Double Dating With The Parents - Version Bravo

by Lubrican

Chapters : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16

Chapter Two

Bob looked over as the door opened and Karen Ross walked in.  She was dressed in a checkered shirt, jeans, and ankle high boots.  The volunteers had learned a long time ago not to wear tennis shoes when working in the creek.  It pulled them off of feet as if it had fingers. 

He'd noticed Karen before, but hadn't given much thought to her.  He'd assumed she was married, though no "Mr. Ross" had ever come with her on a work day.  She was pretty in a plain kind of way. She wasn't wearing makeup, which seemed sensible. Her hair was pulled back into a long pony tail.  She had a strong chin and high cheekbones.  It made her look like she might have some Indian blood in her. His eyes decided that a little makeup could change her appearance dramatically. His eyes slid down to her chest, where twin points held the shirt away from her body six or eight inches.  His eyes dipped, to take in rounded hips.  He couldn't tell about her waist, because the shirt hid that.  He looked back up to find her staring right at him.  Busted! She started toward him.

"Mr. Thurlow," she said, approaching him.

"Bob," he said, automatically.

"Bob," she said, almost patiently.  He expected her to say something about him ogling her, but that didn't happen.  "My son tells me your daughter asked him on a date, and that you've agreed to chaperone."  There was a frosty edge to her voice.

Bob went into teacher mode immediately.  Tact was needed here.

"That is not factual, in the spirit of accuracy," he said.

"What does that mean?" she asked.

"My daughter asked me if she could go on a date with a boy named Jack Ross.  I assumed he was your son.  I told her she could not go out unsupervised, because she's too young to do that.  I have already told her she can't date until she's sixteen.  But she wanted to negotiate and, in the end, it was discussed that if I went along to chaperone, she would not then be on an unsupervised date.  I did not agree to these terms.  I said I'd think about it, but that was all."

"Oh," said Karen.  "That explains it, then.  I kept expecting you to call, and when you didn't, I concluded you assumed everything would be fine on our end."

"Not at all," said Bob.

"Because I've told Jack he can't start dating until he's sixteen, too."

"A value we share in common," said Bob, still trying to be diplomatic.

"Like you, I told Jack I'd think about it," said Karen.

"My daughter jumped the gun," said Bob. "I'll talk to her about it, and make sure she doesn't do that to your son again."

"He is awfully excited," said Karen.

"I'll tell her to apologize."

What happened next was the result of Karen's ongoing evaluation of Bob Thurlow.  When she'd approached him, she'd been angry, because she'd assumed he would contact her and discuss the kids getting together under conditions that were chaperoned.  When he hadn't, she'd further assumed that he was the kind of man who thought that if he adjudged something as acceptable, he presumed everybody else would too, especially a woman.  If she'd actually found him to be that kind of man, she'd have put her foot down and told him to keep his daughter away from her son.

But he wasn't that kind of man at all!  In fact, he was erudite, and polite, and had good values.  He was easy on the eyes, too.  As he had taken for granted she was married, she made the same assumption about him.  As she thought of that, she pushed his attractiveness back.

"How does your wife feel about this?" she asked.

"I'm not married," said Bob.  He rarely trotted out the story of his dead wife.  That was private.

"Oh, I'm sorry," said Karen.

"Why would you be sorry that I'm not married?" asked Bob.  Amanda had gotten her literal senses honestly.  Bob viewed things literally himself, sometimes.

"That's not what I meant," she said, flustered, her cheeks turning pink.  "I was married, but not anymore.  It didn't end well.  When you said you weren't married, I thought of that.  Really, I'm sorry.  I didn't mean anything by it."

"So you're a single parent too?" asked Bob.

"Yes," she said.

"Something else we have in common."

"Yes."  She still felt the heat in her cheeks.  "Should we discuss this date our children want to go on so badly?"

"You think it's advisable to let them do it?" asked Bob.

"I don't know.  I'm pretty sure that, if they like each other, they'll find ways to be alone together.  That's what I did when I was her age.  I met boys secretly."

"Did you now!" said Bob, smiling. "Do you think my daughter is doing the same thing?"

"I have no idea," said Karen.  "But Jack was so excited at being invited on a date that the fact you were allegedly going to be there with them didn't bother him at all."

"I could tell Amanda was pretty fired up about it too," admitted Bob.

"If they're going to find a way to get together, wouldn't it be better if one of us was there to make sure things went the way we want them to?"

Bob had been evaluating Karen too.  The fact that she wasn't married put her into a different category than she'd been in before.  He hadn't explored that category of woman for years, and hadn't planned to ... but now he found himself to be interested.

"What if we both chaperoned them?" he suggested.

She blinked.  "At the same time?"

"Of course," he said, smiling again.

He had a nice smile.  And such dark, brown eyes.  Suddenly, Karen felt her nipples crinkle in the cups of her bra.  It was shocking, almost electrifying.  She hadn't been attracted to a man like this in a long, long time.

"A sort of double date," she said.

He hadn't thought of it that way, but the idea of it appealed to him.

"Yes," he said.  "A double date, where we can teach them the dos and don'ts of dating."

"I like that," said Karen.

"I'll talk to Amanda," he said.

"And I'll talk to Jack," she responded.

They didn't have a chance to say any more, because Phil Solistra, the president of the organization, announced loudly it was time to get to work, and shooed everyone out of the building.

The first date was, indeed, a bowling date.  There was much excitement as the participants all got ready.  In a way, the preparations were quite similar.

For the kids, they were heading into the unknown.  Their primary desire was for the other person to like them.  Kids want to be liked, and their greatest fear is that that won't happen.

Bob and Karen, of course, had been on lots of dates.  They'd both been in serious relationships.  They'd both suffered the pain of loss, though it was different kinds of loss. Somewhat ironically, they wanted the same thing their children did.  She hoped he'd like her, and he hoped she'd like him.

Another shared quality was that nobody was thinking long term.  The kids didn't anticipate becoming high school sweethearts, who would stay together forever.  The adults had no intent to cultivate a serious relationship.  All of them were looking for short term gratification.

But there were differences as well.

The kids hoped they'd get to explore some intimacy.  Not much.  Maybe a little hand holding, and possibly even a kiss, though that left them both feeling a little unsettled.  Neither of them had done much kissing, none outside a family setting in fact, and both were worried that, if a kiss did happen, they'd do it wrong.

The adults had no intent of any kind for intimacy to enter their relationship.  They did not, in fact, assume any "relationship" would ensue from this double date they were going on.  After all, the only reason they were going out together at all was to chaperone the young ones.

The kids had high anticipation that this would be the best night of their young lives.  Kids are like that.  Everything they experience, at least that they like, is "the best."  They have a whole string of "best" friends.  Each good movie they see is the "best".  New foods are temporarily given "best" status, and each party they go to is better than all the rest.  It's just a product of evaluating new things.  But kids are aware that there are "worst" things too, and their unconscious fear was that this might turn out to be one of those situations.  Their biggest fear was that they'd do something stupid, and ruin everything.

The adults were wary.  Each had enough life experience to know that things might not go all that well.  It might be boring, something to be endured, while the kids started navigating this kind of social interaction.

None of them knew that they were all wrong.  And they were wrong about just about everything, as it would turn out.

Bob had taken Amanda bowling half a dozen times, as she was growing up.  It was something they could do together which didn't last hours and hours.  Not that he avoided spending hours and hours with her, but going bowling didn't completely consume their time like, say, camping might have.

Karen had been on too tight a budget to expose Jack very often to what she considered luxuries, such as bowling, movies, and the like. Instead, she and Jack had played board games, and made up games, such as reading to each other from the dictionary.  She'd been bowling as a girl, but that had been a long time ago.

So the Thurlows assumed the roles of teachers.  Together, they explained the scoring system.  It was done automatically by a computer, which displayed the score on a big screen above their alley, but at least Jack understood why it looked like it did, as things progressed.  Amanda took Jack to find a ball, and showed him how to approach the foul line and swing the ball.  She didn't throw it.  When he tried it, the ball slipped off his fingers and slammed into the gutter.  His profuse apologies embarrassed Amanda, and all she could think of to say was, "That's happened to me zillions of times. You'll get the hang of it."

Bob and Karen watched, smiling.  The interaction of their kids brought back sweet memories.  They didn't know it, but their body temperature climbed a degree, as adrenaline seeped into their bloodstreams.

"I haven't done this for years," said Karen.

"Just like riding a bicycle," said Bob, looking at her with interest. He'd been right. She'd put on some makeup and her plain features had been transformed into a face that was decidedly pretty.  "Want me to help you pick out a ball?"

"I'm not completely helpless," she said, but smiled.

"No problem," said Bob, and unzipped the case he'd brought with him, pulling his own ball out.

"Oh, a ringer," said Karen.  "You brought us suckers here so you could fleece us."

Her use of the word "suckers" zipped into Bob's brain and he was unable to avoid thinking of another situation in which a woman might be called a "sucker."  It was his turn to blush as he reacted.  His private embarrassment caused him to flirt, instead of backing away.

"What do you have I might be able to fleece you out of?" he asked, arching one eyebrow.

Guys flirted with Karen all the time at the auto parts store.  As the only female on staff, she got a lot of attention.  The problem was that none of it was from men she was interested in.  She tended to be intentionally un-interested in most men.  She had decided long ago that she didn't need a man in her life, that they were more trouble than they were worth.

This time, though, she reacted differently to his obvious innuendo.  This man she had positive feelings about.  And it was harmless.  They were on a double date, but it was a date in name only. The kids were right there.  What could happen?  She hadn't flirted in years.  And flirting could be fun.

"Why, suh!  If I didn't know better, I might think you had unseemly intentions," she said, trying to affect a southern drawl.

Bob was startled.  This was the first time he'd seen Karen be anything but sensible and serious.  This was a very pleasant surprise.

"I'll go easy on you this first time," he said.  "I wouldn't want to be labeled a cad on our first date."

She laughed.  "Cad?  Who uses that word these days?"

"English teachers do," he said, grinning.

"Are we going to bowl, or are you guys going to flirt all night?" asked Amanda, who appeared, suddenly, beside them. Jack was with her, and was staring at his mother.  He looked curious.

"We are going to bowl," said Bob, holding up his ball.  "Prepare to be destroyed!"

He won, but he didn't destroy anybody.  The only reason he had his own ball was because a girl he'd dated in college had insisted he get one.  She was the better bowler, and was avid about the sport.  She turned out to be too avid.  Bowling was all she ever wanted to do, and Bob had eventually drifted away.

It is fair to say a good time was had by all.  Jack and Amanda got to chat, indeed getting to know each other better, and finding that they did, in fact, like each other.  Jack accused Amanda of being bossy, to which she simply said, "Of course I am.  I'm the boss."

Karen and Bob fared much the same way.  What had begun as a chore turned into something both of them had needed for years, but hadn't known they needed.  There was no romance, at this early stage of the game, but simple companionship with a member of the opposite sex is something all of us are driven to find, and they were no different.

A turning point in all of their lives came when Bob dropped Karen and Jack off at their house.  They all went up to the door together, after Bob said, "It is polite to walk your date to the door." 

Once there, Jack turned to the adults and asked, "Do we get to kiss goodnight?"

"I don't think so," laughed Karen.

"Please?" begged Amanda.  "Just one kiss?  I've never kissed a boy.  And this is my very first date."

"You want to kiss him?" asked Bob.

"Of course I do," said his daughter.  "It's my first date!"

"So that's the only reason you want to kiss him ... because it's your first date."

Mandy looked confused.

"Well, yeah," she said.

Bob looked at Karen.  "Can you believe it?  It's suddenly mandatory to kiss on the first date."  She smiled.

"You can kiss my mom," suggested Jack, helpfully.

"Is this a bribe?" asked Karen.  "You're bartering me away?"

"Not away," said Jack.  "Just for one kiss.  Come on, Mom.  It's not like we're going to ask them to stay over."

Karen was shocked. "Where did you learn anything about staying over?"

"Everybody knows people do that," said Jack.

"Everybody," agreed Amanda.

"Why don't we all shake hands," suggested Bob.

"Dad!" wailed Amanda, obviously embarrassed.

Bob and Karen exchanged glances.

"Just one kiss?" asked Bob.

Karen wondered if he meant the kids ... or them.  The idea of kissing him did not cause any unhappy emotions in her at all, and that bothered her.

"I guess just one couldn't hurt," she said.

They turned to the kids.

"One kiss.  A simple, good night kiss," said Bob.

The kids flowed together ... and then froze.  Even if they hadn't been assumed to be unfamiliar with osculation, it would have been obvious to the casual observer that neither had the faintest idea of what to do next.  Each tilted his or her head in different directions, moving toward and then away from the other.  Each pursed his or her lips, but it was semi-conscious.  It was comical and heart wrenching at the same time.

"Like this," said Bob, calling their attention to the adults.

He turned and reached for Karen's waist, pulling her gently toward him.  Her hands went to his shoulders instinctively as his face came toward hers.

To that casual observer, it was a fairly simple kiss. His lips touched hers, and stayed pressed there for some three or four seconds.  He pulled his lips from hers slowly, as if he wished he didn't have to.  His face stayed within six inches of hers as their eyes locked.

"I had a good time tonight," he said, softly.

"Me too," she breathed.

"We should do this again sometime," he said.

"We should," she breathed, wanting to pull his face back to hers.

The emotion in that kiss took both adults by surprise.  There are different kinds of kisses.  This one might have been called the casual "I like you a lot" kind of kiss.  The dialogue they'd shared had been routine, automatic, the kind of things one usually says after a date.

But both of them meant every word.  And they were not talking about chaperoning their children.

Force of will made both adults let go of each other and turn to the kids.

"Something like that," said Bob.

If he hadn't been thinking about that kiss, Bob might have thought it was comical when Jack turned to Amanda and put his hands on her waist, exactly as he had seen.  Amanda mimicked what Karen had done too.  Their faces came together, but their lips were hard, and bounced off of each other, separating almost instantly.

"I had a good time tonight," said Jack.

"I did too," said Amanda.  "I'm glad I asked you out."

"Me too," said Jack.  "Next time I'll ask you out."

"Deal," said Amanda.  "Bye!"

She turned and reached for her father's hand, which was hanging so close to Karen's that she could feel the heat radiating from his skin.  She had found herself wanting to reach for his fingers, but had resisted.  Now, when his hand bumped against hers while Amanda grabbed it, she felt the heat more firmly.

"Night," she said, stepping backwards toward her door.  She could hear Jack unlocking it.

"Night," said Bob, their eyes locked.  "I'll have to fleece you next time."

Her heart thumped as her mind had an instantaneous fantasy that "fleecing" somehow involved naked bodies on a sheepskin rug, in front of a fire. She blinked and turned as she felt herself blushing.

She hurried into the house after Jack.  All she could think about now was the vibrator in the drawer of the nightstand next to her bed.  She hadn't used it in a while.

That was about to change.

"That was fun," said Amanda as Bob started the car moving.

"I agree," said Bob.

"It could have been better, though," said Amanda.

"How so?"

"Well, you guys were right there, all the time.  We didn't have any privacy at all."

"That's how chaperoning works," he said, smiling.

We humans like to think we're in control of our destinies.  We have a track record of trying to beat nature, as she loftily supervises creation.  One example is the use of artificial light to extend the "day."  At first it was fire, in its various forms.  Then the electric light was invented and dark was pushed ever farther into the night.  In some places there is no dark any longer.  Another example is the development of our various food sources.  The Haber–Bosch process for producing ammonia was developed in the first half of the twentieth century, to produce explosives for the German war machine.  After the war it was developed into a fertilizer that is the only reason the majority of the population of Earth is alive today.  Without it, we could not wrench from nature enough food to feed us all. 

Human history is a litany of examples of pushing back against nature, trying to bend her to our will.  In our arrogance, we think we are in control.  There are, however, constant reminders that, in reality, we are but fleas on the coat of a big dog.  Hurricanes and earthquakes ravage our "indestructible" buildings.  Heat waves kill those who have no conditioned air in which to hide.  The ocean swallows ships whole.  When another ice age happens - and it will - entire cities will vanish under the irresistible crush of simple flakes of snow.  Should our vaunted transportation industry fail, for whatever reason, then even the Haber-Bosch process won't save the billions that will then die, and become fertilizer themselves.

This sober reflection is not intended to put a damper on the story.  Rather it is simply a reminder that Nature has been here a hell of a lot longer than humanity has, and she is like the sun.  She is always there, and there is actually very little we can do about her.  This little diatribe is actually a way to get to a last example of how humans think they can foil Nature's intentions.  That example is the concept of chaperoning young humans so they don't engage in procreative activities.

It's a good theory, chaperoning is, but that doesn't mean it will work, or that Mother Nature's drive to encourage reproduction within the species will be defeated.

Or, in some cases, even substantially delayed.

The second date for Amanda and Jack, which of course means the second date for Bob and Karen as well, took place at "Parsons Golf World," in a town with the unlikely name of Versailles.  It was named after the town in France, but there the similarity ended.  Rather than being pronounced "Ver-sigh," its inhabitants called it "Vur-sales."  That probably happened for the same reason people who showed up at Ellis Island with the last name "Mitschkelheit" ended up with entry papers listing their last name as "Mitchell." 

Parsons Golf World was a miniature golf course with twenty-seven zany ways to make you use eight strokes to put the ball in the cup.  Arthur Parsons, when he started the project in 1955, intended there to be thirty-six holes, but he ran out of steam in 1978 and sold some of his property to a developer.  The business had waxed and waned since then, falling into disuse and disrepair, only to be revived by someone who had both money and nostalgia.  It was currently a popular destination for families, and for young people like Jack and Amanda who wanted to engage in mating rituals, whether they thought about it that way or not.

It seemed an entirely "safe" kind of place to Bob and Karen.  There were lots of people there, including little kids who ran everywhere, chasing each other and shouting.  It was brightly lit and the obstacles at each hole were either entertaining or just fun to look at.  And so it was, because it seemed so regulated, that when the young couple asked if they could "have some private time" away from their parents, meaning that there was a group of players between the kids and the parents, that seemed like a reasonable request to grant.

The thing is, that gave the adults some "private time" together too.  And that meant that they got to know each other a little better under conditions that were, relatively speaking, a little intimate.

Karen had never had a golf club in her hands in her life.  The first hole was an easy one.  From the tee, the putter was supposed to hit the ball fifteen feet to an angled board, that led to another angled board, which led to a third angled board, where the ball was, in theory, supposed to bounce toward the hole.  The kids had gone first and Karen had watched as Amanda hit the ball too softly, barely making it to the first board.  Jack had hit the ball harder, and done better.   After letting a foursome go between them, it was then Karen's turn to give it a shot.

She didn't want to end up like Amanda had, stuck in the U shaped obstacle.  Her swing would have made Arnold Palmer proud.  The ball ended up two holes away.

Once apologies had been made, and her ball retrieved, Bob stood behind her and put his arms around her, his hands on hers, to help show her how to regulate her swing.  Basically, he hugged her.  His front was pressed firmly to her back, and his arms enfolded her.  His chin was on her shoulder.  They were almost cheek to cheek.

It felt good.  It felt good to both of them.

Some of what was going on, here was unconscious.  The hug was intentional, of course, but the duration, and the way his body rubbed against hers, was not.  Neither was the way in which her body pressed back into his embrace. 

Their body temperature raised that degree again.  Blood flow changed.  Hormones were released. Emotions surged.

"Like that," said Bob, helping her swing.

"Oh. Okay," she said.  "Yes, that's much better."

It was a little thing, in the great scheme of things.  But, like a pebble that rolls from the top of a mountain, which has the potential to start a landslide, it had larger consequences than either of them then realized.  That little thing had far reaching effects.

One was that, while it was happening, Karen didn't think of it as "inappropriate touching" at all.  She understood he was only trying to help her.  After it was over, her subconscious mind reflected on the fact that, while she barely knew this man, his touch was not only acceptable ... but welcome.  For Bob, his thought processes were much more conscious.  His intent was to simply help her learn how to stroke the ball.  But having her in his arms turned into something else almost instantly. Both had been doing without this kind of intimacy in their lives for far too long and, at least on a subconscious level, both craved having it.

Another was that their children saw it happen.  They'd been completely absorbed in each other since getting away from their parents.  The car ride to Versailles had been interesting, in that they got to sit more or less side by side in the back seat.  But they couldn't talk privately there, with their parents sitting right in front of them, even though their parents had seemed to be absorbed in each other, talking to each other continually.  The game was okay, even fun, but chatting with each other was the main agenda of the night.  They'd heard the uproar when Karen's ball had zinged past several startled golfers, but hadn't known what caused it.  At that precise moment, they'd been tentatively talking about the good night kiss after their first date.  Jack had asked Amanda what she thought of it.  In her literal way she had said how little it had been like what she hoped it would be.  He'd been a little stung.  But then she'd gone on to analyze the ways in which she thought what they had done was different from what their parents had done.  That conversation had distracted them from seeing Bob retrieve Karen's ball. 

When Jack heard his mother's voice saying, "I'm so sorry!" he had looked around to see what the fuss was about, and Amanda had looked with him.  What they saw was Amanda's father standing behind Jack's mother, with his arms around her, helping her putt.  It looked like a pretty intimate embrace to the two callow youths.  To them, it appeared to mean that Bob "liked" Karen, in the sense that young people use that word these days.

"I think your dad likes my mom," said Jack, putting what they were both thinking into words.

"Yeah," she said, her voice sounding peculiar.  Jack picked up on that sound in her voice.

"Is that okay?"

Mandy turned to look at him.

"Sure. Why not?  I like you.  Why shouldn't he like her?"

To her it was that simple.  The fact that she felt funny when seeing her father hugging Jack's mother didn't bother her.  It was just ... interesting.  It was a new way of seeing her father.

"Oh," said Jack.  "Yeah."  His heart was thumping.  "You like me?"

"Of course I like you.  I'm out on a date with you, aren't I?"

"Sure," he said.  "Sorry.  I guess I'm a little nervous."

"Why?" asked Amanda.

"I don't know," he said, flushing.  "I guess I'm glad you like me.  I was worried you might not."

"Well, I do," said Amanda.

"Why does that make me feel so funny?" he wondered aloud.

"My dad explained that to me," she said, thinking literally. "It has to do with hormones."

"We studied that in health class," he said.

"It's nothing to worry about," she said.  "All it means is that we want to procreate."

"What?"  He was obviously shaken by her straightforwardness.  She saw that.

"I mean it's natural.  I don't want to procreate or anything.  But it's natural to feel that way.  It's why he doesn't want me to date yet.  Or why he insisted that they chaperone us.  He's worried that I will want to procreate if I get alone with a boy."

"Oh. Yeah.  My mom is the same way," he said.

"Parents are so stupid sometimes," said Amanda.

"I don't think my mom is stupid," said Jack.

"I don't mean all the time," she said.  "Just sometimes.  Like when they worry that you and I will want to have sex.  You don't want to have sex, do you?"

"No!" he said, quickly.  It was a lie.  He wanted desperately to have sex.  He just had no idea of how to go about that.  "Not right now, anyway," he added.

"I mean I know I'll have sex some day," she said.  "But not until I'm ready."

"Sure," he said.

"Hey!" came the voice of a man in the group behind them.  "Are you going to play golf or talk all night?"

"Sorry," said Jack, being polite like he'd been taught to be.

They tried to hurry.  In the end they just picked up their balls and went to the next hole, to get away from the people behind them.

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