“If you don’t have a reservation your line is around the corner on the side of the building!”
I was visiting home for the holidays and had a date. Thankfully it had not been set up by my mom and her boyfriend. How do I be sexy flirty in front of my mother? How do I be sexy flirty in front her boyfriend? I had not mastered it and found myself stumbling through pressured acquaintances at countless holiday and office parties. As nice as it was that they cared about me meeting a potential suitor, anytime they brought someone around it ended in, for them disappointing, for me awkward elation.
I had met tonights suitor while having brunch with my mother. He had been our cook and while she went to the counter to pay the bill, slipped me his number and asked to see me. He was funny, honest enough, and had this really cute accent. Naturally, had tried to pick me up at some ambiguous hour, but certain history had shown me relationships that start in the dark usually end there emotionally, mentally, literally.
The last thing I wanted was for anyone to feel boxed in. People in general did not like labels. Some would turn their nose in disdain at this ideology, but I made the decision to try and understand, for as long as I could. So we comprised and settled on a late show.
“Here’s a picture.” A girl behind me explained to her friend. “I liked him before he hosted this show. I know him from his earlier work.”
“He’s cute.” Her friend replied quickly. “ I don’t know about the facial hair though.”
“Really?? Even with facial hair I …”
Without a thought I rolled my eyes. Hopefully my understanding could last the night.
“I like your hair.” The one with no facial hair preference had directed her gaze toward me.
“Thank you.” I cough laughed my response as I realized my new frames had transition lenses and it was still daylight out.
After an exchange of smiles I returned to my book. I was halfway through This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz. Given my current circumstance it was becoming uncomfortably insightful but remained interesting enough to continue. There was just enough material for both my hands to grip without pages flying loose. The skin under my fingernails were turning a little blue. I forgot how cold New York got in the winter time and had not bothered to pack a pair of gloves.
“Remember! If you are in this line you are not guaranteed a seat at tonights show!”
I checked my watch. It had been an hour since I arrived, and at this point it seemed all that I was guaranteed was a viewing of the show from my couch, snuggled up under a cozy blanket, cupping a nice drink.
I shivered and pulled into myself. The sun was gone and the night chill was setting in. There was still no sign of him. Just as I was about to shut my book and give in a voice boomed,
“Okay listen up! Before you are seated, if you need to use the bathroom go now. You will not be allowed to get up once you have been seated. If you have anything in your bag that is considered a drug we will hold it until the show is finished taping. If you have a large bag we ask you leave it outside of the studio. You can pick it up on your way out. Before the show starts you can ask questions. I want you to think about your question before you ask.”
I placed my book in my bag and zipped it up. While Mr. No Show had been a disappointment at least I could immediately escape the cold for a while. I cleared security and made my way into the studio. I was promptly seated in the far left of the second row.
He was probably one of those guys with three different girls on call, and told the alternative ones they were unofficially number one in his heart. Skimming the surface of disenchantment I wondered if any girl had ever told him the same thing or, to the same effect, he had ever received a participation medal. Brooding, I tucked my bag under my seat. I was probably less upset about having to stand in the cold for a guy who never showed up than I was about actually having had shaved my legs in the dead of winter.
“So before we start the show I just want to go over some things. You are allowed to ask questions before the show starts, but make sure they are questions everyone can enjoy. Not like what’s your favorite pizza place, when will you be there. You are not allowed to get up during the taping. You will be given cues on when to stand, sit, laugh, and clap. On your way in you passed a press release, hopefully you read it.”
I slid down in my chair. One of my pet peeves was being told what to do and after being stood up, here I was, waiting for it.
“Wow, I wonder how much longer we have to wait until the taping starts.” A smooth easy voice came from my right side. I looked over to meet a set of sparkly blue eyes.
“Soon, hopefully.”, I replied as an unexpected smile broke my face.
“This is my first live show.”, I revealed uncharacteristically.
“And you came all by yourself?”
“I was actually supposed to meet a guy, but..”
The lights in the room went down and the show started.
It was funnier than my expectations and it helped Eyes Guy had an infectious laugh. The kind of laugh that made you smile on the inside first. One that crawled from the pit of your stomach to the tip of your tongue. Like air for a bubble and when it popped it let out laughter.
So entranced by his character the hour long show passed in a wink of an eye.
“What’d you think?”
“It was funnier than I thought it’d be.” I replied pulling my bag to my shoulder.
“I come more than I should, but tonight’s show was good.”
A knowing silence passed as we made our way out of the studio. It had rained while we were inside and the pavement glistened under overhead lights.
“So how ‘bout a night cap?”
It was hard to tell if it was a invitation or a polite command.
“Sure.” I replied shyly.
As we made our way down the street I looked up. The moon was nice and full with a dewy haze softening its glow. I took out my camera to take a picture.
“Are you a photographer?”
“Only on Thursdays” I said as I pulled the film and put it away.
“Do you always pick girls up after the show?”
“Only on Thursdays”