Mr. Growly Pants watches me dart from the closet to the mirror, his eyes glistening like two inky pools against his snow-white coat.
“I can’t decide what to wear!” I sigh in frustration and plop down on the bed next to my Maltese. In response to my angst, he lets out a tiny growl. Hence the name.
In spite of my frustration, I give Mr. Growly Pants a kiss on the head and return to my closet. What does a girl wear on a blind date anyway? I should probably just throw on a t-shirt with DESPERATE emblazoned across the front.
Lord, what have I gotten myself into? Why am I trying to fit into skinny date clothes when I could be sitting on the sofa in sweatpants watching a movie with Mr. Growly Pants?
I look at my dog staring at me, unblinkingly. His long hair spreads around him in soft waves. I envy his elegant beauty while I suck in my breath and attempt to button my skirt. One glimpse in the mirror tells me the result is far from perfect, but if I don’t leave right now I’ll be late meeting my date at the Italian restaurant we agreed on for dinner.
I stand on the cobblestone landing in front of Tony’s and pause, trying to get a glimpse of my mystery man. Dark clusters of purple grapes hang across the top of the window and obscure my view. I can’t see much through the grapey fringe.
Lord, please give me discernment tonight. Show me if I can trust this man. Please give me some kind of sign.
“Hi, I’m Barbara.”
“It’s nice to meet you. I’m Larry.” He rises like a gentleman when I approach the table.
“This restaurant is lovely, Larry.” Our candle in the center of the table sits in a wine bottle, with wax dripping dramatically down the sides.
“The food is wonderful. I’ve already taken the liberty of ordering the spaghetti and meatballs for us. That’s the specialty here.” He has a gentle smile and twinkling eyes.
Some women might be offended that he already placed our order, but I find it rather chivalrous. No one has ever ordered for me before, but I guess it could be a warning sign that he’s a controlling jerk. I give him the benefit of the doubt and the evening progresses quite nicely. Our conversation is sprinkled with laughter and I even learn that Larry is a Christian.
When our spaghetti arrives, the air in Tony’s is suddenly filled with violin music.
Oh this is the night, it's a beautiful night
And we call it bella notte
I half expect Larry to push a meatball toward me with his nose, but then realize I’ve obviously watched Lady and the Tramp one too many times.
Get a grip. Don’t get caught up in the romance of it all!
I need to go clear my head for a minute. “Excuse me, Larry.”
After a brief trip to the restroom, I return to find Larry deep in conversation with another man. Neither of them notices me approach the table.
“So, where is Peg tonight Larry?”
“She’s home by herself. I didn’t tell her I was having dinner with another woman.”
“The last thing you need on your hands is a crazed jealous female.”
“When I get home, I’ll just slip right in bed next to her and she’ll never be the wiser.”
Disgusting! “I can’t believe this! You’re married?”
Larry’s friend looks horrified and slinks away as I grab my purse and make a beeline for the front door and the hanging grapes.
Larry catches up to me on the cobblestone landing. “Look!”
I turn to see him holding out his cell phone flipped open to reveal his screensaver; a photograph of an adorable dog with a silky white coat. She’s the spitting image of Mr. Growly Pants.
“You have a Maltese?”
“Her name is Peg.”
Wow, God. This is some sign. Impressive. I just wish I had waited for it before I made a complete fool of myself.
“Oh, Larry. I’m so sorry.” I hang my head in mortification and turn to leave.
“Please don’t go. It’s been such a lovely evening.”
He takes my hand and music swells from inside Tony’s. He holds the door open for me and we walk back to our table hand in hand.
Oh this is the night, and the heavens are right!
On this lovely bella notte!
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