Free Falling

“Oh my God… what am I doing here?” I blurt.

“Finding a man,” Amanda reminds me with a cheeky grin.

“I have cats,” I deadpan. Is my skirt too short? Is the zit on my forehead bulging through my concealer?

Amanda takes my hand in hers because I keep fidgeting. “You look fantastic, and your zit’s still incognito.” Though I might sweat off three layers of spackle-like concealer, I’m more likely to hyperventilate first.

A line forms behind us. The sun hasn’t quite set and it’s a balmy eighty degrees. I’m creating quite the sauna under my clothing. Amanda’s fantastic “speed dating” idea is probably going to take me down. If they don’t open the doors soon, I am going to melt into a pool of goo.

Things are fine. I have a beautiful Colonial downtown, a walk from the law office where I am working toward a well-deserved partnership. My friend base is solid, I actually use my gym membership, and I get to spend summers in Europe visiting family.

Aloud, I realize, “I don’t need a man. I’m happy.”

She groans as if I am a child refusing a nap. “At last Friday’s women’s wine group, you mentioned ‘getting back on the saddle,’ so…”

“I don’t really think I put it that way.” Pinot and PMS are my kryptonite. I vaguely remember blubbering that I am a “dating celibate.”

Oh my God… I can’t do this.

Amanda is a dating savant. I feel pathetic and panicked. I’m not ready to subscribe to a relationship that might end in heartbreak. Again. I am finally happy. Again. Sometimes lonely, but happy.

I can’t look at the men in line behind us. Soon, I’ll be meeting them at candlelit tables, where we’ll be expected to rely on eight minutes of small talk as a gage for a follow up date.

This realization freezes in my chest. I gasp, “I can’t do this,” and turn on my heels. Amanda beseeches, “Come on, Jen.”

I feel frantic. In my hasty exit, I plow into the front door of DaVince’s, which the maître d’ has kindly opened. I feel the zit on my forehead scream as it makes contact with mahogany. The impact is harder than I expect and sends me reeling backward. “Oh, God, I’m going to fall,” flies through my mind, but I feel hands grab my waist as I start sinking to the ground. I break a heel in the process.

When my head stops spinning, I stand there lopsided now. I look up at the gentleman, who appears concerned, but is smiling in reassurance. “Are you okay?” He hunkers a little, to meet my eyes. “I’m a doctor. Your pupils look fine, but your forehead’s starting to swell.”

“It’s a zit,” I blurt, feeling heat wash over my cheeks. I hear Amanda snicker.

He chuckles and holds the door open for Amanda and me, watching me with careful interest.

She catches my eye quizzically. “Aren’t we leaving?”

I glance toward the gentleman waiting patiently at the door, then grin at my friend. “No. I’m good.”