“What’s your favorite color?” the top-heavy, leather-bound blonde asked him.
“I don’t believe I’m doing this,” Gawain mumbled. “Speed dating.”
“Answer the question.”
“Green,” Gawain stated.
The blonde stared at him from wrinkled eyes. “It’s your turn.”
“Why do you keep coming here?” he asked.
“I want a man,” the blonde answered. “What’s your favorite animal?”
“I didn’t ask my first question.”
“Well, yes, it was a question, but… I mean… oh, forget it. Cow.”
“What?” The woman almost came out of her chair.
“No!” Gawain protected himself with an outthrust hand. “My favorite animal is a cow.”
“What’s your next question, honey?”
Gawain sighed. It was obvious Blonde Biker Chick wasn’t “the one”.
“What’s your question?” she asked again as the tattoo on her right bicep came to life.
“Who’s your favorite author?”
“Author?” she laughed. “Are you for real? Okay, honey, author. I’d say Larry Flynt.”
Gawain flinched, and the woman slapped her leg with a burst of laughter. The bell rang, and Gawain moved on to the next table with relief.
“Hi, I’m Gawain.”
“I’m Jenny,” the woman said meekly, and blushed. He would have to go first.
“Who is your favorite author?”
She cleared her throat, and Gawain raised his eyebrows in anticipation.
“Uh, I don’t know.”
“Do you like romance?” he asked to help her get going. Jenny blushed. “Novels,” Gawain quickly added. “Romance novels.”
“Okay, your turn,” his words were rushed. He was done here.
Jenny took a deep breath, summoned all her courage, and asked, “What’s your favorite color?”
Jenny folded up, and Gawain thought she might disappear beneath her chair.
“I didn’t mean that the way it sounded.” He could see a tear forming in the corner of her left eye. “I just… green,” he said.
She responded with nothing but a few sniffles followed by silence. He waited, but nothing happened. The bell sounded. He said a prayer of thanksgiving, and moved to the next table.
A petite brunette with long thin lips rolled her head to one side and studied him as he approached. Her look penetrated deeply and he felt exposed. He tried to discretely check the fly of his pants. Her eyes flamed to life, lips parting in a wide smile. She looked right through him into his heart. To his own amazement, Gawain blushed.
“Have a seat,” she followed her words with a poetic gesture of her hand.
Gawain tried to recover himself. Sitting down, he cleared his throat.
“Who is your favorite author?” she asked.
Gawain was stunned. The answer should have been simple, but it wasn’t.
“Hello?” She waved a hand to gain his attention.
“Will you marry me?” Gawain asked.
“You have to answer my question first,” she laughed.
“What?” Gawain was puzzled. “You don’t like Dostoyevsky?” His heart sank.
“Try to keep up, Rodion,” she said with a snap of her fingers.
“No, it’s Gawain.” He looked down at his name tag before her Dostoyevsky joke managed its way into his muddled thoughts. “Oh.” He felt like an idiot.
Her eyes were on fire again. She watched him silently. Had he passed her on the street, Gawain would not have thought her pretty. But those eyes — that smile. She melted him.
“You like a good dialogue, don’t you?”
“Very much,” Gawain answered.
“So do I,” she said.
“Erika,” he said, leaning forward to look closely at her name tag. “That’s a pretty name. Where did you get it from?”
“You asked out of turn again,” she quipped.
“I’m impulsive.” Gawain started to come back to himself.
“Yes, I noticed.”
“One minute ago I was ready to walk out the door.”
“I’m glad you didn’t,” Erika returned. “I would have been short four minutes of entertainment.”
“Actually, I’ve been known to be witty for a full ten minutes,” Gawain avowed with a lift of his eyebrows.
“I didn’t use the word witty,” Erika shot back.
“That’s because you don’t know me yet. Question number two.”
Erika pursed her lips, but they still hooked up in a smile. She narrowed her eyes, studying him again.
“How long is a long walk?” she asked.
Think, Gawain, think. Erika leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms with a look of smug satisfaction.
“As long as it takes for me to find you, and then it’s too short.” He waited.
Erika didn’t speak. Instead she aimed a finger at him, prompting for his question.
“What was the greatest game ever played?” he asked.
“Yankees — Red Sox, 2004, Game 4.”
“No hesitation,” Gawain said with admiration.
“It’s easy to cheer during the good times,” she replied. “Fair weather friends line up at the door. I’m interested in those who watch baseball in the rain.”
“Red Sox — Mets, 1986, Game 6.”
“No hesitation,” Erika said with a smile. “Dostoyevsky to baseball. You have quite a range of interests.”
“I don’t like to be bored,” Gawain said.
“I’ve never had a reason to be bored.”
“Touche,” Gawain conceded with a nod of his head.
The bell rang. No! He couldn’t leave like this.
“Your third question,” Gawain demanded.
“You’re in my seat,” the next man in line dared to speak.
Gawain glared at him. He was over six feet with shoulders to match. It would make Gawain look like a fool to stay seated. He needed to show grace and honor.
“Excuse me,” he said, rising slowly. Then he turned back to Erika. “Your third question.”
“You’re not ready.”
Gawain felt as if the whole room was watching him. He was desperate.
Erika chewed her lip for a moment. Rising from the table, she whispered something into Gawain’s ear.
“Green,” he proclaimed.
She smiled. “Then I guess we should go. Jealousy does not become you.”
Resha Caner lives in the imagination, serving as the alter ego to an often frustrated writer. The seeds of creativity planted many years ago by a few special teachers occasionally bear fruit, and those publications gracious enough to share his works with readers include “Sage of Consciousness”, “Planet Mag”, “SNReview”, “Bewildering Stories”, and “The Blotter”.