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Accident Prone


“Oh, no!”


He spilled his wine all over her blouse. Red wine. On a white blouse. Not good. Not good at all. She remained calm. She slowly reached for the napkin on the table and uselessly began dabbing it against her blouse. Things were tense.


He saw the expression on her face as the wine poured onto her blouse and soaked itself into the expensive material. It was a look of unbridled, explosive anger. It lasted for less than a moment, a ghost of an expression, but it was enough to convey its message: “This date is over. We are now running down the clock.”


She excused herself and went to the bathroom. He sat at the table, nervously munching on breadsticks, trying hard to ignore the stare of the Maitre D' across the room. He couldn't tell if he was mad at him for wasting the wine or just wondering where this would go next.


He loud exclamation certainly ruined the romantic atmosphere the restaurant was trying to convey. He felt like he didn't belong in this place. The stirring, red candle-light was a cruelly contrasting backdrop to his clumsiness. The sensual, flirty background chatter that previously filled the room, now had a strained quality, as if his very presence made it harder for all the elegant people on the other tables to be sexy. Even the sumptuous violin had taken on a moaning quality, as if begging him to leave.


Maybe it would be better if I just left, he thought. This evening was clearly dead in the water. There was no conversation witty enough to dig him out of this hole. They'd only ordered wine, he'd only eaten a few breadsticks, he could just leave a twenty quid note on the table, get up and leave. He didn't think the Maitre D' would begrudge him. Hell, he'd probably politely hold the door open for him then take his place at the table and successfully get laid.


He took a sip of his glass of water. With every passing second, he felt more and more like an impostor. He didn't have the elegance to be here. He should have been bounced at the door. The Maitre D' should have taken one contemptuous look at him and said “No” in a strong French accent and he would have responded “Fair enough” and that would have been the end of it. But instead here he was, in a situation with absolutely no chance of a positive outcome.


Jesus, even the varnish finish on the mahogany furniture had a sexual quality to it. This was a place for confident people who enjoy sex and are good at it, none of which applied to him.


The detail which pushed him over the edge and made him decide to leave was the complete lack of any water stains on his glass. As he raised it to his lips, he noticed the glass was perfectly transparent, every inch of it polished to perfection. Here he was, drinking from a completely stainless glass, wearing a shirt he was not completely sure he had washed before deciding to put it on.


It was time to go. He put the wine glass down, got twenty quid out of his wallet, left it on the table – sod the change – got up and took a step towards the exit.


“Where are you going?”


He turned around and there she was, the wine stains still faintly visible on her perfectly fitting blouse.


“Oh, I just..” He pointed with thumb over his shoulder towards his exit and slowly began to shuffle backwards out of the room, never turning her back to her. Things were tense.


He continued to shuffle like a crab, never breaking eye contact, feeling the agony of the moment into his very bones, all the way to the exit and out the front door the Maitre D' politely held open for him.


Once he made out onto the street, he continued to shuffle backwards away from the restaurant and only once he'd made it about two doors away did he feel he could turn around and walk like a normal person.

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