It was bloody hot that day I pulled into Shoney's parking lot. As I turned off the engine and opened the door the cool inside air was sucked from the car and the heat of the sun, at twelve o'clock in a cloudless sky, bore down oppressively. Sweat was immediate. The tar in the parking lot sank beneath my weight. It was an oven. I motioned for my son to hurry along. I pulled open the front door of Shoney's. A rush of cool air hit my reddened face.
"Oh, does that feel good," I said to my son who followed me in.
"It's so hot," he said. "Could I get one of those big slushy drinks?"
"Yes, you can, but first we have to locate my date."
"Date? You didn't say anything about a date."
"Yeah, I know. Just a figure of speech. I told your aunt's next door neighbor we could meet here for coffee and some lunch. She said she would bring her little girl along. So you'll have company."
"Oh no. Not some old girl."
"It'll be OK. Just for a half hour or so."
"Yeah, I remember the last time you took Kyndall and me to some girl's house for just a half hour or so. You said it would be OK then because she had kids our age." He rolled his eyes as he said it.
He was right. I'd dragged them both over to an old flame's house to see her and see how my kids got along with hers. It was a disaster. Her kids were on their home turf. They resented my two right away. Their mother had told them to be nice to mine and to play in their rooms for a while. In about ten minutes mine came back to where I was and sat beside me.
"What's up?" I asked.
"They were ignoring us like we weren't there. They wouldn't play or share."
We were going to have lunch which my friend was in the process of bringing to the table.
"There we go," she said putting the plates on the table. Then she noticed my two were sitting beside me looking bored.
"Oh, didn't you want to play?" she asked them.
"No ma'am. We got hungry," said my daughter. She always tried to mollify.
I clapped my hand over my son's mouth as he began to tell the true reason.
"Mmmph, mmph," came his mumble beneath my hand.
"Well, let's eat then," I said. My face for my son was stern as I slowly released his mouth. He looked miffed but kept his tongue. He has always been one to tell it like it like it is but I caught him in time. He would spout off at me later I knew.
As we ate I watched her children who were very silent. When they did talk it was to each other completely ignoring Derek and Kyndall. I crunched on chips thinking what a bad idea this had been. My kids were miserable. Her kids were miserable. I was smoldering. My kids were being ignored because I wanted to rekindle an old flame. Needless to say, I never called her again. Her kids could have her all to themselves. My kids never missed going back there.
"Oh, there she is," I said touching his shoulder and guiding him down the aisle toward the red upholstered booth.
She was facing the door. Her daughter was beside her on the inside. I waved walking in her direction. Her hand came up and dropped quickly back to the tabletop.
"Hi," she said. "I tried to call you."
She doubled over as she began to speak.
"Are you alright?" I asked. She appeared to be in some distress.
"UH...I...Gotta go! I...got...DIARRHEA!" she blurted out as she took her daughter's hand. She slid out of the booth, daughter in tow and ran out of Shoney's. It was so fast I was still standing as all good Southern gentlemen do when a lady stands, or shouts DIARRHEA! and runs past.
I looked at Derek. He looked at me and burst out laughing.
I signaled the waitress who brought over menus. As I pulled Derek up from beneath the table where he slid while laughing so hard, she placed two before us. Every head in the place was turned to see the two left behind by the woman and daughter. I smiled sheepishly as Derek began to calm down.
I handed him a menu and a jab.
"Well, son, what'll you have. We might as well eat since we are here for lunch."
He had calmed down enough to read the menu.
"I'll have a burger, fries and a big coke, er, do you have slushies?"
The waitress said no but they did have ice cold cokes.
"OK, ice cold coke. The big one."
She turned to me.
"I'll have the same except with coffee and no coke."
She wrote it up then walked off.
"You can really pick 'em, dad," said my son who was grinning at me.
"Yeah, I guess I can."
"I got diarrhea," he said in another fit of laughter. "Best excuse to get away I ever heard for breaking a date. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
"OK. OK. Let it go"
"Do you suppose she just thought that one up on the spur of the moment?" he asked. "She couldn't have run any faster after seeing you."
"She's seen me before," I said.
"You gotta admit that's the fastest you've ever been dumped," he said cackling some more.
"I think I've heard enough now." Yeah, that's the fastest and the most unique excuse I'd ever been told. I doubted it could be beat.
We ate our lunch silently. Derek choked on his coke a couple of times while laughing.
I kind of avoided my aunt's house for a long time afterward. It was an unusual date but there were newer dating adventures to come in the computer dating scene. But those are in the another story category.