Sunday, March 3, 2013

Detour

Part II of Fail-Safe


As usual, she was running late. Time wasn't of the essence to her; it was more of a buzz-kill, a hindrance to spontaneity. Maybe I should cancel. Deliberately unhurried, she checked to make sure there was nothing stuck between her teeth, erasing the post-workout shine from her face with a swipe of translucent powder once she'd secured her twisted-up ponytail with a plastic tortoise-patterned clip. Yeah, she was going there. Nothing says "I'm not interested in making an impression" on a first date quite like showing up in a banana clip, an old T-shirt, and worn out jeans. 

 Hippie freakness notwithstanding, California Boy was into appearances, although he desperately pretended not to be. Flicking off the bathroom light, she recalled one of her visits to L.A. where he'd insisted upon picking out all her clothes before a Sparklehorse concert at the Fonda Theater. She'd mistaken this ploy, designed to ensure their swift passage beyond the fashion-police door guards of the trendy new Hollywood dance club he intended to hit after the show, for a gesture of affection. Another ostentatious detour. 


The concert let out around 11:30 pm, and she was ready to call it a night. Sleep deprivation, at least the kind acquired from an exhausting divorce and one too many interminable nights of operating room call, didn't magically resolve itself with a few measly days of vacation. A club? Now? In the middle of the night? You've gotta be kidding me! Bed was calling, but instead she found herself waved inside the thumping, grinding bowels of a seizure-inducing dubstep inferno, adrift in ambient hipsters, watered-down chocolate martinis, and simmering neglect.


Hmm...could these mini-sombreros double as OR scrub hats?
Her girlfriend, Julie, with whom she'd survived anesthesia residency, hadn't met him in person yet. She'd be flying into San Francisco from Iowa for the convention next week. Despite a detailed, and perhaps even TMI awareness of their unconventional liaison, Julie remained supportive. Divorced, financially independent, and as intelligent as she was attractive, she was one woman who never hesitated to cut her losses early. She didn't cry over spilled milk (or anything else that remotely resembled it). Julie knew about Kickboxer Guy, too, and clandestinely, her money was on him. "He's hot!" she'd remarked upon seeing his match.com profile pic. "What's not to love about a handsome, athletic, corn-fed boy from Michigan?"


Allen, in one of his "I'm not amused" moments.
On the other hand, Allen, her faculty office mate and partner in crime, had already met California Boy at a cookout she'd hosted that summer. He was less than thrilled. "Sweetheart, he's taking advantage of you," Allen's refined Charleston drawl warned lovingly as her pulled her away from the grill. "He treats you like crap. I've never met anyone so self-centered. You deserve better!" Allen was probably her biggest fan. He'd encouraged her to start dating again after her separation, helping her tweak her online profile. "No, no, no, honey! Your body type isn't 'about average'-click click click--it's 'fit and trim.' Average means you're five to ten pounds overweight! What are we gonna do with you? By the way, we're going shopping this afternoon for some clothes that actually complement your frame. Say bye-bye to those baggy cargo pants and ill-fitting tops!" He was arriving at the conference early, where she'd be meeting his lawyer boyfriend, Bryan, for the first time. She and B, as Bryan was affectionately known, had been corresponding by e-mail, and he'd already won her over. She couldn't wait to meet him in the flesh. Oddly enough, Allen was later revealed to be an occult conspirator in Julie's Kickboxer Guy cheerleading effort. 


Should I stay or should I go?
Procrastinating only detours time as long as there's time to spare. It was well past dark-thirty, and Kickboxer Guy was probably waiting at the coffee shop. It's now or never. Sliding into her Birkenstocks, she collected her purse and armed the burglar alarm, driving off into the touch and go of that perilous First Encounter wilderness, making sure to park her car as far away from their meeting place as possible in case things went south. She spotted him immediately, sitting at a table outside, coffee in hand. Casually cautious, she approached the patio, at once captivated and perplexed by his easy smile. Was it trepidation...or relief?

Part I: Fail-Safe
Part III: Marvelously Fresh, Decidedly Vague Part IV: From Cupcake Epiphany to The Future Now


     

18 comments:

  1. I feel the tension as you're about to meet, my stomach would have been turning over not knowing what's behind the screen, so to speak. I love the idea of leaving the car at a distance but that also means you'll be out of breath getting to it should you need to do a runner, ha ha ha.

    Anyway, it looks like a good start with that 'easy smile', so welcoming but what happens next?

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    1. Haha, where to park one's car on a blind date is tricky business indeed. And yes, the "not knowing what's behind the screen" was always a bit daunting. Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you don't! :-)

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  2. Kris, such a charming story and I love following it! I really like the way Allen helped direct the new you. He reminded me of my friend, Stephan. I didn’t put it in my blog post about him, but he’d made wardrobe and hair style suggestions for me when we were roommates (good ones, too). Smart and perceptive friends you have to be rooting for Kickboxer Guy over California Guy (knew guys like him when I first moved to CA, so impressed with themselves). I love your line, “driving off into the touch and go of that perilous First Encounter wilderness.” Well put! Had to laugh about how you parked as far away as possible. Excellent the way you built up the suspense at the end. Did she stay or did she grab her java and go? Can’t wait for the installment!

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    1. After reading about Stephan, I definitely saw a resemblance. I don't know what I would've done with Allen and Julie during those crazy times! Tune in next week for...*Paul Harvey voice*...the rest of the story.

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  3. Well Kris, I'm wondering how such an obviously wild child got through Medical School, with your experiences obviously giving you a good grounding to weave these stories.

    I certainly get the picture with some of those lines...`seizure-inducing dubstep inferno' & `corn fed boy from Michigan'. Ha,ha

    (Liked the pic mix btw. What a photogenic lot!)
    Cheers, ic

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    1. You've got me pegged, Ian; sometimes, I wonder how I made it through medical school as well. That was a wild ride itself. Oh, the stories I could tell! I managed to get by with a little help with my friends. Glad you enjoyed the post and the pix :-)

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  4. What I love about your writing is, I can feel what you're feeling. So perfectly descriptive it puts the reader right there. Loved it! Ah dating....love it and hate it. It truly can catapult you back to high school on some level.

    Loved the little hats! Too cute!
    Michelle

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    1. Thanks so much, Michelle; I love hearing feedback like that! Yep, I honestly hope I never find myself having to date again. You're right, it conjures up a lot of that old insecurity from high school days.

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  5. Ah, the kickboxer guy! But you have surely done your homework, at least you seem to be working at it on the go. Is it only me waiting for the next installment with bated breath? Incidentally, do you carry scalpels tucked in somewhere?

    I love how you mix the suspense with subtle humour.

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    1. Haha, not scalpels, but I have heard of some anesthesia folks who keep a syringe of paralytic in their nightstands...kinda gives me the willies. Thanks for your comment, Uma...glad you're enjoying the story.

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  6. Ah, Kris, no heroine of yours could possibly take the safe and prudent road. I sense thrills and danger ahead as we approach chapter three and what lies behind that easy smile.

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    1. You're got me pegged, NP. I'm really having fun, thinking back to that particular afternoon and what was going on inside my head right before my date.

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  7. I've never been on a blind date, but I was able to get a good idea of the experience through your storytelling. Well done, Helen!

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    1. Thanks, Kyle. My sister and her husband met on a blind date 26 years ago, and they're still married! It is sort of a crapshoot, though.

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  8. Kris,
    Blind dates are not for the faint of heart...lol. Another beautifully written piece. I can feel the simmering neglect and the perilous first encounter tension. Looking forward to the next twists and turns.

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    1. Definitely not for the faint of heart, especially if the other person has lied about his or her age! Working on the next installment now.

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  9. What a story so far. Such enjoyable details and I love reading what's going on in your head. Even though I know the ending, I don't care. It's the journery, not the destination -- and what a fun journey! Waiting for the next one!

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    1. I thought about that when I started writing this, Janene, that people already knew the ending, so what was the point? LIke you said, it's about the journey. The evening I met Spartacus, and the weeks to follow, was a pivotal time in my life. It's been such a fun exercise, remembering that moment in time.

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