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I found myself strolling down a lamp-lit street sipping hot greasy dishwater topped with whipped cream.
She was a perfectly built and initially charming redhead named Clarissa. I was back in my hometown for a few days and met her while picking up some groceries at the only grocery store in town.
We had met years earlier at a friend’s party. She had been interesting and funny. She had been with a fiancé who stuck to her like glue.
But now, arms filled with groceries, green eyes bright with conversation, she was available and very willing to join me for dinner that evening.
As I was getting ready, my mother asked me why I wouldn’t be there for dinner that evening. When I told her what I was doing, she was so happy. Apparently the respective mothers had recently had a conversation about Clarissa’s need for a guy like myself. I normally shy away from meddlesome people and should have taken the new information as a bad omen, but I didn’t. I had nothing else to do and some part of me was fascinated with the idea of finally going out with the girl of my adolescent dreams.
- My fuel-efficient rental car wasn’t classy enough for Clarissa. She insisted that we borrow her father’s car for the evening. On pressuring her for a reason, she admitted that she didn’t want her friends to see her out in a small car. I should have run. Instead, I traded keys with her father and headed out in his entry-level Mercedes sedan.
- My chosen dinner spot was vetoed because Clarissa wanted nachos. I am all about adventure and trying new things. I just have trouble passing up a nice dinner at a great spot for nachos that I’ve had before and know are terrible.
- My lovely and fantastic creature of a date decided to spend most of our dinner talking about how easy it had been to get a high GPA in her extremely difficult Master’s program. I was interested, then depressed, then annoyed at her insistence that she, unlike many others, was a brilliant woman. I suppose I’ve always wanted the option to build faith in a person and their intellect without requiring an academic transcript.
Clarissa confirmed her status in the neighborhood by ordering hot cocoa. She told me the restaurant made delicious cocoa and promising mugs of steaming chocolate were brought to our table. The server rolled his eyes when she asked him to make the hot chocolate to go…I should have taken this as another warning.
I had driven past every red flag and hit the broken patch of road when I sipped from that large Styrofoam cup. It was whipped cream followed by extremely hot greasy dishwater with a distinct soap flavor with hints of beef and ketchup with a watery finish. I couldn’t have been happier that I had borrowed her father’s car. I watched her sip her dishwater, fervently believing that it was actually hot chocolate. She seemed a little bewildered when I pressed the keys to her father’s car into her hands and thanked her for an eventful night. My taxi ride to pick up my rental was expensive, but worth every moment of silence. When you have a gut instinct early on, do not waste the time it may take to prove your instincts correct!
My pain, your gain.