"Old School Love"

Only because Black Table will soon be available on Kindle and iBook; and only because Valentine’s Day is around the corner… have I decided to share this tale; first published 2006, edited for length.

Mr. Romance
“A Valentine Tale”

Now Mr. Romance didn’t get excited about much, but seeing Eddie and Richard flanked side by side, starring in a movie together told him this was going to be riot. Sitting in the middle of a potato patch on the lookout for potato robbers he knew a lot about good comedy.

He called his conceited stuck-up girlfriend, Supercilious, right away. He was still laughing when she picked up the phone. In a hearty chuckle he let her know he was taking her to see Eddie and Richard really cut up.

“Oh?” Supercilious was surprised. Mr. Romance wasn’t one to call out-of-the-blue offering to splurge on something like a middle of the workweek movie date. That wasn’t his style. He was more of a picnic spread, local park type of dater.

But come date night he had washed, shined, and gassed up his ride, and was at Supercilious’s door in his usual overly early dating style.

Now, of course Supercilious, like her normal self, wasn’t ready. True he had given her a whole two days to have lined up her eyeliner and select a color; and to pick out her favorite nail polish and play musical chairs with her shoes, but she still wasn’t ready. Two days still wasn’t enough time.

Heck, the first time they had gone out, he showed up five or ten minutes early. Of course then, she was running around the house hurling hair rollers in one direction, her bathrobe in another direction, and insults in the other. The next date he showed up thirty-minutes before he said he would pick her up. Well hell, that time she was still standing in line at the supermarket. And the next thing she knew, he was showing up at least an hour or more before dates. Most of the time then, she wasn’t even out of bed.

But now here he was at the back door tapping his foot a whole friggin’ two hours early! The movie started in, ‘oh… another few hours’, which he managed to squish down inside an hour worrying about things like traffic and parking. Except, on a Wednesday night in a town populated by a scant thousand people or so, which included the sick and shut in, and a three-lane highway… there hadn’t been one traffic jam on all the highways in town, combined, since the creation of automobiles.

Supercilious rushed out the door with Mr. Romance all swelled up about the possibility of getting stuck in gridlock traffic, and then not getting good seats. It didn’t make for the nicest ride, but at least Mr. Romance was a gentleman opening and closing doors for her. It was the least she could be thankful for since she had her make-up bag, purse, and shoes in one hand, and bra in the other.

She put the bra on first, and then the shoes. But when she got to applying the make-up, she had to deal with Mr. Romance twitching up his face because he didn’t like her using the passenger visor mirror to see with. In his line of order the visor had to stay in a certain position at all times. Just seeing it move in another direction disrupted his train of thought.

She went on and used the mirror anyway, until she caught him gawking out the window, oogling another woman who he obviously thought looked better. Oooo! It was dark out and the windows were tinted, but she slapped the visor down and turned it sideways to see if it would help him regain his train of thought.

They got to the theatre with that chunk of an hour left to kill. This was even after Mr. Romance had driven all five miles at a funeral’s pace, and circled the town not once or twice, but three times looking for the parking lot.

She laughed to herself. Some men were funny, and then some were hilarious. Mr. Romance was a riot. They walked up to the ticket counter where a woman in the ticket booth had to open the venation blinds to inform Mr. Romance that tickets for the next show would go on sale thirty minutes prior to the current show ending. This meant they would have to wait, oh… oh, another whole hour.

See!?! He was a riot. He couldn’t get this information from her; like before they left the house. He had to hear it from a ticket lady after the rushing, and the oogling, and the near break-up just getting there.

So now what does Mr. Romance decide to do with this whole whopping hour they had left to kill? He decides to kill the hour by heading over to a supermarket to buy snacks. The theatre snacks were too costly he concluded, selecting a few snacks before turning to ask her, “oh, by the way, do you want something?”

Quietly Supercilious shook her head no and marched right behind him to the car where they arrived at the theatre with just enough spare time to spend thirty minutes easily, waiting for the show to let out.

After a small debate, Supercilious wondering out loud about theatre policies on allowing picnic spreads inside theatres, they were back at the ticket window. It was finally time to purchase the tickets. And yes, Mr. Romance was still paying. That’s what men do when they are out on a date and behaving.

Mr. Romance pulled out his fat, cumbersome-looking wallet and fumbled with it as if it was gold. The odd-looking wallet wouldn’t open correctly. The ends kept curling up around a stack of evidence tracing his entire life. So she stepped back and allowed him the elbowroom he needed to dig and dig.

There was no visor, so it must have been the gawking that caused him to loose his train of thought. As soon as he had gotten, oh… maybe elbow deep into his wallet looking for his oldest five-dollar bill, was it when he suddenly remembered the coupon.


Yes, Mr. Romance had a coupon; a coupon that was to knock a few dollars off the movie’s grand total. One of them was getting in free.

Supercilious started looking around. Why hadn’t she thought about wearing a shawl or a cape or something? She stepped even further back to allow him more room. It looked like he was going to need a little more room than elbowroom. How about shoulder room, and room enough for a left hook and a backhand swing.

He couldn’t find the newspaper clipping of the coupon. His wide wallet was opened up to his neck and it still wasn’t there. That’s how she and the ticket lady got to see all the evidence outlining his life.

But okay, so if the coupon wasn’t in his wallet, then it must have been in one of his pockets. But, which one? He moved on to his pockets; the deep pockets holding the snacks he purchased. He scrounged around the bottom of his pockets long enough to realize time was just a ticking.

“Hurry! Hurry!” That was Supercilious tapping her foot. “Remember that mob you thought was going to beat you to the parking lot, well they are now all lined up behind you.”

Eventually he gave up. There was no shame in his game. She may have been embarrassed, with her stuck-up conceited self, but he wasn’t. He had every right to save every dime he could. It was his money, not hers. So, what does Mr. Romance do?

Mr. Romance pulled out that honey bun, a bag of chips, a snicker bar, and a can of soda. As deep as he was digging, he could have also pulled out a few bananas, four oranges, and one conveyor belt of red apples too. She couldn’t recall everything he pulled, but she recalled how large the ticket lady’s eyes grew watching with open-mouthed awe each non-perishable he brought out for inspection.

The ticket lady shrieked, “Ugh Sir, you can’t bring that in here!”

And before the judgment, Mr. Romance and Supercilious married shortly after this date, and have been married plus 20 years.

 Happy Valentines to All the Lovebirds