On Friday, I left the office a little early in order to get a run in. A
quick three-miler was a guaranteed cure for my anxiety about services.
As a bonus, I hit the blissful Zen-like state of a runner's high just
before I got home. That'd probably be all I'd need to get me through the
Optimus called me at the last minute. He was stuck at work and couldn't
make it. Despite my Zen-like state, I considered bailing. It wasn't like
I had any other good friends who would be in attendance. If The Death
Our hero was being paranoid.
Arriving at services a little late, I took a seat by myself towards the
back. At six foot tall, with super long hair held back in a ponytail,
Aldy2323 was hard to miss.
I needed to stop identifying Aldy2323 by her Tribe Date username. How
embarrassing would it be if I went up to her and said, How do you do,
Alderaan. Her name was Alderaan.
My intuition had been spot on -- The Death Star had a boy with her. I
didn't recognize him, but the name Grand Moff Tarken seemed
appropriate. As soon as I saw them, I kicked off a rousing mental
rendition of the final movement of Mr. Beethoven's ninth symphony and
relaxed into the service.
After services as everyone exited the sanctuary, I walked past Alderaan
and said, "Hello."
She nodded and her cheeks flushed. "Hi."
Excellent, that was all I was looking for.
As I milled around, chatting with some of the other regulars, The Death
Star greeted me with a warm smile. Why had I been so paranoid? We were
adults going about our business on the most peaceful night of the week.
The synagogue was hosting a free dinner with a speaker. I took my time
kibitzing and was one of the last people to get into the food line. By
the time I got my plate together, almost all of the tables were full. My
one-time ping-pong nemesis, Harry Osborne, was sitting next to three
vacant seats. It wasn't until I put my coat over the chair next to him
that I realized that I was directly across from Alderaan. **
"Hey, Debacle. Any idea what's in the rolls?" asked Harry as I sat down.
I took a bite. "Pork rinds topped with shrimp and... hmm... Munster cheese."
Alderaan chuckled. She smiled at me and looked like she was about to say
Someone tapped me on the shoulder and I looked up.
"Would you be comfortable if I sat next to you?" asked The Death Star,
loud enough for everyone to hear.
All conversation at our table ceased.
What the hell was she doing? So much for the extra endorphins from that
If I kept my cool, I could probably avoid making a scene. Laughing, I
said, "Sure, go for it."
"You're sure you're comfortable with this?" asked The Death Star.
Harry raised an eyebrow at me. I didn't acknowledge him.
Was The Death Star trying to embarrass me out of the synagogue?
"You're golden," I said.
After her bizarre line of questioning about my comfort level, it had to
be obvious to everyone at our table that we used to go out. If I failed
to get this situation under control in a hurry, there was no way I'd
ever get to take Alderaan out on the town.
The Death Star waved her boy over and then whispered in my ear, "You're
sure you're okay with this?" While it was nice that she hadn't asked
loud enough for everyone to hear, by appearing to tell me a secret,
she'd made this situation even weirder.
I gave her a thumbs up. What else could I do? It's not like I could
respond, Not anymore! Go sit somewhere else. This is a Death Star free
I braved a look over at Alderaan. She was staring at me, mouth wide open.
Tarken took the final seat.
It was possible that I could still salvage the night by injecting normal
conversation into the table. Turning towards Harry, I desperately tried
to think of something to say. Before I could get a word in, The Death
Star asked, "So how are your cats?"
The Death Star is clear to fire. The Death Star is clear to fire.
"You have cats?" asked Harry.**
People were always taken aback when they found out that I owned cats. It
was probably because the only persona weirder than the crazy cat lady is
the crazy cat dude. As a result, it wasn't something that I
broadcasted. The Death Star knew this. She was out for blood tonight --
in a synagogue, no less.
I gave my usual song and dance about how I grew up with cats, but I
liked dogs too. Given I lived alone, worked full time and occasionally
went away on weekends, cats were ideal pets because they could fend for
themselves. All the while, I was too nervous to brave a look over to the
28-year-old Alderaan to see how she was holding up.
The Zen-state was long gone, but I was still maintaining my poise. At
least I thought I was. For all I knew, my neck had broken out into the
splotches that'd earned me the nickname, Hickey Boy.
"So, how do you two know each other?" asked Tarken.
A small sigh escaped before I could regain my composure. This was
Michael Scott from The Office awkward.
The Death Star looked over at me like she expected me to answer. Why had
she brought her new boy over here without explaining that I was her
ex-boyfriend? I met her gaze and waited...