A Nice Girl
He sat gazing out the window from the booth in the restaurant. It was a chilly winter day that made him feel sad and lonely. It affected him that way because the days were short and empty and lifeless. Everything appeared as if it were dead and he wondered how the few little birds could ever find enough food.
He looked at the faces in the room. There were three tables of gray haired couples, and one table with a small family. Their little girl sat sideways in her chair and ate toast and looked curiously at one of the old couples. He thought she might be thinking about how they looked like the knotty old oak trees in her back yard. He smiled to himself because he knew she might think that they were as old as those knotty trees.
He often thought about having kids of his own but he was still young and single. He would be single for some time yet, he thought. He was far overweight and felt ugly. Maybe in a couple of years he would find a nice girl who was big like him and desperate because she was getting so old so fast. Then neither of them would be lonely anymore.
He put on his coat and paid his bill and walked out into the cold. He unlocked his car door and looked up to survey the bleak, white parking lot. He scanned the lot and jumped when he met the eyes of a stranger. She waved and he waved and then he walked to her.
She was very nervous and embarrassed when she asked if he could help her get her car started. He was prepared with jumper cables as always and soon her car pumped gray ghosts into the frosty air.
She was very grateful and looked at him with a warmth that made him forget about the cold. She wrote on a piece of paper and told him that she would buy him dinner some time if he would call. He took the paper with her number on it and she drove away.
On his way home he was in a daze and felt something inside of him that he had never felt before. From his apartment he called his mother as he did every Saturday. He wanted tell her about his encounter but didn't because he knew she would tell him not to let this one slip away or not to get his hopes up and make it something it wasn't. He told himself that she was probably just a very nice girl who liked to repay debts. At the same time he couldn't help but hope that she could see in his eyes what he saw in hers.
All that night he tossed and turned and was too cold and too hot. Over and over again he spoke to a young woman in a parking lot and helped start her car. And over and over again they had a lovely dinner and talked about doing more things together. When he woke up in the morning his first thought was of the girl and he continued dreaming.
He knew he should wait a couple of days to call her so he wouldn't seem as desperate as he really was. He waited and waited, but not because he really thought he should. He had no idea what to say to her if he did call and he chewed his fingernails down to the stumps thinking about it.
He finally decided to call and picked up and put down the phone many times before dialing. She seemed very excited about seeing him again and he thought maybe she was the kind of person that was always excited. They agreed to meet for dinner at a restaurant that she suggested and that he had been wanting to take a girl to.
He arrived a few minutes late because he was so nervous about how he looked. He was in a suit and a tie and much too formal but he had never been on a date before. She was already there and when he sat down she smiled and said hello and warmed him with her eyes. He was shaking nervously and couldn't look at her for very long because she was more beautiful than he could tell when she was bundled against the cold. He felt more like he didn't have a chance but he prayed that she was a nice girl and wouldn't notice his weight.
They talked about themselves and their families and friends and work and play and the future. He was having a good time but the conversation could have been about anything because he was sitting alone with a pretty girl who was enjoying his company and everybody could see it. As the night rolled on he sat taller and prouder and glowed brighter and laughed harder.
Then it was time for them to leave because she had to be up early for work in the morning. He didn't want to go because he knew he wouldn't be able to sleep when he got home anyway. She said what a lovely, fine time she had and she hoped they could do it again soon and she looked like she meant it.
She paid for their meal while he told her that she didn't have to and she insisted. He walked her to her car and smiled sheepishly and told her he hoped she would have a good week. She turned and kissed him on the cheek. He blushed and thought he might faint and his heart felt like it was going to pop. They said their good-bye's and went their separate ways.
The next few days he was terribly love sick and couldn't sleep or eat and he couldn't think about anything but her. At work he would catch himself looking across the room at nothing as his mind ran circles around the girl.
A week went by before he called her again and he asked her if she would like to get together. She said she had plans to go out with a couple of people but that he could come along if he wanted to. He was a little disappointed but he thought any time with her was good enough so he agreed to go.
They were to meet at a restaurant again and he arrived early and waited in the lobby for the girl to arrive. When she came in his heart pounded in his ears and he smiled so big it hurt. She walked to him and asked him how long he had been waiting and he said not long. A handsome, athletic, young man walked up to her and put his hand on her shoulder and said he would get a table. A girl who was big like him came in and stood next to his girl and seemed very nervous. They were introduced and nice things were said about and to each of them. They went to the table the athletic man had gotten and again he was introduced. He started to wonder if he was catching on to what was happening there but he prayed they were just friends.
It was a very nice time again with plenty of good stories and laughs but he was more quiet than usual because he was thinking so much. He felt uncomfortable because the big girl kept making eyes at him and he kept looking away because he didn't want her to get the wrong idea.
The evening came to a close and the party moved to the parking lot where good-bye conversation was made. Then the big girl and the guy got in a car and drove away and he felt a little relieved because he was alone with the girl. He stood with his hands in his pockets trying to think of what to say. He wanted to tell her everything about how he couldn't eat or sleep or think because of how she made him feel. Then she asked him what he thought of the big girl and he said she seemed very nice. She asked if he was going to call her and see if she wanted to go out again and he said he didn't think he would. She asked why not and he blushed and looked at his shoes. He said he was already interested in someone else. She asked who it was and he hesitated and then told her. Her eyes got big and it looked the color went out of her face and he felt his heart shriveling. He had never felt so hideous as he did in that moment when he realized she was just a nice girl. He apologized and shuffled quickly to his car and got in even though she called after him to wait.
He drove around for a long time before going home because his head swirled and his heart ached. His face wore the mark of tears and embarrassment and he cursed god and love and hope and faith for misleading him. When he got home he went straight to bed and fell asleep immediately and slept until late afternoon the next day. When he woke up he felt miserable and couldn't think of anything but the girl.