Wendell burst through the entrance of his parent’s home in excitement. His Mother Gaby Franks looked up from the kitchen in surprise followed by a feeling of alarm. She quickly washed the flour off her hands and dried them on her apron then moved quickly to the front room to greet her son. She’d interpreted his burst as a precursor to some dread news, that is until she saw his face. The burst was excitement and she ran to hug him.
“You got the job!” She hugged her son then holding him at arm’s length she studied his face. This was so unlike Wendell. His personality from childhood shrugged off good news or bad and internalized that news. Usually his Mom who’d studied her son from babyhood could read him like a book and would gently draw news out of him to share with the rest of the family. She’d often wondered where this trait had come down from in the genetic pool. His Dad Richie was quiet, but quite sociable and both had been concerned about Wendell’s lack of social skills as he grew up. This exuberance was quite out of character. A Mother’s sixth sense kicked in and she began to draw out the details of the day one minute at a time processing each in a quest for answers.
Gabi’s questioning caused Wendell to review what had happened himself and he noticed the glint in his Mom’s eye when encouragement from Anita Prichard was mentioned. He quickly retreated to his old self and excused himself heading for his room with Mom in hot pursuit. The questioning continued much to his discomfort.
“She sounds like a nice girl. “Gabi purred as she playfully ruffled his hair, and Wendell stepped back trying to look nonchalant. He was beginning to feel very uncomfortable and wanted a way of escape
“She’s OK I suppose!” He picked up a computer journal and pretended to find something interesting.
“What was her name?”
“Can’t quite remember but I think her name was Anita.”
Gabi chuckled and turned to go back to the kitchen. “Your Dad will be a bit late home from work this evening, so supper will be at 7pm tonight. You have lots of time to freshen up and do your usual journal tour. I know your Dad will be happy at the good news you have a job at last, and with an excellent company.”
Wendell heard his father’s car pull into the garage outside the kitchen sometime later and there were muffled voices following soon after with his Mom’s call for him to come downstairs to eat. Just as they were settling down at the table the phone rang, and Gabi moved to the hallway to answer it.
She turned to face the table and bowed to Wendell, “Anita would like to speak to you Wendell!”
Wendell’s face turned red as he moved slowly to take the phone from his Mom. Anita was businesslike as she returned his greeting. She gave him the address of a Thai Restaurant in one of the suburbs just around the corner from her apartment and asked if he’d be happy with her choice or whether he had another suggestion. She’d meet him there at 6.30pm after her work was over and she had a chance to dash home and freshen up. In case something came up that he couldn’t make it she gave him her cell phone number.
Wendell shook his head as he put the hallway phone down. Why hadn’t he given his cell number to her. His parents would give him no end of teasing now, he moved back to the table with eyes averted waiting for the onslaught.
However, his parents said nothing for a while. Then his Dad expressed his joy over his son’s fortune landing such a good job and Wendell slowly relaxed as the usual table banter followed.
Next day Wendell was at work early and Anita welcomed and directed him to the department where he was to meet Jim Maddock who oversaw his assigned IT cell. They were working on a project for a client in the manufacturing industry introducing robots into a production line. Wendell was overjoyed as he sat silently with the group as Jim described the project in broad terms. He was assigned to one of the most senior members of the team as an understudy. He was to observe and learn. They told him it would be six months before they’d try him out with a component of the project by himself, so he was there to observe learn and ask questions in their daily cell meetings. He nodded enthusiastically as each phase of the project was outlined.
At lunchtime in the company cafeteria he looked for Anita to confirm the evening date, but she was not there so he phoned her confirming their date that evening and giving her his own cell phone number. Next time he’d make sure his Mom was not there to answer the home phone. He was still feeling shy about this change in his personality and wanted to be private about it.
The previous evening Anita was digging into her keepsakes to follow an impression that had been in the back of her mind since sighting Wendell Franks at the interview. The name had no memory attached to it, but the face was vaguely familiar. She pulled out all her old Elementary to High School yearbooks and studied them carefully. She searched for the surname Franks. Nothing in Elementary but as she waded through her High School yearbooks she came across the name. Turning to the pictures she searched carefully and then found the picture with name Wendell Franks underneath. Then the memories came back crystal clear. It was that handsome dorky footballer every girl at school was gaga over but had his head in books all the time. Even the cutest girl in class had tried her techniques on him but he didn’t even know she existed. Anita had been a quiet student but had fallen under his spell at that time too, but never imagined he’d be interested in her if Cindy the star of the class couldn’t get to first base with him. Anita smiled, wouldn’t Cindy be jealous when Anita phoned to tell her she had a date with the dorky footballer. On second thoughts, she wouldn’t phone Cindy, she was always taking over other girls dates and may weasel in now. Anita was curious to know what kind of guy this was, he was obviously smart and maybe not so dorky now if he’d ask her out on a date. She decided to take her yearbook with her to the date next evening.
Wendell had been turning over his good fortune as he studied himself in the mirror on date night. He remembered his surprise when he confessed to his Mom before taking off for work that he had a date that night. Mom had said nothing but had looked very pleased. His Dad had been off to work before Wendell came down for breakfast so would not know until next day. On second thought he knew his Mom, she’d be on the phone to Dad as soon as he was out of sight.
As he came downstairs his Mom asked him to wait, then from a hallway cupboard produced a beautiful arrangement of flowers, not too bulky but very tastefully arranged.
“Women like men who show appreciation and respect for them on dates and what better way to show this than by flowers. I guess you wouldn’t understand that yet!” She straightened his jacket and handed him the flowers pushing him out the door playfully.
“Make sure you place them carefully in the car so they don’t spoil,” she said from the doorway waving him off.
At first Wendell felt foolish walking into the restaurant with flowers looking around hopefully until he found her sitting in one of the private booths. That is until he saw the radiant look on Anita’s face as she saw the flowers. She accepted them gracefully and stared at them for a while smelling them appreciatively.
“They’re beautiful, that’s the last thing I expected from a dorky footballer!” Anita handed the flowers to the Thai waitress hovering nearby and she ran to find something to put the flowers in for their table. Then Anita turned softly to look at Wendell who was looking surprised at being called a dorky footballer.
“Here, I bought something for you to look at.” Anita recovered the yearbook from the seat beside her and opened to the page she’d bookmarked. She pointed to the picture of Wendell. “Recognize this footballer, the one all the girls had a crush on but had his head buried in books all the time?”
Wendell flushed with embarrassment. “I guess I was that dork. My Mom says I have no social skills.” He chuckled as he remembered those high school y ears.
Anita pointed to the beautiful flowers back on the table. “On a scale of one to ten, I’d give you a 10 top grade for social skills.”
Wendell relaxed, this was a more wonderful experience than he’d imagined it could be.
“Are you in this yearbook, I want to see your picture.”
Anita turned to the other bookmark and pointed to her picture.
“You were real pretty then too!” He said it with conviction and Anita glowed at being called pretty.
“I changed my mind, I give you a fifteen out of ten for social skills.”
Then Anita’s manner changed. “If I was that pretty then why didn’t you ask me out? I wanted you to ask but you didn’t even want to look at me.”
Wendell sat up in alarm. What had he done to spoil the atmosphere? He stammered his apologies.
But Anita had been playing with him and broke into fits of laughter that caught the attention of those at the next table who laughed too and waved.
“Oh Wendall, I was just having fun. It was high school, we’ve all moved on from those days. I was a quiet person who didn’t mix well with the in crowd and its only since beginning work I’ve discovered people can be fun. You are fun to be with too. I would never have imagined it, but you are. Please don’t take me seriously.”
‘I didn’t take you seriously at all.” Wendell lied to save face.
At that moment the waitress appeared to take their orders.
They chatted animatedly about all kind of topics and Wendell became more and more determined to make this a relationship as the night wore on. Finally, he plucked up courage.
Anita would you be interested….?
Yes!” Anita said as she finished her meal and sat back with a sigh of contentment. “Yes, I would!”
Wendell sat up in surprise, what are you saying yes to?”
“You were asking me if I’d be interested in hanging out with you some other time?” Anita was leading him in that direction in case he had another thought in mind.
Wendell was taken aback. “Well actually I had a slightly different question.”
“Oh?” Anita looked disappointed.
“I was wondering if you’d consider being my girlfriend, we could hang out too? Wendell was becoming flustered and not sure what he should say.
“Oh, I’d love to,” said Anita happily. “I thought I’d have to work on you a lot more to have you ask me that.”
Wendell walked Anita to her apartment after a pleasant evening together.
“I have to get some homework done for the office so will see you at work tomorrow, make sure you visit my desk to say hello before rushing down to your department, and that will be every morning thank you. She planted a quick kiss on his check and rushed up the stairs to her apartment singing.
“Oh, I almost forgot, thank your Mom for the flowers,” she called over her shoulder. “That was a nice touch!”
I’ve got a lot to learn about women Wendell thought to himself as he sped home to tell his folk the good news.
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