Most days, Riley considered herself a strong, confident, very together young woman. She had worked hard for the past few years to accomplish all that she had, from getting into law school and losing the weight that had defined her all of her life. She was proud of herself, and took pleasure in the idea that she was in control of her life now.
But then there were days like today where that all went to hell and she felt like complete and utter shit.
It had been one of those days where nothing went right from the very beginning. She'd forgotten to meet with her partner to work on their paper the day before and had woken up to an angry message in her voicemail telling her just how worthless and disrespectful she was. She'd managed to burn both the pot of coffee and her toast, creating a morning of hunger and sleepiness that did nothing to help her focus in class. In addition, she'd shut her finger in the taxi door while rushing to work, which she was almost an hour late for because she'd dozed off at a Starbucks waiting for her drink order. She had also spent a lovely hour long conversation with her mother, sighing and "mmm-ing" while simultaneously having her personality and spirit torn to shreds from her ceaseless nitpicking. And the cherry on top of her ice cream sundae of a day, was the phone call from Ben just before her date, begging her to babysit for him tomorrow night so he could go out on yet another date with that bimbo from the insurance office.
So now, with a throbbing finger, tired red eyes, and no energy to summon up a decent smile, she sat across from her date, feeling ridiculous and grumpy and wishing the night would just end already.
Blind dates normally weren't her thing. First dates were hard enough without the increased levels of judgment and forced obligatory small talk about the people that had set you up in the first place. But her good friend from college had insisted, raving to her over the phone about how cute and successful her brother's ex girlfriend's older brother's roommate was and couldn't she just please give him a shot just this once pretty, pretty please?
And of course she relented, because if there was one thing she'd never accomplished it was how to say no.
As far as blind dates go, she supposed it could have been worse. Maybe. Jacob… or was it Jonathon… had a very nice smile and a good head of hair that Riley could tell he invested a lot of money in. He'd started off the evening asking her questions about herself, seeming to be interested in the answers she gave. But when she asked him what it was he did for a living, she inwardly cringed at his answer, immediately cursing her friend for thinking even for a second that she would get along with this person.
"I'm a model slash actor."
Seriously? Riley thought to herself. Just how many of you are there, and why do you find me?
"Sort of in between jobs at the moment, but my agent's booked me some really promising stuff that I'm excited to dive into. They're very challenging roles, and far more diverse than anything I've been involved in before."
And from that moment on, it had been nothing but cranberry juice diet this and toothpaste commercial success that. Riley found whatever ounce of patience that remained inside of her fading rapidly, wishing he'd take her pointed silences as the large hint that they were and shut up about his teeth whitening routines and signature glute workout.
And good God, could he chew any louder?
Riley eyed his plate like a hawk, waiting for that final moment when he dabbed at his mouth with the napkin and pushed the dirty plate away from himself signaling the end of his meal. He took his sweet time, cutting his steak like he was splitting atoms and sipping from his glass of wine so slowly she wasn't sure he was actually even drinking it. But finally, after a good thirty minutes of the longest meal of her life, her date set his silverware down on the plate and leaned back in his chair, looking satisfied and full.
"Let's get the check," she said immediately, glancing around the dimly lit restaurant for their waiter.
His laughter reached her ears and she turned back to face him, taking in that smile that while perfect for a toothpaste commercial was just a little too toothy for her taste. And a little too creepy, she might add, the way it had widened as the evening progressed.
"Don't you want desert?" He asked, motioning towards the table with his hand as if it were already sitting there before her.
She shook her head, no. "I'm fine. I'd like to just go home."
Jacob or Jonathon raised his eyebrows with a look that Riley didn't like one bit. Realizing what she could have implied with her words and hurried demeanor, and appalled at the guys interpretation of them stood up quickly, hitting the table with her knee and causing the plates to jump.
"I see," he chuckled quietly, hardly bothered by the fact she'd almost upset the entire table onto his lap. "You know, not to brag, but I have found that I make an excellent first date desert."
"Is that right?" She muttered, waving a hand at the waiter who acknowledged her with a curt nod before turning back to flirt with a blonde, curly haired waitress he'd been ignoring his tables for all night long.
"Yes," Jacob or Jonathon said. He paused for a moment, and despite herself Riley looked back at him to see why he was suddenly into simple responses. As soon as she had made eye contact, the too wide grin slipped back onto his face and he continued. "I've been told it's quite a treat. Rather large, a little too thick for some, perhaps, but the taste really just explodes in your mouth."
Riley went to nod again at whatever he was blathering on about, feigning interest before his words registered. Quickly she put his suggestive grin and his "desert" idea together and…
"I'm… I'm just going to go freshen up. In the ladies room. Right... yeah." And with that eloquent farewell, she turned on her heel and walked speedily towards the bathroom in the back corner near the swinging kitchen doors, feeling a rush of gratitude for that brave little stick woman on the bathroom door that guarded the room from creepy smiles and overly ambitious penises.
There was no one in the small bathroom when Riley entered. The quiet muzak that had been the soundtrack to her disastrous evening wasn't playing in here, and as she locked herself in a stall and sat down on the toilet, she was more than happy for the silence. When she closed her eyes, all she could see was that smarmy smile that had found its way onto her date's face, thinking he could just talk about himself all night and because he was attractive he'd get in her pants. Guys like that royally pissed her off, adding yet another negative emotion to the day's pile, and she sighed a deep, bone rattling sigh.
Unfortunately, she was stuck in here for a good while. She couldn't risk sneaking out because he knew where she'd gone, and the longer she kept him waiting the more often he would stare in the general direction of the restrooms, making any chance at getting to the front door of the restaurant and into a cab alone almost impossible. Figuring she had at the very least twenty minutes, Riley reached a hand into her purse and fumbled around for her phone, hoping to kill the time with a rousing few rounds of Angry Birds.
A half hour later, she stood and cracked open the door to survey the seating area to see if Giant Ego was still waiting for her. Joy flooded through her when she saw the table they'd been sitting at, the one with the tacky blue rose at its center, was Jacob/Jonathon-less and she could finally go home. With a gentle push she opened the door further and exited the bathroom, avoiding eye contact with anyone and making a beeline for the front door.
After hailing a taxi and giving the driver her address, she leaned her head back against the cracked leather seat and sighed, feeling more drained than normal. Between work, and law school, helping with Emma and attempting a social life, it wasn't hard for Riley to tire herself out. But the events of the day had done their worst to her, leaving her feeling like she'd just gone three rounds with Mohammed Ali and lost spectacularly.
And that guy… ugh. Why was it so hard to meet a decent guy, she wondered as she leaned her head against the cool window glass, watching the buildings blur together as they drove past. Deep down, Riley had really thought that after losing all the weight and making something of herself by getting into law school it wouldn't be so hard to catch some guy's eye. It worked for every other girl she knew. All they had to do was put on a pair of heels and smile and to them guys flocked, like freaking boats to a lighthouse. She must be missing something, some huge dating secret that no one had ever thought to clue her in on. It was really just unfair, considering how she'd spent those prime learning how to date years being called Fat Pants and Rigantor by just about every adolescent she knew.
Didn't she deserve to be called beautiful every once in a while by a man who adored her? Was that really so much to ask for?
Later, with the door locked and her heels tossed off onto the floor, Riley slumped onto the couch, feeling more miserable than before. Yet another Friday night gone bust, another lonely late night marathon of I Love Lucy re runs spent in the company of a pint of fat free, sugar free, organic fro-yo. It was too pathetic for words.
Which is why, once she'd peeled herself off of the couch and changed out of the outfit that, admittedly, made her look like she was trying too hard and slipped on a pair of sweatpants, she decided that if she was going to be pathetic and alone, she was at least going to be drunk and pathetic and alone. Just to, you know, make it all easier to handle. Or forget about… she wasn't quite sure which yet.
"Hello Mr. Morgan," she mumbled, pulling out a fifth of Captain and a glass from the cupboard above the fridge. "Hope you're evening's been better than mine has been." She glanced in her mostly empty fridge and found a half empty two liter of diet Pepsi she vaguely remembered buying a couple of weeks ago. She was disappointed to find she'd forgotten to refill the ice tray, though, and so began busying herself with making a flat, coke-less, and warm rum and coke.
"You know, I should've known it was going to end badly… blind dates always do. Or at least mine do, anyway. But you should have seen him, thinking he was going to score even after that awful dinner just because he's got a pair of dimples and an ass that looks good in some jeans. I mean, c'mon. Actor slash model? He has to know there's a million of him floating around out there, doesn't he? And is that really the kind of message I give off…?"
And then she realized she was talking to a bottle of alcohol.
And that was when she started to cry.