At the click of heels on the sidewalk, I broke from checking social media feeds on my phone to greet my date with smile.
“Hey there, Edie,” I said, standing up and pocketing my phone.
She wore dark jeans that hugged her hips and a sleeveless red blouse, while holding a brown hand bag at her side. Dollops of curls rested on her shoulders, and she smiled back with a small curl in her upper lip. I noticed that on our first date last week as we strolled through the vendors at the street festival.
“Kenneth, hello,” she said. She looked up at the bakery’s signage, “This looks great. A coworker said they have fantastic macaroons.”
“I’ve only had the pie and cake.”
“You’re a regular then?” she said, with an eyebrow raised. With thin lips, the mascara drew attention to her blue eyes.
The casual atmosphere of vintage aesthetic and a wide array of sweet confections that provided any woman an option made the Two Spoons bakery my first or second date spot. Thankfully, the staff had short term memories or I blended in with all the other twenty-something guys trying to impress their Tinder dates.
I opened the door for her, “I’ve been a few times. I can appreciate a good cake.”
“I’d be concerned if you couldn’t.”
“Is there a doctor for that—cake appreciation deficiency?”
“I think they’re called pastry chefs,” she said. She worked in marketing.
We walked in front of the display case and peered in. We still had that new to each other vibe, unsure of how to fill the moments of transition between date conversation. We made our decisions without discussion: she went with her coworker’s macaroon suggestion and a latte while I ordered a slice of carrot cake and iced tea.
She tapped me on the shoulder, “I’ll be right back,” she said, nodding to the restroom sign.
“I’ll grab a table.”
I carried our order to a round table for two by the window, and out of habit, pulled my phone out of my pocket and scrolled through social media. Words and pictures flowed across my screen as fast as my thumb let the digital current go. One of the people I follow, SuperCritic, posts anonymously as a super heroine persona, commenting on movies or Hollywood industry news. She’s often tongue in cheek, but occasionally will take shots at serious issues in front of her two hundred some odd followers. I laughed at a meme-like image of Godzilla with the caption, “Macaroons? Or smasharoons?”
I flicked and tapped a reply and tossed it into the digital stream, “I’ll have to ask my date this.”
Not wanting to get caught looking at my phone, I put it away and looked out the window while I waited for her to get back.
Her heels clicked in a slower measure and she slid into the chair across from me. She sat straight and gazed down at her plate and drink. Her hand bag sat in her lap, clutched by both hands.
My phone buzzed in my pocket. I ignored it.
“Let me know if you want a bit of this cake.”
“Okay,” she said in a flat tone.
She still looked down at the table. The tenor of her face matched her voice.
My phone now pulsed persistently.
I pulled it out, breaking no phone during a date etiquette. The screen was filled with alert boxes asking me what she looked like.
I glanced up.
Eyed the macaroons.
Edie’s stare cut my ignorance to shreds.
I done fucked up, as they say on the internet.
I opened the app and removed the pithy comment from the digital river. Sweat soaked my shirt, and my face was flush. I put the phone away and began to form words, but Edie spoke first.
“I value my personal life and being able to do what I do without either meeting each other. Consider what you know, and decide if you want to be a trusted sidekick, or a disposable henchman.”
I was about to poke my cake, and said, “So long as the uniform’s cool, I can be a sidekick.”