Not So Short Story

Marrying Matt Damon

Only 4 more days until I can sleep in again. This is my first conscious thought on Monday morning. I know it seems anticlimactic to start the week by counting down until it’s over, but I need all the motivation I can get, and this seems to help. One more snooze won’t hurt, I think to myself. I am now guaranteed to be sitting in traffic anyway.

Shit, shit, shit. I really need to get up. I’m late. Do I have any clean clothes? Can I save time by not shaving my legs? Think… do I have clean pants to wear? Ok, now I’m really late, I have to get up right this second. What do I have to do today? Is it anything I can put off until tomorrow, when I will undoubtedly wake up at a reasonable hour, and have plenty of time to not only shave my legs, but also do something to my hair other than comb it and grab a rubber band. Yes, even through my sleep-fogged mind, it’s all coming together. It’ll be so much easier to get my work accomplished when I’m appropriately styled and am not thinking about my stubbly legs rubbing against my pants all day. Now that I’ve so cunningly rescheduled all my work for today until tomorrow, I might as well go back to sleep for a bit. Thank God that’s all sorted out.

I got to work at the crack of 10:30 and found karma on my side for once. My boss, a horrible and rather unhygienic woman, was in a meeting and hadn’t realized that I was late. Score. The meeting broke up just about the time I settled into my office. As I hunched over my desk to appear busy I could see the approach of a frumpy, slightly stained and cat hair covered skirt out of the corner of my eye. It had to be Gladys. She had been saddled with the rather unfashionable name by her father Gladfry, who had a bit of a George Forman complex. I feel certain that the fact Gladys means lame wasn’t taken into account during the naming, but I’ve always wanted to thank Gladfry for the hours of entertainment that has provided me. She was coming around for the “I’m-a-cool-and-social-boss” recaps of everyone’s weekend. As she sat down on the corner of my desk I flinched inwardly, she had just planted herself on a stack of my files. As I may have mentioned, she leaves a little to be desired in the cleanliness department, and I wasn’t sure what germs I would come away with when I worked up the courage to touch said files again. I did know, however, that Clorox wipes and anti-bacterial soap were in my not-too-distant future.

“So what kind of trouble did you get yourself into this weekend, Kate?” Gladys asked.

“Well, I went to a pretty wild club on Friday, I saw Matt Damon there. Saturday morning was strictly recovery time. Saturday night was a party, and I saw Matt again. Do you think he was following me? Well, whatever, those actor types aren’t really boyfriend material. Then Sunday it was out with some old friends…dinner and a movie. So pretty standard really. What about you?”

Now whether or not any of these things actually occurred is immaterial. One of the first things I learned at this job was that Gladys expected a certain level of entertainment from your recaps. She was living vicariously through her employees and a story about groceries and laundry was unacceptable. I always felt like if my weekend hadn’t been impressive enough, it would go into my permanent file.

Permanent File #100597
Employee Name: Kate Murphy
Date of Hire: August 24, 1999
Job Title: Designer, Internet Clients Only

Weekend 1 consisted of cleaning out refrigerator, found unidentifiable object in crisper drawer.
  • Could be exciting from a danger standpoint, but only if she tasted object.
  • Upon further discussion, employee disclosed that object was picked up with tongs and thrown out, followed by tongs. So not exciting.
 Weekend 2 consisted of watching TV and reading backlog of newspapers. 
  • Not exciting at all. Am giving employee two more weeks to impress me. 
Weekend 3 consisted of mopping floor and grocery shopping.
  • Clearly employee has no drive to succeed. Seriously considering salary reduction (what does she need the money for). 
Weekend 4 consisted of throwing wild party that resulted in police being called on a noise complaint.
  • Very exciting! Clearly employee was preparing apartment for this blowout during previous weekends. Was totally off base about drive to succeed. Raise almost certain at next review.

Here’s the truth about my weekend. I did in fact go to a club on Friday and see Matt Damon, it was movie club and we watched The Bourne Identity. Saturday I slept late, then went to a friend’s house where a few other people were gathered, and having had my curiosity piqued the night before, watched The Bourne Supremacy. And Sunday was, in fact, dinner and a movie with old friends. So you see how that all could be turned into a story exciting enough to satisfy Gladys. Pretty clever, huh?

Of course this plan of attack does have its downside, a completely bug-eyed Gladys was now full of questions about my weekend and possible love affair with Matt Damon. I sidestepped providing further details in a masterfully brown-nosing move by insisting that I had talked about myself enough, and that I was on the very edge of my seat with anticipation to hear about her weekend. Ego sufficiently stroked, Gladys attacked the retelling of her weekend like it was her daily early morning snack muffin (not to be confused with her mid- or late-morning snack muffins).

“Well, I did take home some work Friday night.” That sounds about right I thought to myself. “But that was only to prepare for this morning’s meeting, otherwise I never would have,” She quickly added. “Then I spent all day Saturday shopping and got the cutest hat and sweater set for Professor Fuzzybits.” A name she had bestowed upon her poor cat without even the slightest hint of humor or sarcasm. “Then Sunday I went for a run in the park.” I feel certain what this actually meant was that she went to the park across the street from her apartment fully intending to do nothing more strenuous than sit on a bench. But she happened to notice a hot dog cart and was forced to move at an ever so slightly accelerated pace to flag him down before he moved on.

I obviously had no other course of action but to respond, “Oh really? A run in the park? You may not have noticed, but I’ve gained a bit of weight lately and just can’t seem to motivate myself to do anything about it. I wish I could be as disciplined as you are. I’m so jealous.” The compliment made her grin proudly, as intended, which made me grin proudly. What she didn’t know was that it also displayed what I can only hope was blueberry stuck between her teeth. Kind-of ruined the moment of triumph I was having. Luckily Gladys had already decided to move on to one of my co-workers and repeat this bizarre little Monday morning dance with them.

As she walked away I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why I’d just blurted out about having gained some weight. Truth be told, I was starting to suspect that I’d gained more than just the little bit I’d been claiming. If the fact that all circulation to my feet stopped the instant I had zipped up my pants this morning was any indication, it was quite a bit more. But I had to look busy today and work was no place to think about personal issues anyway (sweatpants prohibited by dress code, weeping and screaming “Why me Lord?!” prohibited by conduct code). I would just have to add it to my list of things to accomplish later.

Notes to Self for Tonight…
  • Stop by drugstore on way home. Must possess latest, hottest lip gloss as seen during segment of ET.
  • Feed fish. (Side note to self – have no memory of last fish feeding - task may turn into fishy funeral. Additional note – if fish has indeed survived must take better care of it).
  • Delve into the deeply troubling and emotional issue of weight gain and its consequences, i.e. lack of self-esteem, motivation – also consider health risks.
  • Finish article in US Weekly about Britney Spears, her step-kids and her pregnancy – feel certain this is sign of Apocalypse, find out other signs so as to be prepared.Only 3 more days until I can sleep in again. Got to work close enough to on time. Legs not shaved, hair not styled. Will do both tomorrow for sure.
Only 2 more days until I can sleep in again. Not quite on time to work, but snuck in unnoticed. Legs still not shaved, hair still not styled. Totally doing both tomorrow.

Only 1 more day until I can sleep in again. On time to work…mostly. Legs have gone past stubbly to furry, comb snapped in half during hair detangling this morning – couldn’t recover. Setting alarm 20 minutes early for tomorrow, I’ll end week looking spectacular.

I can sleep in tomorrow! Completely late to work. Claimed unspecific “car trouble.” Have given up on society imposed dictate of shaving and styling hair - decided to go completely natural, and let hair in all its forms grow and be free.

As I’m leaving work on Friday afternoon Gladys yells out of her office, as she always does, “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” I assume this means that putting on a Cher wig, dressing my cat up as Sonny and video taping our rendition of ‘I Got You Babe’ for later viewing by tortured employees is perfectly acceptable. Thank God I won’t have to change my plans. What I actually intended to do was immediately put on my pajamas, cook some pasta, and then settle in for a long night of reality TV viewing. Three of my favorite things combined into one evening…could it get any more perfect?

When I got home, I had three messages waiting for me. The first was from my mom, “Hellllooooo. Kate Elizabeth, this is your mother. Call me back sweetheart.” The second was an odd one; all I could hear was static and a barely audible voice chatting on about something I couldn’t quite make out, probably a wrong number. The third was from my oldest friend in the world, and by that I mean we met in middle school and hadn’t managed to kill or run each other off yet. Beth apparently was multi-tasking when she called me, “Dominic, you dumbass, I said that risotto goes to table 3,” she was yelling. Then she added, clearly to herself, “So cute, but sooo dumb.” at this point she must have realized the answering machine was on, “Oh shit, did this thing beep? Ok well if it did, Kate I just heard about a party tonight that we have to go to. I don’t get off until 10:00, but then I’m coming by and getting ready at your place. And don’t even bother to prepare the philosophical debate of party versus pajamas that I know you’re already planning in your head. No excuses, you’re coming with…see you at about 10:30.”

Shit, shit, shitty, shit, shit. By the tone of Beth’s voice I knew my standard argument of ‘if I didn’t watch reality TV then who would, and if no one does, then all those production people would lose their jobs and wasn’t supporting the families of these people time better spent than making awkward small talk with strangers’ wasn’t going to cut it. I was comforted only by the thought of her late arrival and need to get ready here. That meant I could get ready with her and still have several hours of alone time with my beloved trio of pjs, carbs and crap TV.

At exactly 10:30 (just as the cute newlyweds squealed with excitement as their Tiki-inspired bedroom love nest was revealed on HGTV’s Design on a Dime), there was a knock on my door. I opened it to find Beth looking tired but something else was just under the surface, excitement maybe. She gave me a hug, came inside and by the time I closed the door had landed, duffel bag in tow, on the couch. “Thank God I had intended to go out on the prowl tonight one way or the other and brought a change of clothes with me to work.” she said, propping her feet up on the coffee table. As I looked at Beth and took in the distinct odor of food, frizzy hair, greasy face and completely stained chef’s uniform I said in all seriousness, “You look great, besides isn’t the way to a man’s heart through his stomach? This look could really work for you.” The comment earned me a throw pillow to the head. “Ha, Ha, smart ass. I know full well that I look and most probably smell like ass on a platter, but that is irrelevant. We need to be focusing on what’s important and that, my friend, is why it is we need so badly to go to this particular party.”

The glint in Beth’s eyes as she talked was one I hadn’t seen in a while, and it meant trouble. “I’ll spare you from having to beg for the answer,” she continued, “because it’s just too good. We absolutely must be in attendance at this party because…it’s at Kelly’s house.” Kelly is a girl Beth and I went to school with and while she threw a decent party it was nothing I was willing to leave my pajamas for, the confusion must have shown on my face. “All right, so that in and of itself isn’t spectacular,” Beth continued, “but this next bit is. When I talked to Kelly today, oh by the way she said she tried to call you, thought she left a message but wasn’t sure since her cell was dying. Anyway, when I talked to Kelly today, she said Brandon was coming and that he was bringing a bunch of his single soccer buddies.” Now this piece of information was more interesting. Brandon was Kelly’s ex-boyfriend and in a truly Twilight Zone fashion, when they broke up and said let’s stay friends they actually did. Brandon played soccer on a community team and had some extremely dreamy teammates.

It took little convincing after that to get me up and searching for an outfit that hid my ever-increasing self. As a side note, it’s really hard to get excited and feel good about going out when “Fatty, fatty 2 by 4, can’t get through the party door” is playing an infinite loop in your head. Maybe it’s just me? With Beth scrubbed fresh and looking quite presentable and me stuffed into some ever slimming black and looking quite…well quite like I was wearing black…we were off. The party was in full swing by the time we arrived, and it would take some pretty crafty doing to secure a couple of adult beverages and some as yet unattended to soccer hunks. But Beth and I managed. I had landed with Xavier, a South American grad student who played…something on the team and was a monument to all that was man. It was a good 2 hours later during an extremely impassioned speech on his part about an unfairly thrown red card during blah, blah, blah - as long as he kept chatting with his adorable accent he could have been discussing his life long love of sporks for all I cared - that I spotted Kelly and waved hi. She made her way over and, as we were doing a quick catch-up, Brandon walked by, briefly said hello and recruited Xavier to help him bring the spoils of a recent beer run into the kitchen.

Kelly eventually left me to greet the rest of her guests and I realized that I had probably lost Xavier for good. This was just as well considering I still hadn’t shaved. As I moved into the crowd to find Beth and compare scorecards, I bumped into Brandon. “Oh, hello Kate. It’s nice to see you again.” “You too,” I said distractedly as I scanned the room. “If you’re looking for Xavier he left…with someone else. You’re not his type anyway.” Brandon snapped. “Oh, really and what is his type, exactly?” I asked, not just a little surprised by his tone. “Well, Xavier only dates girls of the model variety and that certainly doesn’t describe you.” Once I recovered from the shock, I responded in the iciest voice I possess “I was actually looking for Beth, I think it’s about time we got going.” When I finally found Beth, who was now completely in love with the goalie (come to find out so was his wife), I was in a full-fledged rage about what a jerk Brandon had been.

Only 4 more days until I can sleep in again. By the time I got to work Monday I was even more pissed off about the whole episode. It was ridiculous, I mean two whole days had passed, and I was still fuming about Brandon’s complete lack of social grace. So when Gladys came around for Monday morning recaps, I was completely distracted. I couldn’t come up with my normal Pulitzer-worthy fiction and just blurted out the truth. “Well, I went to this party on Friday and I was chatting with this guy, having a nice time, then this other guy came up to me, and we had kind of an argument.” As soon as it was out of my mouth I thought that was so stupid …it’ll never be good enough to keep Gladys happy. She quickly yanked me from my thoughts by asking, “It was Ben Affleck wasn’t it?” “What?!” I stuttered at the complete absurdity of the question. “Well, as long as things are still going ok, I figured you were there with Matt and that you guys probably met up with Ben and maybe he wanted you for himself and they started arguing and you stepped in to defend Matt and had words with Ben yourself. Did he get thrown out? I bet Matt had him thrown out.” My jaw dropped. Gladys rushed on “Oh, don’t worry Kate I won’t sell the story to the Enquirer or anything if that’s what you’re worried about.” “Uh, yes, that’s it…I really appreciate your discretion about this Gladys.” “Of course, just let me know if I can ever help out. I’m happy to listen anytime.” As she scurried away with her skirt tucked almost entirely into the back of her pantyhose I wondered A) how does she not feel the extra draft back there, and B) if she was at this very moment joyously telling anyone who would listen that she was the friend of a friend of Matt…because they’re on a first name basis now of course. This could work out very well for me.

Later that afternoon my private line rang. I assumed it was Beth and answered quickly without glancing at the caller ID. “You are not going to believe what Gladys thinks happened Friday night at the party. I’ll give you the long version later but let me just say that she is under the impression that Brandon, King of the Assholes, is Ben Affleck.” I stopped at this pivotal point to receive the praise I felt sure was coming, but was instead met with silence. After a considerable pause, a voice that was most definitely not Beth’s said “Well, good afternoon to you too Kate. It’s The King, but feel free to call me Brandon.” It was my turn to provide a considerable pause. Before I had finished pausing Brandon said, “Look, don’t sweat it. I deserved that and a lot more. That’s why I’m calling actually, I was hoping you’d let me buy you a drink and apologize for that little misunderstanding at the party.” I continued my pause. “A couple of drinks then? And an appetizer? Please?” I hadn’t been pausing for effect, though clearly that’s what Brandon thought; I was pausing from total embarrassment and the inability to recover gracefully. “I don’t think so,” I started, but was cut off when Brandon launched into a seemingly heartfelt explanation about how my not being a model type was a good thing. He went on to say, at rather great length, that models were tiny in every aspect most notably their brain cells followed closely by their personalities, and that by no means did I fit into that category. Still pissed, but swayed by the idea of free drinks and a snack, I said, “All right, a quick drink. When and where?” “How about today, after work at Beer Goggles. I think that’s pretty central for both of us.” “Fine. I’ll see you there about 5:30.”

Beer Goggles, given its name, is a surprisingly nice Old English style pub. Beth, Kelly and I had met the owners, a couple whose plainness was exceeded only by their sweetness, on a girl’s night out several years ago. And we had, of course, asked where the name for the pub came from. As the story goes, they had met several years earlier at a bar, and each having had a lot to drink found the other irresistible and themselves quite lucky to have picked up such an attractive person. When they woke in the morning, rather hung over, and realized the actual state of things -- it was love. They decided that day to marry. And shortly after to buy a bar where others might have the good fortune of having beer goggles on in the right place at the right time and finding their own true love.

Brandon was already sitting at a table with a pitcher of beer by the time I arrived. “They had Stella on draft, I hope that’s ok.” he said as I got to the table. “As ‘Sorry-I-Was-A-Total-Shit’ beers go, it’s a pretty good one.” I coolly replied. My plan was to make him feel badly about being so rude, have a free beer, enjoy the appetizer I was promised, and then be on my way. But as we made our way through that pitcher, and the two that followed, I couldn’t help but notice that I was in no rush to leave. I was laughing a lot, and not polite laughing, but really my side hurts now kind of laughing. After a particularly entertaining story that ended with, “and that’s why I’m not welcome at the zoo anymore,” I think I actually snort-laughed beer out of my nose. How attractive. Thankfully though, this was not a date. I’m not sure I could actually spot a date given the drought that I was currently in, but I knew this was not one. He was the ex of a friend, and was simply apologizing for bad behavior. Why did I have to keep reminding myself that this wasn’t a date?

As we got up to leave, I realized that I was sad the night was ending. It had been a long time since I was out with an attractive, funny man. It was really nice. I started to say as much, but was cut off by Brandon. “I hope you don’t think this is weird or anything, but I had a really good time with you tonight and was wondering if you maybe wanted to do it again Friday?” He was looking at everything except me as he spoke, but after a quick scan of the empty parking lot, I as pretty sure he was talking to me. My surprise had me answering in my ever eloquent way, “I….well…sure.” “Great,” he said beaming…note to self beaming + Brandon = really, really good… “I know a place you’ll love for dinner, I’ll get reservations tomorrow and give you a call at work to figure out the details.” With that he leaned over, gave me a quick squeeze and disappeared down the street. I was left standing, mouth hanging open and not at all sure what to do with myself.

It was too late to call Kelly or Beth by the time I got home, so I would have to wait until tomorrow. I’m not good at waiting. Really not good. Within the hour, I had managed to convince myself that this was A) a big joke on me, I’m not sure what the funny part was or who was playing the joke on me, but it was a joke nonetheless B) an alternate universe where getting asked out by friends ex-boyfriends was a normal occurrence; or C) was neither a joke nor an alternate universe, but would be the end of my friendship with Kelly when she found out.

Only 3 more days until I can sleep in again. Only a few more hours until I have to face Kelly. Maybe I can convince her that it’s not a date, that Brandon and I are just becoming friends. Wait. Maybe it’s not a date. Maybe I’ve got it completely wrong and was about to make a gigantic fool of myself.

At 4:45 when I still hadn’t heard from Brandon I sighed with relief. I was getting ready to leave the office, and I had nothing to worry about. This most certainly wasn’t a date. We were just becoming friends, because I felt certain that if this were a date he would have called much earlier in the day. It was during this little mental aside that my phone rang. “Kate Murphy,” I answered. “Kate, hey, it’s Brandon.” Shit. “I’m so sorry I didn’t call earlier, I got pulled onto a conference call and then into a meeting and have just now managed to escape.” Double shit. “So I have the reservation set up for 7:30 Friday. I guess since this is an actual date, the gentlemanly thing to do is pick you up, huh?” Triple shit. “Um, picking me up isn’t necessary I can just meet you at the restaurant.” “All right, well then I’ll email you all the info later, directions and all that.” “Great.” “Talk to you later, bye.” “Bye,” I said a good 30 seconds later to the dial tone.

Well that seals it; I’ll have to tell Kelly. When I got home my answering machine was blinking. I couldn’t face telemarketers right now, so instead I turned on my computer, and went to change out of my work clothes. When I came back to the computer it said I had mail. Chances were slim that it was anything other than offers to increase my penis size, so I didn’t bother to sit down. And while I was mostly right, and there were some very good values being offered to me in the 5 easy payments of $29.99 range for an additional 3 inches, there was one email at the bottom of the screen that stood out.

From: Brandon Davis []
Sent: Tuesday, 5:32 PM

To: Kate Murphy
Subject: Friday Night


I’ve attached a map to the restaurant and the number just in case.

I’m really glad you said yes.


I should have sat down. How on earth could two lines of text, 19 measly words make me go completely weak? All right, truth be told, it was just the last 6 words that did the weakening. I decided it was definitely time to call Kelly; she had to be told what was going on. As I walked to the phone, I started psyching myself up. She can’t hurt you through the phone. You just went for drinks to get an apology. It’s not your fault he finds you irresistible. Ok, that last part was a bit much. I got to the phone ready to go but decided that I should listen to my messages first so that Kelly would have my undivided attention when I called. Yeah, yeah, it was a stalling tactic, but so what. And anyway, those blinking red lights can be very distracting when you’re making a phone call you have absolutely no desire to be making. What I heard next not only had me sitting down but dropping to the floor right where I stood. “Kate…it’s Kelly. OH. MY. GOD. I’m so excited! Brandon just called to tell me that you guys had drinks and then he asked you out for real and that you said yes! I CANNOT wait to hear every single detail. Call the VERY SECOND you get in. OH. MY. GOD. I can’t wait. I’m calling Beth. I HAVE to talk to someone about this.”

With a shaking hand, I dialed Kelly and waited for her to pick up. “TELL ME EVERYTHING! Start at the beginning and leave NOTHING out!” Isn’t Caller ID a wonderful thing, I thought to myself. “Ok, ok” I said. “Look there’s nothing to tell. Brandon was kind of a dick to me the night of your party. So, he called and wanted to buy me a drink to apologize. We went. It was nice. Then he asked me to dinner and I said yes in a moment of utter confusion. Nothing, see?” “Hmmm, well it didn’t sound like nothing from Brandon’s version. He sounds really excited. He even asked if I would come over and help him pick out something to wear.” “What? Really? That’s sweet. But, no really, nothing. And even if it were something, it just couldn’t be. That’d be too weird given your history.” “Ohhhhhhh, now I get it. You’re just being standoffish because you don’t want to step on any ‘Hey-that’s-my-ex’ toes. Well sweetie, you have nothing to worry about there. I love the idea. Two of my favorite people getting together, nothing could make me happier.” “But still…” “Seriously Kate, listen to what I’m saying. I’m not even remotely upset, I’ve kind of being seeing someone lately anyway, so I’m too distracted to worry about anyone else’s love life.” “WHAT? Who? Why didn’t you say anything?” “Well, it was so new and I didn’t want to jinx it.” “Well cough it up girl.” I said. “Ok, we met at a work thing and spent the whole night talking and then we started talking on the phone. And I totally thought it was a friend thing, but then we went to dinner and the sparks really flew. We’ve been pretty inseparable since. I think I’m falling in love.” “Oh, I’m so happy for you. When do we get to meet him? What’s his name?”

I heard Kelly take a deep breath and then say, “Amanda, her name is Amanda.” It’s official; I’m never getting off the floor again. I’m taking up permanent residence here. Kelly rushed on, “So, you see why I’m REALLY ok with it if anything happens with Brandon? I didn’t know how to tell you guys…I just didn’t know…” “Ok, then let me try this again. I’m so happy for you. When do we get to meet her?” “Just like that you’re fine with it?” “Honey, I love you no matter who you love. Besides, I have a date Friday and this conversation is about me after all. Now stop trying to steer the conversation to you and your new, shocking lesbian girlfriend.”

Kelly and I stayed on the phone for another hour or so. I was exhausted by the time we hung up. Sitting there on the floor, leaning against the back of my couch I thought I was less shocked about Kelly’s big revelation than I probably should have been. I’d always wondered if she was just playing for our team because it was the one her parents signed her up for during little league. Now that everything was out in the open with Kelly and we were all ok, I also realized that I was getting excited and a little nervous about my date.

Only 2 more days until I can sleep in again. What was I going to wear on my date? I had looked the restaurant up online and it seemed casual but hip. Did I have casual but hip clothes that fit my new round figure? Plump figure? As I struggled to find the right phrase to describe my new shape I decided, in a moment of sheer genius, to look up fat in a thesaurus. Surely that would give me a friendly and clever word to use for future reference. Oh how wrong I was.

Fat, adjective

Beefy, big, blimp, brawny, broad, bulging, bulky, bull, burly, butterball, chunky, corpulent, cow, distended, dumpy, elephantine, fleshy, gargantuan, gross, heavy, heavyset, hefty, husky, inflated, jelly-belly, lard, large, meaty, obese, oversize, paunchy, plump, plumpish, ponderous, porcine, portly, potbellied, pudgy, roly-poly, rotund, solid, stout, stubby, swollen, thickset, tubby, weighty, whale.

Somehow the phrase ‘my new elephantine figure’ just didn’t have the ring to it that I was looking for. ‘My new beefy figure’ was better but not quite as feminine as I was hoping for. I needed to go shopping at lunch, regardless of my portly figure. I wondered if Rich’s has a Fleshy Department, no probably not. A Porcine Department perhaps, sounds more upscale.

Only 1 more day until I can sleep in again. Only 1 more day until my date. Only 1 more day to recover from my body type being referred to as ‘meaty.’ Must continue search for appropriate date clothes at lunch today as I still haven’t located Jelly-Belly Department in my finer retail stores.

I can sleep in tomorrow! But more importantly, DATE NIGHT! I’m not sure why I’m so excited, but I am. Enough so that I got to work on time today. I know, shock of the century right? But I was up early trying to gel, mousse, spray and de-frizz my hair into submission and packing a small bag with make-up and date clothes. This way I could be comfortable while I was at work and just change and touch-up before I left to meet Brandon.

10:45, I have just looked at the clock for the thousandth time so far this morning. Today is going by so slowly. Here’s a novel approach, why don’t I do some work? That should keep me preoccupied for a while. 10:47, damn it!

By the time 6:00 rolled around, I was ready to pull the perfectly styled hair right out of my head. I needed to leave the office at 7:00 to be on time, so that gave me an hour to get ready. I reached under my desk for my bag (turns out I, shockingly, hadn’t zipped it all the way) and it caught on the corner of the desk and sent its contents flying. Perfect. As I’m rooting around, almost totally hidden under my desk, I hear shuffling feet. I smell them, too. Sure enough, when I emerge the Glad bag is standing in my office door. I can see this heading down a long and stinky path; I must divert this conversation at all costs. What can I say? What can I possibly say? And then it comes to me. “Listen Gladys, I’d love to chat but I’m meeting Matt and I have to go get ready.” I lower my voice to a conspiratorial whisper and add, “You know, it’s a lot of pressure to always have to look a certain way when you go out in public with a movie star. I don’t know how much longer I can keep it up. But then again he really is so wonderful, especially when he…oh…uh…sorry I probably shouldn’t say anything else.” I could see on Gladys’s face that I had said the perfect thing. As I dashed past her towards the elevator, I heard her yell, “Just make sure you fix your hair before he sees you.”

As soon as I walked in, I thought the restaurant was perfect for a first date. Brandon was waiting, and after some quick hellos and a ‘you look fantastic’ from him, we were led to a cozy little table in the back corner. While Brandon was ordering, I had a chance to take him in without being totally obvious about it. He looked good. Really good. He was freshly shaven and had on some nice jeans and a crisp, white button-down shirt. Yum. He caught me staring and gave me a quick lopsided grin. Oh God. And I had thought the butterflies in my stomach were bad before. The night was everything a first date should be. Brandon had me completely charmed by the time the check came. As we made our way out of the restaurant, he took my hand and I got chills. I also tripped, how charming and graceful. Walking to my car, I thought how this night is too good to be true, I also thought I’m totally kissing this guy. “So, I really had a fantastic time.” Brandon said leaning in close enough for me to catch the faint scent of shaving cream. “Me too.” I replied in a voice that was a little too Marilyn Monroe-ish for my liking. But I couldn’t help it, I was so under the spell of the evening that if it hadn’t been for my car behind me, I would have fallen over. Shake out of it I thought, but before I could Brandon leaned over, hesitated just long enough to give me his adorably shy grin, and kissed me.

I can’t begin to describe this kiss. It made me…all I could think was…I was overwhelmed with…it was…the most…horrible kiss I’ve ever been involved with. And yes, I am counting the fumbling encounters over spinning Coke bottles in the 6th grade, in case you were wondering. Noses were in the wrong place, teeth clicked against each other and there was drool that recalled Turner and Hooch. I was dumbfounded when he pulled away, talk about ruining the moment. And to make things more horrific I think Brandon took my stunned silence as a good thing, like I was so overwhelmed with lust I couldn’t talk. Smiling, he said, “I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” gave me a kiss on the cheek and left. And once again I was left mouth hanging open in an empty parking lot after an encounter with Brandon. He seemed to have that effect on me.

It was around 11:00 when I finally got out of bed on Saturday. I had heard the phone ringing several times but just couldn’t face anyone. When I shuffled to the answering machine there were four messages. The first was from Brandon. “Hey Kate, it’s Brandon. I just wanted to call and tell you again what a great time I had last night. I’d love to see you again. Tonight? Tomorrow? Call me and we’ll figure something out.” Are you kidding? No thanks. The second was from Kelly. “Brandon called last night to tell me he was going to marry you, so I’m guessing it went well. Call when you get this.” Marry me? WTF? Was this kid totally off his rocker? The third was from Beth, “Why, do I have to find out all the juicy details of your love life from Kelly? I’m offended.” And the fourth was Kelly again. “Slack ass. Wake up and answer the damn phone. I’m dying over here.” How on earth was I going to handle this? I felt like crap.

I called Kelly and Beth and gave them both the short version. No chemistry, not interested. They were shocked given how excited Brandon was about the whole event. When I got off the phone, I realized that I really did feel like crap. Hmmm, back to bed for me. I woke up several hours later and decided that Death had come to visit with his dear friend the Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Date Troll. As I shuffled around looking for cold medicine and tissue, the phone rang. Wasn’t I Ms. Popular this weekend? It was Beth. I told her that I felt miserable and was certain it was somehow Brandon’s fault for that God-awful kiss and that I was going to sit on my couch and be grumpy. She wished me luck on my adventure and said she’d check on me later.

Over the next couple of days Brandon must have called 10 more times. I’m not sure what it was going to take for him to get the hint. All the messages were nice enough, but I was seriously not interested. I guess when I stopped feeling like dog poo, I’d have to call him. Or maybe I could have Kelly break the news to him. She had plenty of practice crushing his dreams; they had been together for 4 years after all.

By day five of the cold to end all colds I was ready to crack, I had done nothing all week but lay on the couch wallowing in my own self-pity and a mountain of used Kleenex. No one wanted to be anywhere near me and I didn’t blame them. But I was going quietly mad from the silence and isolation. So I was startled when my doorbell rang. I managed to get up and shuffle towards it. When I finally got there and opened the door, I was even more startled to find Brandon on the other side. He was loaded down with mashed potatoes, a stack of movies and a bouquet of flowers. I was too surprised to speak so Brandon jumped in, “I heard from Beth that you were sick,” he said quickly, “and I thought you might like someone to come and take care of you for a bit,” he paused only briefly before continuing. “I come bearing sustenance, entertainment and decoration.” My brain couldn’t seem to catch up to what was happening. Maybe I had taken too much cough syrup and was hallucinating a much more romantic life than I actually had.

Brandon apparently took my lack of protest as an invitation inside and led me to the couch, where I had clearly set up shop. After he told me to lie back down and covered me with the blanket, he went in search of a fork and a vase. When he came back into the room he put in ‘You’ve Got Mail’, handed me the fork, sat down on the couch and took my feet in his lap. “Do you need anything else?” he asked quietly. “No,” I said smiling as I settled in with my mashed potatoes.

Only 4 more days until I can sleep in again. I still felt less than fantastic but I had a definite bounce in my step on the way to work. It was about 11:30 by the time Gladys came around for my weekend recap. “So Kate, what’d you do this weekend? Probably not much but recover from that nasty cold,” she said in an obviously disappointed voice.

“Actually Gladdie, I had a fantastic weekend, the most exciting I’ve had in longer than I can remember.” She leaned forward expectantly, “Well come on then, what’d you do?” “I fell in love,” I said smiling to myself. It felt good to say. “How exciting,” Gladys said, “Do you think you’ll get married? Kate Damon has such a nice ring to it.”