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Silly Goose

First dates are nearly always awkward. Figuring out if you're actually on a date in the first place? Even more so.

By Tiffany MercerPublished 3 years ago 5 min read
Silly Goose
Photo by Zuzana Kacerová on Unsplash

I’d changed outfits six times before settling on my favorite lucky flannel and cropped tank top, yet somehow—on this of all days— I’d forgotten to put on deodorant. Rats.

I was nearly fifteen minutes late to pick her up because I’d forgotten my backpack at home despite my obsessive care in packing it, and needed to turn the car around after a mile of red lights. Double rats.

I blamed these missteps on a much more significant problem. The nexus of my nervousness, the core of my concerns, the veritable rat-king gnawing ruthlessly at my resolve was this: I wasn’t sure if she realized I had intended this hike as a date.

She was gracious and glowing—as usual— when I pulled into the parking lot of her apartment complex, waving away my stuttered apology as she slung her own backpack into the backseat of my car and slid into shotgun.

“Never apologize for being late in the morning. If you weren’t, I would have been,” she grinned.

The common cliché for a crush is butterflies in the stomach; lately, the sight of her slightly crooked teeth and cheeky dimples awoke what felt more like a fully-grown, furious goose bludgeoning indiscriminately around inside my ribcage. I flexed my fingers on the steering wheel and redirected my attention to the rearview mirror. “Bagels and coffee for the drive, then?”

“Only if it’s my treat,” she stipulated. “You put together the whole picnic, after all.”

The drive to the trailhead was long enough for both of us to finish our breakfast and an episode of her favorite podcast, sesame seeds and bad jokes scattering with equal abandon as I navigated the familiar, twisting road.

“You look really cute,” she told me as we stretched briefly outside the car.

Thanks, but as a friend or in a gay way? Because I think you’re the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen in my life, and I mean that in a super gay way, is not what I said. I stopped at, “Thanks,” then clumsily added, “So do you, but that’s nothing unusual.”

We first met at the rock climbing gym when she’d been stood up on a date. I was the odd one out in my own group after one friend flaked at the last minute. Normally I wouldn’t have had the moxie to approach a complete stranger—especially one as intimidatingly mesmerizing as she was—but the way her shoulders started to slump as the minutes stretched on made my stomach twist. I invited her to join us while she waited for her date, so we’d both have a rappelling partner. When the gym closed without the damn fool showing up, we all announced that his loss was our gain and urged her to join us for beers and artichoke dip at the nearby brewery. She’d agreed, we’d all exchanged numbers, and as easily as that she was one of us.

That was nearly three months ago, which apparently is exactly how much time it takes me to fall head-over-heels, try to convince myself it’s hopeless, realize how profoundly I’ve failed, and invite the object of my affection out on what—in retrospect—probably sounded more like a girls-day-out than a date. In previous conversations she had indicated that she’d dated women in the past, but it felt presumptuous to assume she saw me as more than a friend. Then again, I was about as perceptive to flirting as the average ball of moss.

“I know,” she smirked, derailing my train of thought with a wink. “Let’s get this show on the road. I was promised some killer views!”

We hiked for a little over two hours before we reached the overlook, stopping to photograph mushrooms and wildflowers. I let her lead so that she could set the pace and enjoy the scenery for the first time—not so that I could admire the fit of her denim shorts, though if I’d been devious enough to consider it my motives might have been less pure.

Setting up the picnic blanket on the breezy summit proved to be a bit of a challenge, but we soon had it secured beneath our gear. Her eyebrows shot up as I produced a wooden cutting board; plastic containers full of assorted cheeses, sliced salami, dried apricots, olives, cornichons, seeded crackers, rosemary-roasted almonds; a bottle of nice merlot; and two stainless steel tumblers.

“Damn, look at you pulling out all the stops! You’re really trying to impress me, huh?” she teased.

I chuckled and shrugged, feeling like this was my moment to say something, but I let it stretch on just long enough for it to begin to feel awkward, and true to form she came to my rescue by changing the subject.

“What type of cheese is this? The outside looks like chocolate or something.”

“It’s called bellavitano, and that’s actually espresso powder on the rind. It’s supposed to go well with this… um… Merlot,” I trailed off as horror trailed in. “Oh, God. I forgot a corkscrew.”

She laughed, and it echoed like a bell against the trees and boulders. “Aw, no! Hold on, let me see.”

I handed it to her, and she examined the top with a jaundiced eye. The corners of her lips quirked.

“I believe I can save this patient with emergency surgery, but we have to act quickly. Nurse, scalpel,” she commanded, snapping her fingers and opening her palm.

I handed her my keys. She used one to make a scratch in the thin metal near the top, then peeled it back with her fingers, revealing a screw-off cap. I slapped my forehead.

“Success,” she snickered, handing back first the keys, then the bottle, then lifting both tumblers for me to fill. “To be fair, I kind of cheated. I love this brand, and I was pretty sure it had the easy cap.”

I snorted as I tipped the bottle, and the purple-red wine seemed to gurgle with its own good-natured laughter. “I swear I’m not always so spacey.”

“I prefer to think of you as out of this world.”

I accepted the tumbler she passed me and returned her smile, my inner chest-goose rattling my ribcage. “You said you love this type of wine?”

“One of my favorites!”

“I haven’t tried it, but I liked the description. ‘Bouquet of bittersweet chocolate, dried cherry, and floral notes’, apparently. Smell it, what do you think?”

She did, then sighed happily and took a sip. “Yep, that tracks.”

“Um,” I started, then hesitated. Come on, now or never. “I’m glad you like the bouquet. Of the wine, I mean. I guess it’s traditional to bring flowers to your date, so, y’know. I sort of brought you a bouquet. Right? I’m kind of hoping that counts, and I’m really hoping you might see this as a date.”

Her eyebrows shot up.

“It’s okay if you don’t,” I added, panic rising, goose absolutely hysterical.

She laughed. I felt my shoulders start to rise in mortification, and my fingers started to curl. Before they could, she leaned in close and placed one of her hands over mine.

“I definitely do. I’m glad you do, too,” she breathed.

What she did next made my toes curl, instead.

dating

About the Creator

Tiffany Mercer

Just your basic, garden-variety fiction dweeb. :-)

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    Tiffany MercerWritten by Tiffany Mercer

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