The following is a short story based on the prompt “tell a crazy story of a waiter giving bad service.”
I heard my name from behind me at the bar. I don’t know what I’m doing here. My friends made me sign up for this stupid “Blind date” dating app. You fill out an extensive questionnaire about yourself, your likes, your dislikes, and what you would like in a partner. The app then matches you up with someone in your area and suggests a place to go. I guess anything beats spending another Saturday night staring at the walls of my dorm.
“Kevin” appeared to play football for our rival college. His profile picture was in his uniform, kneeling with the football. He had his “Game face” on. I could find no emotion whatsoever in that pic. His description said he was athletic, loved animals, family-oriented, and was looking for a girl who could be both serious and fun.
My friends all but hit the “accept” button for me to select this date at a local bar/restaurant between our two schools.
“Come on! It’s been like a decade since you and Jeff broke up,” Stephanie encouraged.
“Steph, it was last month,” I argued.
Jeff was my high school sweetheart. We had talked about getting married after college graduation. The marriage conversation ended as I returned to my dorm early due to a canceled class and found Jeff getting it on with my roommate. I threw his clothes out of the third-floor window and kicked him out. I haven’t seen either of them since.
I spent the next week wallowing in tears and chocolate ice cream. I had since stopped crying, but my social interactions were limited. It seemed everyone on campus knew either of them. Luckily I had my life-long friends Stephanie and Jenna to keep my head on straight, until today.
I was standing in front of both girls in the middle of my dorm wearing a red wrap dress and black heels. Jenna was busy floofing my hair while Stephanie squirted me with body spray. “Enough,” I said, waving my hand through the glittery cloud and coughing.” I’d rather he saw me before he smelled me.”
“Sorry,” Stephanie mumbled, replacing the cap and putting the sparkly substance back in her handbag.
I did a final spin in my mirror before tapping the notification button on the app that I had started toward our date destination.
I was halfway through my first glass of pinot grigio at the bar when I heard my name. I turned around, looking for the source of the voice.
“Hey, It’s me, Kevin,” the man standing behind me said.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I was expecting a college football player,” I replied. The man standing before me hadn’t played football in quite a few years.
“Yeah, I’m sorry. That was an old pic, but I am still in college! Just taking the 10-year plan,” Kevin explained.
A young waiter behind him appeared to choke on his gum, listening to our conversation. The waiter looked familiar. I was pretty sure he was in college, making Kevin look that much older. Kevin glared at the man, who quickly busied himself with the table behind him.
“Shall we dine?” Kevin asked me, gesturing to the seating area behind him.
I was already here and hungry. What could one meal hurt? I thought to myself. “Sure,”
Kevin let out a low wolf whistle as I climbed off the bar stool. “Wow, are you from Tennessee?” He asked.
“No,” I replied, “Florida.”
“Well, you’re the only ten I see,” Kevin said, winking and giving me the fake finger gun.
The waiter coughed, I downed the other half of my wine, Kevin glared at the waiter.
We sat close at a table close to the bar. I thought Kevin might pull my chair out for me, but no, he sat down.
The choking waiter soon approached. “Good evening, I’m Nate. Can I refill your Pinot?” he asked me.
“What the hell did you just ask my date?” Kevin glared at him.
“Yes, please,” I replied, handing Nate my wine glass.
“Oh,” Kevin said, finally understanding that ‘pinot’ wasn’t a dirty thought.
“And what can I get for you, sir?” Nate asked.
“Beer will be fine,” Kevin replied.
Nate hurried away.
“So, what brings you to ‘Blind Date?’” Kevin asked.
“Oh, my friends created the profile for me,” I confessed.
“Oh, your’ friends,’ got it,” Kevin said, using air quotes at the word friends and winking at me.
“Yeah,” I continued, ignoring the fact he thinks I’m lying. “My two best friends, Stephanie and Jenna, said I needed to get out more.”
“Oh, your actual friends put you up to this,” Kevin replied.
“Yes, that’s what I said. What brings you here?”
“I like that app doesn’t stare a lot of personal Info,” he said. “After the date, you can just disappear.”
Nate returned with our drinks. I took the wine right out of his hand. “Thank God for that!” I replied to Kevin.
Nate sensed the tension and gave me a sympathetic look. I realized he went to my school, and we sat near each other in psych. He was always super quiet. Looking at him now, he’s kind of cute with his dark curls and blue eyes.
“Can I get you an appetizer this evening?” Nate asked.
I looked at Kevin, wondering what he thought. “Nah, we’ll just take a minute to order dinner,” he said, without asking if I wanted an appetizer.
Nate backed away, glancing at me. I rolled my eyes, he smiled, showing me just a hint of a dimple in his left cheek.
Kevin ordered spaghetti and promptly stuck his linen napkin in his shirt collar. Nate stood just out of his field of vision and gave me a look like, ‘Is he serious right now?’”
My return look must have signaled pain. Nate stuck his lip out in an adorable pout before transforming his face into a mischievous grin. I watched him walk away.
Kevin saw where I focused my gaze. “Can you believe that guy?” he said. “He’s been kinda rude and not the greatest service.”
“Yeah,” I replied. “We definitely shouldn’t come back.”
“So after this,” Kevin began, “Maybe we can head back to your place?”
“Um, no. I live in the dorm.” I informed him.
“Oh, alright then, my place. My neighbors are out of town, and their hot tub is open.”
“You know what? It’s been a long day, and I’m pretty tired. I think after this, I’ll just go home,” I informed him.
“Aww, come on, babe, the night is young, you’re young, come to have some fun!” Kevin encouraged.
Nate came back holding two large dishes. He set my chicken down gently and then dumped the plate of spaghetti in Kevin’s lap, missing the linen napkin entirely.
“Oh, I’m so sorry!” Nate exclaimed. He winked at me as Kevin jumped out of his seat and tried to get the hot food off his lap.
“I’m out of here!” Kevin yelled. “And I’m not paying for this!” He stormed out the door.
I crumpled into a fit of laughter after he left.
“I’m sorry, it looks like I ruined your date,” Nate offered.
“Are you kidding? you’re my hero!” I replied.
“Wow, it’s not every day a pretty girl calls me a hero,” Nate said. Our eyes met and held for several seconds.
“Can I buy you a drink? I can hang around until you’re off, maybe,” I asked him.
“I’d love that, but I’d rather buy you dinner, and I’m not off until 2 am. I’d kill to get out of here tonight.”
Soon the restaurant started to fill up. “Ah, I gotta seat these people while my manager naps in the back. He’s too lazy to work. Your dinner is on the house tonight; enjoy the chicken.” Nate said, walking off to handle the rush.
I did enjoy my chicken, left Nate a tip, and walked outside. “I don’t feel like going home,” I said out loud. I had a thought.
I sat on a bench around the corner and dialed the phone number of the restaurant.
“Hello, Marco’s,” a man answered. He sounded like he had been asleep.
I plugged my nose before saying, “Hello, this is Julia Murphy from the health department. I’m afraid I’m at the college, and I will need Nathanial Hargrove to return to campus right away.”
“Health department? He’s working right now, and he’s my best waiter.”
“Sir, you can send Nathanial to me, or I will come to the restaurant and get him. Do you want someone from the health department to come to your restaurant right now?”
“No, ma’am!” the man said. “I will send him home right away!”
Shortly after I hung up the phone, I saw Nate leave the restaurant and head back to campus. “Ahem,” I cleared my throat. He turned around and gave me a huge heartwarming smile.
“Julia Murphy of the health department, I presume?” he teased.
“Guilty,” I confessed.
Nate and I caught the bus to a coffee shop across town. We had coffee and pie and talked for hours. He escorted me back to my dorm and asked me to a movie the following night. I gladly accepted.
The next evening I stood in my room in jeans, boots, and a sweater. Jenna and Stephanie eyed me as I put on makeup with a smile on my face.
“Where are you going tonight?” Jenna asked.
“Nate is taking me to a movie and then probably a late dinner or drinks.”
“I thought you went out with a guy named Kevin?” Stephanie asked, confused.
“I did,” I replied as I grabbed my handbag.
I winked at my friends, sitting side by side on my bed, studying me. “Don’t wait up,” I said and walked out the door.