They met for the first time on a hot, humid evening in June. “Maybe we can meet at that new rooftop restaurant?” asked the boy over the phone. Their parents had officially met a week ago and now it was their turn.
“Sure”, she answered. “Who in his right mind would meet a girl outdoors in such hot weather!” was what she really meant to say.
He walked up to where the long-haired beauty was sitting, gazing at the polluted sky. His heart was racing, hers was sedated. “I hope I didn’t keep you waiting too long”. She looked up and gave him a forced smile.
“So my mother is really fond of you. She was raving about you all day.” said the boy.
“And why is that?”
“She thinks you and I are a perfect catch..I mean match!” He turned red quicker than a teenager falling down in front of his class.
“Mind if I smoke?” She took out a dun-hill light from her purse without waiting for his response. “So what exactly do you do for a living?” She blew a big puff of smoke and watched it blend into the air.
“Oh, I am a bank manager. Customer Services to be exact”. He kept rubbing his fingers, like he was trying to wipe off something. His thin bony fingers reminded her of skeletons in an Indiana Jones movie.
“I always thought bankers were so boring.”
He waited for her to add a “but” in the sentence, but it never came. Trying to hide his increased discomfort, he laughed in a squeaky voice and tried to change the subject. “I’ve seen your paintings. They are extraordinary. I painted once in my arts class in elementary school. I was diagnosed with chronic art-pain.”
“I think they have medicine for that.” She actually smiled. His heart skipped a beat. Hers was gradually awakening from slumber.
“Would you like to eat something, or drink?” he asked.
“I thought you’d never ask. I am starving.” She finally looked at him straight in the eye. “You want me to order?”
“Sure! Deciding from a menu card is almost as intimidating as meeting a girl for the first time.” He couldn’t take his eyes off her big, hazel eyes. “I’ll have anything in vegetarian.”
She ordered a double beef burger with cheese and he settled for a Caesar salad with extra croutons.
“Do you like to travel?” asked the girl.
“I get sea-sick, air-sick, car-sick and sometimes walk-sick too.” Color drained from his face. He had thought of a different answer at home. “Oh but I am a good swimmer. No puking there!” he added, trying to save face.
She laughed. A deep-set, liberating laugh that could force a butterfly out of its chrysalis way before time. A laugh you wouldn’t want to miss for the world.
“I never learned how to swim.” Her eyes betrayed fear. “Water can be cruel you know.”
He wanted to ask more, but felt intrusive. “But I take it you travel a lot?”
“I practically live in my car. And if not that then I am in the air, flying from one random destination to another,” she stopped to tie up loose hair into a pony tail, “Being an artist has its perks you know”, she winked.
The food arrived. She ate with complete abandon. She didn’t flinch when her lips gave the biggest hug to the plump patty and mayo spilled from the sides and on her chin. He had never seen a messy eater look so beautiful before. He almost forgot to take a bite of his salad. Food was never a top contender for him.
After almost ten minutes of faint chewing sounds and an occasional moan of pleasure, she finally spoke. “How do you feel about children?”
His fork stopped midway. “I love kids! I happen to be the favorite uncle of five nephews and nieces.” He was sure he had her on this one. What girl could resist that?
“Children are fun as long as they aren’t your own,” she answered in between sips of lemonade, “I think it’s the hardest job in the world!”
She will change her mind. He was sure.
He was right. She did change her mind. After forty years together with three children and seven grandchildren, she still thought bankers were boring as hell. And that is why he was now a successful businessman. She still couldn’t resist a good beef burger and he learned to enjoy food. He finally convinced her to stop smoking. The only transport he didn’t puke on was a hot air balloon, so they spent many hours flying together. And she learned deep-sea diving.
The fish and the bird, were indeed quite the catch.