VOL. 1  NO. 1  AUGUST 1999



Better Than Ben & Jerry's

By S. Craig Zahler

(First of a three part series)

Date One.

There I am waiting in front of the restaurant: the guy with the fitted leather jacket, snug maroon sweater and black denims. It's a pretty good outfit, trust me. With unconvincing nonchalance I thumb through an old crime novel I've brought with me.

I've been set up on many blind dates. The moment of anticipation, waiting for her to arrive, I find to be a moment of truly heightened nervousness, so I try to busy myself with a task. In the distance every woman could be her. As they approach the chances become less likely, but there are always a few that seem to fit her description, either physically or garment-wise. For a moment the unknown She is mine for the evening. We fall into our future, having drinks and revealing secrets. Then she flashes by, wondering why I'm looking at her so anxiously (it wasn't her I talked to on the phone after all). Another two-legged question mark approaches. But this (thankfully) is not her either. Where is she?

Watchless, I look at a digi-clock on a nearby building. Ten after eight. I walk to the nearest payphone and dial up to check my messages: a friend of mine, informing me that a girl that I'd shown a passing interest in has no interest in me. I hang up with a little less confidence and return to my painfully contrived "thumbing through my paperback" automatonery.

My phone conversation with her couple of days earlier:
"So what kind of food do you like?"
"Oh, I don't know…" she (un)informed me.
"I'm a big eater…I love food. I've got a list of restaurants that I go to, just narrow it down by cuisine, and we'll go someplace good, I promise."
"Well if you don't know any restaurants…"
I try a different tactic- "Is there anything that you don't eat?"
"Meat and chicken."
"Do you like Indian food?" This is the type food that I'd eat most often if I were a vegetarian.
"I eat that a lot…"
"You want to have something different?"
"No, that's fine." Fine. Wow, watch those superlatives. Fine = Adequate. She can't wait!
"Tuesday evening at eight." (Tuesday?)

So there I stand in front of one of NYC's nicer Indian restaurants waiting for her. I look at the clock. She's nearly half an hour late. Did she forget? Get held up? Blow me off? Get-

"Hi, sorry I'm late," said she.

She, stretched tall and thin, 5'8" plus heels. She, with long spidery fingers. She, with dark wide eyes. She, with a shoulder length shower of light brown hair. She, with lips of feathers wrapped in satin. She, the most attractive woman who would ever spend an evening with me.

"No worries, I was just reading."

We sit. We eat. We talk. I try not to stare at her pillow-like lips, but they bend and fold with a hypnotic grace. They curl and purse while pushing air and sound. They tell me things. She's a masseuse. She has a strong interest in movies. (I'm a cinematographer and screenwriter among other things), but I usually tend to avoid talking about them because, at the risk of sounding terribly elitist, I get very technical and argumentative with my analysis and tend rip other people apart. In other words, me talking about movies doesn't present me at my most amiable. I try to find out about her instead. She grew up in NY and her parents are from Argentina. I tell her a little about me. Everything seems pretty formal and businesslike. Not unfriendly, but rather perfunctorily date-like. At one point I go to the bathroom. As I head back to the table I see her sitting there alone. Could she be with me? That beauty? Have I fooled her?

continued on [Next Page]



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