Amy had given me a thumbs up as the elevator door opened. It boosted my confidence as I approached Sherlock. I smiled at him for him and because of him. He turned toward me also smiling with the light blue scroll and Silver “S” in his hand. As I approached him he grew ever taller. His 6’4″ towered above my 5’1″. Awkward as it was, we hugged there in the lobby with Amy, Jennifer and a multitude of uninformed hotel guests looking on. Still smiling, Sherlock thanked me for the scroll.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen it in print. Thank you.”
He took my hand and we walked together to the parking lot.
Now, in my interview process of online daters I have a one very important question that I present to each and every date prospect. And depending on their response I agree to a Meet & Greet or not. The question, “Are you an ax murderer?” Acceptable answers include, “Not convicted”, “The trial starts next week”, “I don’t have an ax”. Unacceptable answers would include “Yes”, “Why do you wanna know”. Sherlock had an acceptable answer, thus the Meet & Greet we’re having today. I felt reasonably safe in his presence, we were in public places, my girlfriends know where I am and who I’m with and have his picture and identifying information. They know how to use it if I wouldn’t contact them.
There was an undercurrent of nervousness though, in part I think because of the awkward hug in the lobby, but we’re both still smiling and proceeding with the date. Neither of us ran screaming to the restroom looking for a means of sudden escape. Sherlock lead me to his car, an older model with lots of older model stuff in the front seat. He opened the door and removed the clutter so that I could get inside. He went around to the back of the car and opened the trunk. It was dusk and the trunk light shined into the trunk storage space, where there was a rubber mallet. I took keen note of it. But did not feel fearful. At least until he came around the side of the car with a shovel. It felt a bit like the game of Clue, ya know.. Colonel Mustard with the Rubber Mallet and the Shovel in the Parking Lot. But since I”m not Miss Scarlet I tried to not be too alarmed as I asked,
“Big plans for later?”
This is where a well placed smile comes in handy. Sherlock laughed. I didn’t. But I did raise my eyebrows as I waited for a completely logical explanation. After a moment of stammering Sherlock realized that the date wasn’t proceeding without a response to this game of cat and mouse. He cleared his throat in an attempt to appear intellectual and refined as he stood there with the shovel in his hand.
“Yes?” I reiterated.
“Well I like to be prepared.” he explained.
“Yes, I can see that.”
“Well, it seems I’m not reassuring you in the least.”
“No, not so much” I replied.
“Really I just always have them in my car.”
I explained, “For future reference, you might clear them from your car before you have another first date.
From my response he could tell there was a note of caution. He held out his hand and lead me around to the passenger seat. he opened the door. Before I got in I did pay particular attention to the inside of the door.. were there door handles? Were there automatic locks on the doors? Since it was an older model vehicle, there were no automatic locks and there were both door and window handles. I smiled at him and slid into the seat.
I think in order to restore a sense of connection between us, Sherlock took me on a little tour of the area near the restaurant. Beautiful scenery along the Mississippi River, stunning even in the dusky light of evening. With the street lights glistening in the damp spring air. As he pulled into an open parking space I recognized the area. I had grown up in the Twin Cities area and felt a strange familiarity. He came around and opened my car door, taking my elbow to guide me out of the car. We walked quietly in the cool damp air toward the restaurant just around the corner. The building is a stunning Italian Villa. Bold flowering planters sit beside a wrought iron bench at the entrance. Sherlock held the door for me as I entered into a little piece of Italy. The ambiance was stunning! The tables were set in crisp white linens and silver cutlery, one wall of the dining room is lined with windows that look out onto the campus of the College of St. Catherine. At one time, an all girls college in St. Paul. Sherlock had not shared his last name with me and was making a feeble attempt to keep it private as he gave the maitre’ d his name for our reservation. Sherlock and I were seated at a table for two facing the windows. Sherlock is sitting to my right. He made a wine choice for our dinner and we both settled into the evening.
Wine is poured and dinner is served. A gorgeous presentation matched the flavors bursting in my mouth as I savored each bite. Sherlock and I shared bites of this and that from our plates. We enjoyed conversation with intermittent silences to become voyeurs to the other diners. One table in particular caught Sherlock’s attention. A handsome middle-aged gentleman and a woman who we initially believed to be his daughter. Together Sherlock and I deduced that he had flown in to have dinner with his daughter who is a student at the college. Yet, when she excused herself from the table, I noted a gold ring on her left hand. Our concocted mystery was foiled.
I’m not sure if it was the familiarity of the area, the wonderful food or the wine, but I felt extremely relaxed, warm and comfortable for a first date. As we finished our meal and the last of the wine had been savored, we stepped out into the night. Sherlock took my hand and lead me across the street on a green light to the large looming gates of the college campus. We proceeded up a curving sidewalk lined with street lights. Of course I made the hike with my short little legs and heels. I had to remind my 6’4″ date to step slowly. Even though it was only just after 9:00 pm, the campus was extremely quiet. We strolled alone up the long winding lane until we reached three large brick buildings. It was the chapel that caught my attention. This time I lead Sherlock toward the gorgeous architecture pirouetted in the night sky. Step after step I maneuvered with my heels and rather weak ankles. Once I reached the top you’d have thought Rocky Balboa had done his laps up the stairs. I reached my arms up toward the stars. That’s when I noticed the gargoyles! They were perched across the whole building. And I had to touch them. As I reached up to run my hand across the paw of one particular gargoyle, I noticed Sherlock noticing me. I smiled and looked up, way up at Sherlock and smiled. In the looking up I was stunned.
“Look at those Great Big Knockers!” I exclaimed, pointing up the next set of stairs. Sherlock knew I just had to touch them. He followed as I scurried as fast as my weak little ankles could manage the steps. The black wrought iron work is magnificent. The handles or knockers as I call them, were as high up as my head. I could barely lift them. Of course Sherlock, feeling the need to demonstrate his manly hands, grabbed ahold of that heavy iron knocker and tapped away. It was as if we’d turned into silly, spontaneous college kids the minute we stepped onto campus. We laughed and carried on about the gargoyles and knockers til I asked,
“Do you suppose there’s anyone inside there?”
His eyes got big and round and he bolted two steps at a time down each level. Leaving me stepping one at a time down level after level. Usually I am proud to say I can go round after round with a good ribbing.. but Sherlock is over my height limit.. so I had to resign myself to simple silliness and laughter. It was then we decided it was time to move on. Walking seemed to help us regain our composure… we are adults after all. Until….we saw the short light pole with a metal box on the side of it just up ahead of us on the sidewalk. Of course my inquiring mind had to go check it out. As we got closer (and my middle-aged eyes could make out the words) we saw E M E R G E N C Y posted down the side of the metal box. There was a red button in the middle of the box. Sherlock pondered a bit and determined that on an all girls’ campus the biggest emergency he could think of was a lack of sex options. Thus an Emergency Sex Button. Again we laughed and joked. Fortunately the entrance gates to the college were within sight. And fortunately for the students at St. Catherine’s Sherlock was not in charge of campus safety!