I met her at church. She had an easy, comforting smile and a quirky, granola-like personality. She wore the Birkenstocks and cotton sweaters and listened to music I didn’t like but figured it was because I wasn’t hip enough. I’d admired her for several months before I got up the nerve to ask her out. She’d been dating a friend of mine so when they broke up I had to wait the appropriate time before I could proceed. When I asked her, she surprised me by agreeing to go with almost no hesitation. A good sign.
What to do? A movie? Miniature golf? No. I really want to make a good impression. A play? Maybe… just maybe. I go to the trusty Las Vegas Journal Friday Edition where all good things for the weekend are spelled out amidst the gentleman’s show ads. There it is. The community theater is presenting Of Mice and Men. Excellent! I will seem cultured and it’s not a musical.
She is up for just about anything, so we arrange to meet at the theater. I arrive first and pace nervously hoping I won’t be stood up. I wasn’t. I crack a joke when she arrives and she laughs genuinely. Another good sign.
The play begins. She’s never seen it before and can’t remember the plot. We talk for few seconds during the first intermission. She likes it. She smiles a lot. I sense that the play idea is really endearing me to her. She wonders what will happen next.
As the play continues, she gradually scoots to the edge of her seat. She’s really getting into it. I, of course, know the ending and sense that I should prepare her for the disappointment ahead. My date will not be thwarted by Steinbeck. She leans forward as they run away. Her finger nervously twirls a twist of auburn hair. I should do something. She will be so disappointed and shocked.
I sense my opportunity. I will place my arm gently on her shoulder so when the shooting takes place I can reassure her in her grief. Yeah, I will be both sensitive and strong, a virtual knight in shining armor. I quietly lift my arm off of the armrest and begin to extend it out across the back of her empty chair aiming for her delicate shoulder. This is going to be so awesome.
Pow! Lenny shoots Squiggy.
She lurches back toward me in shock and sadness.
My elbow! My elbow!
In slow motion my elbow crushes her pretty little cheekbone. Her head recoils, her neck absorbing the unexpected impact. Saliva slowly dislodges from her mouth. Her pouty lips slowly morph from pout to puff with a slight hint of black and blue.
I envy Squiggy and his quick demise.
Defeated, I attempt the save.
Nothing but the grapes of wrath.
~ Thomas Jones, Yuma, Arizona