|Rowena's Page, Rowena Gets a Life.||Rowena Gets A Boyfriend, Part 1|
Rowena sat in the café drinking lemonade and waiting for Terese. She was trying not to be nervous.
“There you are,” said Terese, dropping into the opposite chair. “Sorry I'm late.”
“No problem,” said Rowena. She pushed her menu across to her friend. Terese studied it in silence until the waitress arrived, then ordered coffee and a cheeseburger. Rowena asked for an egg salad sandwich.
“So,” Terese began, “what have you been up to?”
“How can you have coffee with a cheeseburger?” Rowena asked. “For that matter, how can you have coffee at 2:30 in the afternoon?”
Terese looked at her watch. “Two fifty-three,” she said. “And I can because you can have coffee any time, as most reasonable people agree. Are you trying to change the subject?”
“Why would I want to do that?”
“I don't know,” said Terese, “but I'm dying to find out. C'mon, what did you do?”
Rowena shrugged. “I had a date,” she said. “That's all.”
Terese raised her eyebrows. “That's all, is it? Just a date? A date you didn't even mention to me?” The waitress set down her coffee, and Terese reached for the sugar. “So, was this a new guy, or someone I know about?”
“Both, sort of.” Rowena shifted in her chair, looked out the window and across the street.
“Oh, come on—as long as it's not Neil—”
“It isn't Neil.” Rowena looked back at her friend, bravely. “Remember just after Christmas we went to the coffee shop and I told you about my, um—”
“‘Family festivities,’” suggested Terese, grinning.
“And there was this guy sitting behind me, who—”
“I met him at the zoo, and he—”
“He's a little . . . whimsical, but he's pretty nice really.”
“Oh, no,” said Terese, and began laughing helplessly. “No. No.” Rowena fiddled with her napkin until the food arrived and Terese, with a great show of self-control, asked, “So where'd he take you?”
“Um, on a picnic.” Rowena took a bite of egg salad.
“A picnic?” Rowena had managed not to say anything when Sammy pulled to a stop in front of the park; she had managed not to say anything when he got out and let her out too; but she cracked when he reached into the back seat and pulled out a blanket, a basket, and a kite.
“Sure,” Sammy had answered, handing her the blanket and the kite. “I didn't tell you to dress casually just so's to annoy some maître d'.” He locked the car, lifted the basket, and gave her one of his grins. “I hope you like ants.”
“What a cheapskate,” Terese said.
“I don't think that's the reason,” Rowena said. “He just wanted to do something different.”
“Different,” Terese said, and laughed again.
“It wasn't that bad,” said Rowena.
“For a first date?” asked Terese.
Rowena just shrugged.
“So what did you do on this picnic?”
“We talked, and ate, and watched other people, and . . . flew a kite.”
“A kite?” Terese cried.
“I can't fly a kite,” Rowena had said. “I never could. Remember Charlie Brown? I could never get a kite high enough to lose it in a tree.”
Sammy was amused. “I'll teach you,” he said. “There's nothing to it.” He waggled the kite at her invitingly, and Rowena had to laugh.
“You flew a kite on your first date?”
She ran and ran and ran—
“I'd have told him to fly a kite.”
With the sun, and the breeze, and a butterfly that flittered out of her path at the last moment, as the kite went up and began to climb, red on a blue sky, and Sammy, Sammy running alongside her, cheering her on—
“Well . . . ,” said Rowena.
“Is he a case of arrested development, or what?”
Backing up once, she'd stumbled, and Sammy caught her, steadied her, keeping his arm around her just a moment longer than was absolutely necessary. He was stronger than he looked.
“So,” said Terese with mock solemnity, “what happened?”
“I crashed it into a tree.”
“Oh, dear,” Terese intoned. “Was he disappointed in you?”
“We, uh, we agreed that I'm as good as Charlie Brown after all.” Rowena picked up a pickle, nervously. “It was funny at the time,” she said. “I guess you had to be there.”
Sammy had waved her apologies aside. He tried tugging the kite down, but it wouldn't come loose. When they left, they waved goodbye to it.
“I hope,” said Terese, “you at least had the good sense not to let him kiss you or anything.”
“He didn't try.” At the door Sammy had seemed, for once, to hesitate a bit. But he had not tried to kiss her.
“Well,” said Terese, “that's something. I hope you learned your lesson.” Rowena smiled noncommittally. Terese said, “I mean, it's over, right? Finished? Done with? Rowena?”
“Actually,” Rowena said, “we have a date for next weekend.” Terese groaned. “I think you'd like him,” Rowena said, “if you got a chance to know him.”
“You better be careful you don't end up marrying this guy,” Terese retorted. “He'd fit right into that goofy family of yours.”
“Please,” said Rowena. “Don't remind me. My mother's calling tonight and she'll want to hear how it went.”
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