Unlucky in love, I decided to revamp my dating approach. I needed something that would bring my style more in line with the famous schmoozers of TV and movies. I needed to be Cary Grant or even Hugh Grant at the height of their studliness (to clarify, not in car in Los Angeles or any other compromising location). Ever notice how movies always show the most romantic lines? "Here's looking at you, kid." "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." Could it get any sexier?
After enduring several hours of chick flick research, I discovered a common thread behind every Matthew McConaghey or Bryan Goesling character: They turn every comment into something sweet and flattering about their date. "How are you doing?" is answered "Great, now that you are here." Your favorite number is always two, "because that's what we are together -- a couple." It's not a dream about the future, it's a dream about our future together.
It takes practice to be mushy, but if a two-bit street performer turned Hollywood big shot can do it, I can give it a try.
Grethel and I met at a race. She and I had both run relaxing first miles and I caught up to her about midway through the second. She was taking the race easy, treating it like a "B" competition. I was planning on setting a season mark when I spotted her a few hundred yards ahead of me. You guys know what I mean by "spotted." I sprinted to catch up and was out of breath by the time I reached her.
I was huffing too heavily to get out anything comprehensible, but she glanced my way as I slowed into her pace. It took one look -- one simple glance -- and I surrendered my race objective. I didn't care anymore how fast I ran. Maybe, I thought ruefully, my favorite number is one. Then, thinking of the implications of a slow pace on my final placing, I figured it wasn't.
"Hey....hey..." She removed her headphones. "Hey..." I had a hard time getting the words out. How far had I sprinted? This wasn't very flattering.
"Hey." Her emotionless response didn't seem tired at all. How was she so fresh? I huffed more for a few seconds before she started to replace her headphones. NOOOO! Had to beat the buds.
"Can I have your number?" I gasped. She smiled and increased her pace. I wouldn't be able to keep up. "Can I? Can I?" I called after her.
After the race I saw her again. She gave me her number with a weird grin so I checked to make sure it wasn't the rejection hotline while she was still in sight. It wasn't. When she answered, I set up a date to a calorie-laden Italian food joint on our town's main thoroughfare.
Grethel came through the door at Oreida, a family diner with excellent french fries, wearing a light blue blouse fastened above her stomach to give the appearance of a maternity garment. As she approached my table, I bit back a comment comparing her to Katherine Heigl.
"Did it hurt?" I began.
"Did what hurt?" Grethel bit!
"Did it hurt when you fell out of heaven?" I felt pretty smug. Grethel's strained smile told me I wasn't the first person to try that line. I would have to be more creative.
Grethel started talking about another runner on her team who did something or other and before she got through all the details I had zoned out and was watching Sports Center reruns on the TV in the corner of the dining room.
"C?" Grethel called me back to reality. Be mushy, I remembered.
"Sorry, I just keep getting lost in your eyes. See, Grethel, your eyes are blue like the ocean and I just keep getting lost at sea" This was working. After I told Grethel that if I could rearrange the alphabet I would "put I and U together," that I was a "thorn by a rose" and "found" her smile in my back pocket, I ordered another side of fries.
Before we left Oreida, I asked for Grethel's hand. She gave it to me and I marked a line down the center with my finger. I explained that this line was a river and that there was a bunny on one side of the river who wanted to cross over to the other. Grethel asked why he didn't just swim across. I explained that the bunny couldn't swim, that the river was too big to jump and the bunny was a "she." Grethel nodded and asked what the point was. "I don't know," I answered, "I just wanted to hold your hand."
Grethel explained she had to return to work and thanked me for lunch. I wished her an excellent afternoon. It had been a lot of work, but Grethel seemed to be digging the mushiness.