Note: This is my response to the Daily Prompt for 1/3/2013 of the Scribbler’s January Writing Contest. The genre is Romance, while the prompt is simply: Speed dating… Please read and comment, telling me what you think!
Speed Dating…”why is everything stuck in the fast forward mode these days?” Edward asked himself.
He was no different from his colleagues, young men and women who wanted it all. The money, the fame, the success that the professors at his state college declared were the proper measure of what his degree should mean. Nowhere in the litany of litmus test-like examples was there the mention of a fulfilling relationship with the opposite sex.
He studied the brochure Diane gave him while trying to realistically assess his current position in the grand scheme of things. He was twenty-four years old, with no gray, no paunch, no wrinkles to mention. Enough girls had crossed his path during his time in school that he had no doubt he would be considered attractive. So why was he even considering this alternative?
An over-the-top mother frequently declaring the imperative need for him to join the family business of producing grand kids was one answer. Two older sisters conniving to hook him up with their single friends was another.
Edward was not against a relationship. In fact, he welcomed one with the right girl, whatever that meant. He had enjoyed many a “Hallmark” movie that crammed a whirlwind romantic relationship into the prescribed two-hour time frame. Of course all impediments easily melted away in the final moments as the requisite happy ending tied up the plot.
Edward had never seen this in real life. Sure Debbie and Callie were set with their committed husbands and six kids to please his mother, but for him the calculus had never added up. It was either right girl wrong time, or wrong girl wrong time or some combination. So now he was willing to throw all caution to the wind for “Speed Dating”?
300 seconds seemed too short a time to get any feel, but then he imagined it might be an eternity with the wrong one as well. He thought Diane might leap through the receiver as she responded joyfully to his pledge to accompany her the next night to this contrived paring of “lonely hearts.”
He was immediately thrown by Diane’s presence when she joined him in the lobby of the restaurant the next evening. her exuberance at throwing herself out to strangers was unexpected. They had been best friends since nursery school and already declared each other off-limits. So why was he feeling an unusual attachment now? He welcomed the announcement for everyone to find a table so the event could begin.
The first candidate he faced was a doctor. Wouldn’t mom be excited? Too bad she was stuck on herself. PASS!
Number two was a florist assistant. So full of passion for her boss’ business and sly to slide a discount card across the table with her home and cell phone numbers. Eager much?
Too blonde, too flirty, too needy. The seconds ticked by slowly as the candidates proved to be uninspiring.
“Oh my gosh! Edward Kelly, is that you?”
Edward’s eyes darted first to the woman’s somewhat familiar face, and then for a quick scan of her name badge. “Jen” was the three-letter name this person chose to identify herself.
“No!” Edward said to himself.
He looked back to the girl’s eyes and knew immediately it was exactly whom he thought. It was Jennifer Penley, the Jennifer Penley, woman of his dreams. The one he had managed in secret to elevate to mythical proportions as he pined silently for her attention.
“Wow! What are the chances of seeing someone you know here?” she said.
“I know,” Edward said scrambling to remember the clever lines he thought of to say if he ever had the chance. Here it was and he was panicking.
“Can i ask you a question? Are you as embarrassed to be here as I? My friends would say I have lost my mind.”
“Mine too,” Edward smiled.
“I won’t do the internet dating, too many weirdos!”
Edward caught himself reminiscing about all his missed opportunities to declare his feelings for this woman.
“So, I guess our time will be up soon,” Jennifer said looking for the monitor who declared the time to switch.
“NO!” Edward shouted internally. “Not again!”
He reached out for her hand and babbled incoherently for the next one hundred forty-two seconds about how he desperately had loved her in college but was too shy to mention it. How he wanted so much to date her and show her he could be her only one. He watched her face screw into a look of complete surprise and waited for her to jerk her hand from his and leave the table early. Instead she turned his hand over and wrote something with her pen.
“Call me tomorrow,” she said with the smile that filled his dreams.