Scott called yesterday to ask me out this week. He wants to take me out for a nice dinner. Hmm.
“To be honest, Scott,” I tell him, “I’m really not in a “nice dinner” mood. How about we just find a sports bar somewhere and shoot pool?”
“Sure,” he says. “That sounds good.”
“Great,” I say. “You pick out a place, and call me tomorrow with when and where.”
“I’ll call you tomorrow. And, thank you, Paige. I’m really looking forward to seeing you.”
He’s so polite.
So, I’m driving to meet him in the parking lot of a Bennigan’s close to a sports bar he’s been to but that’s name escapes him. I’m following him there, because I don’t really know this guy and don’t want to get in the car with him. Plus, if it goes south, it’ll be much easier to get away. I’m such a cynic.
We meet in the parking lot, and I follow him to the sports bar that turns out to be called, wait for it, The Sports Bar. Real tough name to remember, right?
The parking lot is full, and he signals me to take the first available spot we come to. Awww.
We sit down at a four-top close to the bathrooms and between the pool tables and the poker tables. There’s a game with a punching bag next to us. As the evening progresses, more people show up, this will prove to be a bad thing.
We order two beers, and I begin the question and answer portion of the evening.
“So, you’re so nice, Scott. I honestly have never met a man a polite as you are. What makes you so different from all the other 30-year-old guys out there?”
“Well, I’m a little different from other guys out there. I was raised different.”
“Really?” I say, and do my best to keep my eyebrows from arching up to my hairline.
“Yeah, well, I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness,” he confesses and waits for my reaction.
Ah, I think, but I say, “So, did you go on the whole Proselytizationl thing?”
He nods. “I went from house-to-house knocking on doors. We never celebrated holidays or birthdays, and I was really resentful of the fact that I was, sort of, cheated out of a traditional childhood.”
I nod sympathetically.
He goes on, “So I started smoking when I was a teenager.”
“Smoking?” I ask, not really following this caboose.
“Yeah, well, you can’t smoke in the church, so I smoked. I wasn’t allowed to go door-to-door.”
“That makes sense,” I say.
“Right, and I had to get up in front of the congregation and make this speech, but I didn’t mind that.”
“Eventually, I just left the church. So did my brother, mother and father. Now, only my Nana still belongs.”
“Poor Nana,” I say. “Do they give her a hard time about being the only family member that attends.”
“Nah,” he says. “She has a lot of friends there. She’s been going for years.”
“Well, that’s good.”
We order more beers, but neither of us suggests moving to the pool tables. More people are showing up. The bar allows smoking indoors, so it’s getting pretty smoky.
“I’m Episcopalian,” I volunteer.
“What’s that?” he asks.
“Well, that comedian Robin Williams calls it “Catholic-lite.” I guess that’s the best way to explain it,” I say.
“I don’t really believe in anything right now,” he says.
“Well, that’s okay.”
I take a drink from my beer and ask, “So what’s your situation?”
He nods and begins, “I’ve been seeing this woman for four years, but I don’t love her and don’t want to marry her. So I don’t think I’m going to see her anymore.”
“Well, does she know this?” I ask.
“Yes. Well, I think so. I only see her about four or five times a month now. The problem is that I pay half her mortgage, so I’m finding it hard to end things.”
They met in a strip club. Yes, she was a dancer but isn’t one now. She has two children. She’s married, but only for the green card. Her husband is the boyfriend of her friend, but he still lives with her and her children. And it goes on and on. I’m feeling a little sick, blame it on all the smoke, and ask if we can go.
It’s nine o’clock now, and I tell him I’m just going home. Work in the morning. Big day ahead.
We get to my car, and I find him invading my space. Then, just as I begin process what’s happening, he swoops in. I lean back quickly and come back up having narrowly avoided the kiss he so wanted to bestow while managing to unlock my car door. I feel a little like Neo dodging bullets. He backs off, and I give a little wave.
“Good night,” I call out cheerfully.