Our second date – or our first proper date actually, was going to be great. I had it all planned out. There was this cosy little restaurant a few kilometres from the city, it was the perfect place. The only reason I knew about it was because Molade had asked me to take her there once. I went to the place and scoped it out, found out it was very expensive. I cooked up some excuse and ditched Molade. Now I was glad she introduced me to the place.
Gloria had asked that we go on the date on Saturday morning. It sounded strange to me but of course I agreed. I offered to pick her up at her house – which I didn’t know yet but she said she’d prefer to meet me at the restaurant. I found that also strange. There were some advantages to a Saturday morning date though. The place was going to be relatively free and we would have the larger part of the restaurant to ourselves.
At ten o’clock I was already at the restaurant. I picked a window seat that overlooked a very green garden. The restaurant had a lot of vegetation – palm trees, rolls and rolls of freshly cut flower and lots of orange trees. It was a nice place to have your first date and I knew I was set was a great day.
One hour thirty minutes later and I was totally oblivious to the vegetation, I was livid! Gloria had stood me up. I should have known. Who picks a Saturday morning for a date? And then tells the guy not to pick her up. I was no longer sitting admiring the restaurant; I was pacing outside the door. The restaurant waitresses had given up gossiping about me, my unfortunate circumstance was no longer fun for them.
There was no point waiting, I had to head home. If she came now, it would be a terrible date, I was already too angry. I stomped all the way to my Toyota, got in and slammed the door shut. The whiff of my new air freshener was irritating, the sound of my car was noisy, even my watch was too heavy, I was miserable.
Thirty minutes later and I stopped the car in front of my house. I got right out and made for the stairs to my house. Whenever I saw Gloria I was going to give her a piece of mind. Or maybe I would call her. I approached my door and I stopped. Gloria was seated in front of my door. I paused and looked back, was I at my house?
“What are you doing here?” I asked, more surprised than angry.
“I’m here to see you of course.” She said.
“I know, I mean how did you find my house?”
“Are you going to stand out there asking questions or will you help me into your house?”
I looked her over and saw that her foot was bandaged. Was that why she did not show up? But she could have called.
I did not move and asked “What happened to your foot?”
“Are you serious? I thought you’d be happy to see me.”
What was I doing? Gloria was at my doorstep, I should be celebrating
“I’m sorry.” I said and hurried to help her up.
I opened my door and we entered. She explained how she had gone on a run and sprained her leg and had lost her phone in the process. I felt stupid for all the time I had spent fuming.
“You have to tell me this, how did you get here?”
“Tunji dropped me off.”
Tunji – the handsome boyfriend from camp, was he always with her?
“Tunji knows my house? I don’t understand.”
“Would you let that go already?” She said, smiling in amusement. “I’m in your house, why don’t you focus on that?”
She was right. It did not matter how she got to my house, I had to make good use of the time.
“Okay, let’s make this the best Saturday of our lives, okay?” I said, she nodded her reply and I got to work.
I wasn’t much of cook but there was something I knew I was an expert in – Spaghetti! I knew I could open a spaghetti business in Italy and still outsell any Italian on my block. Or so I thought.
“What do you think of my world renowned spaghetti?” I asked as I watched her put one fork after another in her mouth.
“Hmm, it’s okay.” She said and continued eating.
“Just okay? Are you serious? Most people will kill for that food.”
“But nobody has.”
“Yet some will.”
She laughed and set her fork down.
“You did a good job, a very good job. I’m a little surprised actually.”
“I’m full of surprises.” I said.
“Are you? What other surprises do you have hidden away?” She said and moved closer to me.
My heart seemed to shut down as I stared into her eyes. She held my gaze and my lips trembled, it was embarrassing but I paid it no attention. What was I supposed to do now? My mind was going crazy with ideas but my body was not responding to any of them. After what looked like an eternity of waiting, she moved back.
“So, what do we do with the rest of the day?”
I opened my mouth to talk but my phone rang. I looked at the screen, it was my boss.
“I have to take this, it is my boss.” I said to her.
“Oh, say hi to him for me.”
I did not think it was a good idea but I smiled and nodded.
“I need you here Jude, something major is happening and you might be leaving the country in three months.”
“Leaving the country? To where sir?”
“Finland, come over to my place and we will discuss it. We have a lot of work to do in the next three months. I know you spend your weekends on your PS4, that has to change and thank God you don’t have a girlfriend.”
“Err…yes sir.” I said – it was all I could mutter.
“We have an exciting but busy time ahead, and it starts today. I’ll be expecting you in one hour.”
I stared at my phone for a few seconds. This news would have been awesome two weeks ago but now, I was not sure what to feel. Thank God I don’t have a girlfriend? That was the part that I hated the most, it was maybe true but I had Gloria now.
“Hey, are you okay?” Gloria called from behind me.
“Oh, yeah.” I put my phone in my pocket and joined her on the chair.
“Was it bad news?” She looked deeply concerned.
“Hmm, not really, I just have extra work to do.”
“You don’t have to do it now, do you? You can still have a little fun before the work starts.”
“Actually, the work…” I started to say but stopped. I had never been late to work, my boss would not mind me being late this once. “Yeah, I guess I can have a little fun.”
I totally forgot about my boss as I got deeper into the mystery called Gloria. I felt like we had been friends from our years in secondary school, it was happening so fast and I was loving it. But then I remembered I had to leave the country in three months.
“I have a random question for you Gloria.” I said.
“No, I didn’t kiss anybody in secondary school.” She said.
“What?” She looked at my face and laughed. “That’s not my question.”
“What do you think about long distance relationships?” I asked.
She paused and sat straight. “That’s not a random question, is it? Are you traveling somewhere?”
“Just answer the question Gloria.”
“Well, it depends on the level of commitment of the couple.”
“So, if your boyfriend…”
“Not that level of commitment, boyfriends are still friends.”
She meant a fiancé? I swallowed.
“This isn’t a random question, is it Jude?”
I stood from the chair and looked at my watch.
“I think, I should go prepare to go my Boss’ place. I’ll drop you off on my way there, is that okay?”
“Sure.” She said.
I went into my bedroom and sank into my bed. It was unfair that my relationship with Gloria was ending before it even started. It looked like she liked me and it could take some time but she would probably eventually agree to go out with me. I did not have that time now. I punched my bed!
But I could not let her go, not like that. I had three months, a lot could happen in that time. I rose from my bed and walked back the living room.
“Hey Gloria, I need to ask you something.”
She looked up at me. “Yeah?
I hesitated, I was not sure what to say – I did not have the words. What if she did not like me the way I thought she did? This was only the third time I was seeing since secondary school.
“Jude, what’s up?”
Well, I had to take a chance.
So I asked.
“Gloria, would you be my girlfriend?”