Chapter 6 - Ira
I honestly did not remember anything about him from our brief meeting. That should have been a clue. I met Ira at a cocktail party, or at least, that’s what he told me. I must have given him a business card. When he telephoned, he was perfectly charming and very flattering. I was growing dizzy from the flood of compliments. Ira seemed to think that I possessed some goddess-like qualities. Who am I to argue? So, I did what any goddess would do. I acted as if I not only remembered, but, enjoyed our introduction.
Although I accepted his invitation for dinner, I was a little leery. So, to ensure a clean get-away, I offered to meet him at a designated place and then follow him to the restaurant. When I spotted him standing at the entrance to the parking lot, pathetically searching for my car, I realized that his willingness was not going to be an obstacle.
I got out of my car, straightened my date-outfit, smiled, took a deep breath and headed toward him. As I approached him, I knew that two things were true. One, I must have been extremely drunk at the cocktail party and two, aesthetically, there was something very odd about this man. He was twitching and jerking around. Could I condemn him for that? Of course not. I chalked it up to neurological problem. I also noticed that he had a constant, unyielding, somewhat maniacal grin. I later realized that the smile was not because he was unusually happy. I was the direct result of his severely bucked-teeth. Ira simply could not close his lips over them. One little voice in my head was screaming for me to turn around and run for my car but another voice was reprimanding me for being so shallow.
Since the restaurant was just a few blocks away, Ira insisted that we ride together. I figured that I could over power him if I needed to, so I agreed. While riding in his car, on the way to the restaurant, Ira made a point of telling me that he was looking for a fast paced relationship that would lead to marriage. Trying not to draw attention to my actions, I reached for the door handle. While I was mentally calculating the range of injury that I would incur if I were to throw myself from the moving car, Ira continued reciting his verbal resume.
During dinner, Ira was extremely solicitous. He thanked me profusely for going out with him. He complemented me about everything. By the time he had finished praising it, anything I had mentioned had become an amazing feat of intelligence and skill. If I had vomited on the table, he would have impressed by the aim. I was, in fact, becoming nauseated by my own astonishing accomplishments.
When the compliment portion of the evening had ended, Ira moved into the next phase of his dating ritual. Accompanied with a dumb-ass grin, he stared at me. Not a glance, not a look, but an unending, flesh burning, I’m-so-suave-I-must-be-impressing-you-with-my-charm stare. My skin began to crawl. Then, with the subtlety of a shark attack, he lunged at me. All I saw was an enormous pucker surrounding thirty-two severely bucked-teeth. I had to think fast or risk severe facial lacerations. I turned my head slightly to offer a cheek. He made contact. When he withdrew, I felt for blood.
Satisfied with his attempt, he sat back and whispered, “If you could go anywhere you want to go, let’s say, this weekend, where would it be?”
My first thought was to say, “To a hospital for an X-ray of my cheekbone.” But instead, I changed to subject. How’s that for subtlety?
Something about his appearance was still bothering me. Something did not quite fit. Suddenly the answer hit me. There was a loud noise at the next table and Ira quickly turned his head to investigate. Without warning, as if in slow motion, the hair flew off of his head. It hit me in the chest and landed on my lap. He must have felt it come lose because he tried to catch it in mid-flight. Poor Ira was too slow. The people at the next table saw it. The waiter saw it. My mouth dropped open. Was there an appropriate thing to say at a time like this? I certainly didn’t know what it was. Besides, I was about to pee in my pants.
Poor Ira. How was he going to gracefully recover his composure, not to mention his hair? He looked at me to help. My eyes were welling up with tears. I bit my lower lip to hold back the laughter. With all of the discretion I could muster, I handed Ira his hair. My shoulders started to shake. I couldn’t help myself. I snickered, then I snickered again. The people at the next table were screaming with laughter. I tried to pull myself together as I looked into Ira’s tortured eyes and then up at his twisted hair.
I wanted to apologize. But when I opened my mouth to do so, all that came out was a myriad of squeaks and snorts. Ira was desperate to leave. Who could blame him? I had to do something to redeem myself and help the situation. I cleared my throat, blinked away the tears, and called the waiter over. I asked for the bill. The waiter looked at me, then at Ira, grinned and said, “Are you ready ‘toupee?” I knew that he must have said “to pay.” Unfortunately, that’s not what I heard. I heard, “Are you ready “toupee”? I silently reprimanded myself and questioned my maturity. Pull yourself together! I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply. I just couldn’t help it. I laughed. Hard.
The cab ride to my car totaled seventeen dollars and fifty cents, plus tip.