The woman rushed over to Joe’s booth. “You must be Joe. I’m Alice,” She threw her handbag down on the seat across from him and slide into the booth.
“You’re an hour late,” Joe said, trying to hold his anger in check.
Her face leaned toward him. “You bragging or complaining?” she whispered, then she gave him a wink.
“Are you always this late?”
“Well, I’m here now. And I’m famished.” She grabbed the menu from its slot and opened it.
Joe had been on plenty of dates but none like this. Why had he gone along with his sister’s suggestion that he meet Alice? “You’re going to love her,” Terri insisted.
Right, Joe thought.
The waitress came over. “Would you like to order? Now?”
“I’m sorry but she was late.”
Alice stepped into the discussion. “Don’t apologize to her.” She looked up at the waitress. “We’re going to need some time. Just bring me a glass of ice tea. Unsweetened. I like to sweeten my own tea.”
The waitress walked away with a “I’ve never” look on her face.
Alice continued with Joe. “You never did tell me if you were bragging or complaining. Which is it?”
Joe had had enough. Sister or no sister he was not about to continue with this crazy woman. He slipped his legs out of the booth and went to stand up.
Alice grabbed his arm. “Aw, c’mon. Sit back down, Joe. Otherwise you are going to miss the show.”
Joe checked himself and slid his legs back under the table. “The show?”
“Yeah, the show.” And she laughed. Then she asked, “Are you bragging or complaining?”
“Okay. I’ll go along. I’m bragging.”
“Well, good for you, Joe. If you had been complaining, I would be gone.”
“Just who are you?” Joe asked.
“The question is who are you,” Alice said, with a confidence that surprised Joe.
The waitress brought Alice’s tea. Alice took a sip and smiled. “Thank you,” she said pleasantly. “Now let’s order.” She opened the menu and said, “Burger and fries. Burger with all the trimmings. And fry the onions .” She leaned over toward Joe. “So my breath don’t stink.” Then back to the waitress. “Think you can handle that, dearie?”
“Yes,” the waitress said.
“Yes, ma’am,” Alice corrected her.
The waitress turned to take Joe’s order.
Alice called her back. “Yes, ma’am,” she insisted.
The waitress gave in. “Yes, ma’am.”
“That’s better,” Alice said, satisfied. She made one of those “pleased with herself” smiles.
“I’ll have the same,” Joe ordered. “And another coke.”
“Yes, sir,” she said, then she was off to the kitchen for the order.
Joe turned his attention back to Alice. “Why were you so late?”
“I was waiting on the rapture but it didn’t come. So I decided maybe it would be good to go on this blind date after all.”
“I almost left. Another five minutes and–”
“Naw, you weren’t going to leave. I knew that.”
“What makes you so cock-eyed sure of yourself?”
“Oh, Jesus told me that I had to meet you. And He was right. ‘Course He usually is.”
Joe wasn’t sure where this was going but he knew one thing. He didn’t like it. “What do you mean?”
“You know you’ve got some repentin’ to do.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
She laughed. “I’m talking Jesus here. And your soul. It’s eternity you’re facing and you are not ready.”
“That’s right. Jesus. He’s the Man. And I’m here to make sure you get right with Him.”
“Okay, I’m out of here.” Joe stood up. He reached for his wallet and took out a ten and a twenty. “Pay the bill.”
“I am not taking your money. And I don’t think you’re going anywhere. It’s raining dogs and cats out there.”
Joe looked out the window of the restaurant. His jaw dropped. She was right. When had that happened? Joe went back into his seat. He looked dejected.
“Don’t take it so bad,” Alice said. “You’re not the apple of my eye either. It’s just that Terri asked me to go on this blind date we’re having. And you’re not exactly cooperating.”
Joe gave the comment some thought, then said, “You’re right.” For the first time in the evening, he sized up Alice and compared the two of them. He was lanky like the old rail splitter. Alice was short and a little bit on the plumpster side of things. He was bald. She had thick auburn hair. And her eyes twinkled.
The food came. As Joe took long slow bites, Alice consumed her food with gusto. If there was such a thing as three seconds flat, that would have been the amount of time it took Alice to down her food. Then she reached over and took his fries, dumped ketchup on them and sent them off to Never Never Land to join their companions. And she gabbed on between gulps.
Listening to Alice gab, Joe realized he kind of liked it. At least, the date was interesting. And he didn’t have to work the way he had for other dates.
Finally, she said, “You know, I can show you a good time. Not like those stuck-ups you’ve been dating.”
Joe nodded his agreement.
She continued, “First, we go to church and pray.”
“Go to church?”
“Sure thing. I want to see if Jesus approves.”
Joe paid the bill and they headed to the parking lot.
Alice took out her keys. “Let’s go in my car. You can come back for yours later.”
The rain had stopped and everything smelled fresh.
She opened the passenger door in a white Cadillac. Then she went around and took the driver seat. As they moved through the streets, Alice continued her gabfest.
“You know why Eve ate the apple?”
Before Joe could say his no, Alice went on, “My preacher said it was birth control.”
“Birth control?” Joe couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Never in his life would he have believed he’d be in a discussion about Adam and Eve and birth control at the same time. In his head, he had begun to hear Jefferson Airplane and “White Rabbit”. “One pill makes you larger, one pill makes you small.” He was absolutely sure she was that Alice.
“Pastor Gideon says Eve had a pile of kids while they were in the Garden of Eve. As soon as one popped out, her belly grew again. It was from that bunch that Cain and Seth got their wives. She was tired and wanted a break. She kept hinting that Adam might try going to a Sexaholics Anonymous meeting. But he kept saying, ‘I love you so much, Hon.’ She took one bite of that apple and wallah, it was more effective than a condom. And the pill. Together. Well, you remember what God told Adam and Eve.”
Joe couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Was there no stopping this woman? “No. I don’t.”
“He told them to be fruitful and multiply. And here Eve was trying to stop the multiplying part. That’s what got them kicked out of the Garden.”
With that, Joe couldn’t contain himself. He started laughing and he kept laughing a side splitting laughter until they reached her church, The Church of the Most High God and His Son, the Carpenter Jesus. Instead of a cross on the roof, the small white building had an apron.
Alice pulled into the empty parking lot and stopped the car.
Joe said, “I think I just peed my pants.”
“It’d be a darn shame if you didn’t.”
Joe looked down at his pants. Yep, they were wet.
“Well, it’s time. Let’s go in and see what Jesus thinks.”
Jesus must have approved. Alice and Joe have been together since that blind date some thirty-five years before.