Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Cheap dates and good times

Monday was Nel's birthday. Yesterday I took her to Front Range BBQ for dinner to celebrate. At first she was a cheap date, but that changed once she caught a whiff of my dinner and decided to eat two dinners.

When I got home after running some errands, one of which was taking money out of my account to pay the rent, it was raining. It had been raining harder but slacked off a bit just before I reached home and parked the car. Good thing it didn't rain harder. Ever since the last big hail storm when I had to go to the PPRAA board meeting one of my wiper blades quit working. It took a hit from a big hail stone and weakly fidgets in place while the other wiper blade does it's job. Yesterday, just before the rain really cut loose, I snagged it with the long handled purple ice scraper and pulled it up to the side of the windshield. Luckily, it was the driver's side wiper blade that took the hit, making it really interesting driving while I'm leaning toward the passenger side to look out and see whose tail pipe I'm about to climb up.

When I switched the wipers from pulse to full run, the fidgety wiper blade fidgeted it's way off the windshield to hang pulsing and fidgeting over the outside mirror. I still had the window down, so I pushed it back up onto the windshield where it fidgeted and fretted and jumped off onto the mirror again. After pushing it back up onto the windshield twice more, I gave up. It stopped raining. I need to take it in to be fixed.

Anyway, it was spitting a little here and there when Nel and I walked over to the restaurant. We went inside and I felt closed in and too warm, courtesy of Father Time and Mother Nature's intermittent battling over my fretting and pulsing hormones, so we decided to sit outside on the porch and eat dinner. We were the only brave souls for a while, but as soon as we sat down the rain cut loose, pelting and pounding the streets with unrestrained wet glee, the wind driving some of the rain towards us. Nel hitched her chair around closer to my side of the table and I stayed put, enjoying the cooling splashes.

Our waitress, a cute young thing with a pale streaked cap of soft blonde hair took our orders. I decided on the elk burger with smoked cheddar, bacon, the works, and extra pickles with a side of cucumber, onion and roasted tomato vinaigrette. Nel chose the Front Range salad. I told her to enjoy herself and called her a cheap date. Should have kept my mouth closed.

While the skies showered the streets, the temperature dropped and my flustered hormones decided to switch off and let me cool down, Nel and I talked about everything and nothing. Time passed. Another couple chose to have their dinner at the other table on the porch while I gulped down huge glasses of water, no ice, and thick half moons of lemon. Nel, unlike her usual habit of enjoying a beer or four after work before she climbs into bed at eight, drank water, too. Our waitress rushed out the door with a flustered look, dithering apologies. She forgot to put in our orders and, she looked at me like a puppy about to be hit on the nose with a newspaper, there were no elk burgers. I smiled up at her and said, "No problem." She dithered on while I changed my order to Kobe beef, promising my dinner, whatever I chose, was on the house. Dinner would indeed be cheap. She finally took my order, promised not to forget to put in the order and rushed off for water to fill my glass a third time.

Nel and I chuckled as she touched her lion's mane of blonde curls. "Just another blonde," she said. We talked and laughed until I stopped her mid sentence, struck by the perfectly clear rainbow arcing over the eastern side of Colorado Boulevard. She pointed out a couple of homeless guys hung with canteens, packs and various bulging items riding their American flag sporting bikes to the laundromat across the street. I pointed out with expensive bikes like those they could hardly be homeless and were probably touring the country and stopping off to wash some clothes.

Our dithering, constantly apologizing whipped puppy of a waitress came back and filled our glasses yet again before rushing off and appearing moments later with our dinners. Nel's salad was huge and so was my burger with it's crossed foot long antenna of bacon spiking out from the sides. We both tucked into dinner but the charcoal grilled scent of cooked Kobe beef was too much for Nel. "Maybe I should have ordered meat," she said eyeing my burger like a lion crouched in the high grass at succulent antelope on the hoof grazing peacefully within range. I cut off a piece of my burger and offered it to her, pulling back my fingers just in time to save them from disappearing like the burger. A predatory look came over her burger juice slicked lips as she asked if I'd flag down the waitress (I was pointed in the right direction). Our cheap date climbed into mid range.

Another waitress came to clear the other couple's table and I asked if she'd send our waitress back out. Moments later the blonde whipped puppy raced out with a pitcher of water and Nel ordered her own Kobe beef burger while still forking up her salad. In the meantime, I finished my burger and we talked and watched the parade of BBQ patrons, kids on scooters and skates pushing grocery carts and tourists racing in and out of the rain. Nel's burger arrived and I reminded her she said she would probably take some of her salad home. She didn't. She didn't take any of the burger home either, it having ended up a mere smear of ketchup on the plate.

All during our meal a band played in the park behind us, the music swirling in and around the sounds of pounding rain and the stop and go chorus of traffic in the street. As the band played their last song, Nel and I walked home. Nel said, "I guess I as hungrier than I thought." The rain had stopped and the air was cool and fresh. When we reached home I sat down on the bench on the porch to enjoy the last few moments of the watery sun as it sank into the purpled hills. Pastor barked and I heard the landlady tell him it was just Nel and me, but he had to check. He skidded to a stop at my knees, let me ruffle his fur just a moment, completely ignoring Nel, turned and went back into the house satisfied he had greeted me. The landlady, Nel and I chatted briefly and then Nel and I climbed the stairs. She hugged me and thanked me for dinner (she's still a pretty cheap date even with my free dinner - I hope I get that waitress again) and we parted in the hall. She may be a cheap date (sometimes) but she's always a good time.

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