My job this morning was over far too quickly, leaving me ample time to get nervous. Once again, I was meeting two girls in the same day for dates, both of which were only available today. The first, Sarit Aysu, wasn’t interested in video games, unfortunately, but she seemed like a well cultured girl, of which my parents would definitely approve. Mother, at very least, seemed to worry about such things. Some of Regina’s best paintings were inspired by her travels. I shivered, remembering that mother was probably working on a portrait of Alma and me. The sooner I managed to find a decent girlfriend, the sooner Alma would leave me alone, or so I hoped. Sarit. I needed to keep my mind on the date, so as not to disappoint her. At twenty-two, Sarit had already traveled to numerous countries and acquired a taste for fine wines. She was also a fine poet, judging from the awards she mentioned winning in her profile. We shared similar tastes in music, and she seemed fit enough that she must exercise regularly. I could easily imagine going on a morning jog with her, and… obviously not practicing magic together. Was I going to hide that part of myself if I started dating?
Sarit walked into view and started looking around. Okay, I needed to forget about magic and focus on the date. What would I do if the date went well though? Would I need to call Nakita and cancel my date with her? The first date was by far the scariest in that respect, but I went ahead and waved at Sarit, not wanting to leave her looking for me. I smiled and stood as she approached, holding out my hand and saying, “Hi. I’m James.” She smiled back, shook my hand, and responded “Nice to meet you, James. I hope the restaurant is to your liking.” I nodded and told her “I’ve never been here before, but I do enjoy Thai.” She smiled but didn’t get a chance to say anything more before the waiter came over, handed us the menus, and took our drink orders. I nervously wondered if I should have gotten her chair. I knew that some girls find such things too old fashioned, but she seemed like the type that might enjoy it. Sarit started suggesting appetizers, all of which sounded delicious to me, but I chose the curry puffs, not wanting to come across as too indecisive. I wasn’t trying to decide between her and another girl… yet. I felt guilty. Was I supposed to tell girls when I scheduled multiple dates in a day? “Sorry, but we’re on a tight schedule. I need to meet someone else after this.” surely wouldn’t go over well.
I finally decided on what to order, but when I set down my menu, I was faced with a tear rolling down Sarit’s cheek. “Are you alright?” I asked, trying to figure out how I might have inadvertently offended her. “Huh?” she asked, looking confused. “Umm… you’re crying.” I replied. She felt her cheek and looked a bit shocked, but I noticed her eyes seemed sad when she was brushing away the tear. “Sorry to mention it, but I was worried that I upset you somehow.” I confessed. She smiled at me with somewhat watery eyes and said, “You’re wonderful, James. Please don’t worry. I probably just got some makeup in my eye when I was rushing to get ready.” I nodded, not fully believing that was the case. Something felt off to me, but I wasn’t entirely certain what. “I love your name, by the way. I’ve never met another person with it.” I confided, hoping to cheer her up with a compliment. “Thank you. I’m quite fond of it myself. When I was born, father looked at me and called me his ‘little princess’. My mother, who is fluent in Hebrew, suggested naming me ‘Sarit’, since it means ‘princess’. I… I always liked it.” she explained.
Sarit seemed to be getting more teary-eyed as she spoke, and I had no clue why. I really couldn’t think of anything I had done to make her upset, so maybe something happened before she arrived. What though? I didn’t want to pry too much, but something was obviously bothering her. Not knowing what else to say, I said, “I was named after my father. I’m still occasionally surprised that mother allowed him to continue the tradition of passing along the name, but my parents do get along very well together.” Sarit had more tears on her cheeks. Our waiter, Nick, returned with our drinks while I was still floundering for something that might improve Sarit’s mood. The curry puffs arrived not long after, with us sitting in silence, other than her occasional sobs. Nick appeared to be having a worse opinion of me with every time he checked on us. I really was trying to be a decent date, but I knew no way of cheering the girl up without having a clue what was wrong. I wondered if Aaliyah could write a training manual for how to handle crying girls in situations like this, but I reminded myself that she was twelve and probably didn’t have any experience in this area. She’d probably just suggest cake, and I really doubted that offering cake would help.
I bit into one of the curry puffs and enjoyed the fabulous sensation of the spicy, thick curry mixing with the soft crust. The food here truly was excellent, making me wonder if Marco ever tried his hand at Thai. If not, there was always a chance that Aaliyah, Ai, or Mai had. “I knew you would like those. Buzz loves them as well.” stated Sarit through her tears. “Who is Buzz?” I asked, halfway worried that I shouldn’t. “My boyfriend.” she cried. “Wait. You have a boyfriend?” I inquired. She nodded, then shook her head negatively, and said, “He… he… he broke up with me!” I mouthed the word “oh” and sat in shock for a moment. “How long ago was this?” I wondered aloud. “La-last week. He said he loves me bu-but needed time apart.” she whined. I shamefully was relieved that Nick walked by again, since he seemed to realize I wasn’t the one at fault. That relief was tinged with guilt though, not feeling Sarit was in a state to be out. “Thi-this was whe-where he too-took me on our first da-date. He ordered th-the curry puffs just like ya-you.” she bawled, earning long looks from fellow patrons. What had Sarit been thinking when she chose this place? I stopped Nick, handed him money for the food, and told him to keep the change. Then I helped Sarit up and asked her to take a walk with me.
We walked over to a small park I had spotted on the way to the restaurant, found a bench, and talked for a while about her relationship. Buzz turned out to be a bit of a nerd like myself, enjoying video games, fantasy novels, and various trading card games. That was what drew Sarit to my profile. I did my best consoling her as she explained her view on what happened between them, but I couldn’t resist pointing out things that seemed a bit off. Surprisingly, she didn’t seem to mind and ended up thanking me in the end. “You’re such a sweet guy, James. Mind trying again sometime?” she asked. “Give yourself time to sort out your feelings first. Who knows… maybe Buzz will realize what a wonderful girl he’s losing.” I said. They really did sound like they cared about one another. From what she said, I felt Buzz needed to be more expressive about his feelings, and she needed to be more understanding that he wasn’t good at expressing himself. After walking Sarit to her bus, I called Mila to pick me up. I still had over four hours till my next date, but I didn’t feel like going home, especially when Mila informed me that Eseld wasn’t on Ancient Tribes of Earth. I decided to go to a park and run through more courses using Mila’s interface. I really needed to be more proactive with my studies if I was going to keep up with my friends. Life was always flying along.