With her internal clock, the summer sunlight piercing through
the blinds, and the energetic cat, Boots, Rachel was sure
not to sleep past 6:00 most mornings, including the weekend.
"How am I going to get everything done today?"
Saturday was filled with errands, bills, housework, sorority
meetings, and if lucky, occasionally a movie. Today was
more intense. She had to focus on getting herself together
for a blind date. Against better judgment, Rachel let her
co-worker, Sharon, talk her into going to a cookout. It
was an opportunity for Rachel to meet Sharons brother,
Rachel held her hands up and spread her fingers out in front
of her, like a fan. "Im glad Tanya is able to
squeeze me in. I couldnt, dare, meet this man without
getting my hair and nails hooked-up." She was glad
to get the 7:30 time-slot. It was early for a Saturday morning.
Being the first appointment was the only way to ensure that
she wouldnt be sitting up in the beauty shop all day.
Any other time, she could tolerate it. But not today.
She had procrastinated long enough. Rachel sat up, placed
both feet on the floor, and created a to-do-list in her
head. "Hmm," she exclaimed. "Women always
have to put in the extra effort. Were expected to
look stunning on each date. All men have to do is show up.
I bet this Kenny guy isnt going out of his way to
impress me." On second thought, she said, "Then
again, I dont want a man who spends more time primping
in front of the mirror than I do." She stretched. "Been
there enough times. In one way or another, I always end
up having to pay for it." She stood up and stretched,
again. "Boy, its tough being a man, but tougher
being a woman."
Although it seemed like so much preparation for such a brief
moment, she didnt consider it to be optional. Even
if Kenny turned out to be nobody-special, she still owed
it to herself to look fabulous.
She walked to the bedroom door and pulled her robe off the
hook. Today was going to be hectic. She decided to take
a few minutes for herself and headed downstairs to get a
cup of tea. She couldnt help but think, enthusiastically,
about the cookout.
She was at a slow period in her dating. In her ten years,
or so, of dating, Rachel had never experienced a drought,
a voluntary rest, but never a real drought. Summer was in
the air. Rachel felt it was time for a whirlwind romance.
She loved the Chicago summers, and loved, even more, having
an exciting companion with whom she could enjoy the fun-filled
days and nights.
The rare occasions when she got with Gary did not qualify
him as a significant other. The poor fellow was one of her
many has-beens. Even on his way out, he was still trying
to hang on. As far as Rachel was concerned, she was definitely
available to meet someone new.
After the recent flow of nobody-specials, she was ready
for some spice in her life. Maybe Kenny was precisely what
she was looking for. Although she wasnt eager to admit
it, she was excited about meeting him.
She leaned her back on the refrigerator, and took another
sip of the lukewarm tea. "It seems odd that a perfectly
good man is still available." She was referring to
Ken. "All women talk about is the shortage. Why hasnt
someone snatched him up if hes all that?" She
walked to the stove and poured some more hot water into
her mug. "This better be worth it," she said in
between sips of her tea and bites from the bagel.
she got to Sharons place, she could tell from the
number of parked cars that a lot of people had already arrived.
"I hope some other people from work come, just in case
this Kenny doesnt have it going on."
She was especially hoping Kenny was already there. "I
dont believe that I let Sharon talk me into this.
How do I get myself into these messes? Boy, I want to get
this over with."
The plan was to meet him right away, get the introductions
over, and get past her nervousness. The other motivation
for meeting him early was to take full advantage of her
glow. It was the result of an extra effort she put into
fixing up when meeting a new beau. The longer she waited,
the more likely her oily nose would start shining, lipstick
would wear off, or even worse, hair would blow out of place.
Rachel didnt consider herself a vain person needing
to glance into a compact mirror every five minutes. However,
she was self-conscious enough to want to make a good impression.
"Why am I so nervous? I dont even know this guy.
Its not like I have anything to lose."
She pulled the lipstick tube from her small purse and painted
her lips. "Let me see." She tilted her head up,
gazed into the rear view mirror, and smacked her lips together.
She turned slightly to the side, but kept her eyes focused
into the mirror. Not a hair out of place. The anxiety was
mounting. She put the keys in her tiny purse. "Well,
here it goes," she said, and opened the car door.
She noticed Sharons car parked in the driveway. The
knot in her stomach tightened as she got closer to the house.
"I sure hope there are some people here that I know,"
As she approached the house, her feelings about the party
were mixed. Get-togethers were always uncomfortable when
she went alone, and then didnt really know anyone,
except the hostess. She spent the time acting entertained
when, really, she was bored to tears.
"Oh, well, Im here now. I guess Ill see
whats going on," Rachel uttered as she approached
She walked towards the backyard, in the direction of the
music and loud talking. The smell of barbecue got stronger
as she got closer. There were about twenty-five people already
there. As Rachel glanced through the crowd, she didnt
recognize any faces. Everyone seemed to be in pairs and
"Great," she muttered, "its going to
be like that."
She walked towards the beverages, giving the impression
that she was confident, and felt comfortable being there.
Whatever she did, it couldnt be obvious that she was
As she turned around, she saw Sharon calling her from the
back steps. Rachel was relieved to see a familiar face.
"Hey girl. Im glad you made it," Sharon
"I told you I was coming."
"I know, but you never know. You know how things always
seem to come up at the last minute. Anyway, Im glad
youre here." Sharon leaned forward and gave Rachel
a hug. "Guess what?" Sharon said with undeniable
"What?" Rachel retorted with a tone of reluctance.
"Kens here." Sharon had a big smile on her
face. Rachel struggled to show no reaction, when in actuality
the knot she had managed to loosen in her stomach was starting
to tighten all over again.
"Let me introduce you. Finally, youll get to
meet. Hes excited about meeting you." Sharon
grabbed Rachel softly by the arm and pulled her towards
a group of three guys and one young lady.
By Rachels standards, one guy was too short. With
heels on, she would easily tower over him. On top of that,
he was on the chunky side with a bulging belly, the dreaded
receding hair-line, a tacky pair of run-over sandals, and
a pair of polyester shorts.
This plump fellow was probably a nice guy. Sad for him,
he reminded her too much of Brian, a fellow she secretly
dated on the rebound from a serious relationship gone sour.
In her opinion, he was the typical worshipper,
nerdy and physically unappealing. He was extraordinarily
nice, treated Rachel like a queen, did every-thing for her,
and made himself available at her beck-and-call.
Niceness hadnt proven to be enough to make Rachel
happy. She wanted a guy who was physically and romantically
appealing, although, he seemed harder and harder to find.
It was as if every man she met had one or two redeeming
qualities. Never all of them operating at the same time.
She could never understand why it had to be either
or. Combining bits and pieces of all the guys she
knew, into one package, seemed to be the only way she was
going to get Mr. Right.
The second guy was tall, at about six-one or six-two, and
quite handsome. He was dark-skinned, and from what she could
see, he didnt have a receding hairline, or the infamous
bald spot that men get in the center-back-part of their
head. It was obvious his body was in exquisite shape, to
the point of being sculptured. He fit all of the pretty-boy
requirements. She discounted him as being Kenny. He was
too fine. Also, he didnt look anything like Sharon.
He was much darker, handsomely darker.
Without staring, Rachel noticed a ring on his wedding finger.
"Oh, well." She wasnt interested in a married
guy, even though, many were interested in her. She had gone
through it with a married man, Luc, and never again wanted
to be a third-wheel in the marriage scene. It took forever
for her just to be able to function without him, let alone
fully recover. As a matter of fact, she wasnt even
one hundred percent recovered as it was, and the breakup
had been almost two years ago. The thought of being with
a married man made her nauseous. Been there, done
that, aint going back, was her new philosophy.
It was refreshing for her to see a handsome man wear a wedding
ring, in public. She knew enough guys that deceivingly didnt.
Luc waited until she was hooked, emotionally, before he
revealed the important detail that he was married, hoping
she was in too deep to let it matter. The married men were
always claiming to be in the process of leaving their wives.
Rachel wholeheartedly believed men never left. Her line
was, "They might get put out, but they dont leave."
The petite lady standing next to him must be his wife, Rachel
speculated. They seemed comfortable together. "Wouldnt
you know it. The fine guy is taken," she uttered. He
was probably a playboy anyway, she rationalized to ease
To Rachel, the lady did look quite a bit younger than her
handsome husband. However it didnt surprise her. She
hypo-thesized that men typically ran around in their younger
years, and then settled down in their late thirties and
forties with a younger woman. They got the whole fairy tale,
wife and kids, at any age.
It was always lopsided. When she was younger, the men her
age wanted older, more established women to take care of
them. Now that she was older, the men her age were looking
for younger women to breed for them. Rachel wondered if
shed ever get a turn to date someone closer to her
The third guy wasnt bad looking. His hair was a little
bit longer than she liked. Not enough to be a show-stopper.
Since he was facing her, Rachel could see his smooth skin
glistening in the sunlight, and his hazel-colored eyes radiating.
She liked his features. If it turned out to be him, she
could anticipate some pretty kids. He also seemed to have
all of his hair and teeth, which she never took for granted
in men over thirty. His ring finger was bare. Maybe he was
available. She couldnt tell for sure, not solely by
the absence of a ring.
The one nagging factor that bothered Rachel was his youthful
demeanor. Either they were too homely, too short, too young,
or just plain married. How would she feel with a twenty-some-year-old
man when she was already thirty! What would he know about
life? She was not interested in watching a man-child grow
up. They seemed hard to come by, but she was still holding
out for a settled, mature man. She didnt have any
kids of her own, but Rachel had done plenty of mothering,
compliments of the men in her past. Leah, her college-friend,
had a much younger husband. That was fine for Leah, but
it wasnt something Rachel could deal with for herself.
"Excuse me, I want to introduce you all to my friend,
Rachel," Sharon interrupted.
Here was the big moment. However it turned out, Rachel was
glad to get it over with.
"Rachel, this is my sister, Dana."
She was shocked to know that Dana was Sharons sister.
"Her sister," Rachel replayed in her mind. Boy
had she guessed wrong. Rachel couldnt decide whether
to be formal and shake hands after each introduction or
to be casual, and acknowledge each with a simple hi.
Feeling slightly nervous about meeting Kenny, she opted
without completely thinking it through, to be casual in
her response. She didnt want to come across as being
snobby by shaking hands at an informal yard party. First
impressions were long-lasting, and even if Kenny turned
out to be something less than wonderful, she still wanted
to present herself stunningly.
"Hi," Rachel responded as she made eye contact
"Hi, Rachel. Nice to meet you."
Working her way around the circle, Sharon then introduced
the young guy, who Rachel suspected to be Kenny.
"This is Terry, Danas husband."
Wow, what a surprise, Rachel thought. Danas husband!
No wonder he looks young, he is, she concluded. She knew
Dana was the baby in the family, being somewhere in her
early twenties. Rachel figured Terry was around the same
Well, at least she had gotten one thing right, married men,
like Terry, didnt always wear a wedding ring. The
ring definitely threw off her assessment of who was who.
"Hi," Terry and Rachel spoke simultaneously. The
picture was becoming rapidly clearer. Short and chunky,
who reminded her of Doughboy, must be the man. At least
they were meeting early. Her new plan was to eat, socialize
for a few minutes, and then make the great escape. One thing
was for sure, she wasnt going to be eating with Doughboy.
By the looks of his stomach, he had already eaten enough.
No matter what, she decided there was no point in giving
up her phone number to this Kenny guy, even if he was Sharons
brother. Rachel was hoping this was not going to affect
her working relationship with Sharon. That was the danger
of being introduced to someone by a mutual friend. Another
reminder of the very reason why she disliked blind dates.
"This is my cousin Ty." As he reached out to shake
her hand, she hesitated. The shock of him not being Kenny
"Hello, Rachel," Ty said in a soft spoken voice
and a slight grin. "Nice to meet you." Although
his hand was a little moist, it was of no consequence. Her
focus had switched to the tall, dark, handsome, and exquisitely-built
man standing before her.
Rachel was usually good at sizing up people. Much to her
hearts content, she had batted zero in figuring out
who was who this time. Her worst fears had been put to rest.
She composed herself quickly for the big introduction. She
didnt even think about how she looked. She wanted
to come across natural and together. All of the preparation
she had gone through early in the morning was for this one
Before Sharon could introduce Kenny, he spoke out in a deep,
authoritative tone. "Hello, Rachel. Im Ken."
He softly took her hand and looked directly into her eyes.