I wanted to ask Sarah Long out for a long time. A great classmate, a great editing partner, a great friend. I finally ask her out….and our first date was at McDonald.
So up the step I went, opening the door for her.
“Such gentlemen”, she said, “Thank you Brian”.
“Not a problem”.
We walked up to the counter and looked at the menu board, but honestly I wasn’t that hungry.
“You know what”, I said, “I need to go to the bathroom.”
“Alright, don’t take to long.”
Yeah, I need to hurry. So I rushed to the bathroom, fixed up my board shorts and baseball cap, and made a special call...
- "MCDONALDS! What kind of a setting is that for a first date!"
- "I think it is a very clever plot device, the setting matches your character”.
- "What do you mean by that?”.
- "Well, you’re cheap, so I decided to write you into a cheap setting”.
- "Stop cussing, what do you want me to do?”.
- "I am going to walk back outside, and I want you to change the setting. Write about a nice restaurant or something”.
- "What I should create?”
-“What should you....!@#$ You’re the writer! Be CREATIVE!”......
I straighten my dinner jacket and dusted my black dress pants as I put my phone back into my pocket. There was a couple of french colognes on the counter. Can’t say no to free samples, so I dappled some on my wrist and neck.
Feeling more refreshed, I walked out of the room and enjoyed the nice aroma of braised pork and garlic butter salmon. Our first date was in Le Bistro. Pretty nice set up for a first date.
She was already sitting at our table, the waiter taking her drink orders. He left before I arrived. A real shame. I could use a glass of Riesling.
Sarah had a glass of red wine in her hand. A sizable spill dripped from her double chin.
“Oh”, She said, “Clumsy me." She smiled with a buck tooth smile, stained with a brown tinge. Her red blouse was ready to burst from her midsection, a slight tear could be seen from her attempted sewing section. Though she tried to clean up her spill as best as she could, a sizable river flowed down her tire handles, reaching to her Cancles.
I fuddled with my phone, trying to make a text.
“Are you calling someone?” she asked.
“Yeah, sorry” I said, “Urgent call."
I quickly text Him....
-“You got to be kidding me! First I ended up in McDonald, and now I am taking a gorilla to dinner!"
-“Come on, When I wrote you I planned out a grumpy, slightly cheap man. How the heck did you end up as such a asshole."
-“What the...your the writer! Why are you asking me?”
-“Whatever. Why are you complaining about her looks. I wrote she was a great girl and that you wanted to go out for quite a while”.
-“Yeah, but there was no description on page one. I expected some one sexy!”
-“Geez. So change again?”
-“Yes, change again"
I put my phone back into my pocket and took a look at Sarah. And she was gorgeous. Her blooming lips were puckered as she took a long drink from her wine glass, slip of black hair covering her perfect, tanned face. Those piercing eyes shined through her shadowed eyeliner, giving her sexy a Asian stare with a sign of hunger and wanting. A drip of wine accidentally fell on her beautiful, full bloomed breast. Another drop fell to her tiny skirt, and as she wiped the drops off her long and smooth legs, she flexed in such an inviting position.
I don’t know what happen, but my nose bleed out and immediately I was on the floor. My phone was lying next to me, with a text flashing....
-“Yeah, too much”.
-“Alright, lets try this”.....
“Brian!”, She said, “Are you okay?”.
“Yeah”, I said, “Just had a allergic reaction, maybe I need water”.
“Yeah, maybe”, She said.
I got up slowly, wiping the blood from my nose. Sarah was by the waiter asking for my water. That was when I saw for the first time how great she looked. Truth is I never notice her looks, focusing more on the work we both had to do. But tonight she did look wonderful. Straight black hair, a red long sleeve blouse, and long skirt that modestly covered her legs to her ankle in a respectably and intellectually way. She looked great, but there was a scar by her arm. Never seen that before.
As we sat back down at our table, I had to ask.
“Sorry”, I started, “Uhm, by the way, is it alright I can ask where you got your scar?”
“This”, She said, “This is back when I was a kid."
“Well, care to tell the story?”, I said.
“Heh, well”, She said, “Its a long, boring story."
“Oh, it can't be that bad. I would enjoy listening to it."
A text came up on my phone
-”Let me know if you want to change anything”.
“What?”, she ask.
“Oh sorry”, I said, “It's nothing. But, yeah, I would like to hear your story."
“Well”, She said, “This was all back when I was a little girl in China. It was just me and my mom at the time living in a small village in Shang Hi. My dad left to work in a textile factory in Beijing to help raise money for us to move us out of the village. I’m sorry, this is going to be a long story. Are you sure you want to hear?”.
“Of course, keep going”, I said.
She sighed a took another sip from her drink.
“One time my dad flew us to Beijing awhile for vacation”, she continued, “He wanted us to have a small taste of what our life could be in the future. Beijing was wonderful. The city and the many people was exciting for any country girl. All the packed skyscrapers and houses made me feel like I was in the worlds largest amusement park.'
‘One day my dad took me over to the factory and.....it was really frightening. The machinery were like the mouth of a beast, and all the people were so menacing. I knew they were concentrating on their work, but they were so cold and unemotional. Now, one of the machines were winding up some blue threads. I wanted a closer look....but then my sleeve got caught when I look to close."
My phone rang another text
-“Whenever you want to change something”.
I put my phone in my pocket.
“Sorry about that”, I said, “Please, that is if you want to keep going”.
She gave tiny grin, “Well, my arm got caught in the needles that were threading the fabric and it pulled me in.”
“Wow”, I said, “so how did you get out of the machine?”
Her eyes were a little teary when I asked. Maybe I should have not pushed it. But she keep going.
“My dad found me when I cried out”, She continued, “ He ran over and tried to pull my arm out, but it was so close to the machinery that he had to try and pull it out slowly so that my arm wouldn’t be torn off. So, as he was slowly pulled my arm out, his uniform got pulled in. Since he was closer to the machine, his arm got caught and he was quickly pulled in. I was only scratch up, but his arms were shredded.”
A small tear fell down her check. I gave her a napkin to wipe it away. It was an awkward moment, for me at least, but she welcomed it and her smile slowly came back.
“I’m so sorry to bring that up”, I said.
She took small breath and composed herself.
“No, its okay”, She said, “...the lacerations on his arms were very severe, and he died before the medics came. His insurance compensation was ironically enough to move us into Beijing. In the end he really did give his life to move us out of the village”.
Unconsciously I looked through my pocket for my phone.
“Sarah”, I said, “If you had the chance, and I know this might sound weird, but if you had the chance, would you change that? To have your dad back?”.
She did look at me weird, but shrugged it off, taking my question as just hypothetical. Instead she answered me back.
“My dad was part of a system of low accountability, little compensation and safety”, she said, “there are always days when I want to have my dad back, and for a long time my scar was a wicked reminder of my foolish mistakes. But after I graduated from high school, I realized that it was the overall poor treatment to Chinese workers that was also part of the problem. This scar has now became a great motivator to try and change the workers policy so that accidents like my dads couldn’t happen again”.
My eyes was wide open, and I couldn’t help but be in awe of her story. Awed, and somehow ashamed. Somehow, I felt a sick feeling in my gut, and I had to get up. To get out.
“Sarah, I’m sorry”, I said, “seems like I’m not feeling well, and I have to cut the night short”.
An obvious look of disappointment crossed her eyes, but she sighed and nodded.
“That was quite a fall you had early on”, she said, “Maybe we can try another time?”.
“Yeah, of course”, I replied.
I paid for the meal and told her good-bye. I wandered around the parking lot fiddling with my phone.
- ”So how did it go”
-“It went well”.
-“To be honest, I was very surprised that you didn't ask to change anything. What happen?”
-“I guess I am an asshole. The life she had, the determination she has. It made me feel like a real douche after my attitude from the beginning of the story. I don’t deserve a great person like that. Did you write that change in me this whole time?”.
-“The weird thing is, you grew up on your own. I just wrote her story. You were the one that changed”.
-“Well, that’s weird. Encouraging, but weird”.
-“Tell you what, I am very proud of your growth. I’ll end this story with a little gift for you. Check your phone”.
A text message came up, and it was from Sarah
“Sorry if my story scared you during our meal. But, to be honest you are probably the only person that I would feel comfortable telling to. You are a great guy, and I have been waiting for you to ask me for a long time. I know this was not the best first date, but I would really like to see you again. Maybe we can have another dinner at Macaroni Grill, this Friday?”