Published on August 20th, 2009 | by TLV News0
“What the Faulkner Presents: Adventures With Pinecone – The Date” by Charles Hale (From TLV #87)
Sheila called three days after I talked to her about Pinecone’s fight. I saw the number pop up on the caller ID and I figured it was Pinecone but when I heard Shelia’s voice on the other end of the line my heart rate quickened. I said hello and asked how she was but that was only by instinct. I was so aware of my heart rate, so aware that Shelia calling me and that my heart was beating three times fast and then skipping a beat before three more quick ones that I didn’t really hear what she was saying until the phone went silent.
“I said, do you want to get something to eat,” Shelia said and I shook my head back into what was happening. I told her that would be great and we made plans for the next night. For the rest of the evening I was making lists of things to talk about; some of them I even wrote down on scratch pieces of paper. What are you studying in school, what do you want to do after, seemed like safe starting points but I wanted to have more in depth conversation stimulators. I also wrote down the weather and the upcoming football season as things not to mention unless Shelia brought them up first. Later I ironed the shirt I picked out to wear.
While I was sitting outside the restaurant the next evening waiting for Shelia to arrive I was visualizing where things were going. Everything seemed possible and probable,
romance was on the horizon and I, for one, was thinking that I had earned what was coming my way. She was just wearing a pair of jeans and some kind of yellow shirt but the way she walked toward me was something I’ll never forget. I stood up from the bench when she got close, we exchanged greetings and I opened the door for her. We were seated immediately in a booth toward the back of the restaurant.
“I’m glad you could make it tonight,” Shelia said. “I wanted to thank you for taking care of my brother the other day.” She said it so mathematically, so composed, almost like it was a job interview that I was afraid there wasn’t any romance on her side of the table. I made the decision to turn up the heat on my side.
“It wasn’t nothing,” I said. “You look really nice Shelia. I like your smile.” Shelia smiled when I said it, then she blinked and tried to nod her hair across her face. “Is Pinecone doing ok?” I asked and immediately hoped she would begin to dwell on the subject. We ordered our drinks and she seemed surprised when I suggested a glass of wine. Then she told me how Pinecone was doing, how she was worried about him with the family stuff and all. But I knew I would see Pinecone in a couple of days and could catch up with him then. Tonight I was thinking about Shelia and the faint trace of dimples that appeared on her face when she talked.
“Shelia,” I said. “What are you studying at school?” I tried to remind myself about something I had heard about people falling in love with the sound of their own name. “Do you like living in Tennessee, Shelia?” She began talking about school and her life I and I found myself lost in the fluttering of her eyelashes, in her taking a breath. I interjected when it was appropriate but concentrated the conversation on her. Shelia had interesting things to say about life, her own little philosophies for surviving and flourishing, and she was aware. Aware of herself, but at the same time it seemed she was aware of herself and the effect a single dinner was having on me. My hands were flat on the table; just resting there between sips of wine and at one point she reached out and touched my hand while she was talking. I think it was a gesture to emphasize a point, but maybe it was something more, a little bit of a signal.
When our entrées arrived I ordered us both a second glass of wine. It didn’t matter that the food had taken too long or that the server placed Shelia’s plate in front of me. Our conversation shifts and turns without any effort and I can’t help but think about where we should go to get a drink after dinner. I still wasn’t sure if Shelia was thinking of this dinner as a date but I knew I was going to do whatever I could the rest of the evening to convince her that there was chemistry between us.
This is part 6. To read part 5, click here.
This article was originally printed in The Local Voice #87 (published August 20, 2009).