Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Dates & Denim

 

SATURDAY, JANUARY 18, 2003

SHERMAN OAKS, CA 12:57 P.M.

It was almost one. Cynthia was at the table in the diner next to her parents’ hotel waiting for them. She was nursing a glass of water wondering where they could have been. She had to turn the waitress away three times since she had been warned by her mother not to order without them. She finally saw them walking through the parking lot to the diner.

Her mother, Agnes, was dressed as the perfect tourist. She had a large Hollywood t-shirt on and wearing short pants with an image of Marilyn Monroe airbrushed on the left leg. She topped the whole ensemble off with a fanny pack that couldn’t stay in one place along her waist as it moved back and forth to the movement of her hips. Her father trailed behind wearing just a plain shirt and blue jeans. She watched through the window and noticed how perfect an extreme her father and mother were for each other. Her dad could barely stay awake for more than a couple hours while her mother was just a ball of energy. Cynthia had a theory that she must have been siphoning energy out of him. As they made their way across the asphalt, Mrs. Davis saw Cynthia at the booth and waved.

They both walked into the diner and made a B-line for Cynthia’s booth. They both slid in without a word and settled in their seats. Agnes sat up brightly lit as she stared at Cynthia with a mother’s adoring eyes.

“Oh, honey! It’s so good to see you again! It’s been so long.”

“Mom, I was home for the holidays.”

“But that was such a long time ago.”

“It was a month ago.”

“Oh, humor your mother! Besides, a week is too long when you’re away from your child. I don’t know why you insist on living here of all places. I mean, when your father and I got off the plane, we saw two men kissing! Kissing! Right there in public! I couldn’t believe it. And if I told you half the stories your Aunt Perdie tells me. I just don’t feel comfortable with you living here all by yourself.”

“Well, mom, I’m not alone.” Her mother perked up to this news.

“Oh really?”

“Jason lives right next door. You remember Jason?”

“Oh, him.” Agnes said, disappointed.

“Yes. Him.” Cynthia said with a hint of anger.

“Oh, honey. I love Jason. I do. He’s a very sweet boy, but I can tell he has no intentions as far as you’re concerned. Don’t waste your time. You need to find a man who is ready for commitment. You need someone who’s ready to be a husband and a father.”

“I don’t really.”

“Yes you do! You’re not getting any younger. The end of your child bearing years is within sight. I cannot allow you to live your life just so you end up with a whole list of regrets when you get to be my age.”

“I have no doubt. So, where’s this Douglas Smythe?”

“Oh, Ned’s boy. Well, we haven’t been able to reach him yet, but we left him a message on his answering machine with our room number. He knows we’re here, and I’m sure he’s as excited to see you as you are to see him.”

“I’ll bet.” Cynthia said under her breath. They sat for a moment with nothing to say. Trent had fallen asleep and was whistling through his nose. Agnes was reorganizing the condiments and menus on the table, and Cynthia was staring blankly out the window, wishing she was anyplace but there.

A cell phone began to ring. Cynthia looked around but didn’t see anyone answering. She noticed the ringing was coming from a nearby location. She listened and as best as she could tell, the sound was coming from right in front of her. Her mother.

“Mom?” She asked. “Is that your phone ringing?” Agnes thought a moment and then dove for the phone in her fanny pack.

“I forgot! I set up the call forwarding!”

Cynthia sat puzzled, wondering how her mother had become such an expert with cell phones, yet still couldn’t set the time on her VCR.

“Hello? Oh, Douglas! Yes, this is Mrs. Davis. Yes. We’re at a little diner at the Holiday Inn. Yes. That’s the one. Okay. See you in a bit, dear,” Agnes clicked off the phone and put it away. “That was Douglas. He’ll be here in a few minutes.”

“Mom! I thought this was just going to be a quick hi there and hello thing. I have things to do! I can’t sit here all day!” Cynthia barked as she checked her watch. She saw the day was quickly slipping away.

“I’m sorry, dear. Just be patient. Let’s just order some lunch. I’m sure he’ll be here in no time.”

Just as they were all finishing their lunches, Douglas finally walked in. Agnes saw him in the corner of her eye. She got up and started waving her arms wildly.

“Douglas! Over here!” Cynthia pulled her back down.

“Mom! Sit down! People are going to think you’re having a seizure.”

Douglas saw Agnes and started making his way over to their booth. Cynthia looked over and saw a tall, dark, and handsome man dressed in denim and wearing boots. He had a thick mustache covering his upper lip and sharply cropped dark brown hair.

“That’s Douglas?”

“Yes.” Douglas stopped at their table, towering over them like a giant.

“Hi.” He said in soft tone that betrayed his rugged look.

“Hi.” Cynthia said coyly, avoiding his eyes. Agnes smiled broadly. She turned to Trent and roused him from his coma-like nap.

“Come on honey, let’s leave these two alone.”

Cynthia’s father gave an inaudible grunt and got up as he was instructed.

“All right, now you two talk. Get to know each other. Cynthia. You be sure to call me tonight.” Agnes said as she forced her husband along. Cynthia leapt up from the table and caught up with her.

“Mom! What the hell is that!?”

“What do you mean dear?”

“Douglas is totally not my type!”

“He’s a very nice boy.”

“He’s killed at least three animals for that get up he’s wearing! He’s just some over pumped, macho freak!”

“I realize he may not be your cup of tea exactly, but a lot of girls would find him to be quite attractive. Just sit down with him and talk. Learn about him.” Agnes then turned and walked out to the parking lot, dragging her husband along with her. Cynthia retreated back to the table where Douglas was already seated.

“Hi, again.” Cynthia slid in across from Douglas and smiled weakly at his joke. She took a sip from her glass of water. Douglas tapped the tips of his fingers on the tabletop.

“So.” He started.

“So. Look, let’s be honest,” She began. “You aren’t my type and I’m sure I’m not your type. I don’t eat meat, I don’t wear animal skins and I am a regular contributor to public television. If it’s all the same to you, I’d like to just get up from here and call this a wash. Okay?”

“Well, I don’t think I like that. I’d prefer to stay.”

“What?”

“I’m not a vegetarian myself, but I respect it. I don’t wear animal skins either. These boots are imitation leather, and I also contribute to PBS. I have the tote bag to prove it,” Cynthia let a small giggle escaper her lips. “Now, your mother told me a bit about you, and I was really impressed by what she said. I came here today to find out more. I intend to do that, if you’re okay with that. Are you?” Cynthia sat back, looking at Douglas as though he had just sideswiped her.

“All right. We can stay.”

“Great. I guess we should get the boring ‘first date’ questions out of the way first, so where do you live?”

“Oh, Uh, I live in Van Nuys. Nice little apartment. You?”

“Hollywood. I’m not gay.” He said, as if by instinct.

“I didn’t say you were.”

“I know, it’s just, a lot of people think just because I live in Hollywood and I dress like a cowboy, I’m gay.”

“Oh, I didn’t think that. Although, the whole western motif should be rethought.”

“Well, I don’t dress like this on purpose. I just like denim. And I like my boots. They’re comfortable.”

“I can totally respect that.”

“Your mom said you were a massage therapist.”

“Yes. She’s terribly disappointed by it, but I like it. I make my own hours, and I can usually make a month’s worth of pay in a few days. By the way, it’s legitimate massage. Most of the time when I tell people what I do, they get strange ideas.”

“Not me. I’d never assume anything like that. I actually got a massage a few months ago. It was great. I had a lot of stress. It totally loosened me up.”

“Really? What do you do? For a living?”

“I’m in construction. In fact I just won a contract for a new shopping center in Sherman Oaks.”

“Congratulations.”

“Thanks,” Douglas noticed the strings of beads Cynthia was wearing. “Those are nice.” He said, pointing to her jewelry.

“Oh, thank you. I actually made these. They’re what I call Harmony Beads. Each one is painted with colors that are in tune with my aura and arranged for maximum harmonic convergence.” Cynthia noticed the look of confusion on Douglas’ face.

“I don’t understand much of any of that new age stuff. I just thought they were pretty, but all that other stuff sounds real impressive.” Cynthia smiled at his sweetness and found it increasingly difficult to stop smiling the more they talked.

They sat at the booth for another ten minutes talking and Cynthia found her initial opinion of Douglas dramatically changing.

“Listen,” Douglas blurted “I think we’ve done enough of the getting to know each other thing. Right now I think we need a little mental stimulation. Want to see if we can catch a movie?” Cynthia blanked. She checked her watch. It was just a little after three.

“I don’t know. You seem like a nice guy, but I wasn’t really planning on making this an all-day thing.”

“Neither was I, but you can’t really plan things like this, can you? Come on. What’s the harm? A movie. Haven’t you ever done anything spontaneous?”

“Yes, but I really don’t know you.”

“Do I look like some kind of freak or rapist?”

“No, but neither did Ted Bundy.”

“How about if we take separate cars?”

“You’re really fighting for this, aren’t you?”

“I can be very persistent.” Douglas said and then flashed his perfectly white teeth in a charming smile. Everything Cynthia believed was being challenged and she found herself unable to find any real reason to say no.

“Fine.” She said at last.

“Great!”

They both slid out and walked out of the diner. Cynthia followed behind Douglas in a total trance. She had never met a man who so personified masculinity and very much to her surprise, she was really digging it.

An hour or so later, Douglas and Cynthia were standing in line at one of many, many movie theaters that could be found in Burbank.

She enjoyed that part the most. They were squeezed in between the ropes that defined the lines for the ticket booth. The crowd was so thick, they were both crammed together tightly. She was enjoying the feeling of his body pressing to hers. She looked up at him to give him a little smile, only to discover he was looking down at her, also smiling. They were coming closer to the end of the line, when Douglas noticed a couple of guys standing off to the side. They were laughing and pointing in Cynthia’s direction. Douglas took immediate interest in the object of their amusement. Cynthia saw a primal spark appear in his eyes. He then suddenly jumped over the rope and strode over to the boys aggressively. Cynthia looked on in confusion.

“Excuse me gentlemen, but I couldn’t help but notice you seemed to be laughing at something. I would like to know what is so funny.” He said in a booming voice. He was so loud she could hear him quite clearly from her place in line. In fact it seemed everyone in the general vicinity could hear him as a small crowd was beginning to form. The two guys Douglas was barking at both looked to be in their early or mid-twenties with large, athletic builds. Frat boy types. They looked over Douglas’ shoulder at Cynthia.

“Man, that girl you’re with? What’s with all those beads?” The first guy chuckled.

“Her jewelry? What’s wrong with it? I think it looks nice.” He looked back over to Cynthia.

“Oh, my God!” The other thick necked thug chimed. “What is she? Some tree hugging witch freakoid?” Douglas’ eyes popped open and his neck turned red. Cynthia tried to make out what was going on from the line, as she didn’t want to lose their place. She was starting to worry if this would escalate into a fight. She hoped it wouldn’t.

The last thing she needed was to have to go to the emergency room on a first date. Besides, she didn’t want anything to happen to that beautiful face of Douglas’. Beauty was such a fragile thing, especially in men. One good punch could mar him forever but faster than she could blink, she saw Douglas throw a tight right and drop both frat boys at the same time with one punch. He calmly turned and rejoined her in line.

The whole crowd outside the theater seemed to freeze in time. Cynthia couldn’t take her gaze off of Douglas’ calm features. They stepped up to the ticket booth. Douglas was quick to pay for both tickets, and they proceeded into the theater, the whole time, an awed hush held the crowd. Cynthia looked around. She felt like Lois Lane on a date with Superman himself. She was surprising herself at how impressed she was over that blatant display of machismo. A dedicated believer in equal rights. Believing the age of the strong man and weak woman as antiquated as videotapes, she would normally abhor such behavior, but there was something in her that was so enjoying it. She felt like she was betraying some of her most deeply held beliefs, but at that moment, she didn’t care.

They sat in the back of the auditorium for the movie. He kept his large, muscled arm around her the whole time. She basked in his radiating warmth. She was so mesmerized; she could barely keep her mind on the action up on the screen. She kept sneaking quick glances at Douglas, noting how good he looked even in the dark.

After the movie was over, they stayed in their seats until the last of the audience had left. They just sat enjoying the music playing over the speakers.

“You know, that whole macho episode out front didn’t impress me.”

“I didn’t expect it to. I really wasn’t even planning on throwing a punch.”

“Then why did you?”

“They said something about you, and it was pretty nasty. I was brought up not to say such things about women, and when such things are said, action must be taken.”

“That seems awfully retro to me.”

“Maybe it is, but that’s what my parents taught me.”

“I just didn’t want you to think I enjoyed it or approved or anything.”

“Of course not.” Cynthia looked over Douglas’ shoulder and saw the theater staff lined up at the front of the auditorium waiting to start cleaning up.

“They’re going to throw us out soon. They have to clean up in here.”

“Then we’ve got a little time. I really didn’t expect for this to happen.”

“What?”

“Liking you so much. The moment I saw you, I just was floored. You aren’t like anyone I’ve ever known before.”

“I hope that’s a good thing.”

“It is,” He assured. “It definitely is.” He looked at her with a pensive gaze. “May I kiss you?” Cynthia was speechless. She had never been asked that before. She could only manage to nod and with that confirmation, Douglas raised her chin with his finger and slowly pressed his furry lip to her delicate mouth. Cynthia almost orgasmed at that moment.

She had never felt anything so warm and soft before. The hairs of his mustache gently tickled her face. His lips were just soft enough, just moist enough. His mouth almost completely enveloped her lower jaw. When he pulled away, she had to fight to catch her breath. She looked at him with glazed eyes and the look in his eyes was unmistakable. If she had never seen love before, she had seen it then. He smiled and took her shoulder and pulled her into his chest. They stayed like that even after the cleaning staff had begun to clean. They were careful not to disturb Douglas and Cynthia, and just cleaned around them.

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