Friday, September 12, 2008

September 12, 2008

“Here, try this one,” Sonia said as she handed me a heavily-beaded, pale-green dress over the dressing room wall.

“This one’s too matronly. I don’t want to look like his grandma!” I said as I tossed the dress back over the wall to her.

“Ok, give me a minute,” she said as she walked away.

I stared at the stack of dresses I had piled up on the changing room bench and started to feel discouraged that I’d never find the right one for my date with Alex.

In a moment, Sonia was back and passed me a little red number that was cut too high in the leg and too low in the chest.

“How about this one?” she asked. “It’s not your grandma’s red dress.”

“I said his grandma because mine probably would wear this, but don’t you think red’s a little desperate for a first date?” I asked. “I think I should go with something a little more subdued.

Besides, I’m looking for something that says ‘Hey, look at me—I’m beautiful’, not ‘Hey, look at me—want to see my pancreas?’”

“Well, I’m sure your pancreas is lovely. And don’t you want someone who accepts and loves every part of you?” she asked, chuckling.

“Sonia, you’re weird. I think all this shopping is affecting your brain.

Ok, I’m going to get dressed again so we can go to another store. I need to find something soon because I’m starving.”

“Me too. Let’s go to the cantina after this,” Sonia said. “I’ll call Paul and tell him to eat without me. I’m sure he’d be happy to have a chance to go out with his buddies.”

Sonia and I had been at the mall for over three hours, searching for the perfect dress, and not finding anything was getting old. Not to mention, my hair was starting to stand straight up from all the static electricity I was creating from pulling so many dresses over my head and back off again. If I had kept it up much longer, I’d be giving Medusa a run for her money.

Finally, when I had just about given up hope, we were walking past a little shop I’d never noticed before, and there, in the window, I saw it—a beautiful deep coral-colored dress with spaghetti straps and an empire waist. It was made of chiffon and had a satin sash with tiny gems sparkling across it. I knew before I even tried it on that it would be the one.

Once I had the dress on, I stepped out of the dressing room so Sonia could see me.

She let out a low whistle. “Hubba, hubba, Vivian.

If Alex doesn’t like you in that, he’s gay.”

“Well, I don’t know if I’d go that far, but it does look nice on me, doesn’t it?” I said, doing a little twirl as I admired myself in the mirror.

The coral plays off my reddish-dark brown hair—my father always compared my hair to the color of mink—and my light brown eyes. The dress gives me a glow. And the best part is that I have a pair of Jimmy Choos at home that I bought on clearance last year which will go with the dress perfectly. I was glad to be done with worrying about what I was going to wear. Sonia was too.

“Let’s get out of here!” she exclaimed while she playfully hooked her arm through mine and tugged me out of the store after I’d made my purchase.

Once we got to the cantina, we sat at what was becoming our favorite booth—the one by the window, away from where most people sit. It makes for more interesting conversation when we don’t have to worry about being overheard.

We ordered two strawberry margaritas, but I swear they don’t put any alcohol in them, or if they do, it can’t be more than a splash because it tastes like strawberry limeade, and neither of us ever feels even a slight buzz from them. They’re probably a rip-off, but still, we order them. We also asked for a plate of nachos and two taco combination plates.

“So, what’s new with you lately?” I asked Sonia.

“Well, I’ve been meaning to tell you that I got a certified letter last week,” she said. “It was a subpoena, actually.”

“A subpoena? For what?”

Sonia sighed heavily.

“They want me to testify against my father again.”

“What? I thought he was already in jail for molesting you?”

“Yeah, he was. But he was paroled late last year and no one bothered to tell me he was getting out.”

“So, what do they need you to testify about?” I asked.

“Well, it seems that after ‘dear old dad’ was released, he molested another little girl.”

“Oh the little girl ok?”

“As far as I know, yeah,” she said.

“So what are you going to do?”

“What choice do I have?” she asked. “I guess I’ll have to testify.”

“Have you told Paul about this yet?” I asked.

“No, not yet,” she said. “I’m waiting for the right moment to tell him. He nearly attacked my father in court the last time I had to testify, if you remember.”

“Oh, I remember,” I said. “And I also remember how hard it was on you. Are you ok?”

“Not really,” Sonia said. “I haven’t been able to sleep since getting the letter, and my nightmares have come back when I do finally manage to get to sleep.”

“This is awful, Sonia,” I sympathized. “Is there anything I can do?”

“Just be there with me in court for moral support because I’m going to need it if I have to face him again.”

I reached across the table and squeezed her hand.

“I’ll be there.”

I can’t believe Sonia has to testify against her father again. She shouldn’t have to see him again. Ever. Not after what he did to her. The things he put her through no child should even be aware of, let alone have done to them by their father. It makes me sick to even think about it.

Poor Sonia. I really hope that Paul can get it together and support her. I know it’s hard on him, too, hearing the details of her abuse, but she needs him if she’s going to have to go through another trial.

When I got home after dinner, I felt really down. Both of the people I’m closest to in this world are going through such crap right now, and there’s really nothing I can do for either one of them except listen to them and maybe give the occasional hug. It doesn’t seem like much, especially when I wish I could do so much more.

I plopped down on the couch and sat there vegging out in front of the TV until I went to bed. I had planned on doing a mini-facial and maybe doing a deep-conditioning treatment on my hair, but after hearing Sonia’s news, I wasn’t much in the mood anymore.

When I woke up Saturday morning, I was still in a funk. It seemed selfish to be happy when my best friend and sister were both suffering. But I knew I needed to shake the negativity before my date because it wouldn’t be fair to Alex to be so down in the dumps on our date.

I decided to go for a run to see if I could brighten my mood any. I put on my sweats and my running shoes, pulled my hair back into a pony tail, grabbed my iPod, and headed out the door.

I took my usual path down the bike trail that runs past my apartment building and passes by the man-made pond about two blocks away. I honestly don’t know what possessed the land developers to put in a pond in the desert. Although, I suppose it’s not much different than all the swimming pools we have around here.

After my run, I felt refreshed. I don’t know what it is about it, maybe it’s the sunshine, maybe it’s the exertion, maybe it’s both, but I always feel so much better after a good, hard run, and today was no exception.

I took a quick shower when I got back, and afterwards, I made some eggs for breakfast and sat down with the newspaper to read the advice columns and cartoons. It’s a Saturday-morning ritual I’ve done since I was a kid. Even with all the instant-access news to be found on the internet, I still love the smell and feel of a real newspaper in my hands. I even like it when the tips of my fingers turn black from the ink. I guess it’s comforting to me since I’ve been doing it for so long.

By the time the afternoon rolled around, I was getting nervous. When I have too much nervous energy, I clean. And let me tell you, my apartment hasn’t been this clean in months.

Time seemed to be dragging on, and I was glad when it was finally 4 o’clock so I could get in the shower (again—I worked up a sweat with all the cleaning I did) and start getting ready for my date.

As it neared 6:45, I was jumpy with anticipation. I was so excited to see Alex again, under much better circumstances this time, of course.

I was pacing around when my doorbell rang at exactly 7. It’s nice to see he’s punctual.

As I approached the door, my hands started to shake, and I took a deep breath to calm myself. What is with me? Why am I so nervous?

I counted slowly to 10 before opening the door. Don’t want to seem too eager.

When I saw Alex standing there, I literally felt my knees go weak. I had heard other people say before that it had happened to them, but I always thought it was an exaggeration by googly-eyed lovebirds, but apparently it can happen. I just never expected it to happen to me.

Alex looked adorably handsome in his black tailored suit and dark jade-colored tie. His hair was shorter than I remembered—he must have just gotten it cut. Maybe to make a good impression on me? Whether that was his purpose or not, it worked.

“Hello, Alex,” I said. “It’s so great to see you.”

“Likewise,” he replied. “You look absolutely stunning, Vivian.”

“Thank you.” I blushed.

“Shall we go?” he asked, offering me his arm.

In the elevator on the way to the ground floor, I kept sneaking furtive glances at Alex, at his strong jaw line, his beautiful teal eyes. I had forgotten how incredibly hot he is.

I guess I wasn’t as sneaky as I thought I was because the third time I glanced over at him, he smiled and said, “Thank you. I’m flattered.”

I blushed even harder and began to wonder if maybe I shouldn’t have used any blush when I was putting on my makeup. If I keep this up, my cheeks are going to be brighter than my dress.

When we got down to the parking lot, I saw a grey beamer parked in the circular driveway in front of the building. Alex walked up to the car and opened the passenger door for me. I thanked him, and he went around to the driver’s side and got in.

“So have you ever been to Chez Henri before?” Alex asked me.

“No, but I have driven by it several times. Does that count?”

He laughed.

“Well, then you’re in for a treat.”

“I bet I am,” I said, smiling, as I looked over at him.

We stopped at the valet stand when we got to Chez Henri, and Alex trotted over to my side to open my door before the valet attendant could.

Alex offered me his hand to help me out of the car.

Once we were inside the restaurant, the maitre d’ led us to our table, and within seconds of our being seated, our waiter was tableside.

“Welcome to Chez Henri. My name is Vincent, and it will be my pleasure to serve you this evening.

May I introduce you to our sommelier Jean-Luc? He will present you now with the wine list and be able to answer any questions you may have. I will return shortly for your order.”

Vincent stepped away as Jean-Luc presented the list to Alex.

“That won’t be necessary,” Alex said as he waved away the wine list. “We’ll have a bottle of your 1983 Cristal, please."

“Alex, are you sure?” I blurted out without even thinking. “With your job situa...” I trailed off. I cringed as the words left my mouth.

Jean-Luc looked mildly alarmed and looked at Alex expectantly. Alex nodded at him, and with that, Jean-Luc hurried away.

“I’m so sorry, Alex,” I said. “I shouldn’t have said that. I—“

He interrupted me.

“It’s all right, Vivian. I can understand how you might wonder about my finances with the loss of my job, but I assure you, there is nothing to be concerned about.”

I felt like such an ass. Why did I have to open my big mouth?

We sat there in an uncomfortable silence for what seemed to be a torturous amount of time but what was, in reality, probably only seconds.

“Did I mention how lovely you look tonight?” Alex asked, generously letting me off the hook, considering how I’d embarrassed him not a moment before.

“Yes, but it’s certainly nice to hear it again,” I smiled weakly. “Thank you.”

I just hoped that the rest of our evening would go better than the last few minutes had and that I could manage to get through it without blurting out anything else I didn't mean to say.


mum said...

Another good one, girl. In a perfect world, there'd be another post on Monday (hint, hint...) Just kidding. I'm glad you can do it as often as you do. Thanks!


KBear said...

hehe.. that would have so been me and my big mouth blurting that out!

Lynn said...

Great story, I like it. Thanks

Ceferian said...

Actually, mum, I'm thinking of posting some time next week because I don't like leaving Vivian's date with Alex hanging like this. The post was getting too long, though, (and I was getting too tired!) to finish it up properly last night/the wee hours of the morning.

By the way, I'm really glad to see how many people are enjoying Vivian's story. Without all of you, this blog wouldn't exist. So thanks for reading, everyone!

Have a great weekend!

Carmel Beauty said...


PamInNC said...

Love it! Romance, drama and a bit of intrigue what with the ? about his finances. Keep it up!

Koalalover78 said...

I absolutely loved this post. I understand time constraints, but I really love your blog. More so that the "others" :). As with the others, I would love another post to get the low down on the date. Keep up the excellent work!!!