At a quarter of six I sat on the edge of the living room couch, nervously smoothing the full skirt of my favorite turquoise blue dress. This is not a date, I kept telling myself. This is simply a trial run for Gary’s prom date with Colette, and you’d better not forget it. But no matter how often I said it, I couldn’t help feeling thrilled.
I almost jumped out of my skin when the doorbell rang promptly at six. Determined not to appear too eager, I forced myself to remain seated and let someone else answer the door. “Hey, Molly! Gary’s here!” Mark bellowed, and a moment later Gary entered the room
I had never seen him dressed up before. He was wearing a gray suit, a pale pink shirt, and a gray and pink paisley tie. The padded shoulders of his jacket helped to fill out his beanpole frame. Gary looked absolutely wonderful, from his new haircut all the way down to hiss…
“Reeboks?” I said, staring at his sneaker-clad feet. Who else would wear sneakers with a suit? “Wouldn’t wing tips be more appropriate?”
“I can tell you’ve never tried to buy shoes for size-fourteen feet,” Gary answered with a rueful grin. “I have to take what I can get.”
I could have hugged him. Success would never spoil Gary Hadley, that was for sure! We drove to the Lamplighter, an elegant new restaurant on the other side of town. The parking lot was crowded, but Gary finally found a vacant space marked “One Hour Parking Only.”
“This ought to be okay,” he said as we got out of the car. “o matter how may forks there are, it shouldn’t take more than an hour to eat dinner.”
A white-jacketed maitre d’( = maitre d’ hotel [法]侍者总管) met us at the door and led us across the candlelit dining room to a secluded table for two after we were seated, I opened my enormous menu. My heart sank when I saw the prices printed there. If Gary was willing to shell out that kind of money for a trial run, he must have high hopes for prom night!
I decided to skip the appetizer and selected an entrée that I hoped wouldn’t strain his budget too much, then gazed wistfully at Gary, who was still absorbed in studying his own menu. In spite of his new look, he would never be handsome in the classic sense of the word, like Steve or Mark. Gary was too long and skinny for one thing, and his nose hadn’t shrunk any. If I looked closely enough, I could still find traces of the boy with the shaggy hair and the thick glasses – the boy I had fallen in love with.
Just then Gary looked up from his menu and caught me watching him “What is it, Molly?” he asked anxiously. “Have I done something wrong already?”
I smiled and shook my head. “Not a thing.” Reminding myself of the purpose of this outing, I asked, “So, is Colette going to the prom with you?” I figured he might have invited her after our cutlery session that afternoon.
“I haven’t asked her yet. What about you? Have you got a date?”
“I don’t think I’ll be going,” I said as casually as I could I had a sudden vision of myself at the prom, sitting alone on the sidelines with the other wallflowers while Colette glided across the floor in Gary’s arms. It was a pretty bleak prospect. “Oh, yeah? Have you got other plans?” Gary asked
I nodded. Of course I did. I planed to do what ay red-blooded American girl would do if the boy she loved was in the clutches of another woman – buy a box of chocolates and eat myself into a sugar-induced coma.
We ordered then, and soon our food arrived. It was delicious and the service was excellent, but I was too depressed to enjoy the meal. Gary concentrated on using the proper utensils, and I didn’t have to correct him once. But as I was eating my dessert, I noticed that Gary hadn’t touched his.
“Don’t you like the chocolate cheesecake?” I asked him. “I think it’s awfully good.”
“I haven’t tried it,” he confessed. “I can’t. I’ve run out of forks.”
We retraced our steps through the entire meal, matching each piece of silverware to the appropriate course. Sure enough, Gary was one fork short. I caught the eye of our waiter, who came to our table in an instant.
“The gentleman needs a dessert fork,” I said. The waiter looked appalled and hurried off to fetch one.
“Hey, you’re pretty good at that,” Gary said, grinning at me. “I can tell you’ve had a lot of experience bossing guys around.”
I smiled to keep him from seeing how much his remark had stung. So that was what he thought of me! I was just a girl who bossed guys around. I had to admit that I’d certainly bossed him around, and look where it had led. If I hadn’t forced Gary into changing his image, Colette Carroll still wouldn’t know he was alive, and there might have been a chance for me.
The waited returned with Gary’s fork, and we finished our dessert. As we were getting ready to leave, Gary reached for his wallet. Then he looked at me with the oddest expression on his face.
“Molly, do you have any money with you?” he asked in a strange, constricted voice.
“I’ve got a few dollars and some change,” I said, reaching for my purse. “I think I can handle the tip.”
Gary laughed but there was no humor in the sound. “I’m afraid I’m going to need more than that.” He swallowed. “A lot more.”
“Gary? What’s wrong?” I asked, alarmed. By this time his face had taken on a sickly greenish cast.
“I don’t have my wallet!” he whispered. “I must have left it in my other pants!”
I thought fast. “Don’t panic! I remember seeing a pay phone in the lobby as we came in. Go call your parents and ask them to bring your wallet. Here ,” I added, pressing a quarter into his hand. “You’ll need this.”
Gary was gone only a couple of minutes. Even before he reached the table, I could tell by his stricken expression that he’d had no luck.
“There was no answer,” he reported, “and I just remember why. My dad’s company is having a dinner tonight. He and Mom probably won’t be back for hours!”
“I’m sure my parents are home,” I said, standing up. “I’ll call them right away.”
Gary grabbed my arm. “Molly, on! I can’t let your family pay for this.”
“you can pay them back tomorrow,” I said, gently removing his hand from my arm. “Back in a flash.”
My luck was no better than Gary’s. I got a busy signal, and I was almost positive that Mark was tying up the phone. I hung up, waited a few seconds, and tried again, with the same result. If I could have gotten my hands on my brother at that moment, I would have choked him. I tried two more times without success, so I finally called the operator, intending to ask for an emergency interrupt. But she informed me that nobody was talking on the phone – there was trouble on the line. By that time, several people were waiting to use the phone and giving me some pretty dirty looks. I was forced to admit defeat. I hung up the receiver, collected my quarter, and returned to the dinning room.
“Were they home?” Gary asked hopefully.
I sighed. “I don’t know. There’s something wrong with the phone, so all I got were busy signals.”
At that moment our waiter reappeared. “Will there be anything else?” he asked.
Gary and I exchanged helpless looks. Neither of us knew what to do. Finally Gary spoke. “I’d like to have a word with the manager, please.”