“You still read those? I didn’t even know they still made comic books!”
“Why are you going through my stuff, Sarah? And yes, I happen to like Supergirl.”
“I like to see what people do at lunch,” Sarah answered. “I just figured at age twenty-six, you might have outgrown these.”
Ingrid looked at her friend. “Did you by any chance see Avengers Endgame?”
“Yes. Three times.”
“Well, I’d like to keep chatting, but you just overloaded my irony meter.”
“So I noticed Fuller, that guy from accounting, has walked by here several times. I think he likes you. He doesn’t work anywhere near here, but he seems to walk by a lot.”
Sarah looked at Ingrid, expectantly.
“I’ve a one o’clock meeting, Sarah.”
“You’re not giving me anything, are you.”
“Nope. You’ve insulted me and you’ve insulted Kara Zor-El, so you’re just gonna have to guess what’s going on.”
“Fine!” adding she marched off, “You know I’m going to find out.”
The truth was, Fuller had stopped and talked to her right before lunch, although she had actually spoken to him first. They were both scheduled to go in six days with about twenty other people out to Hawaii for a company event that included people from the Atlanta and Tokyo offices meeting up. She didn’t really know him, except they had been part of the same volleyball team when the company threw a team together for a city charity event. She gathered that he was single, had never been married, and been with the company and in Atlanta about eighteen months. He was apparently from somewhere up north, but she wasn’t sure where.
“Hello,” she said to him, the third time he walked by.
“Oh, hi,” he said, stopping suddenly. “It’s Ingrid, right?”
“Yes. What brings you down to this floor? We don’t see many people from financial here, unless there is some sort of problem.”
“Oh, no, there’s no problem, I’ve been working with Ajith on a statement of work with one the new agencies you all have. I just got assigned Marketing, so I’m trying to learn.”
“I hear you’re headed out to Hawaii next week?”
“Yes, I was happy to be invited. Have you been before?”
“No, at least not since I was old enough to remember. You?”
“I’ve only ever landed and taken off from there. The only part of Hawaii I’ve seen from the ground is the airport.”
“It should be fun, although meetings with the Japan team tend to last a long time.”
He took a deep breath.
“Would you be interested in maybe going out and having dinner some time? I hope it doesn’t seem too forward, but I’d like to get to know you better.”
So there it is, she thought. “Yes,” she said, trying to sound like this was a new idea to her. “That sounds like fun.” She took out a piece of notepaper, and wrote her phone number down on it. “Let me have your number, too, so my phone doesn’t robo-block you.” He wrote down his number as well.
“Well,” he said, “I’ll be talking to you.”
“Bye,” she said, as we walked off, smiling.
10 days later, she was coming down an escalator at the hotel towards the convention center as he was coming up. “Hey can I talk to you a second?” he said.
“I’ll come around and meet you at the bottom”.
When he got there, they stepped aside towards some empty convention booths.
“They’ve left us a free day Friday, since the Japan team has to go back early, and I was wondering if you’d be up to having that date while we’re out here?”
She had made plans with Sarah, but she was pretty sure Sarah would let her go as long as she told her what she was doing. “Yeah, sounds great. I was going to try to get some shopping in, if you’d be up for that first.”
“Ok, let’s meet around 10:00? Is that too early? That way we can shop before the crowds get there, and when or if we get tired, we can just call it.”
“Alright, I’ll see you down in the lobby, Friday, 10:00am.”
“I knew there was something going on with you guys! Do you like him?”
“I don’t even know him yet. It’s a first date.”
“Yeah, but out here… in this tropical heat… amazing things can happen.”
“Oh, really? Have you had a lot of Hawaiian flings?”
“No,” Sarah said, reflectively, “but I watch a lot of cheesy Hallmark movies. Christmas and Hawaii are always good for romance.”
“I’m kind of nervous.”
“Why? He’s going to love you!”
“I haven’t done great with boyfriends. The last one was so clingy, he… he essentially turned into kudzu, is what he did.”
“Well, this guy is an accountant, so I doubt he’s anywhere near as emotional as the actor you were dating previously. He could probably tell you how much it costs to get rid of kudzu. Well, you can break our plans and go out with this guy with my blessing. You just owe me a report on how it went immediately after, if not sooner.”
“Ugh, I’m so pale, I’m going to look horrible in Hawaiian sun. I look something that haunts a hotel, not stays in it.”
“You really are nervous, aren’t you? It’s just a guy, it’s just a date, sounds like he set it up so it starts super-casual, and you both can end any time without it being awkward. Just relax. You’re amazing, and it he doesn’t realize it, he’s just a loser.”
“I appreciate your loyal and heartfelt insincerity, Sarah. But I will relax. It’s only a guy… it’s only a date.”
9:44 Friday morning, she was staring at the room clock as it turned over to 9:45. They weren’t originally supposed to have this day off, so everything she brought to wear was either too formal or too casual, but she did have a sun dress she felt was presentable, and after more worrying about what her mom always called their “Swedish complexion”, she took a few deep breaths and told herself to just try to enjoy the day. She did a few more last minute things, then grabbed her purse and phone and headed off to the elevator.
She didn’t know any one of the six or so people on the elevator, but they were all dressed for work, and she felt like she was wearing a “going on a date” sign. Which was insane, she realized, which, for whatever reason, struck her as funny, and so she began to relax.
He was standing between a sofa and the main doors. Thankfully, he was not attempting to wear a Hawaiian shirt. “You ready?” he asked.
“I am,” she said.