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He looked at himself in the mirror and straightened his collar. Getting up close to the mirror, he examined his skin, specifically the pores around his nose, and wished he’d incorporated a better skin routine as of late. As he turned to walk out of the bathroom he ran his hand through his hair to tousled it in a youthful, sexy fashion. He then smoothed it out because tousling it had looked like shit.
Determinedly he shouted “Alright guys I’m going to get going! Courtney, you’ve got my number and Grant’s grandma’s number, right? And you know where all the food is and how to get Netflix on and stuff?”
Grant and his babysitter Courtney came around the corner, briefly abandoning the Legos they had been playing with. Courtney’s reply of “Yep we’re good to go over here!” was drowned out by Grant’s “Hey Daddy where are you going?!?” He ran over to his father then continued “Wow Daddy you look fancy!”
I’ve really gotta stop wearing nothing but stained sweatpants and t-shirts around this kid.
“Thank buddy, remember, I’m going out to dinner with a friend tonight? We talked about it earlier, that’s why Courtney came to hang out tonight.” Technically it was just drinks, not dinner, but trying to explain to a four-year-old that two adults literally drive to a place to drink a beverage together was just too much to tackle tonight.
Grant pondered, then with a look of understanding said “Ohhhh that’s right. We’re going to have a lot of fun tonight, she said we could watch Finding Nemo!”
Better her than me buddy, that movie makes me sob like a baby now.
“Sounds like a blast buddy, you have fun and be on your best behavior for Courtney. Just because I’m not here doesn’t mean you don’t have to go to bed.”
Grant smiled “Like that time you came home and threw up?”
He hit Grant with a Jim Halpert face stare, then grunted out “Uh yeah, just like that. I won’t be out that late. But still, go to bed on time tonight. Love you buddy.” Looking up at Courtney he continued “Well, text me if there are any problems, thanks for doing this so short notice. I shouldn’t be out too late this time.”
She smiled, trying to send both a feeling of assurance to the man entrusting her with his child, but also acknowledging in her face that she’d told every single one of her friends about the dad she babysits for puking upon arriving home after a night out. “Oh no problem at all, I love hanging with my favorite little guy.”
He smiled, low-key wondering if he should’ve offered her hush money to not tell everyone she knew that story. Checking his phone, he saw his Uber had arrived. “Welp, I’m off. You guys have fun.”
As he turned to walk out the door, Grant yelled, “Wait!” He turned, watching his son race towards the door. He’d half-dreaded, half-hoped for this moment as he left. Getting to see his son, clearly sad and not wanting his dad to leave, rush towards him was heartwarming.
He dropped to a knee, ready to give Grant a big hug and assure him that it was OK to be sad that Daddy was leaving, and that he would be back soon. Before he could speak, Grant beat him to the punch.
“Daddy, will you get me some fries at the restaurant you go to??”
“…What? Uh…yeah, sure buddy. See you later.”
Climbing into a Ford Taurus being driven by Cheryl, he unlocked his phone and headed straight for his group text. “In the Uber headed to Brantley’s now. Cross your fingers for me.”
A few quick responses popped up, as if the other members of the text had been awaiting his departure announcement.
James: Dudeeee nice. You nervous? You’ll kill it, no worries. Also hey might be too late but Jessica said not to put any product in your hair. Said you look like a “goober” when you do. Her words not mine man, ily.
Mark: Y’all are just doing drinks right?
Leo: When’s the last time you even smelled a woman?
Frank: Make sure you wrap up man, you already fucked up on that one once, followed by at least seven eggplant emojis.
He looked at their messages of support/idiocy and decided to send one response and then holster his phone until his arrival.
“Yeah a bit nervous considering I haven’t actually talked to her that much. Yeah, just drinks, no product in my hair, tell Jessica thanks, I guess. It’s been many moons since I’ve smelled a woman, thanks for reminding me. Frank, go to bed.”
Closing the message, he went to open Twitter before realizing it might be decent manners to actually let his date know he was on the way, as she’d done for him.
“In the Uber, probably be there in 10 min or so. Looking forward to meeting you!” He’d debated the exclamation point for at least thirty seconds, then decided to let it ride and hit send. The “Delivered” under the message was instantly changed to “Read 6:47 PM”, followed by a return message. “Me too! I got here a bit early, I’ve got a table in the back!” responded his date, Lauren.
Truthfully he didn’t know much about the girl he was en route to meet, as they hadn’t had too many conversations since they matched on Bumble two weeks prior. She was a flight attendant living in Houston, about three hours from his home outside of San Antonio, but her job brought her in town on occasion, which explains how he’d come across her profile.
Their few conversations hadn’t been too in depth. A picture of him and Grant was included in his profile, as he’d rather not drop the single dad bomb on a first date. They’d briefly discussed fatherhood and Grant (“He’s so cute!”) and the favorite places she likes to fly to with her job (“Oh yeah, being in Nashville that often sounds awesome.”) but otherwise hadn’t gotten into anything hard hitting. Considering he hadn’t dated in ages, he wasn’t quite sure if he even had it in him to pique someone’s interest on Bumble.
But, as fate would have it, her “Hey, I’m in town for the night and free after 5, want to grab a drink?” text came minutes after he ran into Courtney’s mom as he went to pick up his mail. She’d informed him that Courtney’s volleyball season was over and would now be free to babysit more on weeknights. While her mouth had said the words, her eyes said “My daughter told me you came home drunk and puked right away. What a disgrace.”
His Uber app told him he had two minutes remaining until he arrives. Opening the selfie camera he gave himself a last minute look to make sure he didn’t have food in his teeth or a weird strand of hair hanging down on his forehead. Admittedly he was pretty nervous.
He loved Grant, but having him full time hadn’t left much room to get out there and meet women. When he did have free time he usually chose to spend it hanging with his friends or trying not to snap his 7-iron during a round of 18. Those seemed like more sure-bet uses of his free time than potentially having a date go up in flames.
But, he wasn’t planning on staying abstinent and unmarried forever, and realized at some point he had to get back out there. In the long run, he’d like to find someone that makes him happy and provides a positive female influence for Grant, all the happy things.
He realized he was a long way off from that, but even taking one step to making sure he didn’t spend the rest of his life as some weird dude alone in bed thinking of weird shit to search for on PornHub was a start.
Cheryl’s Taurus pulled up to a stop at the curb. He thanked her, got out, and went to find his date’s table. .
Image via Unsplash