I'm digging through my old Myspace blog and recycling posts from as far back as 2005.
Howard opened the menu and nervously scanned the selections. It was his first date in over three years and thus far was going very well. When he showed up at her front door, she hadn’t seemed taken aback by his size, an admirable start to a blind date with Howard. Now they were sitting at a table in Trattoria La Strada, one of Howard’s favorite restaurants. He felt his stomach growl as he studied the menu. Petto Di Pollo Alla Parmigiana. Bistecca Alla Fiorentina. Filetto Al Chianti. Even rolling the beautiful words around in his mouth made him salivate. He had to make a good first impression, though. It had to appear that he was at least attempting to lose weight. Suddenly, the waiter was standing beside the table with their wine.
“Are you both ready to order now?” he politely asked.
Howard looked to his date. She was nodding, so he quickly made his decision.
“I’ll have the Insalata Di Pere Al Curry, please.”
A salad. Light and healthy. Besides, he could stop at Burger King on the way home if necessary. The waiter took his menu and turned to Howard’s date.
“And for you, Signora?”
“Yes, I’d like the Costolette Al Rosmarino, please.”
After the waiter returned to the kitchen, Howard nervously began a conversation with his date. She wasn’t necessarily an attractive girl, but she was charming. An alum of Sarah Lawrence, she had moved West with the Teach for America Program. She told him horror stories about teaching at an inner-city high school, though he never detected a note of bitterness or fear in her voice.
Within twenty minutes, their food had arrived. Howard tried to act excited about his salad. When he saw his date’s plate, though, his tongue flickered at his lips. Huge lamb chops smothered in olive oil and rosemary. He couldn’t stop staring at her plate. Howard’s date became uncomfortable, interpreting his staring as a reflection on her.
“I don’t usually eat this much. I missed lunch today, though, because I was tutoring.”
Howard assured her that it was okay, that he liked a girl who didn’t eat like a bird. The whole time he spoke, though, his eyes never left the magnificent mutton in front of her. She pretended she didn’t notice and picked up her fork.
“Buon appetite,” she said and began cutting into the lamb chops.
Howard picked up his fork and stabbed at a pear and a few sun-dried tomatoes. Why had he ordered a salad? He could have at least ordered pasta. At least the carbs would somewhat satisfy his aching stomach. The combination of meat and spices floating over to his side of the table made Howard’s head hurt. He could imagine his teeth tearing into the juicy meet, the marinade saturating his taste buds. He wondered if he could get his date away from the table long enough to sneak a few bites.
But how to make her leave? Was there something she’d left in the car? Could he make her have to use the bathroom? Maybe he could tell her about his trip to Niagara Falls or the time he went white water rafting. What if he spilled some pepper and accidentally blew it her way. Surely she’d begin sneezing and have to leave the table for a moment. Better yet, he could spill wine on her. The bread basket was sitting beside her glass; it would look like a total accident.
Howard just had to have a bit or two of what she was eating. He could make her mad. He could say something mean and make her storm out of the restaurant. He was paying for the meal anyway, and it’s not like he had feelings for her yet. Sure, she’d been nice so far and seemed to genuinely be interested, but how long could that last? He’d have to eat in front of her or take his clothes off at some point, anyway, after which she’d put her tail between her legs and run. How would he do it? Make fun of her? Say something rude or hateful? He looked at his date, chattering away about some poem a mentally-challenged student had written. No, he couldn’t hurt her. He’d have to do better than that.
Then it hit him. He’d make her lose her appetite. He’d burp or fart or pick his nose. He’d cough without covering his mouth. He’d clean out his ears at the table. He’d sneeze and snort and maybe even spit in his napkin. It would have to work. No woman would sit at a table and continue eating with such an uncouth dinner companion.
Howard began straining, deciding to open his performance by breaking wind. He could feel his skin becoming flushed.
“Howard, are you okay?”
He told her he was fine and speared another piece of greens as he told himself that in a few moments he could ditch the salad and consume what was left of the lamb chops. He chewed heartily as he felt the pressure welling up inside, the gas making its way toward the seat of his pants. His date continued to talk, something now about a concert this Tuesday and needing someone to go with her. Howard couldn’t listen, though. All of his concentration was focused on getting her to leave the table and hopefully the restaurant.
“You know, Howard, I feel terrible. I ordered all of this food and just can’t eat anymore. Please take this other lamb chop and finish it. I don’t want it to go to waste, and I don’t like leftovers.”
Through the straining and pushing, Howard heard enough of what she said to piece together the meaning. He focused his eyes on her, slowly relaxing his body. Howard looked at his date and looked at the pork chop, lingering on the latter for several seconds longer. Through clenched teeth he attempted to protest.
“No, I couldn’t, I have my salad—“
“No, really, there’s no need for it to go to waste. It’s delicious. And, um, I noticed your greens look a little brown. Wouldn’t you rather eat this?”
Howard looked away from the lamb chops long enough to inspect his salad. Not a spot of brown anywhere. He looked back at his date and gave her an inquisitive look. She pushed her plate across the table.
“Really, Howard, it’s okay. I mean it.”
Howard looked his date in the eyes and smiled. She smiled back and patted his hand, wondering aloud if it would be possible to get ice cream after dinner.
As Howard chewed his first bite, he wondered if this was love.