Even though the room was full of people’s scents and noise, Ambrose had no difficulty isolating Barbara’s semi-sweet chocolate and vanilla bean scent from everyone else. He followed it all the way to Table 12.
He stopped short.
He saw her as he had never seen her before.
She wore a red sleeveless swing dress with a thin black belt around her waist.
And no turtleneck.
Her hair was coifed up into a simple bun, showcasing her completely bare neck.
He stood still – afraid to move, afraid to speak.
She looked up at him. A delighted smile stretched wide across her face. “Look at you dressed up so fine!”
“You said back on our first official date that you would love to see me in a tie and coat tails.”
“So, I did. But I don’t see a tie.”
“Well.” He sat down beside her. “I tried to tie a decent cravat about my neck, but I’m sadly out of practice.”
“Out of practice. Hmm. How old are you?”
He shrugged. “Can’t remember.”
“Can’t or don’t want to?”
He thought about it. “After you speed past 100, it becomes frightening to think of all the people you’ve outlived and will continue to outlive. So, you stop thinking about it. You stop remembering your age and when you were born and it doesn’t seem that bad.” He looked at her. “But there are so many things I don’t want to forget. Like this moment right now. Me in my 1800’s tail coat and slacks and you in that 1950’s dress.”
Her natural blush bled through the cosmetics. “This old thing? It’s not much. Truth is: this is the first time I’m wearing it. I bought it as a consolation prize for finally breaking up with Kevin. I just couldn’t find the right moment or place to wear it.”
He contemplated her bare neck.
Her expression softened into concern. “Are you okay with it? I brought a sweater with, just in case.”
“Don’t worry. I’m fine.”
The opening rink-a-dink harpsichord of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” came over the sound system.
He rose from his seat and held out his hand. “Come on, Barbara. Let’s dance.”
“Oh, but I don’t know how to dance to this song.”
He shrugged as Lady Gaga began her credenza. “It’s a modern song. There isn’t a right or a wrong way to dance to it.”
She stood and took his arm. “Then, let’s do it! Let’s dance.”
The other couples seemed to know what they were doing, dancing in precise movements, in smooth but jerky lines.
Ambrose and Barbara ignored their perfection and did their own thing – a bizarre combination of the chicken dance, Macarena, and something like a drunk robot trying to dance The Robot.
The other couples death glared their foolishness.
But Ambrose and Barbara didn’t care. They laughed and hooted and careened about until they reached the end. They toppled to the floor, laughing uproariously.
Ambrose rolled onto his back and stared up at their reflections in the mirrored ceiling. And he saw happiness.
This is what I want. This. Me and her. If she’ll have me. If she’ll still want me at the end of this date.
I hope she will.
One of the men drifted into his line of view. “Excuse me, siiir. But you are encroaching into our dancing space.”
Ambrose sat up. “I’m what?”
“Encroaching in our—”
“Yes, siiiir. Encroaching.”
“Hey, Barbara. Do you know we’re encroaching?”
“No. I had no idea.”
“Neither did I.”
“Well, now you do. So, please get out of our space.”
“Ah?” He stood and helped Barbara up to her feet. “What if we want to dance some more?”
The other man blanched. “I do hope you won’t.”
“Don’t worry. I will.” He led Barbara back to their table, where they proceeded to burst into another laughing fit.