Ellen Knowles entered the posh restaurant, shook the snow from her black Rivington leather kitten-heel high boots, removed her pink cashmere wrap, and then approached the thin-faced, large-bellied maître d’.
“Happy New Year, Madame!” he exclaimed in perfectly rehearsed passion.
“Soon enough, I hope,” she replied without looking at him. She unbuttoned her overcoat.
“How may I be of service, Madame?” he asked as he admired her immaculate wardrobe.
“I’m meeting someone; perhaps he’s here already?”
“Ah, yes,” the maître d’ purred. “You must speak of Mr. McLeay. He said a ravishing woman might arrive in search of a rendezvous. Follow me, if you please.”
Ellen trailed the maître d’, ignoring the fact that the tails of his tuxedo remained inert due to his rotund posterior. Finally, she perceived a lone man wearing a rather shabby brown sport coat. He sat at a table dressed in white cloth with two lit candles upon it. Tiny flames danced along the man’s forehead as he perspired.
“Hi,” he said upon noticing her approach. He rose from his seat and offered an unadorned hand. “You must be Ellen.”
“I am,” she said as she gracefully—and rather slowly—removed her black leather gloves. She finally took his still hovering hand within her own and, after realizing that he intended only to shake it, said, “And you must be Bartholomew.”
“Lord! Please—call me Bart. Bartholomew makes me feel like I’m back in grade school.”
She smiled, her red lips dazzling in the soft light surrounding them, and assured, “Then ‘Bart’ it shall be.”
Ellen remained upright as Bart took his seat in an effort to hide his frumpy black pants. She waited a few moments as he readjusted his silverware, eyes darting between her and the cutlery, then removed her own black double-faced wool Bella overcoat. Though the establishment achieved a pleasing ambiance and reputedly served exquisite cuisine, Ellen found their lack of a coat check service deplorable.
She positioned her outerwear over the back of her chair in order to avoid any potential wrinkles before seating herself.
“I’m glad a meeting could finally be arranged. Anderson had wonderful things to say about you,” she commented while grasping the corners of her dinner napkin. She flung it onto her lap with effortless efficiency.
Bart snatched up his napkin sprawled upon the table, fought the urge to stuff it into the collar of his plaid shirt, and instead tossed it to his right leg. “He said great things about you, too. Though, I have to say, he didn’t tell me you were quite so …”
Bart trailed off and averted her gaze.
Ellen’s brown eyes grew slightly wide, and, had she been a less polished woman, might even have lifted her eyebrows in anticipation. When it became obvious that Bart would rather play with his salad fork than conclude his statement, she pressed the matter.
“He didn’t tell you I was quite so what, Bart?” she requested pleasantly enough, though her pulse quickened.
Bart finally allowed his salad fork some time alone, glanced up at her, and said, “Aw, Ellen, I hate to be so forward. I can only imagine what you must be thinking right now, so I better come out with it. I have a habit of sticking my foot in my mouth, you see, and even though it’s been a long time, I don’t remember being too impressive on first dates, especially on such an important day …”
“It’s only New Year’s Eve, Bart. It’s not so very important.”
At the conclusion of Ellen’s statement, Bart’s face seemed to take on a mixture of both ash and crimson. He felt a blind date on New Year’s Eve could only be outranked by a date on one’s birthday or Christmas itself!
“You were saying, Bart?”
“Oh, right. Well, Ellen, what I was about to say, before I worried about being too direct, you see, is that Anderson didn’t tell me, well, he didn’t tell me you were so … forgive me, Ellen, but he didn’t tell me you were so beautiful.”
Though her posture remained pristine, Ellen’s heart rate tripled and she couldn’t help but smile … a little. She leaned almost imperceptibly forward, so as not to be judged a tart by any of the establishment’s eavesdropping connoisseurs, and replied, “Nor did Anderson tell me you were so very handsome.”
A wide smile spread across Bart’s face.
Inching ever closer toward her date—meddlesome eavesdroppers be damned—Ellen divulged, “I lied, Bart. A blind date on New Year’s Eve is very special indeed, and though I struggled against my family’s discovery of this engagement, Anderson found it humorous to email all of them with the news.”
Laughter erupted from Bart’s depths, and he confessed, “That fool did the same thing to me, too! I bet I’ll have at least four different messages on my voice mail tonight.”
The server at last arrived and set a menu before both Ellen and Bart. “Shall we perhaps begin with a glass of wine, Madame and Monsieur?”
Ellen perused the menu, as did Bart; however, because she was so absorbed in the restaurant’s delicious selection, she didn’t notice his eyes bulge when he read the outrageous prices.
Returning her attention to the waitress, Ellen asked, “Before we order, I must inquire: Do you honor AARP discounts?”
“Of course, Madame, though we require a membership card.”
Looking across the elegant dinner table, Ellen asked, “How about it, Bart? Did you bring your card tonight?”
His heart fought to free itself from the confines of his chest as Bart answered, “You bet your boots, Ellen.”
“Very good, then,” Ellen said to the server. “We’ll start with a bottle of Dom Pérignon Rose.”
Bart praised, “You’re my kind of woman, Ellen.”
Despite all her refined inclinations, Ellen winked in return.
Copyright © 2008/2019 by Scott William Foley
This work originally published in the February 2008 edition of 60 Plus News and Views
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this story may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews or articles.