Chapter 101

“So you finally did it,” Nick said, slapping Hershel on the back. “What gave you the kick in the pants?”

“Something my mom said, actually,” Hershel admitted.

“Make me grandbabies or don’t bother coming home?” Nick asked.

“A touch more tactful than that. She just pointed out that it wasn’t going to get easier at this point, and the longer I waited, the worse my chances got.”

“Good for you,” Vince said. “I bet you two have a great time. What are you planning?”

“Just dinner,” Hershel said. “Someplace kind of nice, probably.”

“Classic start,” Nick said. “Then what?”

“I don’t know... digesting?”

“Right. Let me get this straight. You’ve been trying to ask this girl out for over six months, you finally got up the courage and she agreed to be your date for an evening, and you don’t plan to do anything besides go to dinner and come back?” Nick asked.

“It sounds really lame when you say it.”

“I can’t imagine why,” Nick said, shaking his head. “Hershel, my boy, I don’t know a lot of things about women. I know they like chocolate, shoes, and movies that induce crying. I know they get offended if you ask if their behavior is due to a regular monthly occurrence. I know that some of them get a little violent if you try to give them an innocent nickname.”

“Sugartits isn’t what I’d call innocent,” Vince interjected.

“Stay on subject, Silver. My point is that I know precious few things, but one of those is that a woman expects a little woo to be pitched on a first date,” Nick said. “Assuming you want there to be a second one.”

“I would very much like there to be a second one,” Hershel said.

“Then we better get brainstorming, because a girl like Mary is going to take more than a chicken parmesan and some kind words to win over,” Nick said.

*          *          *

“So where do you think he’ll take you?”

“I’m not sure. Someplace nice, I’m sure, but hopefully not too fancy. I’m a simple girl, and I think Hershel knows that,” Mary said.

Alice nodded her head in agreement. “He seems to be slightly less thick-headed than the other men we’re surrounded by.”

Mary laughed. “They might surprise you. Some of them are actually quite sharp.”

“I’m sure,” Alice said. Before she would have brushed off the comment as Mary being good-natured. Now, though, she once again found herself thinking about Nick’s little transformation. Even if he could lie that well, there was no way he could keep it from Mary’s telepathy. She had to have some inkling of what was going on in the head behind those sunglasses. Sadly, this wasn’t the time to ask her about it. Right now was about Mary... and Hershel, to a similar extent.

“Any clues on where he’ll take you after dinner?” Alice asked.

Mary blinked. “After?”

“Yeah; I mean, he asked you on a date. You don’t think he’s planning on just driving to get food then coming back and saying bye do you?”

“Sort of. Yeah,” Mary admitted.

“Ah. Dates usually consist of more than just food. At least first ones do, anyway. It’s the guy’s chance to really show you how awesome he is, so they love doing it up big,” Alice explained.

“I see. I suppose that doesn’t seem so bad,” Mary said. “You know a lot about dates.”

“Only second-hand. The few times I ever ‘went out’ with a guy were formal dinners when my dad wanted me to charm the son of some CEO or royalty,” Alice said. “They were pre-arranged events with chaperones and the guys were always boring as hell.”

“That bites,” Mary said.

“It did, but who cares? Those days are long since past. Now let’s focus on you, little missy. Have you picked out an outfit yet?”

“I was thinking... the peach-colored dress?” Mary ventured very tentatively.

“Hmm. You know, that would work nicely,” Alice said.

Mary let out a sigh of relief.

“ a start,” Alice continued.

“A start?”

“Sure, it’s a base layer. Dressing up is all about picking a base then building tasteful accessorization on top of it,” Alice explained. “Don’t worry; we’ve got nearly a week to play around with all kinds of combinations. By the time Friday night gets here we’ll have gone through every conceivable variety of outfit and picked the absolute best one.”

“Oh joy.”

*          *          *

“So we’ve ruled out comedy clubs, movies, miniature golf, and strip clubs, though the last was under extreme protest,” Vince surmised.

“It’s a touch of daring and adventure!” Nick proclaimed. “Plus it puts the sex issue right on the table. It’s perfect!”

“It’s done, Nick, let it go,” Vince said. “We’re on to new suggestions now.”

“I’m running dry,” Hershel said. “You and Sasha have been together for a while now, what kind of first date did you take her on?”

“I just did dinner,” Vince said. “This whole woo pitching thing was news to me, too.”

“Wait, you did just dinner?” Hershel turned to Nick. “If he got away with it why can’t I?”

“Several reasons,” Nick said. “For one, the whole lovably clueless thing works for Vince.”

“I’m not clueless,” Vince protested.

“Whatever you say, Cupcake. You don’t have that type of charm. You’re a smart, good-hearted guy. That means you’re expected to do your research and put out some real effort,” Nick said.

“I guess I can see that,” Hershel agreed.

“Secondly, ask yourself something. This is your first date with a girl you really like. Do you want to ‘get away’ with half-assing it or do you want to leave her speechless?”

“Okay, okay. Point taken. I have to do more than just dinner. But we still haven’t answered the question of what,” Hershel said.

“I keep telling you guys, there is a gentleman’s club south of town with exceptionally reasonable steak prices on Friday nights.”

“Still no on that one.”

“I think you have to ask yourself less of what you’d like to do and more of what Mary would enjoy,” Vince said. “It’s about impressing her, so it needs to be something she’d have fun doing.”

“Carnival?” Hershel ventured.

“That would actually work... if there were any going on right now,” Nick said.

“Damn. This is a lot harder than I thought it would be. Roy always made dating seem effortless,” Hershel said.

“That’s because Roy didn’t care, so he didn’t put in effort,” Nick pointed out. “That’s another type of charm, though, once again, a type you don’t have.”

“Relax, Hershel, you’ve got most of a week ‘til Friday. I’m sure you’ll think of something,” Vince assured him.

“And if you don’t, there’s always steak and tits,” Nick tossed out. “Just saying.”