Date Night part 2 – Shanna
“If some genius hadn’t invented the technology, then the whole evening would have gone differently,” Sam thought as he watched Grace walk away. He stood in the parking lot of the Olive Garden, his hands thrust in his pockets and a scowl on his face, as he thought about the disaster that tonight had turned out to be.
Sam had had the night all planned out, from where he would sit at the bar to observe Grace, to what time he would swoop in to be the hero, and when he would get the girl. While the first two scenarios panned out, the third did not as evidenced by Sam getting in the cab by himself. He furrowed his brow as he leaned back into the upholstery covered seat. Sam’s plans had worked many times before, but he had never counted on Grace being technologically savvy.
“But that’s okay” he thought. He would use tonight as a learning experience and come out better in the end. “After all,” Sam mused as the cab turned the corner onto his street, “Superman has his kryptonite and I just found mine.”
He silently paid the cab driver his fare, plus an exact 15% tip. He could feel the driver’s stare as he walked into his apartment building, most likely wondering what kind of guy takes a cab home alone from the Olive Garden.
“Lots of people go to the Olive Garden,” Sam scoffed, alone in the elevator. “They have great breadsticks.”
He lumbered into his apartment and felt along the hallway for the light switch. The bright glow of the florescent lights made him wince for a second until, blinking his eyes rapidly, he adjusted to the contrast from being outside in the dark. His coat was flung on the shabby couch, and he toed off his shoes. Sam sat down at his desk and flipped the switch on his dual monitor computer. The screens flickered to life as they came out of hibernation.
Sam scrolled through his email, bypassing messages from the dating web site, and got up to get a glass of water. The entire evening had left a bad taste in his mouth. He thought again about Grace and grimaced when he remembered the look on her face when she had come back from the bathroom.
“Is it true?” She had confronted him barely even before she sat down.
Sam looked up from pasta, confused. ”Is what true,” he asked.
Grace shook her head and took a big gulp of wine. ”You know,” she said, “I thought my dad was crazy when he sent me the link for this app. He told me, ‘Grace, now that you are trying online dating you need to be sure that people are who they say they are.’” Grace’s voice had deepened as she mimicked her father.
“What are you talking about?”
“I was so worried when I got here that Mike wouldn’t like me in person. And then, when he never showed up, I felt like the biggest fool.” Grace paused and took a breath. “And then here you come, swooping in to save the day. But Mike’s been here the entire time, hasn’t he?” She looked at Sam, her eyes narrowed in anger.
Sam sat, frozen in his chair. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He stumbled over his words and tried to figure out how Grace had found him out.
“You!” she yelled. “You’re Mike. And Larry. And who knows how many other people.” Grace’s voice was rising and Sam could see the family sitting across the aisle looking over at their table.
“Shhh,” Sam said, trying to calm Grace down. She had partly risen up out of her chair while she was raging at Sam. Sam tried to gently ease her back into her chair and waved away the waitress who was warily making her way over. He could handle this, he thought. A hero never loses his cool.
“Now,” he said, “what are you talking about?”
Grace sat back, slipping her wine slowly now. “I have this app,” she began, “that searches dating websites and searches all the pictures that are posted on the site. The app is designed to look for facial similarities in the photos in order to figure out if someone has more than one account or if someone is using someone else’s photo.” Grace looked up at Sam. “I tried it on whim tonight, wondering if maybe you had joined an online dating website. Want to know what I found?”
Sam could feel his face start to pale as Grace spoke. “No,” he said. “What did you find?”
“I found,” Grace said, finishing her glass of wine, “that your face is on twelve online dating accounts.” She held out her hands and tried to count to twelve but kept messing up as the wine was making itself known.
“Funny that I was supposed to have a date with two of those and neither showed up.” She waived over the waitress. “I’ll have another bottle of wine, to go. And my date,” she emphasized the word date, “will be paying.”
Sam watched silently as Grace put on her coat and stuffed the new bottle of wine into her purse. “This was not how the night was supposed to end,” Sam thought. But, as he laid the money onto the table and surreptitiously followed Grace out of the restaurant, like every good superhero, he had a backup plan. Even if he didn’t know what it was just yet.
Sitting in his apartment, Sam blew out a breath as he waited for his game to load. He reached across his desk and grabbed the crumpled packets of cigarettes. Shaking one out, he clamped it between his lips and flicked the lighter in his hand. The end of the cigarette lit up with a glow and Sam closed his eyes in a sigh, inhaling the sweet nicotine. He breathed out a cloud of smoke, leaned over and opened the window, and sat back in his chair as the opening credits of this week’s game began to play. He had a villain to catch.