In the interest of full disclosure, I’m going to go ahead and tell you that the date with Russ was almost over before it even began. I had a fashion crisis going through my closet, which is highly unusual for me. Nothing seemed to fit or fit right, and the maternity clothes that I knew would fit made me look pregnant (something I didn’t want Russ to figure out on his own – I wanted to tell him first). After my fashion meltdown, that did involve me in a puddle on the ground crying, I found a lovely nondescript charcoal gray dress to wear. It was loose in all the right places and yet I still felt good in it, so I was able to pull myself together. In fact by the time Russ got there I was feeling pretty good about myself.
Russ was wearing a navy blue suit, he looked so handsome that it took my breath away. His eyes were sparkling and his smile was so bright when he looked at me, that I blushed. I was touched when he offered me his arm and escorted me to the car, opening my door for me and everything! (I couldn’t help but think how pleased my parents would be at those gestures.)
“I hope you’re hungry,” Russ said as he slid behind the steering wheel.
“I could eat,” I said smiling at him, but I silently prayed that he wasn’t planning on taking me out for sushi.
Russ and I talked the whole way to the restaurant, in fact I was so engrossed in the conversation that I didn’t notice where we were going, so when I realized we were in front of one of the nicest restaurants in town (well definitely the one with the nicest view) I was surprised and excited! I had been there several times with my family but never on a date before.
Nancy’s Restaurant on the Bay had a reputation for wonderful food, excellent service, and a beautiful setting and for Valentine’s day they pulled out all the stops. As Russ and I walked in the door, I was handed a red rose, which I guess could’ve seemed cheesy but somehow it added to the magic. Ever, the gentlman, Russ seated me at the bar and after we ordered drinks (a diet coke for him and a ginger ale for me to try to make sure my stomach behaved itself) he went to check on our reservations.
I was sitting at the bar, marveling that I had never seen Nancy’s so crowded before when I heard a voice call out to me.
“Joy, I knew that was you,” a tall lanky man said as he patted me on the back.
I recognized his face as someone that worked with Rob, but I couldn’t remember his name. I smiled at him, while I looked past him for some sign that Russ was coming back. I didn’t want Russ to think I was trying to pick up some random guy on our date.
“Joy, I just wanted you to know that Rob told me about your situation and the decision that you guys made, and I want you to know that I’m really impressed,” them man said which immediately focused my attention back on him.
I felt like a glass of ice water had just been poured down my back, “I’m sorry, what did you say?” I asked.
“Rob told us about the baby and the adoption and everything, and I think it’s really admirable what you guys have decided.”
Everything seemed to start spinning, isn’t this exactly one of the things Rob and I agreed that he was not going to do? Isn’t this exactly the reason why?
“I, um” I couldn’t think of anything to say, and I felt my face flush and my eyes dangerously close to filling up with tears. Then to add to my stress I saw Russ looking at me, smiling while he made his way across the room towards me.
Rob’s friend saw where I was looking and still completely oblivious to the shock and upset that he caused he smiled at me, “well I can see that you have plans for dinner, I just wanted to tell you how great I think what you’re doing is,” and with that he disappeared into the throng of people waiting for their tables.
“Everything Russ okay?” Russ said as he took his seat next to mine.
“Absolutely,” I said, trying to sound more confident than I felt, “that was a friend on my ex-boyfriends.”
“Ah,” Russ said and he smiled reassuringly at me, and for the time being that friendly reassuring smile seemed to make everything else fade away.
Russ had the best laugh, it lit up his whole face and brightened his eyes. I found myself trying to think of the funniest stories I had just to see the way his eyes lit up when he laughed. I told him about the guys I worked with, he said I sounded like a proud Mother Hen, which made me blush.
It was a wonderful date, and Nancy’s lived up to it’s reputation. The food was amazing, we split the crab cake appetizer, I had a fish with artichokes and balsamic vinegar and Russ had steak. The server was silently attentive, always sliding in to refill glasses but never intruding on conversation. The conversation was great, we talked and laughed, the stars twinkled over the view of the bay, and everything seemed perfect and then it hit.
The check had been paid, we were sitting there talking, when I started to feel green around the gills. I guess I really hadn’t eaten anything as acidic as the Balsamic Vinegar that had been on the fish, and my stomach was not impressed.
“Oh please, no, not here,” I silently prayed.
The lull in our conversation brought Russ to his feet, “shall we go?”
“Yes,” I said, smiling tentatively, still praying inwardly that I was not going to be sick.
As we were driving back to my apartment, I was still praying and still fighting against the waves of nausea. If I could just make it inside my own apartment to be sick in the privacy of my own bathroom, everything would be okay.
“Hey, let’s get ice cream,” Russ said excitedly, turning into the Circle K where we met.
“Sure,” I said trying to smile brightly at him, I wondered if I looked as green as I felt, silently, inwardly praying not to be sick and ruin this date.
We ventured into Circle K, where he got a drumstick and I got an orange sherbet push-up pop. He was grinning like a kid as he started his drumstick while we drove on to my apartment. We talked a little but he was preoccupied with his ice cream and I was preoccupied trying to keep from being sick.
Ever the gentleman, Russ walked me to the door, he was saying all the right things to assure me that this had been a good date, indicating he would like to see me again soon. I smiled and told him how nice that would be, and then after unlocking my door, I turned and gave him a big hug and I dashed inside.
I just barely made it to the bathroom, where I was sick, sick like I hadn’t been since early on in my pregnancy. Clearly fish and Balsamic vinegar were not a good mix for me while I was pregnant. I had just brushed my teeth, splashed some cold water on my face, and come back into the living room. I was trying to decide how badly I had mucked up the end of the date, and while I was standing there I heard a surprising noise outside my door.
“Um, Joy,” a voice said, followed by a soft knock.
I opened the door and there was Russ, covered in ice cream that had leaked out from the bottom of his drumstick. There were so many thoughts running through my head that I couldn’t get a handle on them, I opened the door invited him in and then I burst into tears.
“Joy, what’s wrong?” Russ said, looking alarmed.
I went into the kitchen and grabbed him some paper towels and tried to get ahold of myself. Russ followed right behind me, still looking alarmed but looking like he felt helpless covered in ice cream.
“Russ, there’s something I have to tell you,” I said and the words came out in a rush, “I’m pregnant, and maybe I should’ve told you alraedy, but I liked you so much and I didn’t want to ruin everything but now you took me out on this wonderful date, and I ruined it by getting sick and leaving you on the front porch covered in ice cream. I’m so sorry.”
The words all ran together and at the end, the tears were sliding down my face, and Russ walked over to my sink where he dropped the drumstick, he wiped his hands clean, and then he gave me a hug. We stood there for a long moment, me crying and him holding me in his tight grasp. I couldn’t believe how could it felt just to be hugged. I hadn’t realized how long it had been since I had been hugged.
“Not a great time to start dating?” he asked.
“Probably not,” I agreed.
“But maybe a good time for new friends?”
“That would be nice,” I agreed, and with that our date, and any thoughts of dating while I was pregnant were over.
While Russ didn’t run screaming from my apartment, a few minutes later, I was curled up in bed thinking that for now dating was just not for me. However, I was at peace with my decision. I filed it under “lessons learned” and at least I had a new friend and Russ had not run screaming from the apartment. That was something.