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Playing It Safe

By´╝ÜBarbie Bohrman

CHAPTER ONE


I’m sitting across from a Dick.

No, really. His name is Dick, and he won’t shut up. I think he may love the sound of his own voice or something because he hasn’t stopped talking for the last twenty minutes. I know this because I’ve been able to eat my entire meal without uttering a single word.

It’s a fine art pretending to be enthralled in a conversation with a person you have absolutely no interest in speaking to normally. Almost like an acquired skill. Apparently, I possess said skill set in spades. This can be a blessing and a curse all rolled into one. It’s a blessing because not really saying much other than the occasional “Really?” or “I understand completely,” along with a varied selection of head nods, you can get away with making it appear like you give a shit, when in reality you don’t give a shit whatsoever. Unfortunately, these same reasons are why it’s a damned curse. Because the other person takes your feigned interest as an indication that you are interested. And this is how and why I currently find myself in quite the pickle.

Sitting across from me at this very fine Italian restaurant is my date, Dick. Yes, I’m aware the name alone should have been enough of a warning for me to run in the opposite direction when he asked me out the first time a couple weeks ago. What can I say? It made me laugh to know that I was or would be dating a “Dick,” further proving my closest friends’ theories that I have the sense of humor equivalent to that of a thirteen-year-old boy. So, foolishly or hard up, haven’t decided on which one of those applies to my lapse of better judgment, I agreed to the date, and he was … nice. That right there should have been indicator number two. He was just plain old nice. Maybe that’s why I agreed to this second go-round with him because he kind of duped me into a false sense of security with his “nice” routine.

This time, though, as we sit in this upscale dining room that only fits about thirty to forty people, and it’s so exclusive that there aren’t even any menus—the chef will prepare items based on your likes and dislikes—he’s far from nice. He’s been rude to the waitstaff, a pet peeve of mine, and he’s made it more than obvious that he’s expecting a little something in return at the end of the evening, an even bigger pet peeve of mine. I could lower my standards for the night and sleep with him, because the fact remains he’s not too hard on the eyes, and as I’ve previously mentioned, I’m a little hard up. But there’s hard up and there’s desperate, and I’m nowhere near the level of desperation required where I’d want to knock some boots with Dick. There’s nothing exciting, enthralling, engaging, or even the slightest bit fascinating about him. In fact, he’s the polar opposite of all those things. He’s boring, irritating, and uninteresting. In short, if Dick were any more of a dick, he’d be, well … a total dick.

“Julia?”

Dick’s voice is grating on my nerves and snaps me out of the task of trying to count every single polka dot on the dress of the woman sitting behind him right now. I veer my gaze a fraction of a hair back over to his, and I can tell he’s noticed that I wasn’t paying the slightest bit of attention to him. Hell, I wasn’t even bothering with the aforementioned occasional nod this time. I must have gone straight into self-preservation mode over the utter boredom I’ve been feeling during this date. No need to panic, because along with having the talent of pretending to be interested, I also possess the talent of covering my tracks.

Oh so casually, I smile at Dick and grab my wineglass for a quick sip. All the while his eyes never leave mine, watching and waiting to see what I’m going to say. Now, I can play this one of two ways. One, pretend I know exactly what he was talking about and take the chance that whatever lie flies out of my mouth will fit perfectly within the conversation he was having with himself while I was busy with polka dot lady. Or two, admit to not paying any kind of attention to him. This second choice is tricky and can have a high risk of coming back to bite you in the ass. But, if played correctly, you can get sympathy from your date instead of being insulted, which, if he had any clue, is exactly how he should be feeling. I have about a half a second to decide as I bring the glass of merlot down from my lips and set it back on the table.

“I’m sorry, Dick.” I have to stifle a laugh; it still cracks me up. “I’ve been so busy with work, and this is the first night I’ve had off in about a week. I’m just so stressed and can’t help it if it seems like my mind is elsewhere. I’m sorry.”

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