I really hated the sound of that alarm clock, that piercing, irritating repeated beeping. After a second or two I slowly started realizing that it was not just another day, it was the day.
I felt the movement in the bed as she reached for the clock and then the beeping stopped allowing me to slip back towards tranquillity again.
"Love you," I whispered.
"Excuse me, you were saying?" she said sarcastically.
"You heard me," I said a little louder yet trying not to strain my tired voice.
"I didn't say I didn't fucking hear you, I asked you what you said.
Repeat it, louder. And try opening your eyes this time."
After a moment of contemplating the situation I forced myself to make an effort and sat up, looking at her. Everything about her was beautiful even in the morning. The way that curly almost black hair just touched her shoulders. The casual pose she held sitting on the edge of the bed in that worn Lakers T-shirt. I took her hand and pulled her a little closer admiring her mischievous smile. She wanted to say something but she waited for me to speak first. I kissed her hand repeatedly and looking into her dark brown eyes I said slowly overenunciating each word:
Her smile got wider as she replied.
"You better. Don't you dare flake on me now."
She lay down beside me and kissed me gently wrapping her arms around me.
I slid my hands inside her T-shirt running them up and down her back and
"We really don't have time for this."
"Absolutely not. How about the shower?"
And the shower it was, taking far too much of the time we did not have.
I stood shaving when she asked from the bedroom:
"Denny's or Jack in the box?"
"Which one is the most romantic?"
"Breakfast in bed!"
"OK, you got me. How about Big Bob's in Burbank?"
"You call Big Bob's romantic?"
"We're not making love there, we're eating."
"It's a drive, I'm hungry. I wanna eat now."
I looked at my reflection in the mirror, undergoing one of those mini crises wondering if it was really me standing there. Was that really what I looked like, who I was? That was my face, my body, and I would spend the rest of my life confined within it. Even though I was quite familiar with my own image, he seemed a little like a stranger. "Well?" she said, and I suddenly snapped back into the present. "Er, is Jack in the box drive-through fine?" "Perfect."
"Perfect," I thought. "Were we perfect together, she and I? Did we have to be perfect together? Was everyone else?" Sometimes she felt like a stranger too. I wondered what that meant, what it implied. Maybe it was because we were not meant to be, maybe it was all wrong and I was just fooling myself. Could it be that I was stupid to even think that the two of us were a good idea in the first place? I had never thought about that before. Not in that way. Not until now.
"You got any more stuff to pack?"
I heard her say it but I did not think about what she was saying. I was questioning the fact that she was even talking to me. Maybe she was saying it to someone else.
"Hey, what are you doing out there? Are you listening to me?"
I could not think of a good answer since I had not thought about what she was saying to begin with. But in my mind I knew that I had to produce an answer, because it was the second time she was asking me...something. Out of obligation I automatically answered: "Yeah, sure."
"Does that mean you're listening to me or that you've got some more stuff you wanna pack, before we leave?
I went in to the bedroom and saw her standing there about to zip up the suitcase and she was as charming as ever. She was certainly no stranger and neither was I. Having cleared that in my mind I felt at ease and I smiled while just watching her. She had obviously taken notice of my rather strange behavior and gave me an inquisitive and somewhat surprised look.
"Are you OK, honey?"
I smiled even wider."
"Never better, sweetcheeks. Never better."
As she pulled out the driveway from the garage she said:
"You know I think I changed my mind."
"Let's go to Big Bob's."
"Fine by me."
"From there we can just swing out on Glendale Freeway."
I was almost startled when she said Glendale Freeway. I was not thinking that we would take the Glendale Freeway when I had pictured this day in my mind. I had thought we would take the Hollywood Freeway. Come to think of it, it was not the most strategic choice, but that did not matter. It still conflicted with my expectations.
"I would prefer we took the Cahuenga Pass."
"Well, I would prefer we didn't voluntarily subject ourselves to a bumper to bumper traffic jam."
She was right about that. On my feet I could not think of a good answer.
The first time I ever saw the San Fernando Valley I was coming over the Cahuenga Pass from Hollywood where I lived at the time. The Valley had seemed so huge to me then. There was always a special feeling about coming over the hill in either direction.
"The Cahuenga Pass is a little special to me."
"OK, we'll go to Big Bob's, we'll order whatever you wanna order and then we'll take the Hollywood fucking Freeway. Are you satisfied?"
"No need to use that patronizing tone on me."
"Don't start on me, man. Don't even start on me."
"What did I say?
"I won't even go there. I'm not gonna hear it so just back off!" I hated fighting with her. I hated seeing her angry because of me. I gently stroke her arm as I asked:
"Are you having second thoughts?"
"About going to Big Bob's? Hell yeah!"
"You know exactly what I'm talking about."
She shrugged and rolled her eyes, conveying that she was not even
interested in answering, which made me give up.
"I hate fighting with you, sweetheart you know that."
"Honestly I don't enjoy it myself."
We remained quiet until she pulled into the parking lot at Big Bob's. After having turned the engine off, she looked at me and I felt that she had laid it on me to break the silence.
"You know what just struck me?"
I enjoyed her eagerness to know what I was going to say. I just looked at her and waited for her to ask me again.
"We never even got engaged." After a split second of thinking she grabbed my hand.
"Will you marry me?"
"I'm supposed to say that."
"I'm not gonna ask you again!"
"Damn right I'll marry you!"
"I think that qualifies for being properly engaged. Now, let's have breakfast, so we can get our asses to Vegas."