Double Dating With The Parents - Version Bravo
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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.
she said, approaching him.
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
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."
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,"
"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
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
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.
married," said Bob. He rarely trotted out the story of his dead wife.
That was private.
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
"So you're a single
parent too?" asked Bob.
"Something else we
have in common."
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
"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?"
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.
said. "A double date, where we can teach them the dos and don'ts of
"I like that,"
"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
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
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.
said Bob, and unzipped the case he'd brought with him, pulling his own ball
ringer," said Karen. "You brought us suckers here so you could
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."
"Cad? Who uses that word these days?"
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
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?"
people do that," said Jack.
"Why don't we all
shake hands," suggested Bob.
"Dad!" wailed Amanda, obviously embarrassed.
Bob and Karen exchanged
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
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
"I had a good time
tonight," he said, softly.
"Me too," she
"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.
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."
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.
said, stepping backwards toward her door. She could hear Jack unlocking it.
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
fun," said Amanda as Bob started the car moving.
"It could have been
better, though," said Amanda.
"Well, you guys
were right there, all the time. We didn't have any privacy at all."
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
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
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
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
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
said Bob, helping her swing.
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
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.
said, her voice sounding peculiar. Jack picked up on that sound in her voice.
Mandy turned to look at
"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.
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?"
said. "Sorry. I guess I'm a little nervous."
know," he said, flushing. "I guess I'm glad you like me. I was
worried you might not."
"Well, I do,"
"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
"We studied that in
health class," he said.
"It's nothing to
worry about," she said. "All it means is that we want to
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."
the voice of a man in the group behind them. "Are you going to play golf
or talk all night?"
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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