She had waited impatiently all week for Friday night to come along. She was dressed in comfortable, faded jeans and her favorite pair of well-worn boots. In her favorite white lace blouse, Carla was ready for girl’s night out. She wore silver and turquoise around her neck, with matching earrings swaying from underneath her long auburn curls. She didn’t like to wear much make up, just enough to accent her large, deep brown eyes.
Carla carefully checked her appearance once more in the vintage, full-length mirror that had belonged to her mother. She loved that old mirror, with its gold leaf edging and mahogany frame. It was one of the few things left to her when her mother passed away many years ago.
Giving herself a good to go nod, she rushed through the small house where she lived alone with her black cocker spaniel. He was fast asleep, curled up on the worn, comfy couch, full from the supper he had just finished. She stopped to kiss the top of his soft head and tell him to be a good boy. At the front door, she grabbed her warmest coat from the wooden rack, tucked her small leather clutch under her arm and headed out the door with keys in hand.
I had decided to drive over that Friday night to spend some time with my sister and our aunt. They were going out to the local sports bar to see one of their favorite bands. My sister had insisted I join them, telling me the band was awesome. After I got a motel room at one of the two places in town, I had a bite to eat at a place I noticed near the motel. I headed over to the club after eating and I remember thinking to myself that the place looked sort of run down. The paint was worn and the signs were faded.
I paid my cover charge at the small counter by the door, walked to the bar, grabbed a beer and found a table. I was there pretty early; I could see only about ten people mingling around and playing pool. An older fella came over and introduced himself as Bob. He identified himself as the host at the club. We talked a while and I thought he seemed like a nice old man.
Carla was early again, the first of the long time friends to arrive for the weekly get together at the local, small town sports bar. She loved this place, with the live band every Friday night, a few well-used pool tables off to one side and softly lit dance floor. Girl’s night out had started with some old friends a couple of months ago and was now something she looked forward to with enthusiasm.
She had been coming here for almost a year now, since her divorce last year, which she considered one of the smartest things she had ever done. After being married for twenty years to a man who thought he needed to control everything she did, Carla enjoyed the freedom of being single.
Upon entering, she paid her five-dollar cover charge while making friendly small talk with the girl selling the tickets. Most nights, she knew everyone in the club, most were regulars. Being in a small town, it was often the same group of people, made up of young, old, singles and couples.
After getting her ticket, she weaved her way around the tables and over to the bar to grab a cold beer. Scanning the faces of the few folks there, she saw him on her way across the floor. He was alone at a table, with Bob, the host, standing nearby chatting. He was dressed in brand new blue jeans, white pressed shirt and black felt cowboy hat. She always noticed the cowboy hats, though she wasn’t really sure why. Maybe it was just the fact that she had grown up in Texas.
I was sitting there, enjoying my cold beer and the good music and talking to Bob, when I saw her come in. Couldn’t help but see her with that hair. It was to her waist, dark auburn and wavy. I noticed her jeans were faded, like a comfortable old pair. Her boots were a little worn too, like she wears them while she works. She had a natural beauty that flowed from her in a way a country fella can’t explain.
Avoiding eye contact with him, she got her beer and headed for her favorite seat, a tall stool at the edge of the dance floor. She was almost there, ready to sit and enjoy that first drink of ice-cold beer, when she hears the voice from the direction of the cowboy. It was Bob, calling out to her.
I watched her walk over to the bar and get a beer. I thought it was kinda funny that she drank beer and not wine coolers like other women. She walked around to the side of the dance floor and headed toward the last stool. I think every head in the place turned when she walked by. Bob noticed how I was watching her and he asked, “Would you like to meet her?” I answered, “Of course!”
“Carla,” Bob says, “come over here, there’s someone I want you to meet.” She smiled at Bob and nodded ever so slightly to let him know she had heard. Draping her coat over the back of her seat and putting her clutch deep into the oversized pocket, she headed to the cowboy.
She wasn’t thrilled about meeting anyone tonight. She wanted to have a stress free night with the girls. She didn’t feel like dealing with another fake, line-tossing horndog. Here we go again, she thinks to herself, but not this time! I can’t let it happen again! Her heart had been broken too many times already. Determined to meet him and walk away after a few minutes of simple conversation, she takes a deep breath and shakes his calloused hand. That dreaded eye contact she had avoided so well earlier is finally made.
Those amazing blue eyes mesmerized her. He had a kind, gentle look about him that was apparent to all who looked at him. She instantly forgot her plans to walk away as quickly as possible. All she could was stare into those eyes and smile.
We talked for hours. She was funny, honest and so full of life. We laughed and carried on like we had known each other for years. I remember thinking to myself, ‘She’s the one.’ I couldn’t tell her though; it would seem too much like a pick up line. I didn’t tell her she was beautiful. I didn’t tell her she was amazing. I was afraid any kind of compliment would have sounded bogus. I just enjoyed her. I enjoyed her laugh, her voice, her eyes and that hair. I enjoyed how she acted silly when she got a bit tipsy.
Her girlfriends came in one by one, each noticing her there, talking to Evan. They came over to meet him, making comments about how handsome he was and how he seemed so nice. Many beers and several hours later, they were still talking and laughing, holding hands and feeling as if they had known each other for years.
He wasn’t like the others; he was older, more mature. At 45, Carla was no spring chicken, but was fortunate to look years younger. The younger men she had dated since her divorce were only after one thing, and that had gotten old long ago. But he was different. She could tell he was genuine and down to earth. He had an honesty about him that was good and wholesome. He didn’t have to try to impress her; it just came naturally.
She didn’t join her friends that night for their night out. She would walk over and talk a few minutes every now and then, but each time found herself going back to Evan. She had no desire to pull herself away from him.
I had never had such a wonderful time. I didn’t want to let her go, but I knew I would have to. All too soon it was time to go. “Last call,” the bartender said. I didn’t intend to ask her to spend the night with me; I’m not that kind of man. I started to say good night, but all I could say was, “It’s time to go.” I was at a complete loss for words when she took my hand and said, “Okay.
She never expected to hear from him again. She hoped he wasn’t like the others, but had to assume that he was. She knew not to get her hopes up. She knew not to wait for his call.
Saturday at home was just a lazy day; most of it spent reading a book. When her cell phone rang at around 3:00 that afternoon, and the display told her Evan was calling, she was genuinely surprised. “I just wanted to say hello,” he said. That ‘hello’ turned into an hour-long conversation.