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It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving and I was exhausted. I had been up since 5:00 a.m. because I had (foolishly) volunteered to drive my sister and her family to the airport in time to make their 7:30 flight back to Phoenix. And instead of just going back to my hotel and getting a couple more hours of sleep (after a long night of drinking the night before), I decided to swing by my parents’ house and see if anyone was up. Sure enough, my parents were both up, and we started chatting and cleaning up from the festivities of the past few days and before I knew it I had to hurry back to the hotel so I could check out on time and then begin my six-hour drive home.
I could have flown – it’s only about a 75-minute flight from the city where I grew up to where I have lived for the past 27 years – but the crowded airports would add at least three hours to the experience. I preferred the extra couple hours of travel time – spent in the solitude of my SUV with the company of podcasts – to the aggravation of the crowded and dirty airports.
I got home at about 7:30 p.m., just in time to take a quick shower and go to meet my friends Karen and Sophie at a slightly upscale Italian restaurant for dinner. You’re probably wondering how it is that a guy my age was friends with two women roughly half my age. Well I’ll tell you.
Two or three years out of college I got a slightly above entry-level job at the local office of a large and prestigious business consulting firm. And I worked there for a very long time and rose through the ranks probably a little faster than most. Even though I was very good at my job, I never completely fit in at that firm because, quite simply, I am not an asshole. I knew going in that the place had a reputation of being a den of jerks, but it was a resume builder that would eventually permit me the opportunity to quit and open my own firm.
I had worked there about fifteen years when Karen got a job there working in the mailroom. She was a high school student at the time, and she got the job because her aunt was one of the office managers. This firm always used high-school and college kids for the mailroom and they were usually the children of senior associates or shareholders in the firm. The job was pretty easy, and the prestige of the firm’s name made it look better on a resume or college application than the complexity of the job warranted.
But because Karen was related to an administrative employee rather than “professional,” she seemed to be treated a little worse than the other mailroom staff. That’s how big of assholes the rank and file employees of that firm were. As I mentioned, I am not an asshole. So I treated Karen with respect and was friendly towards her in a non-condescending way. And over the time that she was working there she and I became friends. She would always bring me my mail last so that we could chat for a while when she stopped by my office. She would ask my advice on everything from homework to college applications to why high school boys are such idiots. I looked forward to our daily chats.
Eventually Karen graduated and went off to college. She went to a public university a couple of states away – one of the colleges that she and I discussed multiple times before she applied, and she only applied after I said it was a good fit for her. As it turned out, one of my clients had its main office in the city where her college was located, and I had to travel there on business about five or six times a year. So almost every time I made that trip, I would make time to have lunch or dinner or just drinks with her.
It was over the course of these trips that I noticed Karen had grown up. She’d gone from being a gangly, awkward kid to being quite the attractive young woman. She was (and still is) tall with long strawberry blonde hair, green eyes, freckles, C-cup breasts and a nice round ass. I had little doubt she was a distraction to multiple guys in her classes.
It was also on these trips that I first met Karen’s friend Sophie. Sophie is almost the opposite of Karen as far as looks go. Sophie is short, with dark hair, light-brown eyes, A-cup breasts, and an ass that some people would say is slightly large but I always thought that it suited her well. The best word to describe Sophie is “cute.” She is cute both in looks and in personality. She has a mix of naivete and worldliness that brings a refreshing viewpoint to pretty much any conversation.
During Karen’s junior year of college, I quit my job and opened my own firm, which had been my plan since about the time I started that job. My client in that college town liked my work so well that they remained my client even after I’d started my own firm, so my business trips continued, and I saw Karen and Sophie on every trip.
After they graduated, Karen moved back home and got a state job in public health. Our schedules did not mesh well, but we still managed to have lunch or dinner once a month. Sophie, who had grown up in the city where the college was located, stayed there and got a job in the arts, helping to plan exhibits, concerts, halkalı escort plays, and the like in public-owned spaces.
So that’s how I know them. On the night of our story, Sophie was in town to spend the holiday with Karen and her family. (Sophie’s parents had been able to book a really nice Mediterranean vacation, but to get the best price they had to travel the week of Thanksgiving. So Sophie had celebrated her “family Thanksgiving” a week early.) I arrived at the restaurant first and was waiting in the bar area when Karen and Sophie showed up. Both were wearing tight black skirts, Karen with a red button-up blouse and Sophie with a black turtleneck. We exchanged hello hugs and sat down.
Almost immediately I informed them that I would have to make an early night of it because I had been up since 5:00 and had not had much sleep the night before. Karen and Sophie were fully in support of that plan – it seems that they had been at a club until two o’clock the night before and then decided to split a bottle of wine after getting back to Karen’s apartment. So they were looking forward to getting to bed early, too. The place was very crowded so we grabbed a menu from the bartender so we could order as soon as we were seated. The hostess found us just a few minutes later and escorted us to our table. It was a square table for four. Sophie sat to my left and Karen across from me.
Our server came over and introduced herself as Doris. She was young, probably 19 or 20, with blonde hair and blue eyes. Here loosely fitting white blouse seemed to cover an attractive figure and her black pants definitely let me know that she had a nice ass. I thought her name was sort of funny because she was so young and “Doris” seems like a name that hasn’t been used in a couple generations or more. But I kept that thought to myself (until now).
I got the distinct impression that Doris was new to the job. She stumbled over her introduction, mispronounced at least two words when describing the day’s specials, and she offered merlot as an option when Sophie asked what types of white wine they had. But serving can be a hard job and I admired the way she seemed to be trying so hard.
We ordered our food and Sophie ordered a glass of chardonnay and I ordered some craft beer I had never tried before. Karen just ordered water because she was on-call for work. She was being groomed for a management position at the Department of Public Health and that involved working four-month stints at various positions within the department. Her current assignment was working as a 9-1-1 operator. That involved working twelve-hour shifts, but she only worked three days a week. And, of course, she had really great stories about work. Karen ensured us that there was almost no chance that she would be called in that night because in the three months she had been working in that position no on-call employee had ever been called in for any shift.
We started chatting and getting caught up when Sophie asked me “Why is it that your generation and the baby boomers are always making fun of us millennials?”
I was aware of the myriad of jokes about millennials that filled the internet and were bandied about at work, but, frankly, I never paid any attention to them. Probably because the only two millennials I actually knew were Karen and Sophie, who seemed to me to be normal, intelligent adults. So I said that I had no idea. To which Sophie replied, “Well what is different about your generation than ours do you think?”
I thought for a moment and then remembered a conversation I overheard at a bar about six months earlier between two women who, from what I gathered, had kids who were seniors in high school. So I asked Karen and Sophie if they had gone to their senior proms, and both responded that they had.
“Who did you go with Karen?” I asked.
“Let’s see, as I recall it was my friends Ann, Kristin, Tommy, Jeff, and Beth.”
“Okay, who did you go with, Sophie?”
“Gosh a bunch of people. Like eight or so? I’d have to think a while to remember them all.”
“Well, that’s one big difference, as I understand it,” I said. “When I was in high school and college, we actually dated and didn’t just go out with a group of people. We had girlfriends and boyfriends and people went out on dates with just one significant other person.”
“We do that, too,” said Karen.
“When was the first time you went out on a date with just one other person?” I inquired.
“Mmmmm, I guess not until my sophomore year of college. Second semester.”
“And you, Sophie?” I asked.
“College. Junior year,” she said almost as if she was making a confession.
“Well, I guess that’s one difference. My generation and the generations before jumped right into the awkward rituals of one-on-one romance as soon as we reached adolescence instead of remaining in the warm safety of the herd until we were 20,” I said.
“People in our high schools were still having sex and everything,” Sophie defended.
“I don’t taksim escort doubt that,” I admitted, “but how many long-term, at least somewhat serious ‘couples’ were there?”
“Hardly any,” Sophie admitted.
“I can only think of one,” said Karen, “and they were both from really religious families.”
“I’m not necessarily saying one way was better than the other,” I consoled them, “We were looking for differences in our generations and that’s one of them.”
“Did you have a girlfriend in high school?” Sophie asked.
“I went out with a few girls and had two pretty serious girlfriends, one as a junior and the other as a senior. At least I thought they were serious at the time”
“How did you go about asking a girl out once you decided you liked her?” Sophie followed.
“Ooooh, THAT was the tricky thing,” I said. “You didn’t want to, or at least I didn’t want to, ask a girl out unless you were pretty sure that she would say yes. So a lot of time that involved getting YOUR friends to make some inquiries to HER friends to measure her interest. If there was no interest, well then you were still a little embarrassed but at least you didn’t feel humiliated.”
Karen and Sophie both laughed out loud at that.
“That seems like an awful lot of work for a lot of people to go through just so you could end up still feeling a little bit embarrassed!” Karen said, sneaking a sip of Sophie’s wine.
“Yeah, well sometimes it was more organic. Like if you knew a girl because you had multiple classes with her and she was always a little friendlier to you than she was to the other boys, then you might test the waters yourself by engaging in a little innocent flirting,” I answered.
“You mean people in your high school weren’t always friendly to everyone?” asked Sophie.
“They were at my high school,” responded Karen.
“Unfortunately, no. And ironically, it seemed like the least friendly ones were the ones who had the most sex,” I answered.
“Don’t take this the wrong way, Mike,” Karen said with a smile on her face, “but I bet you didn’t have much sex in high school.”
We all laughed at that comment and I admitted that no, I did not have much sex in high school.
“You said you would engage in some ‘innocent flirting’ if you thought a girl liked you,” Sophie said. “How did you do that? What would you say or do?”
“Well, one of the old standby flirting techniques was you would buy some M&M’s at the basketball game, and then nonchalantly work your way through the crowd until you were next to her, and ask her if she would like some M&M’s. She would almost always say yes, and then you would reach into the bag and give her a few, making sure that she only got green ones,” I explained.
The girls exploded with laughter.
“What the hell did THAT prove?” asked Sophie, with a huge smile.
“Green is supposedly the ‘horny color,'” I explained, “so offering her green M&M’s was, on one level, you saying you want to make her not only horny but horny for you. But on a more innocent level it was just a way of saying ‘I like you.'”
Karen was tapping away on her phone as I explained this and after I stopped talking she said “Oh my god, that’s a real thing! People actually did that!”
Sophie laughed again and said “Okay, two things! First, you Gen-Xers are total dorks!”
Karen and Sophie both laughed at that. Sophie continued “Second, it is an almost unexplainable scientific fluke that you dorky Gen-Xers could have children as cool as us millennials!”
Karen raised her water glass in a toasting motion to that and Sophie clinked her wine glass against it and they both drank. I made a slight toasting motion with my beer glass as well and took a sip.
“Oh, and one more thing,” Sophie continued, “did it only work with M&M’s or would anything green work?
“I never did any real research into the matter,” I told her, “but I imagine it would work with green Starburst or green jelly beans. Probably wouldn’t work with brussels sprouts.”
“Starburst don’t come in green,” Karen said matter-of-factly.
“How do you know that?” asked Sophie.
“Everyone knows that,” replied Karen. At that moment Karen’s phone, which was lying face-up on the table, rang and Karen looked down at it. “Oh fuck.”
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“It’s work.” Karen picked up the phone. We only heard her end of the conversation. It was brief.
“This is Karen… oh no, is she alright?… Thank goodness… Sure, I can cover… Yeah. I’ll be there in 30 minutes… No problem… Bye.”
“You got called in to work, didn’t you?” I asked.
“Yep.” She was already on her phone ordering a Lyft.
“You cursed it by saying you wouldn’t get called in!” lamented Sophie.
“Yep. And boy NOW do I regret drinking until three o’clock in the morning last night. You can let yourself into the apartment can’t you?” she asked Sophie?
“Sure.” She replied.
“And I can drive her there,” I offered.
“Thanks,” replied Karen. “Well, I’ll be home about 9:30 in the morning, Soph, see ya şişli escort then.” We all stood up and Sophie and I each hugged Karen and took our seats again.
“Well that’s a bummer,” I said more to the universe than to Sophie.
“Oh well, we can still have fun,” responded Sophie to me, not caring if the universe heard. She raised her glass and I raised mine and we continued talking.
The green M&M talk led rather naturally to talk our current romantic situations. Sophie had a boyfriend she had been seeing for about four months, but she was not really into him and was measuring the pros and cons of breaking up with him during the holiday season. I told her that I had rarely dated in the past few years because running my own business left so little free time, and I often didn’t know when my free time would present itself. As Sophie began the expected response about “you should really find time to date you’re good looking and so nice,” I noticed Doris approaching with a large tray of food. It appeared to be for a table other than ours, because it was definitely more food than the three of us had ordered. As I turned my eyes back to Sophie, whose back was to Doris, I suddenly saw what seemed like a meteor shower of white and red and green come hurtling directly towards us.
Doris (poor Doris) had tripped or slipped on something, and the tray of food for at least four people had been inadvertently launched onto our table – and onto Sophie and me. I saw it coming for a split second and was able to quickly move back a little before the full brunt of the hurricane of Tuscan cuisine made land. Sophie, who’d had her back to Doris, was not so lucky. The aftermath was a disaster scene of epic proportion.
“Are you okay?” I asked. Sophie had a look of shock and confusion on her face and several strands of angel’s hair pasta draped on her shoulders and head.
“What… the fuck… just happened?” she responded.
“Doris is still getting the hang of her job,” I replied. “You didn’t get hit by any plates or bowls, did you?”
Fortunately, she had not and instead had just gotten hit by the equivalent of what looked to be two full plates of pasta. Her hair was dripping with what appeared to be marinara sauce, which also was running down her face and covering her black turtleneck. I had gotten some on my face, hair, and shirt, but only a fraction of what she had gotten.
By now a small army of waitstaff, bussers, and kitchen employers had gathered around and began cleaning, and Doris was exasperatedly apologizing to Sophie and me. “Come on, let’s go try to get you cleaned up,” I said, and Sophie and I began making our way to the restrooms. I told Doris not to worry about it and asked if we could get our orders to-go.
This restaurant has unisex restrooms with a large shared sink outside of the restrooms. Sophie had brushed off all of the noodles back at the table and we began trying to clean the sauce off with wet paper towels. It came off of her face rather easily, but not so with her hair and sweater. We got her cleaned up as best we can and went back to our table to find Doris waiting for us with our orders boxed up and waiting for us. I took out my wallet to pay for the food and drinks, but Doris quickly said “There’s no charge tonight. I am SO sorry for what happened.”
I smiled and said, “It’s okay. At least we got a funny story out of it.”
A look of relief came over Doris’ face and she mustered a smile and offered a sheepish “Thank you.” I set a twenty-dollar bill on the table for a tip and we exited the restaurant. Neither of us had worn a coat, Sophie because she expected to only need to walk from the door to a waiting Lyft on either end of the trip, and me because I was in a hurry and had forgotten. Luckily my SUV was parked just a block away. We walked quickly to the vehicle and got in.
We’d gone less than a block when Sophie said, “Oh fuck!’
“What’s the matter?” I asked.
“I just remembered that I took Karen’s extra key out of my purse this afternoon so I wouldn’t accidentally take it home with me. I figured I would be with her all of tonight until she took me to the airport tomorrow morning so I didn’t need it anymore.”
“So you can’t get into her apartment?”
“Well that’s not a problem,” I told her reassuringly. “I have my extra bedroom set up as a home office, but I have a fold-out sofa bed in the living room that you can sleep on and I’ll drive you back to Karen’s in the morning.”
“Are you sure it’s not too much of a problem, Mike?”
“Not at all. I have no plans tomorrow anyway.”
“Thanks. You’re the best,” Sophie said with a cute smile.
It took about ten minutes to get to my condo. I parked in the underground lot and we took the elevator to the eighth floor. Once we got in my door I pointed and said “The bathroom is that way. Let me grab some dish towels from the kitchen.” Sophie headed for the bathroom and I dropped off our food in the fridge and grabbed some towels. When I got to the bathroom, Sophie had the faucet in the sink running and was trying to hold her hair under the water. I took a dish towel and got it wet and tried to rub her hair to get more of the sauce out. It was not going well. Sophie took her head out from under the sink and pointed towards the bathtub and said, “Does that thing work?” with her finger pointing up and down between the shower head and the tub faucet.
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