I awoke Sunday thinking that the day was supposed to be all about Jewel. I really wanted to lower any expectations she might have. I just had no idea how one went about doing that. I had never had to downplay a date before. Most of my dates tended to crash and burn without any help from me. It would be fascinating to see how this played out, I thought.
When Jewel called with an arrival time, Jed and I were on the walking trail. We were taking an after breakfast hike. The trail ran three miles in one direction only. To get six miles one had to walked it from end to end, then do it backwards. Jed and I started walking from one end to the one mile and back the first day. Now we were discussing doing the whole six miles that morning. Since Jed didn’t object I made plans to go through with it.
Unfortunately the call came before we got to the two mile marker. “We are on the Urban Railroad Hiking Trail.” I explained, “It will take us a half hour to at least to get home.”
“Then maybe I’ll be sitting in your drive, since I’m leaving in fifteen minutes. I have to get out of here before Michael comes up with some other job for me,” she stated.
“Is he upset that you are seeing me?” I asked. Thinking about Ester’s son.
“Not at all. He is going to be with his girlfriend. He is just particular what he wears. I had to wash his favorite shirt and jeans. It is just grunt work,” Jewel said.
“Well meet me at the house, and you can hide out with me. We can go to lunch,” I suggested. I decided a lunch date would take me off the hook for a while. At least I wouldn’t have to make any decisions about how far to take the relationship.
“Oh no you don’t. We are going out somewhere special tonight. You promised me I could choose and I have decided oh The Gaston Club,” Jewel said.
“Okay, the Gaston it is. Do I have to wear a tux?” I asked.”
“No, but you can’t wear three layers of sweat shirts, so I’ll drive,” she said.
“Fair enough, Jed and I will stop for a pizza. If I go to The Gaston. I get to choose the Pizza,” I said.
“Sounds fair,” she agreed.
Jed and I stopped at Little Caesar’s. It was the least expensive pizza, but it reminded me of the pizza my mother made from those boxes. The ones with the pizza dough and the cans of sauce and grated cheese. I would be happy to explain my reasons, if Jewel asked.
When I got home, I had the pizza box tied to the top of Jed’s crate. It was absolutely driving him crazy. I managed to get the pizza into the house and keep it away from Jed until Jewel arrived.
When she arrived Jewel hugged me at the door. Since neither of us was sure what our relation was supposed to be, the greeting was awkward. At that moment I did want to move our relationship forward. I just wanted to go slowly. Even I knew that It was a lot to ask.
Jewel fell in love with Jed as I knew she would. He could melt a woman’s heart like I never could. As usual I felt jealous in their presence. He loved her until I broke out the pizza.
“Jed is so fickle,” Jewel said.
“Food is the way to both our hearts,” I said with a laugh.
“I’ll remember that,” Jewel said.
“Let’s eat lunch,” I suggested. “Would you like wine?”
“Are you having any?” she asked.
“To be honest I keep it around for company, not that I’ve had any lately,” I admitted.
“You don’t drink at all?” she asked.
No, I’m an alcoholic,” I said not looking her in the eye. “I don’t tell people that often.”
“Is that why you don’t drive a car?” Jewel asked.
“In a way. I have a driver’s license, but I don’t like to drive cars. They bring back bad memories,” I explained. “When I was in my twenties, I did three years in central prison. I make sure I am never tempted to do the stupid things that put me there again.”
“Could I ask what you did?” Jewel asked.
“You just did but sure. I had three DUI convictions within a year. The last judge nailed me,” I said. “I might have been the only guilty man to ever pass through Central Prison.” I laughed after I said it. “You want to leave now?”
“I don’t think so. You seem like one of the good guys. Besides I bet I’ve had more brushes with the cops than you.”
“Oh what for,” I asked.
“Abusive husband, then an abusive ex husband,” she explained.
“I hope that’s all over,” I said. She probably thought I meant it for her sake. I didn’t. I didn’t want to be tempted to commit an act of violence.
“He left the state ten years ago. Michael gets a letter once every year on his birthday with a present,” Jewel said.
I nodded and put a can of soda in front of her. I had a glass of iced tea mix. We drank soda, ate pizza, and talked for a couple of hours.
“Tell me something Larry, how did you know I was a pizza purist?” she asked.
“I didn’t know, I just am. Those fancy pizzas with sun dried tomatoes and crap, make me want to puke. Pizza is supposed to be canned tomato sauce, and cheese on a frozen crust,” I said.
“Here, here,” she said holding up her coke can.
“Now I hate to say this, but I have to go get naked,” I said.
“Oh do explain,” she said looking more amused than worried.
“I haven’t had my shower today. If I’m going to a fancy restaurant, I simply must not smell like a redneck truck driver,” I said... “I do not expect you to join me but you are invited,”
She looked at me curiously, then said. “Next time maybe.”
“Fair enough. The computer is there, so watch anything you want. The home page is a list of TV shows,” I said. Of course I had removed and hidden the video of Ester.
I quickly disappeared into the bedroom to get my clean clothing. Then I walked into the bathroom for a long hot shower. I loved the feeling of running hot water. I took longer than I needed for sure.
When I stepped out of the bathroom, I was wearing my one pair of dress pants and a white shirt. I walked into the living room and did a shallow bow. “Now I have a tie, but I do not have a blazer. I do have a leather cowboy jacket, if you insist,” I said.
“No, that is just fine,” she said.
“I’ve got a sweater around somewhere. You know one of those things with no writing on the front,” I said with a smile.
“That would be fine,” Jewel said smiling.
“Would you like to check under my nails?” I asked.
“I probably should. I could give you a manicure,” she explained.