The car stops. He takes a deep breath, then reminds himself that he can do this. As he enters the building someone else is leaving and holds the door for him. A polite thank you and he is on his way up with no need to buzz. He wonders if he should take the stairs, it would be good for his health. Then he remembers that his destination is on the twenty-fourth floor. Nope, the stairs will do just fine. As he begins his climb upwards his breathing gets deeper and louder. So much so that an older woman riding up alongside him asks if he is alright. He replies that he is and is just nervous.
The woman takes a quick look at the man and asks, “First date eh?”
“That obvious? It’s a blind date too.” The man says as he tries to hold his embarrassment in.
The seemingly pleasant conversation is halted by the elevator as it stops at the sixteenth floor and the older woman calmly states, “Well this is me, oh and dear don’t forget to use protection. Would be such a shame to get her pregnant on the first date.” She can feel the red on his cheeks and laughs to herself as she steps off the elevator and it closes quickly behind her.
The elevator now returns to it’s path upwards and the man reaches into his pocket knowing fully that it is a futile effort. No “Protection.” For a split second panic encroaches on him, but it is pushed back by a wave of disgust. “What a filthy old woman.” he mutters to himself. Trying to get his mind off of the nasty and embarrassing conversation that just occurred he pulls out his phone and does the usual round of checks. No texts, no E-mails, no updates, notifications or what have you, just the reminder of his reservation in thirty minutes. He thought about whether making a reservation was too formal for a first date, it probably was, but he’d rather be prepared than stranded without a back-up plan. By now he had reached the twenty-fourth floor and was approaching the door. The door, the barrier of no return he reminded himself. Perhaps he should turn back? Sure his friends would make fun of him for weeks and they would be right to do so, but that might be better than what could be behind the door. More deep breaths, he was standing in front of the door now. Before he raises his arm to knock he does one last check, this time on his appearance. His hair was in groomed, shirt buttoned correctly, and shoes tied. One last quiet reminder for himself that he could do it. Arms shaking as he gave the door three gentle knocks.
Fifteen seconds of pure distress now and he let his fear take over. What if he had the wrong apartment? What if he was in the wrong building? Wrong street? How many things could have gone wrong? Instinctively he reaches for his phone hoping to check the address one last time to reassure himself, but he doesn’t fearing that whoever answered the door would think he was one of those people who did nothing but stare at their phone all day. So he stood there and waited. Door opens and there is a woman who immediately scowls at him, “You didn’t buzz. How did you get in?”
Like a deer in the headlight he stood their for a moment and when he regained his composure he replied in the least convincing tone, “Someone held the door for me.” Now she was just glaring and she held that glare just long enough that he could feel the sweat forming on his brow.
She suddenly broke character and announced, “I’m just messing with you, Dan right?”
“Yeah… That’s me, so you are Jennifer then?” Dan
“Oh no, I’m just her roommate and she prefers to be called Jen FYI.”
“Good to know, so what do I call you then?”
“Oh you think you are going to see me again? Confident. I’m not so sure about that but I’ll entertain the thought. Names Lizzy by the way. Do you want to sit down? I’m sure Jen will only be a few minutes.”
“You’ve got a bit of a mean streak don’t you?” Dan made his way into the apartment and after being gestured to sat down on the nearby couch. “Like I bet everyone at your office just loves you.”
Lizzy just tilted her head and laughed, “Oh you are funny, perhaps I will be seeing you again! The funny man that just walks into the building, real winning combination there bud.” She wasn’t even being subtle at this point. “Perhaps next time you’ll bring some chloroform? I think that would really give you a well rounded sort of feel. Jokes aside though did the elevator give you any trouble? I swear someone has been working on it at least twice a week for a month now.”
“Oh no, no problems with the elevator. I had a rather strange conversation with a old woman on my way up though.” Dan was trying to get some of the heat of himself.
Totally unaware of what he had triggered he was stunned to find that Lizzy’s voice rose several decibels almost instantly, “It was Mrs. Durns wasn’t it? Oh that woman is such a pervert! Did you know that when I first moved in she asked if I was Jen’s girlfriend? Like she just assumed I was a lesbian just by taking a look at me! Gah… Then she came over one day and told us both about her “phase” in college. Absolutely horrifying to have some old woman tell us such graphic things when we barely even knew who she was? WHO DOES THAT?!” Lizzy would continue her ranting for several more minutes and Dan simply did his best to be polite. Luckily for him Jennifer came out in time to stop her rampaging roommate before anything got too out of hand.
No amount of deep breathing could have prepared poor Dan for Jennifer though. Rich black hair all tied up in some neat styling that he would never learn the name of. A wonderful shade of Hazel filled her eyes, surrounding that seemingly flawless skin, and topping it all off was an adorable smile that just screamed girl next door.
“Oh hell yes, praise the Lord you are just so pretty! I don’t even know how that’s possible but as I live and breath there it is right in front of my eyes! Oh baby hallelujah!” Having said all that Dan decided to ponder long and hard about all the ways that he could kill himself in the next twelve seconds.
Jennifer then said, “Well thank you for… that. Um… I’m Jennifer.”
Back in control of his body Dan tried to salvage the situation, “Dan. Pleasure to meet you Jennifer.”
“You can just call me Jen, it’s what everyone calls me. Anyways, where are you taking me tonight Dan?”
“Oh right, there is this little place over on fifteenth that is really good and there are a few street performers who do their acts around there as well if you are interested in that sort of thing.”
“Sounds great. Don’t wait up on me Lizzy!” Jen was now gesturing towards the door.
As the two stepped out of the apartment Dan thought about how in a way he was glad he had shouted that compliment at his date. The worst part of the night was surely behind him now.