The Surprise Date

Chicken Soup for the Single's Soul (Indonesia)
Chicken Soup for the Single's Soul (Indonesia)

Do you feel that Chicken Soup for The Soul makes you bored? If you do, we have same feeling. I don’t like it at all. The books of Chicken Soup for the Soul don’t have ‘conflict’ as the climax. One day I bumped into Chicken Soup for the Single’s Soul when I almost got depressed of being single and believed that love was a non-sense. Love at the first sight! The book isn’t only raise me up but also makes me believe in love. I fired up read the flat stories one by one and I over the moon. My favourite short story is The Surprise Date which is written by Rosemary Laurey. The story reminds me a quote: Boys are immature, Guys are jerks, and Men are rare. 😉

THE SURPRISE DATE by Rosemary Laurey

Ever had your grandmother set up a blind date? My friend Annie did. The nephew of her grandmother’s bridge partner called. He was in town and would Annie join him for dinner? She accepted, resigning herself to a dull evening, that is until Date arrived at her front door. Talk about hunk with horsepower! The man could have earned a decent living as a cover model, even without the Porsche. Grandma deserved a thank-you letter. Except the man drove too fast and brushed her knee every time he changed gears…but the inside of the car was cramped, and his elbow couldn’t really help bumping hers as they turned around sharp corners, could it?

As they parked, his hand sort of fell onto her leg…and stayed, but a flash of a smile and “I hope you like Italian” had her semi-convinced it was an accident. Italian? Yes. The neighborhood spaghetti palace? No. This was fine cuisine. A smiling maitre d’ called Luigi. Obsequious waiters in white jackets and bow ties. Verdi playing in the background. Subdued lighting. Orchids in silver vases. Starched linen. And a charming date who listened as much as he talked. He ordered in Italian and told witty stories that had her chuckling as she ate crabmeat ravioli and sipped Frascati. This was all very well, but when he ordered a second bottle with the veal, Annie began to worry about driving back. Until Hunk mentioned he was staying…nearby. Okay, he could walk back, and she’d get a cab with the emergency money tucked in her bag. “It’s a good hotel,” he said with assurance. “I’ve got a double room. With a king-sized bed and a Jacuzzi.” Poor Annie almost choked on her saltimbocca.

“How nice.” This was the best she could manage with eyes watering. “You’ll enjoy it.” She wouldn’t. “I’ve got to get back.” Not exactly a lie – her roommates were waiting. “Oh, come on!”

A flash of anger in his eyes half worried her as she repeated her refusal, but he smiled and shrugged. “If I can’t persuade you, we’d better order dessert.” She chose tiramisu. He ordered strega with his espresso and then excused himself. Her pocketbook fell as he passed, but he caught and replaced it with a smiling apology. Dessert arrived before he returned. Annie sneaked a chocolate curl. She wouldn’t actually eat until he got back; manners were manners after all. Several minutes passed. Annie tried a mouthful of whipped cream. And another. Had he fainted? Dropped dead? Been kidnapped? Nonsense! She was thinking like her mother. He was far too young for a heart attack and people didn’t get abducted from respectable restaurants.

Halfway though the first layer of coffee and Marsala-soaked lady fingers, she decided she was her mother’s daughter after all and summoned a waiter. Saying “Please check the bathroom for the man who was sitting here” wasn’t easy, but processing the reply was harder. He was nowhere in the building. Abducted by aliens seemed possible after all. “I believe the gentleman has left,” the maitre d’ informed her with a chill in his voice. “Wait!” Leaving her half-eaten tiramisu, Annie rushed through the restaurant and out the front door. A pale gray Mercedes was easing into the space where they’d parked. Whipped cream curdles fast under stress. Annie wanted to throw up, but she had enough trouble already. They’d picked the best dishes plus wine, and all she had was a cab fare home. She wondered how long she’d be washing dishes. “He’s gone.” The maitre d’ nodded as she returned. “It happens.” Brother, would she have something to say to her grandmother – if she ever got out of this.

“Look. I’m afraid I don’t have much money with me, I wasn’t expecting…” Her voice faltered. “Neither were we,” Luigi replied, a grim smile on his wide mouth. Her bag still hung over the chair, gaping open. She found a torn page from a diary tucked in the pocket where she’d kept her emergency money. “Sorry, love,” it said in a scratchy handwriting, “I need gas money.” Now she really did want to upchuck. She’d be walking home after doing the dishes. Her eyes misted, and worry thundered in her ears. A strong hand clutched her arm. She wobbled. Another hand caught her shoulder. “Come on.” Two strong hands propelled her toward the back of the restaurant. Not toward the kitchen and a mound of dishes but into a small, cramped room.

A confinement cell for nonpayers? She eased into a chair and looked up at dark eyes and a wide mouth. “Are you okay?” Luigi asked. She could have handled anger or complaints. Concern undid her. Between sobs, sniffles and a couple of good nose blows, Annie spilled her guts and soaked a perfectly good linen handkerchief. Luigi offered a second handkerchief. “Just a minute,” he said and slipped out. Annie half-expected to be locked in while he summoned the law, but he left the door ajar and returned minutes later with a steaming mug. “Cafe Sambuca.” Luigi smiled as he handed it over. “Drink it.” Too worn down to argue, she drank. The sudden influx of sugar, caffeine and alcohol on her rattled sensibilities left her wobbly and fragile, but alert to the fact Luigi sat mere inches away. If he were to start anything… Panic flared though her. “Don’t worry,” he said, as if reading her mind. “Want another coffee?” She shook her head, and he took the empty mug with gentle fingers. “Feeling better?” She nodded. “I can mail you a check.” Luigi interrupted with a shrug and a smile. “Forget it. It’s not the first time someone skipped out without paying. We’ve had them leave coats and umbrellas as they flit, but never their partners. Feel well enough to go home? I’ll call a taxi – on the house.” She couldn’t accept. “Look, I’ll send the money, at least for my share.” Paying to feed Hunk Rat was going too far. Luigi’s dark eyes twinkled as he shook his head. “It’s the cost of doing business.” A minion called a cab, and Luigi walked her through the restaurant and out into the street. “Look, thanks. I mean, sorry about the bill. The meal was wonderful…at least until…” “That peasant showed his true colors?” She half-chuckled at that. “That’s an insult to decent peasants.” She held out her hand. Ignoring the outstretched hand, Luigi hugged her tight, whispering, “A woman like you should choose her dates more carefully.” Not at all sure what to make of that, Annie vowed she’d be old, gray and desperate before she had another blind date. Next morning, she returned to repay her half of the debt, and was graciously refused, or at least her money was. She came back smiling. It wasn’t long before Annie did write to her grandmother…to announce her engagement to Luigi.

Chicken Soup for the Single's Soul (english)
Chicken Soup for the Single's Soul (english)

Reprinted by permission of Rosemary Laurey (c) 1998 from Chicken Soup for the Single’s Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Jennifer Read Hawthorne and Marci Shimoff. The Surprise Date script was taken from http://beammeuprightnow.blogspot.com/2005/02/surprise-date.html

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