Does she stand him up? Pehaps.
Oh my God. I'm dating again. Dating? Me? I can't do this.
I sighed heavily and peered at my reflection in the mirror over my bureau. When did I get all these wrinkles?
"I don't see why we need a babysitter," I turned my attention away from picking apart my flaws to see my son leaning on the threshold to my room. Are we really going to have this conversation? "I mean, I'm 13 years old, which is almost 16, which is practically 18. So I'm pretty much an adult." Who could combat that reasoning?
"And what if Jocelyn starts to choke on something? What is my adult of a son going to do then?" The teen shrugged and pushed a stray lock of dark hair from his vision.
"That'll teach her to chew better. Besides, do you really think Aunt Deni knows how to do the Heimlich?" Perhaps he had a point. But my sister was already on her way over.
"Aunt Deni is coming over. End of." He sighed and disappeared down the hall. Motherhood is so rewarding. I stood and smoothed my simple black dress. I couldn't even remember the last time I had worn it. My dark curls were behaving for once and sat neatly in an up-do with a few stray tendrils lining my face.
"Well, well. Look at you all milf-ed out." Milf-ed? I blushed furiously.
"Shut up, Den." My older sister simply grinned.
"What? It's true." I shrugged at my reflection. Even my sister's encouragement didn't make the wrinkles and fine lines disappear.
"I'm just nervous. I haven't been on a real date in...decades." Deni scoffed and ran a hand through her perfectly straight dark hair. Damn her.
"It's barely been a decade. Bobby Knight wasn't that long ago." I groaned at the sound of my first real boyfriend's name. The boyfriend she managed to pilfer.
"You'd know better than I would." She sighed and rolled her dark eyes.
"Jesus, Charlotte. Let it go. We were like 15."
"I was 15. You were 19." She shrugged.
"He wasn't even a good kisser." She was right. But that's not the point.
"Can we focus here? I'm gonna have a conniption fit." I cried as I plopped down on my bed.
"What's the problem? He's young, he's cute, he's interested."
"He's 22. He's only 9 years older than Jere. 9 years! I'm R. fucking Kelly!" I placed my head in my hands. She chuckled and sat down next to me.
"Stop it. You are not R. Kelly. If anything, you'd be like Demi Moore." I scowled at my sibling.
"You're not helping."
" It's just a date. It's not like you're exchanging vows or anything. You'll go to dinner, make conversation, and that's all." I nodded.
"I guess you're right." A wicked grin spread across her angular face.
"Just make sure his bib is on straight." She lay back on my mattress and convulsed with laughter.
"You suck, Deni." I fumed and rushed into the joining bathroom before slamming the door behind me.
"I'm kidding, Charo. C'mon. You used to have a sense of humor. Remember?" She just didn't understand. She lived in her comfortable, pretty, little existence with her husband of 10 years. Deni couldn't possibly comprehend how terrifying this was for me. I was starting all over again. With a 22 year old, no less.
"You used to be funny. Remember that?" I hissed as I sat on the cold porcelain toilet lid.
"I'm sorry, Charlie. Come out of there. You're gonna be late." I shook my head and covered my face with my hands. I'll just call and tell him I'm not coming.
"I'm not going."
"I said I'm not going. I can't do this." I could hear her sigh and lean against the locked bathroom door.
"Yes you can. It's just dinner. If he's not right for you, then he's not right for you. You come home, we make fun of him, end of." I smiled slightly. "Now come out of there. It's getting late." Shit.
"How late?" There was a slight pause.
"6:05." The panic began to step in. I hurried out of the bathroom and rushed down the stairs with my sister in hot pursuit. Jocelyn was kneeling on the floor with her coloring book propped up on the coffee table and scribbling away while Jeremy was on the couch next to her playing Mortal Kombat.
"Look, Joce, I'm ripping his head off." The tiny girl grimaced.
"Mom! Jerm is ripping people's heads off." I sighed. He glowered at the affectionate nickname his sibling gave him.
"Jerm, stop ripping heads off." I replied automatically as I strapped on some fancy heels. My son took a sidelong glance at me.
"Where are you going all dressed up like that?" I paused, remembering I didn't technically tell them I had a date.
"Well, I have...uh...I'm meeting someone for dinner." He frowned and placed his controller down.
"What? You're going on a date?" I shrugged.
"It's not really a date per se, I'm just-"
"Dressed like that? Look at you! You have date written all over you." Why did I feel like some teenager trying to get daddy's permission to go out? I'm the adult here, dammit!
"OK, it's a date. But-"
"Who is it? Do I know him? It's not Mr. Spadler, is it? I'll kill-"
"It's Paaaatrick." Jocelyn cooed, a huge smile across her round face. Jeremy's mouth dropped.
"Jocelyn knows? How does Jocelyn know and I don't?"
"'Cause you're stupid." She teased. He let out a low growl before ripping the crayon out of her hand at throwing it across the room.
"Hey!" She wailed.
"Jere, stop it. Go get that."
"This is ridiculous. How can you do this? You're too old to date. This isn't Sex in the City." I rolled my eyes.
"I'm sorry Jeremy. I'm at that awkward age where I'm a parent, but I'm not dead yet." He sighed and crossed his arms over his chest.
"Who is this Patrick guy?" I shook my head.
"We're just having dinner."
"That's how it starts!"
"I don't have time for this. Jere, we will talk about this when I get home." I grabbed a lightweight sweater and my car keys.
"Oh, you bet we will." He begrudgingly pick up his controlled and angrily pushed the buttons.
"Be good for Aunt Deni, babydoll." My daughter beamed and offered a chubby cheek for a kiss.
"I will Momma." I attempted to ruffle my son's curls, but he pulled away from the gesture.
"Bye Jerm." He rolled his eyes and remained quiet. I sighed. Boys.
I shrugged it off and hugged my sister.
"Have fun," she whispered mid-embrace. "but not too much fun." I grinned, feeling the butterflies flutter about in my stomach.
"Bye guys." I headed down the walkway and plopped down in my car. I sat there for a minute, daring myself to put the keys into the ignition.
"C'mon, Charlotte. You can do this." I took a deep breath and started the car. 6:17. "Shit."
I ripped out of the driveway and sped down the street. I was in the home stretch when red and blue lights appeared in my rear view mirror.
"Fuck! Fuck!" I yelled, banging my hand on the steering wheel. "OW! OW!" I pulled my car over to the shoulder and began rifling through my glove compartment for insurance and registration.
The burly officer tapped lightly on my window. I rolled it down and peered up at him pathetically, offering him my driving credentials.
"Where you going in such a hurry, ma'am?" He asked as he looked over them.
"Casa Rose." I replied quietly. He hummed his approval.
"Meeting your husband?" I shook my head as my lips began to quiver. His stern face softened a bit.
"It's my first date in nearly 15 years with a man 10 years my junior. I'm late, my son is pissed at me and...and I have wrinkles!" I cried out before placing my head in my hands.
"Listen, I'm gonna let you go. Just slow down, OK?" Cautiously, he handed my papers back to me.
"Thank you, officer." I replied meekly. He simply tipped his hat and slowly made his way back to his vehicle. He probably realized what a psychotic mess you are and decided he didn't want to have to taser someone tonight.
By the time I found a parking space, it was 6:32. I could only pray that he didn't give up on me. The hostess smiled upon seeing me.
"Hello, welcome to Casa Rose."
"Hi. I'm supposed to meet someone here. He's a little guy with reddish brown hair and sideburns." She nodded and gestured for me to follow her. In the back corner was my date. His round face adorned a gloomy frown and he read through the menu. I approached timidly, not sure how he would react to my lateness. He looked up, allowing his gaze to fall on me. His scowl quickly dissolved into a smile.
"I'm so sorry I'm late. I feel like such a jerk." He stood and pulled my chair out for me. Patient and a gentleman. Score!
"It's OK. You're not that late." I shook my head as I lowered myself onto the seat.
"No, no, it's pretty bad." He sat back down across from me.
"So what happened?" I sighed and brushed some hair out of my face.
"First date jitters, I guess." He nodded and unfolded his napkin.
"You too, huh?" Suddenly, I felt relieved that I wasn't the only socially inept freak involved.
"Ah, the guest finally arrives. I was beginning to think you were a figment of his imagination." A woman, who appeared to be our follicle-ly endowed waitress, said with a hearty laugh. "Can I get you something to drink?"
"Just a water, please." She smiled and hurried off to fetch my beverage.
"I was starting to get worried." He whispered, leaning across the table.
"I really am sorry. I feel terrible." The man grinned.
"You should. Someone this adorable shouldn't be left waiting." We chuckled slightly.
"Of course not. How dare I."
"One water for the non-imaginary date. Are you guys ready to order?" I looked over at our waitress as she set down a frosty glass of clear liquid. Her crooked nametag read "Alex." He gestured for me to go first.
"I'll have the chicken alfredo, please." The girl scribbled away on her tablet, then looked to my date.
"Cheese raviolis, please." She nodded and smirked.
"OK, it'll be right up." Once again, she wandered off.
"Now, about this movie. Was there anything you wanted to see?" I asked as I folded my fingers together and placed them in front of me.
"Ya know, I honestly didn't even think about it." I laughed.
"We're really good at making plans." He shrugged.
"If you want, we can just go back to my place and watch a movie." I arched an eyebrow at the male. A little forward, are we? He blushed furiously as he thought over what he had implied. "I mean that in a totally platonic, non-threatening sense."
"I'm sure you did." I teased as I brought my glass of water to my mouth.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to sound creepy. Or pushy." He fidgeting slightly, biting on his round bottom lip before continuing to apologize profusely. I wasn't sure what to make of this boy. His nervous mannerisms teetered on the delicate borderline of irritating and adorable, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.
"It's OK. I'd love to come over. But I can't stay too long. My son wants to give me the 3rd degree when I get home." He laughed and took a swig of his soda.
"Does he want me dead?" I shrugged.
"I'm not sure yet. I think he's set his sights on me first." My date shook his head and grinned.
"He won't hurt you. Boys know better than to get rid of a woman who does their laundry."