A Date

Chris Reads
5 min readJun 6, 2024

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He had an honest body, Sam thought to herself as she watched him climb out of the pool. He pulled himself over the edge effortlessly, without the use of the ladder, his arms and shoulders tensing, almost wiry with the move. But he was neither very muscled nor too skinny. The band of his swim trunks was tight around his hips, and a bit of his belly spilt over it, denying him of what magazines would deem a flat belly. He wasn’t excessively tanned, and in fact a bit red with the early summer sun exposure. Like a Luca Guadagnino protagonist.

Like a Luca Guadagnino protagonist, he had a great mop of curly hair that was light enough to stay formed and curly when wet. He had one of those unconventional, but strangely symmetrical faces: big eyes, thick brow, a sharp jaw, and a sharper chin. He was going to be the one, Sam decided. She lowered her sunglasses, and stared hard at him as he looked around, hand covering his eyes. In a few moments, she caught his eye. It was never hard to catch a man’s eye when you were a girl in a bikini. They can’t help but look, and always think that they were caught staring when caught.
She waved. He hesitated for a moment, then sauntered over, small nervous steps at first, and then he caught himself and affected a confident swagger.

“Hey,” Sam said.

“Hey yourself.”

“Do you have a name?”

“Sam.”

“I’m Jonah. Is this seat taken?”

“Nope, you’re good.”

Jonah sat down on the chaise longue beside Sam, facing her. He took another long look at her body.

“You’re not from around here, are you?”

“What gave it away?”

“I’d have recognized a body like that. I’m like an elephant,” Jonah said, winking.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

The setting sun was no longer boiling, but there was a simmering tension in the air as they stared at each other in silence again.

“You here alone?”

“Yeah. You?”

“Yep.”

“What do you do for work?”

“Look at me. I don’t work.”

“Really. How do you have money to buy food then?”

“Boys just pay for my dinner.”

“Really.”

“Well, not any boy. They have to pass the vibe check.”

“Oh, what an honour. Can I take you out for dinner?”

“You may.”

Jonah stood up, and offered his hand to Sam. She ignored it, put on her coverup, and picked up her tote. He told her to wait when they got to the entrance, and he appeared a few minutes later in a car. He came out to open the door for her, but by the time he reached the passenger side, she was already seated.

Jonah was a good driver. He pulled out of the beach club onto the street, merged across two lanes of traffic, cut three people off, barely made a yellow, and came to a rolling stop at the red. After ten minutes of flawless driving and lots of horns honking, he pulled into a parking spot next to a loud dark restaurant. He pulled on a shirt, but by the time he had arrived on the side of the curb to let Sam off, she was already on the sidewalk.

“This looks like the sort of place you need a reservation for,” said Sam dubiously.

“I know a guy.”

Jonah went to speak to the hostess, and Sam followed him. After some whispering and a call, she nodded, and gestured at Jonah to follow. Then the hostess saw Sam.

“I’m really sorry, but we have a strict dress code here,” she said, “I’m afraid beach attire is not allowed.”

Jonah wheedled and pleaded with the hostess, but from her expression, Sam could tell that she wasn’t buying it. At last Jonah gave up and gave her a shrug.

“I guess it wasn’t meant to be,” he said.

“That’s okay.”

They stood outside the restaurant for a beat, watching the bright orange sky above a series of low rises in the city’s east end.

“Hey, that looks good,” said Sam pointing to a shawarma restaurant across the street. Jonah gave her a look, then gave her another shrug. He looked both ways, grabbed her hand, and started across the street. His grip was firm and secure, but not tight or controlling. Sam suppressed a smile and let herself be led across the road. There weren’t any cars nearby, but she almost felt butterflies.

The restaurant was near empty; it was much too early in the evening for shawarma after all. Sam ordered a wrap and Jonah ordered a plate. They were silent while waiting in line and ordering. Neither wanted to start a conversation and then have it interrupted by someone taking their order or asking for topping choices. There was a bench just outside of the restaurant where they sat to eat their dinner. It was typical Toronto shawarma quality: that is to say, very good. She watched as Jonah opened the lid to his plate, and prodded at it, before loading up his fork with his preferred ratio of potatoes, vegetables, and meat. He ate very delicately, carefully putting the food in his mouth and chewing with care.

They talked about books they liked reading, movies they liked watching, and music they liked listening to. Sam took the last bite of her shawarma and looked around the bustling street. When she looked back over to Jonah, he was starring intently at her.

“What?” she asked.

“Has anyone ever told you that your eyes are like chocolate when they catch the light?”

In spite of herself and a reflexive eyeroll, she felt herself blushing. She blinked hard to rid herself of the way his cheesy line made her feel. Unfortunately, he was still starring at her when she opened her eyes again. With a grin, he leaned in for a kiss. And she let him. It was a quick kiss, and she could taste the garlic sauce on his lips. He had a smug smile when he was done.

“Want to come see my place after? I’ll show you that Joan Didion first edition I was talking about.”

And so Sam went into Jonah’s car once more, and they drove for ten minutes. They didn’t talk too much during the drive, tension continuing to grow in the car. There wasn’t too much more to talk about anyways. Jonah pulled into a garage and opened the door for Sam. They took the elevator up, Jonah leading the way to the unit.

Then Jonah patted his pockets, looking confused.

“What’s wrong?” asked Sam.

“I think I left the keys in the car,” said Jonah, “do you have yours handy?”

Sam rolled her eyes, pulled out her keys, and opened the door to their apartment. They headed straight for their bedroom.

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