Storyglossia Issue 25, December 2007.

The Date

by Sean Dempsey


Nice one.

That's what I thought when she agreed to meet up for a drink. We kissed on Saturday night and now it was Tuesday. I waited a couple of days to ring her because I didn't know if she looked good or not, just remembering she had a good outline and wasn't fat. Besides, the boys said she was alright, you'd give her one like, and although they have a habit of taking the piss I trusted them.

It wasn't like women came my way that often anyway. I took what I could get. If you're picky you either get what you want or you don't. I don't. If I'm picky and I see a girl I really like it makes me nervous. If I stroke them all with the same brush then I do alright.

I was set to meet her at seven in an old dingy bar called Doran's. I mentioned a few bars to her, implying for her to pick one but not spelling it out. Having not remembered that much it gave me a better grasp into which groups she hung out with and which music and films to avoid in conversation.

I stepped off the 27 bus, my head full of back seat junkie stories, and saw girls I liked and hoped she would be like them in her own unique way.

I took some steps towards her and the bar and felt myself slip forward as if wetness was down there. Looking down there was a shoe imprint in a piece of dog shit. I quickly checked the sole of my left shoe—nothing. Though somewhat relieved I was dreading the sight of the other shoe. And there it was, shit embedded into every crack and design.


People were smiling at me. I ran my foot along the grass like a dog wiping it's own arse as dogs do and the smiles grew larger. The good bulk, most of it, ended up on the grass but it was those cracks and designs filled ever so deep that remained. I tried running my foot along the grass again to no avail. The shower, the shave, the hair gel and fond smelling fragrances meant nothing now, overpowered by one of the worst smells ever.

I could leave it. Return home. I could even have the date with a shitty shoe and blame it on the bar but she'd realise soon enough.

I found a twig, it snapped. I found another one, that snapped too. I attempted to use a pebble of proper size and run it along until all the shit built up at the end. All I got was shitty fingers. I washed my hands in a McDonald's toilet. Finally, after buying an ice cream, eating it while sweating and panicking, I used the stick to get all the shit out and washed it off with soap and water.

It was 6:52 and I had a long enough walk ahead of me. The plan was to be slightly late so as not to come off too eager and to make her sweat a little. The games they never worked. I practised breathing deeply to calm myself, imagining gold dust going up my nose and black smoke exhaling.

The time was devouring everything. I wasn't going to be a little late; I was going to be way too late. I broke into a jog to make it and I had no minutes to dwindle freshening up in a nearby toilet. Reaching the bar I stood outside at the doors before opening them. My reflection stared back at me—hair tossed, black rings around eyes, jaded. I did all I could to look better with my hands. When, how, did I become so desperate?

"You can do this!"

She was nowhere to be seen. Not that I remembered what she looked like except for black hair. Just then I saw a hand waving me to come near. She remembered more than me. As I approached and drew closer she got uglier and uglier. I was strangely relieved; It didn't matter if I didn't get this one; I didn't want her but I'd take her anyway. Her hair was like straw. Her teeth were running away from each other, bent and twisted. Acne had her so much she wore a low cut top and the little red fellas were stuck to her breasts.

I knew it was crazy. Watching her was like watching a horror movie. I smiled my first smile in 25 minutes, and simply went with it.

Copyright©2007 Sean Dempsey