She has a keen eye! (7/2004)
Chris resisted his friends’ invitation, like he always did. They meant well, but they just didn’t seem to want to listen when he tried to explain that he was just wired differently.
Theo was a chick magnet. He was tall, thin, still had a head full of dark black hair, and two hours a day in the gym kept him in awesome shape. From these things came self-confidence. From self-confidence came success with women.
Mark wasn’t as handsome as Theo, but he was a good enough looking guy, Chris figured. Mark was also rocket scientist smart, which was definitely something that seemed to attract women.
Harry was the clown of the group. What he lacked in looks and intelligence, he more than made up for with a wicked sense of humor. Again, this seemed to be something that the ladies liked.
Chris knew he wasn’t considered particularly handsome. Or particularly intelligent. Or particularly funny. He was just an average guy. An average, lonely guy.
For the past 17 Thursdays – he’d counted – Theo, Mark and Harry had invited him to go with them to the bar. And now, for the 18th straight time, he turned them down.
“No, but thanks anyways guys,” he’d said like he always did. “I really appreciate you guys asking me to join you all the time, but it’s just not my scene, you know? Besides, I’ve got an early meeting tomorrow.” He could never understand how anyone could go out drinking on Thursday night, with work the following morning.
Theo, Mark and Harry had been hearing the same response for almost four months. They’d agreed earlier in the day that they were not going to accept their lame coworker’s excuses this time.
“Yeah, yeah, we know. We’ve heard it all before. But you know what, this time, we’re not going to listen to you,” Mark said.
“Yep. You’re coming with us tonight whether we need to kidnap you or not,” Harry joked.
“Come on, Chris, I’ll help you through it. I swear. I can show you some tips, you know, to pick up women,” Theo offered.
Chris wanted to tell Theo that he didn’t want any “tips.” It wasn’t a matter of needing tips or better technique or anything like that. It was a matter that was far deeper, far more serious, than that.
The three men pressed, and Chris relented.
“All right!” Harry whooped. “Let’s do this!”
The three veterans led Chris directly to Theo’s car. Normally, they all went home after work and then met later for dinner before heading to the bar. But they all worried that if they let Chris out of their sight, he would renege on his agreement to join them. Chris’ friends did not want him to bolt, and so they decided they’d go directly to dinner from the office.
The foursome went to the local T.G.I. Friday’s for dinner. It was one of their usual haunts.
“Hi guys. My name is Melissa and I’ll be your server today,” the perky young brunette waitress said when she walked up to their table, following the company’s employee manual to a tee.
“Hello there,” Theo flirted.
Mark and Harry noticed that Melissa once again didn’t respond to Theo’s advances. Instead, they noticed that her eyes went to Chris.
“Hi,” she said to Chris. “I wait on these guys a lot. It’s usually just the three of them, so welcome to the dinner club, I guess.”
“Th-th-thanks,” Chris stammered.
“What can I get you to drink?” Melissa asked.
“A lemonade, please.”
“Oh come on, Chris! This is a drinking table, buddy,” Harry said. To Melissa he said, “He’ll have a blended Margarita, no salt.”
Melissa looked at Chris for confirmation.
“Actually I’ll stick with the lemonade for now,” he said quietly to Melissa.
Melissa smiled warmly. She liked that Chris had stuck to his guns and not been swayed by the childish antics of his friends.
“A pitcher of margaritas for the rest of you?” she asked the others.
“You know it,” Theo said.
“Sure, that’d be great,” Mark added.
“Okay, I’ll go get your drinks and I’ll be right back to take your order.” Melissa turned and walked over to the servers’ station in order to place the drink order.
Theo and Harry watched Melissa’s swaying backside the entire way. Mark glanced over, but didn’t stare. Chris couldn’t look since she’d walked behind him. He wouldn’t have stared even if he could have.
“Sorry, dude. She still has no interest in you, but did you see her checking Chris out?” Harry said to Theo. “She is totally hot for you, Chris!”
Chris blushed and said, “Oh, come on. Give me a break.”
When Melissa brought the guys their drinks, she set the pitcher in the middle of the table between the good looking one, the smart one and the goof, and then walked around and gently placed the lemonade in front of the new, shy and interesting one.
“What would you like?” Melissa asked Chris.
“Your phone number,” Theo responded, as he always did.
“I don’t think so, but thank you any way,” Melissa responded, as she always did.
“I’ll have the Chinese chicken salad,” Chris said with a smile.
“Excellent,” Melissa said returning the smile. She then took the other guys’ orders. The usual, she reflected.
“Okay, great, thanks guys,” she said. She then headed over to take an order at a nearby table.
“Theo’s right, Chris. I think she likes you,” Mark said.
Chris allowed himself to believe what Mark was saying for the briefest of moments, then snapped himself back into his ever-present dark cloud of self-doubt.
Chris had lost every ounce of his self-confidence when he’d been passed up for a promotion at work the year before. He’d wanted the job for years. The V.P. of the division gave the job to some preppy, glad-handing energizer bunny instead. Ever since that fateful day, Chris’ self esteem had slowly but steadily eroded, until the quality of his work began to suffer, and his personal life had all but withered up and died.
It was Mark, his best friend, who had taken the risk to talk to Chris directly. “You’re work is slipping, buddy,” he’d said. “I know you’re still upset about Dave getting the position instead of you, but you have got to shape up. Don’t let this kind of thing get you so down… There will be other opportunities, but only if you keep working hard and doing high quality work.”
Chris had taken Mark’s words to heart and righted himself at the office. But he was still on the rocky bottom in his personal life. He’d only been out socially a handful of times in the past year, and hadn’t been out on a date since, well, since he couldn’t remember how long.
Mark saw the glimmer of hope rush across his friend’s face, and then disappear as quickly as it had come. It was hard, knowing someone with so much going for him and with so much potential but so little self-confidence. Chris was definitely a man who had stopped believing in himself, and as a consequence, had started to die a slow, torturous life.
Melissa snuck back into the kitchen and found her best friend, Susie. Melissa was all excited, arms flailing about, practically shrieking.
“Calm down, Melis’. What’s going on?”
“Take a look at the guy at table 40.”
Susie peered around the corner. “Which one? The tall, dark, handsome one?”
“No the other one.”
“You mean the studious looking guy with the round glasses?”
“No, no, the other side.”
“You mean the one that looks like the proverbial class clown?”
“No, Susie, the other guy.” The last of the four guys. The one that Susie had not mentioned.
“Uh, he looks all right, I guess.”
Melissa would not let Susie’s lack of enthusiasm douse the flame of her excitement. “He seems really nice. Like he has a kind, gentle spirit.”
“Okay, if you say so,” Susie said. Then she added, “Gotta jet. Drink order at table nine.”
“Yes, I do say so,” Melissa said to herself after Susie had walked away.
Melissa checked on His table three times, instead of the normal twice per the service handbook. The guys ordered dessert, something they didn’t typically do, so she got one more extra visit to the table. She was intrigued by the new guy’s crooked smile, his shyness and how proper and polite he was when he spoke to her.
After delivering the check after dessert, Melissa decided in a flash that she wanted to know for sure whether he liked her. Her mind racing, she came up with the best thing she could.
“Susie, I need you to pick up the check at table 40. If they ask, just make up some excuse for me.”
Susie wasn’t sure what it was all about, but went along. She walked over to Melissa’s table to pick up the check.
“Well hello good looking,” Theo spewed as soon as she’d walked up to the table. “What’s your name?”
“Susie. What’s yours?”
“Theo. Nice to meet you,” Theo flirted.
“Hi, I’m Harry,” Harry joined in.
“Hello. I’m Mark,” Mark said with a smile.
“Where’s our waitress?” Chris asked.
Susie made some lame excuse about Melissa having to take care of another table, then continued to flirt with the guys, mainly Theo.
From a distance, Melissa watched as Handsome, Smart and Funny flirted with Susie. She supposed she could understand it; Susie was a stunning blonde with blue eyes, large breasts and a skirt short enough it probably should have been illegal. She also saw New Guy slouch in his chair, shoulders drooping. He seemed sullen. He was not talking with Susie. He wasn’t even looking at her.
That’s when she knew that he must like her too. She found herself immediately hoping that he might join his friends again when they next visited the restaurant. If he ever came back, she’d be sure to wait on his table, maybe even slip him her telephone number.
Theo, Mark and Harry paid the bill, including Chris’ share.
“Because you finally decided to join us,” Mark said when Chris objected.
“You’ll have to pay for all of us the next time,” Harry joked.
Theo, Mark and Harry got up to go. Chris stalled, hoping to see Melissa one last time before leaving. Eventually, he realized he was holding up the group, and that it was time to leave. The four men walked to the front of the restaurant and out the front door, the three friends ribbing Chris about his crush on the waitress. Harry was even doing some juvenile chant, spelling out K-I-S-S-I-N-G.
And as he walked past the side of the restaurant, Chris spied Melissa through one of the windows. He slowed, to take her beauty in for as long as possible. She turned toward the window and saw him looking in. The last thing Chris remembered seeing as he swept past the window was a radiant smile of recognition forming on Melissa’s face.
Theo drove the ten minutes or so over to the bar. The four men paid the cover charge and went in. After walking through the front door, Chris looked around.
The place was hazy, noisy and smelled like beer. Chris didn’t like the smell of smoke or the stinging and reddening it caused in his eyes. He didn’t like the noise, which gave him a headache. And he didn’t like the smell of beer, let alone the taste. He wanted to turn around and leave.
Mark noticed Chris’ apprehension and grabbed him by the arm. The four men walked over to a small table in the back. A few minutes later, a waitress calling herself Lexus came over to take their drink order. She was practically falling out of her low cut dress. Harry ordered a pitcher of Sam Adams. Lexus revved a sexy approval, then drove off to get her next order.
Harry’s eyes followed her all the way to the bar. “Gentlemen,” he said. “I have found my soul mate for the night. I’ll see you later.”
Mark wanted to comment on the idea of a soul mate for a night, but thought better of it.
Theo had been scanning the room since he’d arrived, and he quickly acquired target lock on. He’d spied a 19 year-old brunette sitting with a friend a few tables away. “Mark, you’re on your own tonight, buddy,” Theo said to Mark. Then to Chris he said, “I’ve got the brunette, but I’ll get the blonde for you.”
Chris began to protest, but before he could get a word out of his mouth, Theo was sauntering over to the table where the two women sat talking. Two minutes later, Theo motioned for Chris to join him at the ladies’ table. He had his arm around the brunette’s shoulder.
“Jennifer, meet Chris. Chris, meet Jennifer.”
“Hello,” Jennifer and Chris said simultaneously. It would be the only thing they’d have in common.
“We’ll leave you two to get acquainted,” Theo said. Then he and the brunette got up to dance.
Five minutes later, Chris politely excused himself from Jennifer’s table and walked back over to where Mark was sitting, listening to the music. Harry was still following the waitress all around the bar, everywhere she went.
The next two hours passed in much the same fashion. Theo and Mark took turns trying to find women for Chris to meet. Even Harry took a break from stalking his waitress to hook him up for a dance or two.
But Chris’ heart just wasn’t into it. He finally decided it was time to go. He told Mark and Theo that he was leaving. They didn’t try to stop him. On his way out, Chris waved to Harry, who was helping the waitress serve her drinks. What a crackup the crazy guy was, Chris thought.
Chris called a cab and gave the guy his address. The cabbie nodded and switched on the meter. The cab pulled away from the curb. Then, in a flash, Chris changed his mind. He gave the new instructions to the cabbie.
Ten minutes later, he was back at the T.G.I. Friday’s.
He walked through the door and scanned the restaurant. Given the late hour, the place was practically empty.
Chris spotted the waitress that had come over to pick up their check. What was her name? Sue? Susan? Susie, yeah, that was it.
“Hi Susie,” he said. “Is Melissa still here?”
Susie smiled. Melissa had been right. There was something about this guy, she could tell. “Yeah, sure. She’s in back getting her stuff. She was just about to leave. Hang on one second and I’ll get her for you.”
A minute later, Melissa came out. He red apron was gone, and her long brown hair was down. She looked stunning and wholesome and perfect.
“Hello again,” she said.
“Hello again to you too,” Chris said. His self-confidence surging, he added, “My name is Chris. Would you care to grab a cup of coffee?”
Melissa smiled. “Well, it’s getting kind of late, and –” she said.
“Uh, okay,” Chris stammered. His heart sank in his chest. “I understand.”
“No, I don’t think you do. I was just about to say, that it’s late and I’ve got class early in the morning tomorrow, but if you’d like, I’d love to have dinner with you tomorrow night.”
Chris couldn’t believe his ears! This delightful, beautiful, smart and sexy woman had just agreed to go out on a date with him!
The two smitten lovebirds exchanged phone numbers. Chris agreed to call Melissa the next day from work. Then he walked her to her car and said goodnight before grabbing a cab home.
The next day at work, Chris thanked his friends for prodding him to join them. “Why, what do you mean? You had a lousy time and left early,” Mark said.
“Well, that might true, but I got a date out of the evening just the same,” Chris said with a huge grin.