On the day Brian and I met, my hair turned purple, my goldfish died and my shoes learned how to fly.
I was waiting for a package to arrive. “We’ll stop by between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.,” the note said, completely disregarding the fact that I worked the graveyard shift. But I went to bed at dawn and woke up in time for the UPS delivery of my package.
The three-hour wait was interminable. One hundred and eighty minutes spent pacing my apartment, watching bad TV and munching on Milanos. Occasionally, I’d drop cookie crumbs into the fish tank because Oscar, the goldfish, liked his chocolate too. When the bag was empty, I knew I could wait no longer.
I opened the front door, and found another sticky receipt. I peered at the time stamp: 1:28 p.m.
This form claimed my package would arrive the following morning, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. I went to the grocery store in a foul mood and bought two more bags of cookies.
At 9:30 the next morning, there was a knock at the door. I whipped it open, prepared to yell at the guy for coming at the wrong time yet again.
Standing on my porch was the most striking man I’d ever seen. He was tall, broad-shouldered, and wore a melt-ice-water smile. He even made the brown uniform look cute.
“Sorry I’m early, Mrs. Donovan. I missed you yesterday and I really wanted to make sure you got your package this time.”
I looked at the ground, embarrassed for the grouchy words I had been about to say. He handed me the clipboard and pointed to the small signature box. I was tempted to just scribble my name, but I needed time to come up with something witty to say.
Nothing came to mind.
After I signed my name, I decided to write my phone number underneath it. Maybe Mr. Gorgeous would take the hint.
He didn’t. He just took the clipboard and handed me the heavy box of books.
“Thanks, B. Scott,” I said, reading the red stitching on his name tag. “And it’s Ms., not Mrs.”
He grinned. “Good to know. Have a nice day.”
I closed the front door and mentally beat myself up for lacking any charm or grace. As I opened the package, the telephone rang. I glanced at the caller ID. “Unknown name.” Great. A telemarketer.
“Whatever you’re selling, I don’t want any. I’m poor. I just blew it with a guy who was probably Mr. Right and I need to get some sleep.”
I heard laughter on the other end of the line.
“What’s so funny?”
“You are. First you leave me your number and then when I call, you want to hang up on me.”
That’s when I recognized his voice.
“Well, I liked ‘Mr. Right,’ but Brian will do. Going back to bed?”
My cheeks flushed. “Yeah. I stayed up all night waiting for you.”
“Did you think I’d show up at 3 a.m.?”
“No. But I work nights and I had to stay awake in case you decided to show up early. Which you did. Again. ”
“Well, I didn’t mean to disturb your sleep. Let me make it up to you. How about dinner tonight?”
I stared at the phone, my annoyance gone.
“Yes, really. Eight? I promise I won’t be early.”
“See you tonight,” he said and hung up.
A date with a gorgeous guy. How the hell was I supposed to sleep now?
I had to prepare. My white shoes were a bit scuffed, so I snatched them off the floor and walked into the bathroom. As I searched the medicine cabinet for polish, a package of hair dye drew my attention. My blond hair was so boring, maybe red would bring me good luck.
I placed the shoes on the window ledge above the toilet and applied the dye to my hair. After wrapping my head in a towel, I returned to the living room to finish off the cookies. As a treat, I dumped the last one into the fish tank.
Since I had 25 minutes to wait, I pulled a new book out of the box and started reading. Somewhere in the middle of chapter two, I fell asleep.
When the telephone rang, I opened one eye and stared at my darkened apartment before reaching for the handset.
“Hi. It’s Brian. I’m just calling to say that even though it’s 7:55 p.m., I’m going to circle the block until eight. ”
My eyes popped open. I reached for the towel that clung off-kilter to my head and remembered the hair dye. Shit!
“Um…okay. See you soon,” I said and hung up on him.
As I rushed toward the bathroom, I noticed the light inside the fish tank illuminated swaying plants but no fish. I peered into the top of the tank. There was Oscar, belly up, the casualty of a cookie overdose.
I scooped his bloated body out of the water and carried him into the bathroom. Without turning on the light, I whipped open the lid of the toilet and dumped Oscar into fishbowl heaven. In my haste, the lid hit my shoes and sent them flying — right out the window.
I peered outside and fervently wished my shoes would somehow fly back up to the ledge. Alas, my powers of telekinesis were rusty.
Instead, I flushed Oscar and turned on the light. My head was covered in a sticky purple mass. I would have screamed, but I was too shocked and horrified to do anything but stare. As I pondered the eggplant-colored disaster, the doorbell rang.
So I did what any purple-haired, barefoot, fish-killing woman would do.
I answered the door.