“Are you sure you’re going to eat all of that?” Devin eyed the seafood platter in front of his date with ill-disguised disgust.
Gloria, who had only taken a few bites of her food thus far, began to chew what was in her mouth slowly, feeling self-conscious all of sudden. She didn’t need to ask her date what he meant because she already knew. Swallowing, she took a sip of her lemonade to wash it down. “Well, you’re the one who’s been to this restaurant before and you said you liked the seafood platter.”
“I know what I said. I didn’t think you’d order it. I mean, I figured you’d want something a little less…well, you know.”
Gloria narrowed her eyes as she placed her elbows on the table and interlocked her fingers. “No, I don’t know.” She knew exactly what he meant but if he had the balls to put it out there in the first place, she wanted him to be bold enough to finish his thought.
He stared at her pointedly. “Come on. Don’t make me the bad guy here.”
“I’m not making you anything. You asked a question, I responded to which you replied that I knew what you meant. I don’t, so tell me exactly what you meant.”
Devin released an exaggerated sigh. “Look, your dating profile mentioned you having a few extra pounds but let’s be honest here. You’re carrying way more than that. You’re obese and you probably should have chosen the broiled flounder and a side salad like I also suggested.”
She’d asked for this but it still felt like a kick in the chest for someone to be blatantly disrespectful to someone they barely knew. Rae, her best friend, and her mother had encouraged Gloria to give dating a chance again. So, against her better judgment, she’d signed up for a dating website. Being someone pushing forty, she wasn’t interested in meeting up with guys young enough to be her son trying to get her into bed. So, she tried a sight for singles who were 35 and up. In doing this, Gloria believed she’d meet mature men with like interests but her first couple dates had been a disaster. Her first one had been with an older widower who wouldn’t stop talking about his deceased wife. There were even a few times when he’d called Gloria by his wife’s name which was a clear indication that he simply wasn’t ready to date yet. They’d parted ways amicably but she knew they wouldn’t go out again. Her second date was with a man who had clearly posted a picture of himself that was at least thirty years old because he was well past the forty-five he claimed to be. She didn’t mind dating an older man but she wasn’t interested in an octogenarian. Besides that, he’d stared at her breasts the entire date.
Gloria believed that the third time was a charm but apparently, it was more like three strikes and she was out. Devin was an attractive man with dark skin and salt and pepper hair. She liked his smile in the picture he’d had on his dating profile. From the moment she met Devin, however, she knew something was off when his smile had faltered slightly when he’d seen her. She’d provided a full-body shot on her dating profile so it wasn’t as if she’d lied about what she looked like. Besides, she was wearing her favorite green wrap-around dress that really made her melanin pop and accentuated her curves. She always felt confident when she wore this dress but Devin’s look of disapproval had her second guessing herself.
She’d brushed it off at first because it was possible that she was nervous and had imagined it. But as they began to talk, Devin kept going on about how into fitness he was and started to suggest work out routines for her. As they were looking over the menu, he had hinted that she’d enjoy the broiled flounder and that the restaurant made a fantastic house dressing which she should try. Not to be deterred, Gloria asked what his favorite item on the menu was and he’d told her the seafood platter. Having never been to this restaurant, she decided that’s what she wanted. But, Devin had seemed to go silent after that. She tried to engage him in conversation but he’d only give one word answers or just shrug.
By the time the food came, Gloria realized this date was going nowhere fast. She just wanted to finish her meal so that they could go their separate ways. But it was apparent, he wouldn’t let her eat in peace without taking digs at her. Even though his words were doing the damage he probably intended, she refused to let this twerp see that he was getting to her. “You knew exactly what I looked like when you clicked on my profile.”
He shrugged. “I guess pictures can be deceiving. But at the very least, one would hope that you cared enough about yourself not to stuff yourself with unhealthy food.”
She looked at his plate stacked with fried shrimp, scallops, catfish and french fries. “And yet, you ordered the exact same thing I did.”
He snorted. “I have a high metabolism and I go to the gym. You’ll probably go home and eat a pint of ice cream in front of the television.”
Gloria considered herself an even tempered person and very slow to anger but this bastard was pushing her to the absolute limit. Without another word to her date, she held up her hand, signaling to the server.
“How may I help you?” the waiter asked.
“May I please have a to go box?”
“Finished already? Can I interest you in dessert? We have a delicious salted caramel brownie sundae.”
“No, thank you. I have pint of ice cream at home.” She smiled sweetly at the server even though the comment was directed at Devin.
“Oh, I’ll be right back with your box.”
Devin frowned. “Why did you ask for a to go box? You only had two bites.”
Gloria ignored him, picked up her purse and pulled out her wallet. In his profile, he said that he was an old-fashioned man who liked to romance his lady and that he always picked up the check. Though Gloria liked to be pampered like anyone else, the last thing she wanted was to be beholden to this asshole for anything. She pulled out a twenty and a ten which would be more than enough to cover her bill, meal plus tip. By then, the waiter returned with a box which is when Gloria handed him the money.
“I’m sorry for not telling you about separate checks ahead of time, but this should cover my meal. Keep the change.”
The waiter smiled. “Thank you. Are you sure you don’t want to wait for the check?”
“I’m good. Thank you.” Gloria proceeded to transfer her food to the box and pack up.
“So, you’re just going to leave me like that?”
“It’s clear we’re not compatible so why prolong this joke of a date longer than it needs to be.”
Devin glared at her. “All because you can’t take a little criticism? You’re lucky someone wanted to take you out in the first place.”
“And, you’re lucky I haven’t shoved my fist down your throat. But, I’m a lady. And if we’re being honest, you weren’t exactly truthful on your profile either. Six-feet-tall, my ass. You’re lucky if you’re five foot seven. I may be fat but you’ll always be an asshole with a Napoleon complex.“ Gloria grabbed her food and purse and stormed off.
By the time she made it to her car however, she’d lost all of the bravado as tears coursed down her cheeks. It had taken a lot of courage to get back into the dating scene after suffering through a disastrous marriage, where her ex had constantly told her how worthless and unattractive she was. She shouldn’t let what other people say about her get her down but she was a human being with feelings just like everyone else.
It sucked that she had to find out the hard way that dating just simply wasn’t for her. In a world full Instagram models, she was just an average woman who apparently wasn’t worthy of a little fucking common courtesy.
By the time she got home, she was exhausted and frustrated. She didn’t even want her food.
“You’re home early.” Rae greeted her at the door.
Rae was her best friend since high school. And, she had been a huge help to Gloria since she moved back home.
“Yeah, my date was rude as hell. He kept pointing out how fat I am and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t even get to finish my meal because he made me lose my appetite. Here you go.” Gloria handed Rae her to go box. “I know you love seafood.”
Rae opened the box and her eyes got big. “You weren’t kidding when you said you didn’t eat. But, are you sure you don’t want it?”
“Well, the couple bites I had of it were delicious but eating it now would just remind me of that douchebag.”
“Well, I think I’m going to warm this up and have it now. I was just about to fix some ramen noodles but this will do just fine.”
“Where’s CJ?” Gloria looked around the house she shared with her best friend and son.
“He’s in his room working on one of his projects. I told him lights off in a half hour. He’s already eaten. I heated up the leftover spaghetti for him and he’s showered and in his pajamas.”
“Oh, you didn’t have some spaghetti, too? There was plenty leftover.”
“I took some for lunch today and didn’t really want to have it for dinner, as well. So, I’m going to go heat this up. Why don’t you wind down? Then, you can tell me about this disaster date of yours.”
Gloria sighed. “Okay. I’m going to check in on CJ and shower. I’ll be back down in fifteen minutes.”
Gloria didn’t know what she’d do without her friend. After her divorce, moving back to her hometown and starting over with a kid in tow hadn’t been an easy feat. Gloria and CJ had stayed with her mother until she could find a decent job. She loved her mother but the woman drove her up a wall and often treated her like she was still a child instead of a woman pushing 40. My house my rules, was her mother’s motto. So when her best friend, Rae, who was also looking for a new place to live because her apartment building had a bedbug outbreak, she suggested that they find a bigger place together.
They found a nice three bedroom house for rent that worked with both of their budgets. And, there was a backyard for CJ to play in and conduct his experiments. When Gloria made it upstairs, she knocked on her son’s bedroom door.
She entered the room to see CJ writing in his notebook. “Hey, baby. What are you doing?”
“I’m documenting my findings.”
She raised a brow. Her son had a passion for science unlike anything she’d ever seen. He was always conducting experiments of some sort ever since he’d been gifted his first science kit at the age of five. “Oh, and what’s the experiment tonight?”
“I’m determining the corrosive effects of household chemicals on the environment.”
“Uh…okay. And how are you doing that?”
“Don’t worry, Mom. Aunt Rae, supervised while I used the chemicals. Just some things you’d find around the house like laundry detergent, bleach and cleaners. I poured a few drops of each into the soil to see how it affects the growth of these plants.”
“Wow, that sounds ambitious. Is the science fair coming up?”
“No. I’m researching the healing components of magnets for the science fair.”
It never ceased to amaze her that she’d given birth to a kid who was already smarter than her. She walked over to him and placed a kiss on his forehead. “Oh, yeah that’s right. Well, just be sure to clean up when you’re finished. And, you need to be in bed in a half hour. You have school tomorrow, young man.”
“Okay, Mom. How was your date?”
Gloria shrugged. “Not great. I think I’m going to give myself a break from dating.”
“It’s just not for me.”
“Didn’t you like your dates?”
“No, and they didn’t really like me that much either.”
“Well, they’re stupid. You’re really pretty, Mom. And if they can’t see how great you are, then that’s their problem.”
Sometimes, it didn’t feel like she was talking to a nine year old but a fully grown man. Tears swam in her eyes. If ever she needed a confidence booster, CJ always made her feel loved. She gave him a hug and another kiss on the forehead. “Thank you, baby. Mommy really needed to hear that tonight.”
“You’re welcome. Okay, Mom, I don’t mean to be rude, but I need to finish getting these results recorded before I go to bed.”
“Oh, of course.” She couldn’t help kissing him before leaving him to his experiment.
After showering and throwing on her night clothes, which consisted of an oversized t-shirt and some sweats, Gloria headed downstairs to find Rae on the couch eating ice cream from the carton. She plopped down next to her friend. “You’re finished with the seafood already?”
“Yep. It was delicious, by the way.”
“I don’t get how you can eat like that and still be only ninety pounds soaking wet.” Gloria shook her head at the injustice of it. “Just being next to this ice cream is making me gain ten pounds.”
Rae gave her an extra spoon that she must have taken out of the drawer for Gloria. “Well, if you’re going to gain weight by being next it, you might as well get the benefit of eating some of it.”
Gloria hesitated for a moment but she couldn’t resist butter pecan. She dug her spoon into the creamy concoction and popped it into her mouth. “Mmm, this is good.”
Before she realized what happened, the carton was gone and she felt like a total pig. “I can’t believe I ate all of that. Devin was right,” she sighed.
“The guy you went on a date with? You didn’t tell me what happened yet.”
“Basically, he kept making snide remarks about my weight and how I’d probably end up on the couch tonight eating ice cream.”
“Oh, fuck that guy. You’re gorgeous and you know it.”
“If I was so gorgeous, why did Cordell leave me for a woman half my size and age? And, Devin was certainly repulsed by me.”
“That’s because Cordell is an asshole. Always has been and still is apparently, you were just too in love with him to see that. As for this Devin, fuck him. He’s an insignificant scrub. You’re so gorgeous.”
“You’re just saying that to make me feel better.”
“I’m not. I’ve always been jealous of your curves.”
“You’re just saying that to make me feel better, Miss size 2.”
“I’m serious. You have all that titties and ass. You don’t even notice that guys are staring at you most of the time.”
“I also have this big belly to go along with it.” She patted her stomach in self-deprecation.
“Well, if you’re so worried about your shape, then do something about it. Wait right here, I have something for you.” Rae got off the couch and headed to the kitchen. She returned in a few minutes and handed a paper to Gloria.
“It’s coupon for a free month trial membership at that hot new gym in the area. You know me, I’m allergic to exercise but maybe you might be interested. Use it or don’t, but maybe this will help boost your self-confidence. Just remember, you can lose all the weight in the world and it won’t matter, if you don’t love yourself.”
Gloria looked down at the coupon. Maybe it was time to make a change in her life.