Why I Don\'t Like Surprises
The doorbell rang five minutes after Becky left for her shift at Starbucks and I took a deep breath, trying to calm myself. There was no need to be nervous. It was just Carlos. It was just a date. It’s supposed to be fun. Slowly, I opened the door to reveal Carlos with extra spiky hair and a bouquet of multi-color flowers.
“For you,” he murmurs, a pink blush coating his cheeks.
“Thank you, there beautiful! Let me go put them in a vase of water quickly then we can leave,” I beamed.
“Ok,” he stuttered, scratching the back of his neck.
“You can come in, if you want,” I gestured and hesitantly Carlos walked into the entrance hall.
I scampered off to quickly find a vase and filled in water, then grabbed my tan hipster and walked back to the entrance. Carlos was standing in the same spot and was looking at a family portrait of us from almost ten years ago. Before my mom’s excessive spending. Before, the divorce.
” “Are you ready?” I asked.
He jumped, his brown eyes wide, “Jeez, you scared me!” he shouted.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to do that,” I said, swinging my hipster over my shoulder.
“It’s ok and yeah, I’m ready,” Carlos replied and together we walked out the door.
The night was warm but the warmth that made your hair stick to the back of your neck. The sun was just beginning to drop out of the sky and behind the rolling green hills in the distance. It was beautiful, truly. Forest Gump once said that the Sunrise and Sunset are when heaven comes to the earth and touches. Or something along those lines. I was really paying attention when people were watching it out in the common room.Other than the sunset, I noticed Carlos’s car. It was a sleek black Nissan that made my car, Lucy, look like garbage with its stained windows and white scratches along its’ red body. But I called it character, not garbage. I didn’t want to offend Lucy, after all.
Carlos, playing the perfect part of the gentlemen, opened the passenger door for me.
“Thank you,” I said and sat in the car.
“Of course,” he replied, a goofy smirk playing on his lips. He then walked over to the driver seat and started the car.
“So, where are we going?” I asked as he backed carefully out my steep driveway.
“I told you, it’s a surprise,” he said
“Seriously, you’re killing me!” I pouted and Carlos chuckled.
“Can you at least tell me the type of food?” I begged.
He ***** his head, as in thought and answered, “Italian.”
“Ooo, I love Italian…” I gushed, a grin breaking across my face.
“Oh good. I wasn’t sure but figured an Italian restaurant would be a safe option,” he said
“Is it local?” I asked.
“Yes and that’s all you’re going to get. We’ll be there in ten minutes.” He answered and I turned and scowled at him.
“Your no fun,” I whined
“I’m no fun? I’m not the one trying to ruin the surprise!” Carlos protested.
“Surprises aren’t fun unless you share.” I countered,
He shakes his head at me, a genuine smile on his face.
We sat in a comfortable silence for the rest of the way there. We passed a McDonald’s, Wawa, Giant, Regal, and many other places but I still couldn’t figure out where we were going. I was never direction orientated outside my little town and around my school. So, it was no surprise (get what I did there) that I didn’t know where we were going. Still, it frustrated me to no end.
Finally, we pulled into a parking lot that held an old white colonial building with a homemade gold painted sign that read, Il Dolce Far Niente, with soft twinkle lights and lawn chairs surrounding the deck with people holding wine glasses.
“It means, It is sweet doing nothing,” Carlos murmured and I turned to him, wide-eyed.
“Wow, It’s beautiful. Is this place new?” I said, taking in the intricate carving along the walls and columns.
“No, it’s been around for a while, the place was built in the mid-1700’s hundreds. It was originally a mansion owned by William McNight. It was converted to a restaurant in the 1940s.” He answered.
I shake my head, How come I had never heard of this place?
“C’mon, it much prettier inside,” Carlos said, getting out of his car and walking to open my door.
“Really?” I breathed.
“Yes, much more beautiful,” he whispered.
I glanced at him and realized he was looking at me.
My face turned the ripe color of a tomato but luckily, it was getting dark, only a tiny streak of pink lighting up the sky.
“Let’s go eat,” I murmured, still quite embarrassed.
He nodded excitedly, locked his car, and led the way to the front doors.
All I can say was that Carlos was right. The inside was much prettier with detailed flowery crown molding, marble and mental statues of naked people, renaissance-like paintings, and various photos of the place over the years. There was even a section that explained the history of the place.
We walked up to a beautiful polished, wooden hostess stand where three girls, probably in their mid-teens, stood in white blouses and black dresses pants. They looked like they were bored out of their minds.
“Can I help you?” a brunette asked with a sharp face and pointy ears, reminding me of an elf.
“Yes, we have a reservation. It should be under Carlos.” Carlos answered.
The girl popped her bubble gum in our faces and then looked down at her clipboard.
“Carlos Mendoza?” the girl asked and Carlos nodded.
“This way please,” she gestured, grabbing two menus and walking into the swarm of wooden tables. She led us to a quieter section of the restaurant and sat us near the window overlooking a vineyard.
“They make their own wine here,” Carlos informed me.
“That’s neat, too bad I’m underage,” I replied and he laughed.
“Are you seriously one of those people who follow rules to the letter?” he asked.
“I guess if you’re referring to my consumption of alcohol. It’s not really my thing,” I answered, shrugging my shoulders.
“Then how come you are always in my liquor store?” he questioned.
“You know that answer, Carlos,” I stated and he furrowed his brows in confusion.
I sighed and whispered, “My brother,”
“Oh, right,” he said and looked down at the menu.
I took this as a sign to change the topic.
“What are you going to eat?” I asked.
“I usually eat the Ravioli but everything here is great. Do you need help deciding?” he asked.
“No, I think I’ll get the gnocchi. It is after all, really hard to mess up pasta.” I answered, closing my menu.
“Ok then,” he said and we fell into an awkward silence.
Suddenly a familiar deep voice said, “Hello, I’m Ryan and I’ll be your server tonight. Can I start you off with drinks?”
At first, I didn’t say anything, unsure of what to do but decided I was being rude and looked up.
“Hi Ryan, can I please have a sprite or Serra-Mist?” I whispered, my hands shaking in my lap.
Ryan’s eyes widened in surprise but he recovered quickly with a dazzling smile. What about him wasn’t dazzling, I thought to myself. He was homecoming king after all.
“Hi Lia, I’m surprised to see you here. It’s a very romantic place,” he stated, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively.
I rolled my eyes.
Carlos narrowed his.
“You guys know each other?” he snaps.
I looked at him in surprise, Who got his panties up in a bunch? He couldn’t be jealous yet, we weren’t exactly a couple yet!
But, might as well put him out his misery.
“Yes, Carlos meet Ryan McNight. He went to high school with me,” I introduced and Ryan smiled but it didn’t reach his eyes.
“Nice to meet you, Carlos,” Ryan stated, his voice almost cold.
“You too,” Carlos blurted, shooting daggers at him.
“So are you guys on a date?” Ryan asked.
My face flushed and I looked away.
“I don’t see why that’s your business!” Carlos snapped.
Ryan clenched his jaw and responded, “Just being friendly,”
“Well don’t. I want a coke and Lia wants a Sprite.” Carlos nearly growled, his face turning purple.
“Coming right up,” Ryan smirked, walking away.
I turned to Carlos whose face looked like a purple plum, “What was that about?”
“He was being an ass,” Carlos spat.
I quirked an eyebrow at him, “How?”
“Seriously Lia! He was openly flirting with you when we are obviously on a date. This is a romantic restaurant!” Carlos bellowed causing few couples around us to look at us.
“Keep your voice down and he wasn’t flirting with me. He was teasing me and not everyone here is on a date. That is statistically impossible.” I argued.
He groans, putting his head in his hands.
“Your just oblivious Lia,” he muttered.
“What do you mean? He wasn’t flirting!” I protested. I was seriously getting ready to slap this boy. Ryan McNight, flirt with me, ha, that’s a joke.
“You didn’t see the way he was looking at you, as if you are an angel.” he snapped
I flushed and fidgeted with my charm bracelet.
“Not that you are not an angel Lia, you are but I want you to be my angel,”
“Isn’t it a little fast, calling me “your angel”?” I asked, glancing at him with a small smile.
“Not with ******** like Ryan around,” he replied, leaning closer to me.
“He isn’t an ******* Carlos and he wasn’t flirting me,” I protested but Carlos closed his brown eyes in frustration.
“Lia, he was, trust me,” he huffed.
“Whatever floats your boat Carlos,” I replied.
“You admit I’m right then?” Carlos asked, a smirking curving up his lips.
“No, I just don’t want to argue with you on our date,” I answered.
“Ok, so where were we?” he whispered, leaning over until he was only inches away from my face.
“Ummm….” I stuttered, my brain panicking with his closeness.
“You know, you have pretty lips,” he commented and suddenly I couldn’t breathe.
“I wonder what they taste like?” Carlos wondered, his puppy-brown eyes filled with a spark of something.
“Lips?” I breathed, backing up but he just leaned over the table.
“Your funny, I like that,” he murmured and slowly bent down, his gaze on my lips.
“Carlos…” I protested, suddenly uncomfortable. I wasn’t ready to lose my first kiss. Especially to a guy, I didn’t know that well, on the first date. I don’t even know how to kiss either but besides the point.
“Carlos, stop,” I hissed, placing my hands on his chest, attempting to push him away. He, of course, didn’t budge, but it was worth a shot.
“C’mon, Lia, just one kiss…” he pleaded, licking his lips.
“No, it’s only the first date, Carlos!” I yelled, pushing against him again.
“Well, who is going to stop me?” he asked, his eyes now blacker than brown
” Me,” I snapped and I prepared myself to throw a good punch at his face but then there was a loud bang on the table
Carlos jolted away from me and turned to see Ryan, a deep frown edged in his face.
“Your drinks,” he spat and then ceremoniously dumped the coke on Carlos’s head, it streaming like a waterfall over his head.
“Enjoy,” he yelled, sent me a wink and strolled out the room while Carlos sputtered.
Everyone was staring at us but they said nothing. It was one of those silences that slowly chokes you to death, one I often could not withstand. I cleared my throat loudly, pretending to cough and the people jolted out of their reverie and turned back around.
I sighed, putting my head in my hands, this is why I don’t like surprises.