Needy Nia

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#7 First date jitters

I’m not sure who’s more excited for my first real date with Randy, me or my mother. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s my mother. For sure. She made me change my outfit five times. I’m not even kidding. The first one was too slutty, the second one too conservative, the third one too bleh – whatever that may be – and so on. Finally, I settle on the outfit I started with, telling my mother that I’m perfectly okay with being perceived as a little slutty.

“You don’t want him to think you’re easy,” Mom says, looking at me with narrowed eyes.

I laugh. “Mom, you’re in a rhinestone crop top and a skirt so short women your age should be forbidden from wearing something like that.”

“I’ve already got a good man and a house full of kids,” she reminds me. “You don’t.”

Dad grins and throws her a wink. “You were wearing clothes way sluttier than Nia’s dress when we met, Asia. In fact, weren’t you going through a phase where you felt hotpants and a bra were perfectly okay attire to go to the grocery store?”

Mom silences him with a single look, but I’m already laughing my ass off. I love my parents, but they’re not exactly subtle or fancy people. Mom loves rhinestones, glitter, way too sexy clothes and anything with a leopard print. Nothing wrong with that if you ask me, but someone who once wore a bra as a top shouldn’t call me slutty for showing a hint of cleavage in my black dress.

Randy picks me up at 7 pm sharp, which earns him points with Dad. Normally, I don’t let guys pick me up, but Randy already knows I live at home, and he knows my mother, sort of, so I figured I might as well give him my address. He’s taking me out for dinner and a movie. I haven’t been out on a date like that in ages. It’s nice to dress up and to know the guy in question will drop me off back home after, which means I’m not expected to put out if I don’t want to. Not that I mind putting out on the first date, I usually do, but maybe that’s why I don’t have a boyfriend, so it might be time to shake things up.

“You look beautiful,” Randy says when I open the door. He doesn’t let his eyes roam my body, which is a good thing since Dad is right behind me. It’s not because he’s overprotective – that’s Mom, not my father. Dad is merely curious.

“Thanks.” I grab my purse and coat, following Randy outside. He has a huge black jeep, and he helps me into it like a gentleman, closing the door behind me before walking around to the driver’s side.

The drive is a little awkward, since neither of us seems to know what to talk about, but during dinner we both loosen up a bit. Randy tells me all about his job, his family, his friends, and I find myself nodding along, agreeing with a lot of the things he’s saying. He obviously cares about his parents and sisters a lot, which I like, and he likes to party, which is always a plus, while also having a stable income from his fulltime job. He’s a unicorn.

“So what about you?” he asks with a small smile, sipping his drink. “Did you always want to be a hairdresser?”

I laugh. “Nah, I don’t even really want to be one now, but I have no idea what else to do, so I sort of… lingered.”

“How did you get into it?” Randy asks, cocking his head to the side.

“Didn’t feel like going to college after high school since nothing appealed to me. My friend Aimee got an apprenticeship at a salon, and I tagged along. Been there ever since.”

Judging by the look on his face, my lack of ambition might just turn out to be a dealbreaker. Fuck. I don’t even blame him. I wish I had ambitions, but I have no idea what I’d like to do, which makes it hard to have goals.

“What did you want to be when you were a little girl?” he asks, trying to keep the conversation going.

“Don’t laugh,” I warn him, jabbing my fork in his direction. “I wanted to be a waitress at that Italian place further down the street, because I loved their uniforms.”

He raises his eyebrows. “Don’t they just wear a black shirt and a white button-up shirt?”

I nod. “It looks fancy and pristine and I loved that when I was a kid. The logo is great too, with the green and red accents. I love clothes, design, everything. As a kid, I didn’t get that being a waitress meant waiting tables, getting tips, smelling like food all the time… I was so jealous of their clothes...”

“Ah,” Randy says, nodding. “Right, you made that gorgeous dress you were wearing when we met. I remember now. So you want to be a designer or something? Do you go to school where you’re not working?”

“Nah, I work full time at the salon,” I say, sipping my wine. “It’s hard to have a career in fashion. Mom says pursuing something in the arts or fashion or something is a sure-fire way to become unemployed. I’m not sure that’s even truly what I want, so I might as well just stick to being a hairdresser.”

Again, he looks disapproving. Honestly, I can’t even blame him. He’s two years older than me, with a great job and a college degree, and here he is with a girl with nothing more than a high school diploma and no ambitions whatsoever. I’m obviously a huge disappointment. It’s all I ever am.

I like him, though. He’s smart, and kind, and respectful. He asks me questions, listens to the answers – which isn’t something I’m used to with guys – and even though I’m obviously not who he thought I was, he still treats me like a lady and he even pays for dinner. We head to the movies after, and he holds my hand as we walk in. He’s sweet.

“Want anything to eat during the movie?” I ask him once he’s paid for our tickets. “You paid for everything so far, let me treat you to some popcorn at the very least.”

“Popcorn?” he asks, his eyes wide. “After we just had dinner?”

I grin. “You have no idea how much I can eat, do you? Growing up with as much siblings as I have, who all eat like maniacs, you learn to stuff your face whenever you can. I’ve got an iron stomach that is never full.”

Randy shakes his head with a smile. “Go nuts. I’m stuffed, though. Plus, I gotta watch my figure.”

I laugh, but then I realize he’s serious. Oh boy. “You look great,” I say honestly. He’s broad, with huge biceps and I bet he’s got a six pack underneath his shirt.

“Takes a lot of hours at the gym every single day,” he says, waiting for me to get my popcorn. “I’m sure you can relate with a body like yours.”

“I erm… I can eat whatever I want without gaining a single pound,” I say, almost feeling guilty over ordering a huge bucket of popcorn with extra butter.

“Must be nice,” Randy replies, putting his hand on the small of my back and leaning me to the theater where the romcom we’re watching will start soon.

I almost reply that having a body as slim as mine has a downside too. I have a flat ass and tiny little tits, so when I buy regular clothes, they sort of hang around me in places other girls have curves. I can wear tight dresses, of course, but I always need a push-up bra to not look like a little schoolgirl with a flat chest. I’m envious of other girls’ curves. Not being able to wear the clothes I want is exactly what got me into designing and making my own clothes in the first place.

I don’t say any of that. Every time I whine to someone about being skinny, they tend to get pissy with me. Apparently, it’s rude to say you wish you could gain a few pounds because you feel like someone stretched skin over your bones and forgot to add in at least a little fat. My friends are often dieting, and they’re annoyed that I don’t need to go to the gym to stay slim. I do squats to make my ass look less flat and pathetic, but I’m generally too lazy to really get into it enough to make a difference.

The movie is boring. I don’t actually like romantic comedies all that much. They’re predictable, and so fucking unrealistic. Have you ever seen someone chase another person through an airport? Or seen an impromptu flash mob proposal? Of course not. That shit isn’t real. The only romcom I’ve seen the past year that I actually liked was Isn’t it romantic, because it makes fun of the whole concept, and the people in that movie feel more real. The main character is fat, and the guy she ends up with isn’t your average prince charming. I like that. Life isn’t perfect. People aren’t all supermodels.

Randy holds my hand throughout the entire movie, but he doesn’t try anything. The more time I spent with him, the more at ease I feel. And the more I realize I don’t know how to date. I know one-night stands and casual hookups, but dating like this… It’s new. I like it. I’m a bit awkward, but I’m sure we’ll get through that.

At the end of our date, he drives me back home, gives me a soft, tender kiss and walks me to the front door, where he even waits until I’m inside before leaving. I’ve never had someone do that for me. If I’m being honest, that might be my own fault. I never invite guys over to my parents’ house, and I’m so used to putting out that I don’t even know how to date without being groped. Maybe I should have been dating properly like this all along. I like it more than I thought I would.

“So?” Mom asks the moment I walk in, her eyes alight.

“You were right, he’s nice,” I admit, in too good a mood to give her a hard time tonight. “Perfect gentleman.”

Mom beams at me. “See? I told you! When are you going out again?”

“This weekend. He’s taking me to the farmer’s market.”

Dad laughs so loud he snorts. “You? Getting up early to go look at cheese and apples and shit? Really? He must be very special.”

I shrug and give them both a kiss goodnight before heading upstairs. I’m not sure if Randy is special, I don’t have butterflies or anything, but I think it might be time for me to grow up and get my shit together. A 24-year-old chemical engineer with his own apartment, a nice car, and who treats me like a gentleman might just be what I need to get out of my funk.

***

Randy and I go out a few more times the next couple of weeks, but after date number five doesn’t reply to my messages anymore. After trying for two days, I think it might be time to come to terms with the fact that he ghosted me.

Fuck. That hurts more than I’d like to admit. I tuck my phone into my pocket and head in to work, pulling an extra shift to cover for a colleague who is out sick today. I get to groom beards today and cut men’s hair, which happens to be something I love. Maybe it’s because it’s so different from managing my own hair, or because men tend to be less talkative and just close their eyes and remain silent while I work on them. I prefer that over the busy chatter of most women that come in here. Yeah, I may no be cut out for this line of work, although I’m pretty decent at it.

At the end of my day, I take my phone back out of my pocket, and realize that Randy finally replied. It’s some lame excuse about having been busy, but I decide to let it slide. We’re not exclusive, we’re still getting to know each other. No reason to get all upset over not hearing anything for two days. It’s not like he owes me anything. He askes me if I’m free tomorrow night, and I agree to come over to his house. He’s going to cook for me.

I wonder if him inviting me over to his place means he wants to sleep with me. I’m used to guys bending me over the couch or pressing me down onto their bed on the very first date – if you can call going home with someone you met in a club a date – so I’m not sure what the protocol is when you’re dating a guy like Randy. To be on the safe side, I wax my legs, have Aimee give me a goddamn skin peeling so I will look my best, and I opt for tight jeans and a flowy top that shows a bit of cleavage, but not so much that it’s slutty. I’m wearing my push-up bra, obviously, with a matching black thong. Whatever happens, I’m ready.

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