(continued from Part 1)
The biggest clue I had was that each of us had surprised the other on momentous (or not) birthdays in the past. Another was that on Saturday morning, Shannon asked me to load ’80’s tunes onto her iPod, only two weeks after she had asked me to remove them, and didn’t hesitate to let other things slip so that I could complete that task. Why would she want that done prior to our date night?
Just the night before, a friend called up and asked me to a Saturday afternoon movie. Although he never had called me in the past, I could see why he might now; he and his family had been through a very long, difficult ordeal, so maybe he was starting to get back out there. But, still, it was unusual.
Fast forward to just after the movie. My friend had been receiving but not answering text messages throughout the show. In the parking lot he announced that instead of asking his wife to come pick him up, he would prefer if one of us could drive him home.
“If you don’t mind stopping at Best Buy first,” his friend said.
“No, I kind of need to get on home.”
I volunteered and we took off. My mind already in detective mode, I imagined that this must be it. He and I would get to his place and he would find some excuse to get me in the house. There our friends would jump out and yell, “Surprise!”
That didn’t happen at all, and it was at that moment that I first began to doubt the veracity of my suspicions. Maybe this was going to be a regular date night after all, and the surprise would be Sunday night when my in-laws were planning to take us out for dinner.
Or there would be no surprise at all.
“Don’t even think about stopping at Braum’s on your way home,” Shannon said as we looked at each other across the table. “There’s a small cake at home that J made for us.”
I had helped J with a computer data recovery problem a few weeks before and she had promised me my choice of cake in return. “Really? What kind?” I said.
“I don’t know. It’s still in the cake carrier.”
I thought this sounded very suspicious. I had asked for Italian Creme Cake, with red velvet as a backup, and Shannon had been concerned about such elaborate choices. Surely she would have checked.
“Oh, okay,” I said. I was trying to seem nonchalant.
After our great respective dinners of yellow curry chicken and peanut sauce chicken with broccoli, Shannon and I walked out into the fresh, cool night air.
“Can you do me a big favor on your way home since I don’t have a jacket?” she said.
Her manner was normal, as was her request, but I thought she might be stalling. “Sure, what’s up?”
“Stop and get me a bottle of Riesling?”
I agreed and we left the restaurant in separate cars. Before I got out of the parking lot, I realized I had forgot my leftovers container. I whipped back into a spot and dashed inside — to the restroom.
At the store, seconds after I had reached the refrigerated wine section, my phone vibrated on my hip. I answered it.
“Why didn’t you answer the first time I called?” Shannon said.
“I had the ringer turned off for the movie and must not have felt the vibration while I was walking.”
“Where are you right now?” she said.
“Just got to the wines. I had left my leftovers on the sink in the restroom and had to go back for them,” and unwittingly gave her a precious extra few minutes for her shenanigans.
I confirmed her preference and hung up before grabbing a bottle of Polka Dot and heading for the checkout counter.
(to be concluded, with pictures)