Saturday evening Anna dressed for her date with Matt. She didn't know what they were doing so she put on a fitted skirt, her good blouse, and a pair of medium heels. She took extra time with her hair and makeup, then, went in to finish making popcorn for Chris and her fifteen year old niece who was spending the night to keep Chris company.
At 9:20 and Matt still hadn't arrived. She decided to call him when he rang the doorbell. She invited him in and he was a little surprised that she was already ready to leave. “No wonder you’re friends with Gabe, he’s always on time too,” Matt said.
“I’m never on time, but I’ve had an extra twenty minutes to get things done,” she responded sweetly.
She said good bye to Chris and Leena and followed Matt out to the car. He had a BMW two door sports car. The car sat so low, she had to pull down her skirt when she got in.
He told her the name of the restaurant where he made reservations, she smiled and responded that it would be nice. She hadn’t ever heard of the restaurant before and Matt seemed slightly put off that she didn't get more excited. She asked him what type of food they serve.
“Oh, you haven’t been there before?” he questioned rather relieved that it was from ignorance and not from lack of excitement.
“If it doesn’t have a kids menu, I haven’t been there,” she joked and he smiled acceptingly.
“It has to be difficult being a mom all the time. Don’t you ever just want to cut loose and go party?” he asked.
“I miss dancing. I used to go to dances every weekend as a teenager and young adult. Now a days the only dancing I get to do is to the grocery store musak and it’s mainly aimed at embarrassing my son,” she laughed. “Now that he’d older I take him with me to do just about everything else I want to. We hike and camp and he endures my furniture remodeling habit.”
“Furniture remodeling?” he questioned
A little embarrassed she confessed how she is one of those people that goes around neighborhoods collecting furniture left on the curb. “If it’s solid wood furniture I can re-stain it or repair and paint it. Then I turn around and sell them. It gets out some of my creativity and since it’s free except for the paint and my time, I can earn a small profit.”
Matt launched into a story about an acquaintance who owned a boutique that sold furniture and collectibles. Anna tried to follow along and smile and nod at all the right places as he dropped names she didn’t know but he seemed to think she should. That led to another story about an estate auction and chaos that ensued there.
He’s very entertaining, even if I don’t know the places or people he’s talking about. I can see how charming he is and how easily it would be to get swept away in just having fun with him. I must seem rather boring in comparison.
She shared a few related tales. None of which were nearly as glamorous, but almost as entertaining, she hoped.
When they reached the restaurant Anna could see why Matt had been disappointed she didn’t know it. The valet was mandatory and small white Christmas tree lights lit the walkway through a Japanese garden. Romantic and expensive would be an enormous understatement.
Matt, attentive, opened the door for her as they walked in. The maitre 'd confirmed their table would be ready in a few minutes. Anna looked at her watch, surprised how quickly they had driven there. He must not worry too much about traffic tickets.
After 10 minutes Matt started to get antsy and made a few remarks about having a reservation and being seated soon. Anna, unsure if he appeared concerned because he thought she was put out or because it actually bothered him, tried to be cheery and show that it didn’t matter to her. She enjoyed herself.
A large party walked in and Anna recognized a singer and her husband among them. “Oh, that’s why we’re waiting. They had someone more important than us to prepare for,” Matt explained with just a hint of resentment in his voice.
“As long as they leave enough food for us, I’m fine,” Anna replied smiling.
They were finally seated and Anna had quite a time deciding what to order. The food was delicious but not nearly worth what Matt paid for it. The view was worth a million dollars though. As they finished eating Matt pointed out the tables he needed to visit and say hello. He walked over to a table with three men and a woman and introduced her to them. Another table with an older couple spent a few minutes chatting with them. Finally, two women at the bar were invited to meet up with them later at a dance club. Anna smiled at the idea of going dancing. He definitely listens well.
He made a phone call to tell someone that they were headed to the club tonight. He was super charming and gave an estimated arrival of 20 minutes. Apparently, it surprised the person on the other end they would arrive so early. The valet brought his car to them and they headed toward the club. Anna was not actually all that familiar with the city of Los Angeles. She grew up in the suburbs but hadn’t been in the city for anything other than morning visits to the fabric district since age 19. They drove down one way streets and a small alley and she lost her bearings quickly. She noticed a long line down the sidewalk in an area where she felt uncomfortable getting out of the car.
Matt pulled into a space and turned off the car. Anna glanced at her watch and realized it was 12:30am. She stifled a yawn, excited to get inside. As they walked down toward the entrance, Anna noticed the many young women, dressed in very clingy and scanty clothing, bedecked in plentiful jewelry and make up. Most of them were exceedingly attractive in her opinion.
The bouncer at the door recognized Matt’s name and they walked right in. The noise and lights immediately assaulted Anna. Hundreds of bodies filled the club and the walls reverberated with the beat of the music. Matt directed her toward the bar and ordered a shot then turned to ask her what she wanted. She asked for just a coke, when he looked at her quizzically, she added that she doesn’t drink. Is it me or does he look disappointed?
Drinks in hand, they headed for a less crowded corner of the room before they started dancing. Matt offered to get them a table, but as a teenager Anna had learned to always keep her drink in her hand. Dangerous things can mysteriously happen to glasses left unattended.
Anna didn't know the song, most of the songs, but she liked the beat and adapted her dance style accordingly. It is a free feeling to lose yourself in the rhythm of a song. Matt was a good dancer. No white boy rhythm there, but after a few minutes dancing alone, several women approached them to say hello to Matt. He greeted each one with a hug and kiss and introduced them to Anna. Only one of the women seemed happy to meet her and she couldn't put her finger on it, but the whole thing made her nervous. Within a half hour a few guys were sitting at a table and invited Matt to join them. Anna followed, but it became clear this was a guys only thing, so she excused herself to go to the ladies room.
“You can leave your glass here, you don't have to take it to the bathroom,” Matt suggested. Anna looked at her glass, took a large sip and set it down. Nearly empty, she didn't need to drink the rest. She turned toward the restroom and wove her way through the bodies across the dance floor.
In the light of the women's room she checked her phone. Seeing the hands show a quarter of two already surprised her. She wondered how much later Matt planned on staying. She took a few extra minutes to fix her hair and reapply makeup, not in any hurry to return to the loud pounding sound.
When she did return Matt greeted her sarcasticly, “I thought you fell in.”
The shorter blond man sitting next to him added, “No, she just got herself prettied up for you.”
“The girls are dancing,” another man sitting across from Matt informed her as he nodded and pointed in the direction of the dance floor. Her options were to butt in at the table with the men or join the group of women dancing together.
“Here, I ordered you another,” Matt shoved a glass in her hand indicating she should take it with her to dance.
“I'm not thirsty right now, maybe after I've danced for a while,” she put the glass back on the table and walked toward the crowd dancing. She approached where the women she had been introduced to were dancing and waited for someone to acknowledge her. A few of them noticed her but no one said anything or invited her to join them. Even Cari, who had seemed friendly when they were introduced, didn't say anything.
She finally just decided to ignore them and danced by herself. She lost herself in the music for about a half hour when she decided to return to Matt. He had asked her on the date, either he should spend time with her now or she just wanted to get home. She had a real life to wake up to tomorrow morning, or more correctly later that morning.
Matt saw her coming and once again handed her the glass of soda. “I'm alright,” she said, “I wasn't dancing that hard. Are you going to come out there or just sit here with the guys?” She challenged him, hoping it would motivate him to make a decision.
He stood up from the table, took her hand and directed her back toward the women. They opened their circle for him and he pulled her along. He began to dance facing her, but it became clear the other women were distracting. Several of them actually grabbed his arm and turned him their way or danced closer to her than she felt comfortable with and she moved slightly allowing them to edge their way in front of him. A petite dark haired woman, named Jana, Anna thought, whispered, “don't be so jealous, around here we share.” Anna gave her a surprised look and then turned back to look at Matt who smiled at a tall red head.
Not the competitive type, Anna stayed on the outside of the group. Matt looked at her from time to time and she pretended to be having fun. One glance he caught her yawning. She tried to hide it, but he looked at his watch, put his arm around her and suggested it was time to go home. She nodded gratefully. Matt said his excuses to the women, then walked back to the table to say good bye.
Once they were outside, Anna took a deep breath of night air, glad to be free of the claustrophobic crowd. It struck her as funny how she had enjoyed going out and dancing in clubs when she was younger. She had to admit now that, no longer in her teens and twenties, she wanted to actually dance with her date.
The quiet walk, periodically interrupted by sounds throughout the city, made Anna wonder more than once if they were safe in the area so late. Nothing happened and they headed toward her home. “I'm sorry I'm such an old mom,” Anna said to break the silence, “I can't remember the last time I stayed out this late.”
“Maybe you need to do it more often,” Matt suggested, “take a little time for yourself and have some fun. You are a woman after all, not just a servant to your kid.”
Anna let out a stiffled laughed at his comment but didn't laugh inside. He clearly does not understand that when you have a kid, you kind of give up part of your life. Taking time for myself is one thing, letting it take over my life is another.
He talked about his usual weekend activities and talked about each of the friends she had met at the club. One of the women, Meghan, has a daughter and two of the men, James and Devon, have kids too and they didn't let it stop them from having a good time.
Quickly they arrived at her house and Matt pulled into her driveway. He jumped out and opened her door then walked her to the porch. “I had a nice time with you tonight,” he said, “especially the time at dinner. I enjoyed talking to you away from the tumult of yelling kids and people around us.”
She smiled and agreed dinner was great. She thanked him for everything, “I would never have gotten the chance to eat in such a wonderful place. And I really enjoy dancing. Thank you for taking me.”
She turned slightly to unlock the door when he slid his hand around her waist. Anna looked up at him surprised. He met her gaze for a moment and then looked down at her mouth. He slipped his fingers into her hair and pulled her close. His head bent toward hers and he kissed her passionately, barely waiting for her to respond. She felt a surge of warmth through her chest and tried to return his emotion.
Am I a good enough kisser? He's probably had plenty of experience with different women. Should I move my lips more, or less? Maybe if I wrap my arm around his neck? This should be a very romantic moment, why am I worried about how well I'm doing?
She could feel his well defined shoulder and neck underneath her hand and admitted to herself that he is definitely well built and attractive. She couldn't help feeling self conscious though. Anna felt almost relieved when he pulled his head back and looked at her again. “Could we go inside?” he asked with a jerk of his head.
Unsure exactly what he was asking, she responded with her first excuse, “The kids are sleeping.”
“Even better,” he answered bending down to kiss her on the neck.
“Thank you for the offer,” she slipped farther out of his arms, but smiled, she didn't want him to feel rejected. “But my niece will be asleep in my bed so I don't think it's possible.” Sensing his next suggestion she added, “I don't think I could possibly relax thinking about either of them walking into the living room.”
He took a deep breath and released her from his grasp. He kissed her briefly and agreed that maybe tonight is not the best night. “I'll have to plan another dinner, some other weekend. Maybe Chris can sleep at Gabe's house.”
Anna smiled but didn't answer, hoping that dinner never happened. She said good night, unlocked the door, and with a smile, shut it tight. She leaned against the door, closed her eyes, and breathed deeply. Why do I feel like I want to cry? She walked swiftly into her room to change her clothes and then headed to the bathroom to get ready for bed.