Emotions are powerful things. Those people that can control their emotions and switch them off, they’re inhumane, they may as well be robots. We’re all supposed to feel things every now and then. It is part of the experience of living.
For Michael, since Martha began her affair, or just to his knowledge, became distant, he has found it hard to feel much. This just deterred Martha more. There was not much Michael could do once his heart dried up. But since the night at the club, when Louise caught his eye, like rain water on thirsty ground, his heart had been feeling moisturised and much more ready to live and to feel again. It was a change that Martha had begun to notice.
Michael had arranged to take Louise out for a meal at his favourite restaurant, the Saint Jaun Lauriea. It’s the same restaurant he proposed to Martha in.
He’d made an effort to go out whilst Martha disappeared to ‘a work meeting’, and like a young boy on his first ever date, he felt nervous and excited, peculiar to his spectrum of emotions.
He looked at his reflection in the mirror, dissatisfied with what stared back. For the first time, he felt his age creeping up on him. He saw the wrinkles set in his forehead and the veins in his neck and just for a second, he felt guilt for deceiving Martha’s trust, but only for a second. After all, it’s still Michael we’re talking about. And since it’s still Michael, he ignored that flush of feeling and tightened his suit, giving a rancid cheeky wink to his reflection and neglecting his obsolescence.
Awaiting his arrival in a phone box red shift dress with equally as colourful lip stick, Lou took her seat at the table and ordered a still water while she calmed her nerves. She had prepared herself back home for a grand evening with a man she knew would change her life. It was the first time they’d met since the brief encounter at the coffee shop. She had great expectations for what would be ahead.
A scent of dusted leather grew closer to her and she knew Michael was approaching. Turning to face him, her unseen, more adult appearance took him by surprise.
“Jesus, Louise, you look absolutely marvellous.”
“Oh, stop it, you!”
They kissed each other on the cheek and he sat facing her at the table. He took a moment to appreciate her face before ordering his drink and their starters. It made her feel precious.
“Right, I’ll take a mild whiskey and for starters send me over the broccoli soufflé,” he ordered. The young waiter nodded and looked over to Louise.
“Oh, erm, I’ll have the mussels and clams, merci.”
A short silence was shared as the waiter left their sides. Not for a moment did Michael take his eyes off of her. On the table he lay out his hand for her to hold, and he told her that she was the most ravishing young lady he’d ever seen. Charmed by genuine admiration, any cynicism Louise had towards his rich, divorced status disappeared. Instead, they enjoyed each other’s presence, though both secretly undressing either in mind.
Alarmed by a brash and deep cheer before them, the pair turned to see Michael’s overweight boss and underweight gold digging date waving like mad men.
“Get us a seat with those two!” he insisted. Michael wanted to get as many apologies in as possible before the couple sat down.
“Bernard, what a surprise!”
“Ah, Michael, my good friend! How the devil are you? This is my date, Isobel, and who on Earth is this tantalizing creature, your niece? She certainly ain’t Martha!”
Michael sighed, “This is Louise, and Louise this is my boss, Bernard. We were just about to enjoy a quiet dinner before you arrived.”
Obnoxiously, their subtle plea for him to leave went over Bernard’s head, “You can enjoy a chatty one now, can’t ya! Ah I love a good French meal, don’t you, Louise? Hi, I’m Bernard, I’ve got a lot of money if you want some. She wants some,” he roared, pointing and laughing at his date, “Nah I’m kidding, babe. Anyway, what’s this, ya cheating on the wife there, Michael? I kid again, no one would cheat on a chika like Martha. She means business. How do you two know each other? Business? Or is she really your niece? Can I take her out on a hot date?”
Not only was his fast pace a little disarming, but the content of his words was what most worried Louise. Suddenly she felt the warm, dreamy atmosphere disintegrate.
“Wow, I don’t know – if I’m honest, mate,”
Before Michael could continue, again he interrupted, “I’m just pulling your legs, kids! Check the fuck out of what’s on my arm – a gorgeous, brunette bombshell, that’s what.”
Isobel smiled through a clenched jaw. His comments were insanely rude, so rude that it stirred an unresting feeling in Louise’s stomach. She felt the need to vanish to the ladies room, but didn’t have the voice in her to leave. It was clear by her body language to Michael however that she wasn’t happy, nor was he.
“Erm, boss, could I just request –”
“Turkey and stuffing! Do they make that here?”
“I bet so, babe,” responded the silent date.
“Right then, and if they don’t, I’ll make them!”
And so the night failed to be the romantic dinner for two that Louise had hoped, but what it had become wasn’t disappointing.
Once the food had been eaten and the drinks were flowing, conversation did too, “Jennifer Lopez! I say, she’s got to be!” bellowed Bernard, spilling his wine.
“She’s not the most beautiful woman in the world, Bernard. Come on, think outside the box! What about Jessica Rabbit? She’s gorgeous!”
“Michael, she’s a cartoon!” Isobel giggled. He attempted to give a concept behind his answer, but no one understood the possible attraction to a fictional character.
“It’s got to be Judy Garland, no question about it,” stated Louise, speaking for the first time in just under an hour.
Bernard looked appalled, “How can it be Judy Garland? I don’t want to stain the satin bed sheets with Judy Garland, there’s nothing sexy about her!”
Coyly, trying not to step out of line, but still showing a glint of feistiness inside, she argued back, “You don’t want to stain the satin bed sheets with the most beautiful woman in the world, Bernard. You want to take her out to dinner, lend her your coat in the rain, learn how to ballroom dance just so you can ballroom dance with her. A truly beautiful woman will be loved and appreciated. A sexy woman will be lusted after and then discarded.”
She silenced the table with her interesting speculations. Michael was fascinated by her beauty, but now also by her brains. She had something to say for herself, she was a package.
“But Barbie, I’m missing out on this gigantic chunk of my life; an experience that at this rate, if I don’t just let myself go, I’ll never understand. Why can’t it just be one night?”
“Because,” Barbie barked, “You’re lucky enough not to know what it feels like to be worth no more than a one night stand.” Louise stared up at her as she tried to hold back her tears, “This – this kind of scandalous, fiery relationship, if you can call it that is not good. It’s poisonous. There is nothing better than just meeting a boy by chance, or through a friend, where none of the odds are against you. At your age, you should be hanging outside takeaways getting frostbite because your friends have run off to put you and this guy you adore in an awkward situation where you’ve got no choice but to talk to each other. Parading around with men with bad pasts and presents is not what you need. You’re just an escape; and even if you’re not, it won’t be worth finding out.”