“Stop laughing, it’s not that funny”, came a husky masculine voice.
“It would be if you step in my shoes”, replied a velvety sweet voice in between attempts to stifle a laugh.
Dear Reader. Did you know that when you go into deep sleep and enter a world of dreams and fantasy, there is something fantasy-like that is happening around you? Are you someone who buries everything from your dull daily experiences to your deep dark secrets in a diary? If you think the embarrassing truths written in there are safe, you definitely haven’t heard George Oswell’s words – ‘If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.’
Every time you pour your heart out into your diary, a small fragment of your heart goes into it. As you keep writing, the tiny bits of your heart start fitting into each other like a jigsaw puzzle and it’s only a matter of months before you give life to your diary. It becomes a reflection of you.
I am Ralph’s diary. Friends call me Ralphie. The two voices that you heard above were Ashley’s diary, Ash, and I talking. It is a known fact that heart-to-heart communication is the most powerful. So it is no surprise that when two people spill their hearts out in their diaries, their diaries ‘magically’ find each other. When you are asleep, we share everything that you write with each other, following which we either have a good laugh about it or sympathize with you.
I met Ash a few hours ago after Ralph and Ashley had fallen into deep slumber. I had been increasingly hearing about Ashley during the last week but I hadn’t bother until today when Ralph poured more of his heart into me than he usually did. That’s when I went on my search for Ashley’s diary and not surprisingly, ran into her as she was looking for me too.
“It is our first date”, Ash chimed in fluttering her pages seductively and giving Ralphie a smug look.
“It may well be our last date”, Ralphie replied looking slightly disappointed.
Do not tell Ashley and Ralph what Ash and I are about to tell you, dear reader. It is supposed to be a ‘secret’. Grab your popcorn, for you are about to hear what may sound like the script of an average but entertaining movie. If you think it’s a ‘Boy meets Girl’ kind of story, you’re right. But who doesn’t enjoy gossip, right? I’ll start with Ralph’s version of the story and Ash will tell you Ashley’s version. Here goes.
“I had a great time today”, Ralph smiled as he opened the car door for Ashley. She hesitated for a moment before smiling back at him, revealing a subtle dimple on the right cheek. Thanking him, she got into her car. “I’ll call you”, he called out just as she drove away.
He stood there watching the car disappear at the end of the road. Heaving a deep sigh, he took his car keys out of his pocket. His thoughts hovered over the evening as he buckled his seat belt and drove home. He had been a perfect gentleman, holding the door open, pulling the chair and refusing to share the check. He couldn’t wait to fill his journal about the evening. It had been a good first date.
Ralph is a handsome man with bold features that made him attractive to women. His well-defined jaw line, broad shoulders and robust calf muscles are accompanied by soft brown eyes. He is an old-fashioned man who believes in chivalry and gentlemanly behavior. It had always worked for him with women. His combination of good looks and polite etiquette made him irresistible to women. He is aware of his effect on most women and it secretly made him happy. He is a smooth talker and instantly made the opposite sex feel comfortable. The only person who knows everything about him is me, his diary. I have been his best friend ever since he was ten. This was because I never left his side whether he was celebrating his success or brooding over his misery, whether it was six in the morning or eleven in the night. I never made fun of him (to his face) and always listened to him patiently. More than anything, he found that he could finally trust someone.
He reached home, pulled on his boxers and a t-shirt, brushed his teeth and looked around his room once. He liked things to be perfect. After clearing a wrinkle on his bed cover once more, he sat down at his table and opened his journal and began writing.
‘It was a perfect date. At first, I was apprehensive about going on a blind date but it turned out to be a good thing. You never know when life is going to throw glazed donuts at you instead of sour lemons. I have to thank Joanne tomorrow for setting us up.’
Meanwhile Ashley tired of wearing a smile on her face for two long hours, unlocked the door of her apartment and flopped on her unkempt bed with her shoes still on. Ashley is a confident woman who had her priorities set in her head. Her wide set eyes and small mouth gave her a baby-like appearance. Her soft tiny features called forth feelings of protection towards her. She, on the other hand, is a strong headed woman who knows how to take care of herself. She is the youngest of four siblings, the other three being boys. Being around her brothers all the time had rubbed off on her. She is not the typical girl. She didn’t gossip and she didn’t care too much about the way she looked which in fact added to her sexual appeal. She had left home when she was nineteen and since then she has been living life on her own terms. She had started keeping a diary since the day she had started living on her own in the hope of recording all her experiences and creating memories. Today was definitely going into her diary.
After checking her phone for messages, she took her shoes off, rubbed her heels and got out of bed. She quickly washed her face and got into her favorite tank top and shorts. With a bowl of ice-cream by the bedside table and her tattered diary (that’s me) in hand, she went back on her bed.
‘I may have been out of the dating world for sometime but I think I would have known if it was right. He was handsome, very handsome. But I still didn’t feel my heart skip a beat, didn’t feel the knots in my stomach and didn’t have the warm feeling spreading all over me. In fact I was tired of smiling and couldn’t wait to get back home. I can’t believe I agreed to a blind date. I’m going to kill Joanne tomorrow.’
This is how the evening started for Ralph. He knew that a blind date was all about first impressions. He picked out a designer suit to wear and a classy fine dining restaurant to spend the evening. He was obviously excited about his date. Joanne had insisted that Ashley didn’t want to be picked up and would see him directly at the restaurant. He reached the spot ten minutes early, like he always did. He valued punctuality and discipline among other things and had a record of never being late to any meeting. The receptionist greeted him with an infectious smile and took him to his table where he waited for his date to arrive.
This is how the evening started for Ashley. Cursing the traffic, she unlocked the door as she returned home after her dentist appointment. She checked the time and panicked. She had just within an hour to make it to the restaurant on time. She quickly pulled out her favorite short red skirt and matched it with a black top. She kept checking the time as she brushed her dark brown hair to give it some volume. She grabbed her purse and phone on her way out as she tried to walk fast in her heels. As she entered the restaurant, she was pleased to note that she had made it on time. The receptionist gave her the same rehearsed smile and led her to her table.
As Ashley approached the table, she saw a tall handsome man at the table. Suddenly she felt under dressed and wished she had carried her make-up kit with her. In her defense, he was over dressed. Who wore designer suits on a first date? As she smiled at him she realized that her jaw still hurt from the dentist appointment earlier that day. The effect of the pain killer was subsiding.
She was right on time. The first thing Ralph noticed about Ashley as she walked to him was her smile. He spotted a faint dimple on the right cheek when she smiled. He stood up as she came, thanked the receptionist and smiled at his date. He pulled the chair for her to sit. She gave him a quizzical look before sitting down. ‘Yes, I pulled the chair for you. I know it’s not a scene you get to see often these days’, he thought to himself with a sense of pride.
He made polite conversation. He filled the awkward silences and kept the conversation flowing. He had been told that he was a smooth talker. He was proud of it. ‘She’s a good listener. We’ll make a great team’, he thought to himself. The waitress who came to take their order came straight to him in a tiny skirt and smiled at him with a small notepad in hand. She told him her name was Lily. Ashley had excused herself to the ladies room. He took a look at the menu card and ordered for both of them. While he was waiting for Ashley, he noticed the waitress who had come to take the order sneaking glances at him from a distance. When Ashley returned, he again got up from his chair and insisted on pulling the chair for her as she sat. She finally gave in and smiled back at him.
Ashley was always treated like a baby, first by her brothers, then by her friends and now her dates. She was tired of it. Ashley liked to believe that she was a strong, independent woman. She liked to do things for herself and did not approve of others doing them for her. ‘Why did he have to pull the chair for me? I could have easily done it myself’, she found herself thinking. She didn’t want to judge him without giving him a fair chance. ‘Strike one. Now that’s fair chance’, she smiled to herself. ‘Damn this aching jaw.’
At first, she thought maybe she judged him too soon. He seemed to be an interesting man. He told her about himself, his likes and dislikes and other stories. She noticed that he spoke of many women and had been on a reasonable number of dates, unlike her. But after a while she realized that he wasn’t about to stop talking any time soon. Every time she opened her mouth to say something, he overrode her with a new story and a new woman. He liked to talk about himself. She sat there looking at him. Her lips were smiling but her thoughts were elsewhere.
‘We haven’t even ordered food. I can’t keep at this any longer. My jaw hurts from all the smiling and my ear hurts from all the listening.’ That’s when she excused herself to the ladies room. She took her own sweet time checking herself in the mirror and checking her phone for messages. When she finally went back, he again insisted on pulling the chair back for her to sit. She gave in. Within the next few minutes, food began to arrive. She was surprised. She didn’t remember ordering food. To top it, the dishes on the table were an assortment of chicken and meat and she was a vegetarian.
‘Vegetarian!’ This wasn’t something he had expected. He quickly covered the awkward moment by apologizing and asking her what she would like to eat. He also asked her if she was alright if he ate the chicken. She ordered a garden salad. When it was time for dessert, she politely refused. They skipped dessert and he realized the date was coming to an end. He asked Lily the waitress for the check. When Lily brought the check to him, he observed that the top button of her blouse which was closed the first time was now open. He tried not to stare and was distracted by Ashley who was taking her card out. Obviously his manhood was hurt by this act. He declared that it was their first date and that it was on him. He told her that he owed her for a great evening.
Ashley wasn’t like any of his other dates. She wasn’t one of the best dressed people. Nor was she the most beautiful. But there was carelessness in her beauty. It was like she neither cared nor knew that she was beautiful. There was an aura of confidence and independence that made her personality a strong one. Her doll-like features and the hint of a dimple were added distractions. The date had been a good one.
‘How did he think he knew what I wanted to eat? How could he order for me? And he ordered chicken!’ She quickly finished her salad in the hope of getting away soon. When he asked for dessert, she chose the easiest route to get out. ‘I’m watching my weight, sorry’, she had politely refused. Truth be told, she was a dessert person and her aching jaw was crying out for ice-cream. She decided she’ll pick up a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey on her way home. When it was time for the check, she had wanted to split it two ways. Why would he pay for her? She protested in vain and finally surrendered, happy that the evening was over.
Ralph was a handsome man. He was a ladies man. He believed in old school chivalry. His good looks and gentlemanly manners probably made him popular with women. But he was also narcissistic and self-centered. He was not a bad guy. He just was not right for her. The date had been a disaster.
And that dear reader is the story of Ralph and Ashley’s first and may be last date.
“Stop laughing, it’s not that funny”, Ralphie told Ash.
“It would be if you step in my shoes”, Ash smilingly retorted.
“The story is not over. The date was not a complete disaster”, Ralphie’e voice suddenly had an edge of mischief to it.
“You mean it could have been worse?”, Ash joked. Seeing Ralphie’s smug expression, Ash stopped laughing. “What is it? I’m curious.”
“Do you remember Lily the waitress? She slipped her number to Ralph along with the check”, it was Ralphie’s turn to smile.
“You mean to say Ralph picked up another woman while on a date with Ashley?”, Ash clearly didn’t look very happy.
“And by the look of it, I would soon be meeting Lily’s diary”, Ralphie was practically beaming now, having wiped the smug smile on Ash’s face.
Ash shot daggers at Ralphie with one dirty look, turned and walked away without looking back while Ralphie was still laughing.