Jack wore a toupee that was obviously a toupee. It perched uneasily on the top of his head, the dark brown sides not quite blending in with the lighter brown of his own hair at the temples. The problem was, Benni noticed this on their first date but said nothing; now it was too late to point out that the hairpiece “wasn’t working” the way Jack or God intended.
They both ordered a scallop, lemon and sun-dried tomato entree, but when the server set the plates of food in front of them, it was obvious the sun-dried tomatoes were absent. There was nothing red or reddish in the dish at all. Jack had the grace to mention this to the waiter with a good degree of deftness.
“Well now, Jason is it? Jason this looks delicious, but it seems to be lacking an ingredient that was delectably described in the menu, which is to say, sun-dried tomatoes.”
Jason sighed, audibly. “We’re out of them in the kitchen. I can take it back, look for something resembling a sun-dried tomato, insist that it is one, and you eat a lie; or you can sit back and enjoy the scallops which are just fine without the sun-dried tomatoes.”
Benni said, “I would like the dish as described, and if that is not available I will have the Steak with Seasonal Mushrooms, medium rare, thank you, Jason.” Jack nodded his assent.
A louder sigh than the first one ensued. Jason begrudgingly swept up the two plates and left silently, rolling his eyes.
“What a dickhead,” said Benni. She wore a new dress, black and white, the pattern of which inadvertently made her look like a French maid. Benni noticed this had a slimming effect, but Jack’s first impression was that she was in costume. He said nothing except that she looked very nice, which she really did.
“I’m guessing they are out of Seasonal Mushrooms,” said Jack.
“I trust your intuition. There was a taco truck on the other side of the parking lot…?”
As they crossed the tarmac to Tio’s Taco’s (sic) Benni was rooting around in her black leather bag for some cash, since Jack confessed that he had none in his wallet, when they heard footsteps and shouting from the back entrance to the restaurant.
“Hey you mo-fuckers!” It was the unmistakable voice of Jason. He was waving a small slip of paper as he made what appeared to be a hostile approach. Jason was not a very tall man, but had the broad shoulders and meaty forearms of someone who worked out regularly. In truth, he had a girlfriend who was an employee at the women’s gym, She-Shape, who let him in during off-hours to use the equipment, providing he wiped it down carefully after use, which he usually did.
“Thank you Jason, for coming to say good-bye, and we do apologize for our abrupt departure, yet we are no longer motivated to eat any of the food you serve.”
“See this?” said Jason, as if he hadn’t heard Jack’s heartfelt apology. “This says, four dollars for one Shirley Temple and five-fifty for one rye and coke, seven dollars for one side salad with apples and nine-ninety-nine for the meatball/quinoa skewer, and fifty-two dollars for two Steaks with Seasonal Mushrooms, medium rare.” He put his nose only inches from Jack’s, and then slipped the receipt between them so Jack could clearly read it if he crossed his eyes.
“What are the Seasonal Mushrooms?” Benni asked.
Jason broke eye contact with Jack and stared at the French maid. “They are seasonal, out of a can, because there aren’t any growing, so they are seasonal canned mushrooms, and they are fine, as they are still mushrooms,” he growled.
“We felt the food and service lacked any justification for giving you money,” said Jack.
“Well that’s just too damn bad,” said Jason. He grabbed Benni’s purse out of her hand, found her wallet, and started pulling five and ten dollar bills from the banknote compartment. Benni simultaneously reached for her wallet and the cash, and a brief struggle ensued.
Jack then kicked Jason directly on the back of both knees, causing him to pitch forward, at which time Jack swiftly pivoted so that he could punch him in the forehead.
Instead of indulging in tacos, Jack and Benni quickly decided to get into Jack’s car and leave the parking lot while Jason was sputtering, spitting, and incapacitated.
Jack’s apartment was more professionally decorated than Benni would have expected or imagined. Muted, neutral tones combined with splashes of blinding colour, like a neon lime cushion on the grey sofa, and an original abstract oil painting in dizzying shades of yellow hung on the wall over the fireplace.
The kitchen had a concrete counter top, which Benni loathed despite best intentions. “I don’t like it, either,” said Jack, as he filled a stainless steel pot with water and set it to boil.
They had spaghetti with sardines and chick peas, which was better than it sounded, and sat out on the small balcony with their dessert Fudgsicles and coffee.
Later, Benni saw an ideal moment to bring up the bad toupee. They were having rather rough first-time sex in Jack’s king size bed, and in a moment of passion, Benni grabbed the hair at the back of Jack’s head and vigorously pulled, while gasping, “Oh Jack, oh Jack.”
Jack shouted in pain, and the hair did not come away. They stopped, and chests heaving, stared at one another. “I’m sorry,” said Benni. Jack’s hair was a mess, a strange blend of colours, and his own.
“You are not the first one to do that,” said Jack.