are very pretty.”
She felt her cheeks becoming red. She thanked him before swallowing a big gulp of cocktail whose alcohol percentage was quite high. God thank you! Unease settled between them. She didn’t know what to say and he didn’t dare to look at her for some reason. After all, he was the one who had come to her. She had to do or say something, but nothing was coming into her mind. The fact that he wasn’t looking at her made her very nervous. Should she ask him questions which worth for a first date or simply wait for him to do the first steps again and start the conversation? He leaned back to her ear, telling her once again that she was very pretty. She pouted. The methods of seduction have really changed from the past years. In response, she thanked him with a nod and drank the rest of her cocktail. He hastened to ask if she wanted another one. She was about to reply when he took the lead and ran toward the bar.
She sighed, biting her lower lip. From the corner of her eye, she saw Edward and Mary watching her, laughing. Yes, the guy was cute but she had met him in a bar. She had taken the decision to leave the bar when he returned with a new cocktail, a triumphant smile on his lips. He’s really cute, I must admit. She thanked him and decided to start a conversation with him. When a man pays you a drink, the nicest thing you can do is to ask questions about him.
It was a bit more comfortable since she had taken the lead. He answered all her questions and she did the same. They talked quietly near one another, trying to learn a little more about themselves. He asked her if she liked to dance. She just nodded. He took her hand and invited her to follow him on the dance floor. She laughed a little because he was very far from being like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. It bothered him a bit but still he remained close to her. After two songs, they returned to sit at their table to continue their conversation. They drank a few glasses and had fun dancing together. With help from alcohol, the young woman reduced the space between them while they danced. He placed his hands on her hips and tried to keep the same rhythm as her. She even kissed him. He kissed her back.
She had to compose herself. Her eyes fell on her watch. It was almost 1:00 a.m. She decided to go home to digest all the alcohol she had ingested during her night out. Her head was spinning because of all the glasses she had drunk. Once again.
He accompanied her to the exit for one last kiss before the taxi arrives.