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Thursday, 22 March 2001

The First Date

Written by  T. F. Monty

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James is 60 years old. He has been a widower for nearly six years. His children have grown up and live far from him with their own families. He works as a part-time consultant for a pharmaceutical company. Lately, loneliness has crept in and he has decided to try a dating agency.

Trisha is 55 years old. She has two children, aged 30 and 26, who live near her. Her divorce four years ago was bitter and has left her with a great deal of anger. Her children seem to have put her on the shelf and see in her nothing but a potential babysitter. Mainly to show them that she is mistress of her own destiny, she decided to go to a dating agency.

It is Saturday, 7 p.m. The scene is a popular restaurant. James is sitting at a corner table. He looks fairly relaxed, considering. He is casually dressed except for a bright blue handkerchief pushed into the breast pocket of his jacket. This is the recognition signal.

Trisha comes into the restaurant. She spots James who, seeing her approaching, gets up to greet her. They shake hands awkwardly, sit down and look intently at the menus.

James: Would you like a drink?

Trisha: I think it will help. Could I have a martini, please?

James: Sure, two martinis, please.

Trisha: You don't look like I imagined you.

James: You do. After all we did look at each other's photos in the agency. To be honest, I feel a bit silly.

Trisha: I have an idea. Let's just eat and leave the rest till later.

James: Good idea.

Trisha looks at the menu. The restaurant is pretty expensive. She is not sure whether she should offer to pay half of the check. Just in case, she decides not to order the most expensive dishes. She is not going to let James order for her.

James and Trisha have restricted their conversation to small talk. In fact, very small talk. Mostly they have exchanged information about work, their children and the weather. They have avoided anything direct and personal. Now they are drinking their last cup of coffee. James has paid the bill and it's decision time.

James is feeling confused. On the one hand he thinks that Trisha is probably a nice lady but he just doesn't know what to say. He remembers what it was like eating in a restaurant with his late wife. They used to talk for hours. Now he feels that he has a list of subjects like a notice board in his mind and he is running down them one by one to see what to talk about.

Trisha is feeling nervous. There was a point in the meal where James banged the saltcellar on the table to free the salt. This brought her back with a rush to her ex for whom this gesture was a well know opening to a hostile remark about her cooking and which usually concluded with him drinking anything in sight and her sitting on the floor crying.

James:What would you like to do now?

Trisha takes a deep breath and tries to push previous images out of her mind.

Trisha: I don't know. I haven't been out for such a long time that I don't know what one does after dinner.

James: Would you like to have a drink somewhere?

Trisha: Honestly, I don't like the idea of a bar. It seems too, I don't know...

James: How about a movie?

Trisha: Movies I can go to alone. Listen, I don't mean it that way, just I would like us to get to know each other a little better.

James: Well, what do you like to do?

Trisha: It's been such a long time since anyone has asked me that I don't have an answer ready. I really just don't know. What about you?

James: For the past years, I have either gone out occasionally with old friends or just stayed home and watched TV. Sometimes I read but....

Trisha: Well, we aren't going to sit and read to each other.

James: Listen, Trisha, This is making me a bit nervous. I've got my car outside. Let's go for a drive and think what to do.

Trisha: Why not. It will make a nice change to be driven.

James drives out of the center of town and on to the freeway. Within a few minutes they are in real country.

James's mind is in a whirl. The drive hasn't solved the problem of what to say. He glances at Trisha in the rearview mirror. She is looking out of the window. He feels that she has been rather negative. She hasn't suggested anything and has only reacted to his ideas.

Trisha too is silent. She feels peculiar, being driven at night by a strange man. She looks sideways at James. She sees that he has strong hands and, even though he is obviously nervous, he seems to have self-confidence and inner calm.

Suddenly, the inside of the car is filled with flashing red light. James glances into the mirror and sees the patrol car at the same moment that a voice over a loudhailer tells him to pull over.

James stops the car and a police officer gets out of the patrol car and walks towards them.

Patrolman: License, registration and insurance please, sir.

James silently hands over the documents.

Patrolman: Listen Sir, you were a little over the speed limit back there. I'm going to give you a warning this time. After all, you look like a nice couple to me. You gotta think of the kids and the family back home. No use speeding and waking up saying hi to the docs in the emergency room. Be careful now and look after each other, OK?

The patrolman goes back to his car.

James and Trisha look at each other and suddenly they both burst out laughing.

First Date Part II: The Ice is Broken

Last modified on Thursday, 21 April 2011 17:01
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T. F. Monty

T.F. Monty is a pseudonym.

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