By dinner time, hot stranger boy was out of my head and a plan was pinned firmly in place. Forget online matchmaking; that was going to take too much time. I had to make a connection with someone whom I had already made a connection with, past boyfriends. But not just any of them, the elite group with which I could have had a future if I had fallen for them. All it took was a spark, right? A mutual adoration and Fred could shoot an arrow and then it would be done. A brilliant plan of action, if I do say so myself.
I plopped down on the floor of my living room and rummaged through a shoe box of old cell phones. A bit of a pack rat, I’d kept my cell phones long after I’ve moved on, especially since not every number made it to my current phone. It’s a way of weeding out the numbers that are no longer needed. The Darwin theory of cell numbers, only the fittest survived. And, of course, since I changed phones every time I could, there was a great selection in the cell graveyard. There was my shiny period where my flip phone was pink and encrusted with flashy stones. Then my practical period, where my gray and silver phone was no frills and all business. Super talk-a-holic phone with a Playboy bunny chase and earpiece (that was before Bluetooth) and the worn out numbers on the plastic buttons. I had every brand, too. Nokia, Motorola, Samsung. Heck, I even still had my PrimeCo phone.
I paired the corresponding phone with the corresponding charger, found plugs and began the charging. Using my current phone, a mature, an iPhone, I ordered a pizza. Grabbing a yellow legal pad and a pen from the desk, I walked to the first phone—the pink one with the stones—and flipped it open. I punched the power button, then the down arrow and started my trip down memory lane. Some names and numbers looked familiar like Michelle’s old number. Some were way out of left field like one entry that said Zorro. (Who the heck was Zorro?) And then there were other names I hadn’t thought about since the ice melted and humans were walking upright. Scrolling until the end of the list, I wrote down names and numbers as I went, recalling, reminiscing, and remembering years of old relationships. Somewhere among these cell phones, something went wrong with my love life.
By the time I finished with my sleek, slider phone, used during my trendy period, the door bell rang. Digging through my purse, I pulled out a 20, ran to the door and opened it.
“Oh hey, love.”
Standing just a few feet short of my doorway was hot stranger boy, now hot pizza delivery guy. Now instead of a white t-shirt, he wore his company issued, red collar shirt with the pizza place logo on the left side. With the pizza in his left hand, he saluted me with the right. Yes, saluted me but not in the rigged way a soldier would for their superiors. No. Hot pizza delivery guy saluted me in the “hey how you doing” way that oozed rat pack during the Sinatra hey days. His smile was still as infectious as before but even more so. Those chestnut locks were caged under a red baseball cap with the bill turned to the back.
“If you came to make sure I was alright, I’m doing great.”
“I can see that,” he chuckled.
I’m sure he could.
We stood there for seconds but it seemed more like days. Him with his smile and me with mine. And then I remembered, I was hungry.
“Oh, let me take that,” I said. He passed the box to me and I handed him the money. With the edges of his grin still tickling his earlobes, he dug in his pockets for change. I waved my hands and told him to keep it.
“So this isn’t fair,” I said trying to keep him at the door longer. “You knock me down and you find out where I live. I don’t even know your name.”
He laughed and stretched out his hand. “Name’s Jake but my friends call me Teeth.”
He laughed again. “Cause I’m always smiling.”
“Really? Hadn’t noticed.” Okay, so I lied but it’s a small one. “My name is Marty.”
I reached out to shake his hand. A nice firm grip; not a tight one that says he’s in control but not one that’s too limp that says he’s a push over. He was also not too anything else. Not too tall, not too short. Not too tan, not too light. Not too muscular, not too skinny. Charming but not over confident. Sexy as hell but not too obvious. I wanted to pull him into my apartment, get to know him better, maybe ask him out. That was all lust. No spark. So I need to keep looking. Besides, who wants to date the pizza boy?
“Well, enjoy your pizza,” he said pulling away. “I’m sure we’ll bump into each other soon.”
“I’ll brace myself for that,” I giggled.
With a wave and a smile, Jake a.ka. Teeth, the hot pizza delivery guy walked away. I closed my door and stood behind it, my back pressed up against it. Closing my eyes, I took a deep breath and counted backwards from 10. I needed to refocus.As I opened my eyes, Frank was sitting on my couch halfway through a slice of pepperoni and cheese.
“Hey, what are you doing here eating my pizza?”
Frank inhaled as cheesy, stringy goodness sagged between his mouth and the slice. I ran for a napkin and handed it to him just as the cheese plopped on the front of his white shirt.
“You mortals have it good. There’s nothing like this on Mt. Olympus, I’ll tell you that,” he said, with a mouth full of pizza.
Fred chewed and chewed and reminded me of cows eating cud. I was curious to know what else Mt. Olympus didn’t have and what it did have. What was it like to have that privilege to live where Gods lived? To eat what they ate. To talk and interact with them.
“It’s not bad. Apollo is a divo but we’re use to it.”
“Sorry, I forgot.”
“Ugh, why are you here anyway?” I plopped down in the chair next to the couch and flung my leg over the arm rest.
“Obviously, I didn’t come here for a visit. How’s it going?”
“It’s only the first day, Frank. Cut me some slack. Besides, I have a list going and I was about to call them up before you decided to conquer my dinner like Troy.”
Frank chuckled before taking another bite. I reached for slice myself and joined him in some impromptu dining. Dinner with a cherub. Definitely on my highlight list.
“I knew I liked you.” Fred’s mouth was full of pizza. “Nice way to work a Troy reference in.”
“How was that war for you guys anyway?”
Then we went straight into business. I told him about the list and my theory: if there was a spark there then, there may still be one now, I told him.
“Interesting strategy. It just may work.”
Then I told him about M and how I couldn’t be her maid of honor and how she wasn’t talking to me. He listened to every word, swallowed his last piece of pizza and hopped off the couch.
“Well then, I’ll be checking up on you,” he said.
“WHOA! What about M?”
“What about her? Sounds like she’s doing great even though the wedding on Valentine’s Day is cliché but you mortals seem to like that.”
“Hello! My best friend isn’t talking to me because she thinks I don’t want to be in her wedding.”
Fred shook his tiny finger at me and waddled toward me. “You can’t think about her right now. It’s about you. If she’s really your friend, she won’t stay mad long.”
With a wave, he popped out of my living room leaving me with my mouth wide open and a response still sitting in my throat. I guess he was right about everything since I’m the one about to become an official spinster. Taking the cell phone and legal pad from the coffee table, I said a little prayer and dialed the first number—Derrick Cook.
Derrick was the first glamour guy I dated, and what glamour he was! Basic stats: 6’2”, light sandy hair, a basketballer’s body without the NBA ticket price, smart, owns his own venture capitalist firm. He was totally into two things, his business and his car, back then a brand new midnight Mercedes with camel-colored leather seats. I loved that car too and mourned it when we broke up.
Our courtship lasted about a year and there was interest there on my part. But he had just started his business and I didn’t want to play second fiddle to something I couldn’t compete with. So we broke up. Maybe with time and experience, we’ve both mellowed out.
“Cook and Associates.” The voice on the other end was female and professional. I gave her my name and asked to speak with DerrickHis His secretary answered the phone on the second ring. She asked my name and why I was calling.
“We’re old friends.”
The voice transferred me and on the second ring, Derrick picked up.
Oh, I had forgotten about his voice—super sexy with a sprinkle of confident arrogance. I loved it then and I really love it now. Seriously, Derrick could read me the phone book and it’d be a turn on. My little heart started to flutter and all those memories flooded my mind.
“Hello. This is a blast from your past.”
“Marty. I wouldn’t forget that voice ever. The woman who got away.”
Oh, really? He couldn’t forget my voice? This sounded promising.
“Well, here I am,” My voice dripped with come-hither flirtation.
“It’s been awhile.”
We chit chatted some more about how long it had truly been since last we spoke (seven years), how our lives were going (his business has grown by 100 percent) and how different the world was (so different). Then came the invite I was waiting for.
“Have dinner with me.”
“We’ve gotten demanding in our old age, Derrick. That sounded like an order,” I cooed.
“It has to be. I want to see you.”
Something about how he said the word “want” that just melted my butter. He wanted to see me. He asked me out for dinner because he wanted to see me for longer than 10 minutes. Not drinks or coffee or even a walk in the park. Dinner. Like a date. This was going splendidly. We’ll see each other. He’ll be interested. Fred will shoot. And we’ll make it to M’s wedding.
“Well, I want to be seen,” I replied.
We made plans for the next night at Chez Pierre, the most expensive Italian place in the city. Derrick’s tastes hadn’t changed over the past seven years. Expensive and good. Hopefully, his tastes in women haven’t either.
Not wanting to put all my eggs in one basket, I made the rest of the phone calls. Nelson Perry, Jay Connelly, Lorenzo Castillo. Those were the ghosts of my past waiting to be resurrected. I called them and set up dates with Lorenzo and Nelson the following two nights after Derrick. Jay ended up being gay and had come out of the closet about a year ago. I knew when we were dating that he wasn’t that into me but to his credit one of the best boyfriends I’ve ever had. We made a date for coffee anyway because we both missed talking to each other.
So there it was, Derrick the venture capitalist, Nelson the corporate lawyer, and Lorenzo the pharmacist. One of these three will be the love of my life. Hopefully, Fred has his arrow ready because I’m about to blow singlehood out of the water.