For those who didn’t hear my KPFA interview yet here it is: http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/89787. After you listen to it please tell me what you think.
This is a short story I recently wrote. Please read and tell me what you think:
The First Date
I looked at the time on my phone impatient waiting for her arrival. She was late for fifteen minutes to my chagrin. I always had a problem with waiting, which will be surprising to most people given my situation. She said she would arrive promptly at six p.m. to this Peets coffee in downtown Oakland and now I was getting whiplash turning my head to see if she entered the shop.
My personal care assistant, Roger, was having a grand old time watching my nervous anticipation for my date’s arrival. “Breaking your neck to look at everyone that comes in here will not make her come any faster buddy,” he said laughing giving his rotund belly a shake. His round head and beady eyes darted this way and that imitating the erratic movements that I engaged in for the last twenty minutes. “Sadiq, you just need to calm down.”
He was right though I needed to calm down, nervousness just makes my limbs fly around all jittery. Just a side affect of having severe cerebral palsy I guess. It is not the fact that I cannot walk independently that bothers me, but because my oral speech is often unintelligible I communicate with an speech generative device to most people. This mode of communication tended to be a little bit of a challenge when it came time to meeting new people. I don’t know what happens, but some people get twisted in the head whenever I go to speak to them. At least because I now that I use an app on my iPad the coolness buffers some of their apprehension.
Some reactions a kind of humorous when I think about it. I went to this one store to buy some batteries for my TV remote and soon as I got to the cash register the store clerk started to talk to me all loud. “Sir, how can I help you? Do you want to buy those batteries?” This is where my smart mouth gets me in trouble because I then said, ”You are observant. I wasn’t deaf before, but I soon will be with you shouting at me.” I don’t know but something about speech generative devices that really puts people off. This old cash register guy just stared at me when he handed me back the change. I tried to not fall out laughing when I rolled out the store.
When I am with my personal care assistant it is worse because the store clerks pays attention to my guy and not me. This is why I got the phrase programmed in my iPad, “I do not know who you are talking to, but I am the one who is paying you.” I always smile at the end for comedic effect. Most people don’t get the joke, however. I think the folks in retail need to lighten up or something.
Anyway dating while in a wheelchair and talking with an iPad can be kind of like you on an episode of Mission Impossible with half the technological gadgets that Tom Cruise has in the movies. Women are definitely hard on a brother in this second decade of the twenty-first century. I had one girl arrive on a date with me, took one look at me in my wheelchair and said, “I do not know what you think this is, but I am nobody’s nurse,” and promptly walked out. Sufficed to say I did not want to get out of bed for a week after that incident. But if I want to find the woman of my dreams I guess it is a pitfall of the terrain. I guess that is why I am so fidgety anticipating the arrival of this particular date. We have been talking on Plentyoffish.com for over a month now and even though we haven’t officially met, I kind of like her already. She just has a wittiness about her and a free spirit that I really found refreshing. Plus from what I gathered from her photos she had dimples when she smiled and a nice rack. What can I say, I am still a guy and looks count!
Her name was Melissa and she was a bank teller from Wells Fargo, a good job in this recession. She was also in the process of getting her MBA at Cal State East Bay so I knew she was on her business. So she sexy, intelligent, and can manage money, sounds like a winning combination so far.
When she finally came in the shop and saw where I was sitting a big Kool-Aide smile came over my face because her photos did not do her justice. Her dark maroon skin glowed from being kissed by the sun. Her long lashes accented her hazel-colored eyes and her curly locks hanging down her face added to her enchantment. When he saw me she smiled and came over.
“Hi Sadiq, I’m Melissa. So good to finally meet you,” she said while giving me a hug. Definitely a good start to the date and her perfume did smell nice.
“Hi Melissa, it is good to see you in person. I hope you didn’t get lost finding the place,” I said through my iPad.
“No Sadiq, I didn’t get lost,” Melissa said shaking her head. “I got caught up at work for a bit. My colleague miscounted the money at the end of her shift and we had to make sure it was all there.”
“So was it all there?” I said with a smile.
“Yes it was,” she said returning my smile. “A new guy miscounted the money. It happens sometimes. We got it all straighten out though.”
“That is good. So this is my attendant, Roger. He will set me up with my drink and then go sit at that table on the far end of the room so we can talk.”
“See how he do me,” Roger says with a half smirk on his face as he reached over the table to shake her hand. “Hi Melissa, it is a pleasure to meet you.”
“Likewise, I am sure we will get a chance to talk with each other at another time.”
“Drinks will be on me,” I proclaimed with my iPad. “What will m’lady be having?”
“A latte cappuccino my kind sir.” Melissa said with a chuckle. A woman who laugh at my jokes, a very good sign.
When we got back to the table with are drinks, her with her latte cappuccino and me with my carmel mocha with a full head of whipped cream on top, I was surprisingly comfortable around her. I felt that I could ask her anything so I came out and asked exactly what was on my mind.
“So, now that you met me in person does the wheelchair or the iPad scare you.”
“Why would they scare me? You are cute as all hell with that award winning smile.”
I of course was beaming after that remark. “You are not too bad looking yourself. You know your pictures that you put on your website does not do you justice. You are simply radiant in person.”
“Thank you,” Melissa said her face visible blushing.
“Now that we got that out of the way, what do you like to do? I mean besides hanging around a bank all day.”
“I mean banks can be fun too. Once in awhile it really gets on and popping let me tell you. No, but actually I really like outdoor activities like bike riding, swimming, playing soccer. Things of that nature. And of course I like shopping.”
“Every woman I know likes shopping. Really I don’t get it.”
“It is a girl thing. You men just don’t understand. Shopping is relaxing.”
“Yeah I still don’t get it. I guess I do not have the required estrogen level.
“Your funny Mr. Sadiq. I like that. But, you sure you don’t want to go to the store with me. Even to Victoria Secret when they have a sale?
“Ha! I might have to take you up on that offer.”
“Maybe you should.” Melissa said leaning in close.
Since the opportunity prevented itself so perfectly I had to go ahead and kiss her. I wasn’t too surprised when she kissed back.
“That was nice,” Melissa said licking her lips.
“We should definitely do that again and often,” I said with a smile.
“So what you do for fun mister, I mean when you are not busy with law school?’
“I mean I do not have much time because of my studies. But when I do have spare time I like to go bike writing. There is an adaptive bike shop near by here when I can rent adaptive bikes and ride around the park in. I also like to walk around the track at the gym in my walker and I just joined a power soccer team a few month ago.
“Look at you. Staying active getting your swole on. Ok, I see you. Power soccer sounds interesting. I will like to see how it is played.”
“It it similar to regular foot soccer. I will invite you the next time we have a home game so you can see how we play.”
“I would really like that.”
“You know the hobby I really like the most?”
“Which one is that?”
“The art of kissing.”
That answer gave the desired reaction of us participating in my favorite hobby for a good ten minutes. We talked for a good hour after that about our lives and plans for the future. When she had to go I of course offered to walk her back to her car. I of course could not talk on the way there because my hands were preoccupied with driving my wheelchair and holding Melissa’s hand. This took expertise because I had to watch out for other people and objects on the sidewalk and also try not to drive over Melissa’s toes. We almost made it to the car when Melissa tripped and fell. I knew that I must have tripped her in someway and I felt a sinking feeling in my gut. She probably won’t ever want to see me again after this and I really was starting to like the girl. I was so preoccupied with worrying about my failure that her bottom half of her left leg was sprawled out nearly five feet from the rest of her body. I thought I had killed this woman for sure, then I realized that there was no blood. While I sat there dumbfounded by the spectacle, Melissa retrieved her leg off the ground, rolled up her jean pants leg, and slide the prothetic leg unto the bottom part of her knee that had a sock around it.
“So sorry Jamil, I just got this new prothetic leg a few weeks ago and I am just now getting used to it.”
Ok, I know how that feels. I wear leg braces too for when I walk in my walker and it takes awhile for me to break them in. You do not have to feel sorry, I just was worried that I made you fall somehow.”
“No, you did not make me fall. I just was being clumsy and lost my balance. I just am a little embarrassed tripping and falling on the first date.”
“You do not have to worry about that. Things sometimes happens like that. I am just glad that I did not choke on my mocha. It would be a spray session when that happens.”
“I am glad that did not happen,” she said with a nervous chuckle. “Could you lend me your arm and help pull me up”
When I pulled her up in one swift motion I pulled her close and gave her a strong kiss dead on her lips.
“When do you want to see me again.” I managed to type rather quickly on my iPad.
“Soon, my dear Sadiq. Very, very soon.” Melissa said before giving me a long kiss before getting in her Honda Civic and driving away.
As I drove back in my power wheelchair to the coffee shop to meet Roger, I couldn’t really manage driving in a straight line or keep the ear to ear smile from shining on my face.