According to his list, Lou had precisely four chores to accomplish before noon:
- French baguette at his favourite bakery
- Fresh salad greens and cherry tomatoes (at one of two possible grocers, depending on how fresh things looked)
- Balsamic vinegar
- (2) ¾ inch thick New York strip loins from his favourite butcher
- (6) Chocolate truffles
He systematically ticked off each item as he accomplished them, carefully following the order on the list so he wouldn't have to back-track. This was very important to Lou. He hated back-tracking and always planned his car routes ahead of time to save both time and gas.
He even planned the order of shopping at the public market so that he would only have to make one looping jaunt through the colourful stalls, ending with the Chocolatier for the truffles. This served two purposes: one, they wouldn't get crushed and melted; two, the chocolate shop was near the exit door closest to the parking lot. He couldn't see the point of spending hours aimlessly browsing. In and out. That was his motto.
As planned, he was home by 11:55 a.m.
He had a lovely evening planned with Regina. He'd told her to come at 7:30. They'd relax, have a glass of wine and appetizers while he was grilling the steaks and be sitting down for dinner by 8. That would leave plenty of time to finish and still get to the late movie.
Everything would go like clockwork. A perfect evening.
Saturdays. Regina loved Saturdays -- no alarm clocks; sleeping in, padding around barefoot and in pjs 'til noon. If only everyday were a Saturday.
Except today, she had a few things to do before going to Lou's for dinner. What were they again?
She let a kaleidoscope of images flash through her brain.
Oh, right! She had it now: Pick up the poster she'd had framed (the store had called her three times already saying it was ready – the last time asking if she'd rather have it delivered); return the three overdue library books (she'd gotten several email reminders and the fine was now up to around twenty bucks, but she could only find two books); and call Lydia to wish her a belated happy birthday.
No problem. She didn't have to be at Lou's until 7:30. Or was it 8? Never mind. It was supposed to be a casual dinner, then out for a movie. A few minutes either way wouldn't matter.
. . .
She got to the framing store around one-ish. The clerk was busy, so she did a bit of browsing while she waited for him. She ended up buying another poster and a couple of antique-looking frames that were on sale. She could use them as gifts or keep them for herself. She'd decide later.
Around the corner, she stopped at her favourite coffee shop. It was a small independent. Not too many of them around these days -- she liked the idea of supporting the little guy. Besides, it was homey and warm, full of friendly faces and people who took the time to say hello and ask about her day – so unlike the brand name store across the street full of upwardly mobile and trendy hipsters.
Next stop, the library. Rats! She'd forgotten the books. She really did need to return them today, so she made a u-turn mid-block and headed home.
She entered her apartment just as the answering machine was kicking in. It was Lydia. She picked up just in the nick of time as Lydia was saying, "So, give me a call when you have . . ."
What good luck. They had a nice, gossipy, catch-up-on-everything kind of talk before Regina said, "Well, I really have to go or I'll be late for dinner with Lou" which started another long explanation and discussion about Lou, whom she'd never mentioned to Lydia before. (How had she forgotten?)
At 5:30, she was racing up the stairs of the library. They closed at six. The clerk at the return counter gave her a hard time about the missing third book. He insisted that she'd "lost" it, so would have to pay the full cost of replacement – sixty-five dollars. After much pleading and speaking to his supervisor, they finally relented and gave her until Monday closing to find the missing book.
By the time she got home, it was almost 6:45. She'd never be able to shower, blow dry her long hair, do her nails, dress and be cross-town at Lou's by 8.
She'd better call and let him know she'd be a little late.
More Sunday Scribblings
The Dilemma of Choices
4 hours ago