It was their first date. Peter and Heather met for dinner at Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue. The East Village.
She was finishing her last french fry.
“I see boobs as proof that God exists. I mean, who else could create something so magnificent?” he breathed, eyeing the cleavage that sat in her dress. He reached for his tall beer, gulped it down and belched. It was like a sour fart that took the elevator up. Heather could smell it across the table, and though her expression changed to disgust, Peter barely noticed.
Is this really it? she asked herself. Thirty-eight. The endless sifting through first dates in search of a decent man. The constant scrolling of online dating sites. Heather examined Peter. She couldn’t help it. She felt her eyes zooming in on every blemish. Every ounce of excess skin, every gaping pore.
He didn’t look like a Peter.
He was talking about something, but her mind refused to concentrate. His voice was similar to the base of a souped-up old Honda, breaking the air with its unnecessary boom. She felt sorry for the air, trapped in this restaurant, forced to carry the wretched mixture of barbecue sauce and frying oil, the screams of hungry children and bleak conversations about sports and television shows from voices like Peter’s.
“What kind of games did you play as a child?” he asked, waiting for a response. Maybe he isn’t so bad after all. “Oh, I don’t know. Tag, hide-and-go-seek,“ she smiled.
“Ever play hide the stick?” he winked, gesturing for the waitress.
He hit a nerve, Heather stood. “I’ve got to go to the ladies room,” she pressed, flashing a fake smile. She trudged past the ladies room, out the side door to the parking lot and got into her Subaru. Closing the door, she felt better instantaneously. Heather selected her Taylor Swift Spotify playlist and headed home. Stopping for ice cream on the way.
Three hours later Peter was drunk, hunched on his couch breathing deeply into his brother’s purple bong. He stared at the wall in front of him. It was blue paisley, the same wallpaper his mother put up thirty years ago. He began crying, then sobbing, tears falling on the brand new shirt he’d bought for the date.