This is it. This is my fourth date with Sophie, and I need to make this one count. You see, I like this girl. Not in the kind of way where I just want to see her again because I'm bored and she's good for a laugh. I really like this girl. I have the sort of attraction where I spend all night thinking about her and hope that's not being extraordinarily creepy. I don't have a shrine dedicated to her or anything, she just likes to pop her face into my brain constantly in a way that would be obnoxious if said face wasn't so adorable.
Anyway, being the absolute genius I am, I asked her if she wanted to come over for dinner at my apartment. Now, that wouldn't be a problem under normal circumstances. I know how to make pasta, and that's usually enough right? Except I asked her over when she was talking about some sort of exotic fruit dishes. Note to self, look up what on Earth a Durian is.
Now, because I'm so brilliant, I pretended I knew what she was talking about and made it seem like I knew how to cook complex meals. I don't. Last week I tried to make Eggs Over Easy and the yolks broke, so they were half scrambled and half normal. For a food with the word easy in it, it's unexpectedly difficult to cook.
This brings me to my current state of panic as I gaze over the molten and charred thing settled in the pan. It bubbles like a tar pit and the color of it does not help with the resemblance. To make matters worse, I have three other failed attempts sitting in the sink, burnt rice and overcooked chicken particles floating in water. There's even a lump of something in the corner called Fougasse that the guy at the store said that Sophie would love, which I took at face value because surely he's a food connoisseur since he works in the bakery. But now that it's crumbled into pieces on the counter because I tried to put it in the toaster, I don't even think it's edible.
I hear the doorbell. Oh my god. She can't be here already, can she? She's early. But I look to the clock to see she's exactly on time like she always is. She's probably looking gorgeous. I have flour in my hair and dough sticking to my shirt. This is so bad.
"One second!" I call, frantic.
I shake my hair, ruffling my fingers through it to lose the powder, and scurry in a panicked state to my bedroom to change. This was my best shirt, too. Who the hell cooks in their best shirt? Oh, that's right, me. Because once again, I'm an idiot.
I dive back out into the living room, briefly checking my mirror for abnormalities in my appearance. I don't look like I've rummaged through trash anymore, so that's a plus.
"Jack?" I hear Sophie call. "Is everything alright?"
"It's fine!" I answer, quickly attempting to plate the monstrosity in front of me. "I'm just adding finishing touches!"
It looks awful, but I don't have time for anything else. I throw a towel across the mess in the sink, willing it to disappear into the vortex of space my other sock always gets lost in.
I scrabble to open the door, trying not to look too flustered when she smiles at me.
"Hi," she says, "It's good to see you. Thanks again for inviting me over."
"Of course," I respond, still breathless from my sprint. "It's my pleasure. Come in."
She's as beautiful as I imagined she would be, her auburn curls pinned in such a way they fall perfectly around her sapphire dress. Wow, she looks good. I take her coat and lead her to the table, before leaving to get the dinner.
She smiles warmly at me when I come back with the "food" in my hand, except that smile sort of freezes when I set it in front of her. This is going about as bad as I thought it would.
But she picks up her spoon and goes to take a bite anyway, jokingly complimenting the chef. There's no way I can let her do this. She's going to try and eat it because she knows I made it and she's far too polite and kind to let it go to waste.
"Wait!" I exclaim in haste, right before the spoon touches her lips. "Please don't eat it. It's horrible."
"Why? You made it. I'm sure it tastes good. I just might have to move around the piece of, uh, chicken?"
"Seriously. I'm ninety percent sure it's somewhat poisonous."
"Why did you go to such trouble, Jack? I knew you couldn't cook."
"You did? How?"
I thought I'd been really smooth about it.
"You asked me who Julienne was when I was talking about carrots. That's a cutting technique, not a person."
I can feel my cheeks heat up. When I had asked her that question and her face split into a grin, I knew something was up. At least now I know why.
She's holding in her laughter as she reaches for my hand.
"Come on, let's enjoy what you made. It honestly can't be that bad."
She peers down into the murky depths of the thing, looking disturbed.
"Is that moving?" she asks, pointing with her spoon.
"Should we just order takeout?" I ask, worried for her safety.
"No, of course not . . ."
The plate twitches again.
I turns out the Orange Chicken from the place across the street is scrumptious. After we eat, Sophie even helps me with the dishes. She keeps smiling, and it's genuine, so I'm relieved this date wasn't completely a big mess.
I knew there was a reason I liked her.