Sitting at my desk in the offices of Barker Financial, I glanced at the calendar and noticed that it was a little more than two months until Valentine’s Day. I wasn’t sure why I cared. So far, I had no date for the festivities, only a maybe invitation to an upscale party in Santa Monica. My friend Pat said she got one every year and if she received one this year, she’d take me along as her plus one. Not a date, but at least I wouldn’t be twiddling my thumbs on the most romantic night of the year.
It had been quite a while since I’d had a date for Valentine’s. It’s not that I’m gross or anything. My mother tells me I’m too picky when it comes to men. Bless her heart. Ever since I came out to my parents, she’s been worried that because I don’t date frequently, I’ll become a lonely old bachelor. Even my protest that I’m only twenty-nine doesn’t seem to instill her with hope that I might someday meet someone who’ll make an honest man of me.
My cell chimed and Pat’s number lit up the screen. “Hi, Pat, how’s it going?”
“Good, hon, just thought I’d let you know that I’m going on a seminar the company’s paying for, so I won’t be around Valentine’s Day. The convention starts February twelfth until the fifteenth. I know it’s a long way off yet, but just thought I’d give you a heads-up. Bummer, huh?”
“Yeah,” I said, immediately thinking that I would be twiddling my thumbs that night after all.
“But here’s the thing,” Pat continued. “I was over at Jack and Bob’s last night and I asked them to invite you to the party, so if you don’t mind going on your own…or if you’d like to bring a friend…they do include a plus one.”
“That’s nice of you, Pat, but I don’t really know Jack and Bob.”
“You met them once when we were out to dinner. They stopped by our table. You can’t really miss them. They, uh…well, they take up a lot of space.”
I chuckled. “Oh yes, I think I remember them.”
“Anyway, I gave them your name and address and they said they’d put you on the list, so watch out for the invitation. If you go, I know you’ll have fun.”
“Thanks, Pat. We should have a drink later in the week if you’re free.” Pat works for a high-powered real estate company and seems to work a seventeen-hour day most weeks.
“I’ll call you. Okay, hon, I have to go. See you soon.”
“Bye, Pat.” I turned off my phone and sat back in my chair. Okay, Valentine’s might not be a total bust after all. I might even meet someone there. Always the hopeful romantic, that’s me. Someone I could be interested in for more than a couple of dates. Stranger things have happened…and Mom would be pleased.
* * * *
The invitation Pat had mentioned, and that I’d been sort of hoping would show up in the mail, finally arrived. I hadn’t exactly been waiting for it with bated breath, because I had a feeling Jack and Bob Herman might see my name on the list, think, who the heck is this? and scratch it off right away. However, there it was, and as I opened the envelope, I felt a definite tingle of excitement that the evening might be a lot of fun. The invitation was on fancy pink stationary and printed to look like handwriting.
Mr. Brandon Malloy is cordially invited to Jack and Bob Herman’s humble abode for the party of the year to celebrate Valentine’s Day! Date February 13th, because who wants to party on a Sunday? You may bring a plus-one—and one only. We know some of you say you have more friends than you can count, but sorry, you’ll just have to break a few hearts…or perhaps have rocks thrown at your head. We don’t know the kind of company you keep, now do we?
I wrinkled my nose at the attempted humor.
9 p.m. is the allotted hour for you to arrive—not a minute sooner. When we say 9 p.m., we mean 9 p.m. Oh, and wear something mysterious, if not downright ghoulish. The theme for the party is My Bloody Cupid. Don’t let the side down by wearing jeans and T-shirts, whether or not they are covered in make-believe blood. Be adventurous, be creative, but don’t be early. The doors don’t open until 9 p.m. on the dot—and close again at 9.10 p.m. You snooze, you lose, suckers!
By humble abode of course we mean our palatial home located at
999 Via Venable, Santa Monica, California.
R.S.V.P. Regrets only.
Jack and Bob