As Catherine approached the restaurant she was tempted to pause to make a couple adjustments before heading in. Had the chilly air not been blowing so hard, she probably would have. Instead she pushed the door by leaning into it and had to scurry inside quickly before the heaviness of the door pushed her back outside. The place was dimly lit with candles on every table and and indistinct chatter filled the room. She noticed him immediately in the corner booth wearing the red vest he suggested she look for.
The handshake was awkward, but she didn't know how else to begin. Dating in her 40's was never anything she expected to be doing. She wasn't very good at it. Come to think of it, she had not been so great at it before she was married to Donnie. The whole evening: picking the outfit, choosing a meeting place, replaying conversations starters in her mind, all seemed like so much work. When her acquaintance suggested this blind date with David she had no idea what she got herself into by accepting.
Both the wine and the conversation seemed to flow with ease. They discussed their mutual love for their pets and travel. They discussed their jobs and careers. They both rooted for the same out of town football team. Eventually, the topic of conversation moved to reading. Both, it seemed, were avid readers.
"There is nothing quite like curling up with a good book on a cold night." David said.
"I agree." Catherine said trying to keep her enthusiasm down. "I had to put my favorite book down to get ready for this evening. I almost cancelled."
That made David laugh, which made her laugh too. "What is your favorite type of book?" he asked.
"That is an easy one." she said with a smile. "Historical fiction. I am reading about Anne Boleyn now"
"What about mysteries, espionage, that sort of thing?"
"No. Those aren't for me. My husband Donnie had a real interest in mysteries, but when I lost him last year I realized I didn't wholeheartedly enjoy that genre." As the words came out of Catherine's mouth, she made two observations about herself. One was the truth about the mystery books. She always read those books for Donnie's benefit instead of her own enjoyment. It wan't anything she was conscious about until this point. The second observation she silently made was the fact that she used the word "lost" to describe her deceased husband as if he were a set of keys hiding in the cushions of the sofa. Why couldn't she say "my husband, who passed away," or "my deceased husband." Would there be a time were this wouldn't be such a stumbling block for her?
Lost in her inner thoughts, she barely recognized that David had gone silent also. He had an uncomfortable look on his face. "I didn't know you were married before." he said apologetically. "I hope you don't get offended, but I just have a personal policy about dating divorcees. It isn't anything that has to do with you, its just - well- I'm sorry."
Catherine didn't know whether to correct the miscommunication or not. On the one hand, the evening had been such a success up until this point. On the other hand, the fact that he would cast her aside because she she was divorced seemed like a harsh judgement on a first date. What other "personal policies" might he have that may be an abrupt game changer? She decided she would let him believe what he thought he had heard. The evening had been an absolute success in an important way: it convinced her that she was going to find happiness again. Maybe not with him, but with someone.
"Don't be sorry -", Catherine said genuinely as she stood up and grabbed her coat before he could walk out on her. "I had an enjoyable evening. Good luck to you David." With that she headed to heavy door and heaved it with a confidence she didn't have when she first walked in that night.
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