They’d known each other for several months and been going out together regularly. Todd felt it was beginning to get serious. At least it was for him. He’d never kept a girlfriend for this long, so he really didn’t know how he was supposed to proceed.
He knew he had to tell her how he felt.
They met last night down at Fosser’s. That’s a new, trendy place in town and Todd had saved a certain amount of his check to spring on a fancy dinner. Not only did he know that she’d be impressed and enjoy herself, he’d been so frugal for so long that he decided he’d treat himself to something nice. Blowing a wad of cash always felt good that’s for sure.
Penny-pinching gets old.
When he arrived she was seated at the bar. “I put us on the list for a table,” she said, drinking a Campari with soda and perusing the New York Times. Gosh she really is liberal it seems. He hoped that wasn’t going to be a problem.
They made way to their table and Todd hurried around to pull out her chair. She she sat down and the waiter handed her an open menu. She looked up Todd. “My, you’ve never done that before,” she said, letting out a little giggle at all the fuss.
He smiled. “Well we’re going fancy tonight, so why not?” He seated himself and reached for the wine list and ordered them a fine Virginia red. He always thought it was so funny how much beautiful wine country there is in Virginia and most of the rest of the world doesn’t even know it. Anyway, they were served their wine and settled into what started out as a relaxing and enjoyable dinner.
“You know Stacey, my mother told me to tell you that she really enjoyed meeting you,” he said, eyes still on his menu. “She seemed very curious and asked me a bunch of questions.”
Stacey took a sip of her wine. “Why? Did she think meeting me was extra special or something? I still think it’s funny how we just happened to run into her. But anyway, what kind of questions?”
“About your upbringing. Your family, your goals in life, religion, poliitics. All that kind of stuff that past generations are more interested in it seems. I mean more than folks are nowadays.” He thought she looked particularly radiant tonight, and was hoping he was going in the right direction with his dialogue. He’d played this conversation over and over in his mind over the last couple of days. And his mother really did indeed have questions.
“Yeh nowadays a lot of it doesn’t seem relevant, now does it? I mean with the way the world is.”
Oh she’s feeling casual that’s good. Then let’s get right into it.
“Well she was raised very conservatively, you know. I mean her Jewish faith. And you know how Jewish mothers are,” he smiled. “They say the blood line comes down through the mother so she was pretty concerned about that. It’s no big deal of course but it was kinda funny cause she asked me what reiligion your “people” are. And it was even funnier that I didn’t know the answer.”
Todd finally could maintain eye contact, although he did have butterfiles in his stomach. He genuinely was curious about her. There was so much he didn’t know about her. And the big thing is he wasn’t used to talking this way with a woman. So openly. All his life he’d been the tongue-tied type- particularly with the opposite sex.
The waiter took their dinner order and Todd asked, “Another bottle of wine, please?”
“More wine Todd?” she said, busting out laughing. “Okay. I thought you said you didn’t drink much. I mean had a “problem handling your liquor is how you put it.””
“Nah this is wine, we’re good.”
“By the way, I find it a little forward of your mother to wonder such things about me. Isn’t that a bit presumptious?”
Todd took a gulp of his wine and carefully put down his glass. “Well you and I have been doing well together right Stacey? I mean it hasn’t been that long but still. I guess she can just tell, and the whole idea of you and I together got her going for some reason.” He grinned at her charmingly while fumbling around with the silverware and his words.
“Well my not being Jewish isn’t going to be a problem for you, is it?” Stacey asked.
“No it won’t be a problem. She’s going to have to accept you no matter what religion you are. What religion are you anyway Stacey?”
“Well to be honest I’m an athiest. Not that this is necessarily the time to talk about it. But I don’t believe in God. Other people can believe what they want but I don’t subscribe to any religion. If anything I’d be considered a humanist or a rationalist.”
Todd paused and looked at her, trying to understand what this meant. He wasn’t sure if for some reason she was wearing this label at the moment, as people are known to do with labels, or if deep down inside this was really how she saw things.
He didn’t understand it one bit.
“You don’t believe in God? Why not? I mean, you don’t believe in anything? Or hold out the hope of something at least?” Todd was confounded by her strong sense of conviction. Thank God for his mother in this case is how he saw it. “Well, what about where we go when we die? You just think this is it Stacey?”
The server placed Stacey’s veal francaise down in front of her. She smiled up at him in what Todd knew know was a Godless smile. How could she live each day and go to sleep each night and make it through every day without believing there was something more? Anything really.
How could he love her?
Stacey could see he was confused and torn. She’d heard it all before and been through it all before though, that’s for sure. . She was used to having to defend her views, and now here she sits defending them again.
“Yes I do think this is it,” she said, trying to sound diplomatic. “So we ought to make the best of it, right?”
Todd lifted his fork to his mouth and slowly chewed on his dinner. How to proceed here was a challenge. This turned out to be a real disaster, he thought, and was particularly disappointed.
“Yeh make the best of it Stacey, I hear you.”
“It all just sounds so hopeless. And I don’t think I can marry you under the circumstances. I mean gosh, what about our children?”
“What? Marriage and children? What are you talking about Todd?” She truly did look astonished. “Listen, I didn’t mean to lead you on, I’m sorry. I was only interested in you for someone nice to date.”