“Truth or dare?”
I look over the cocktail menu at my date. Gareth sits across the table from me, thick fingers wrapped around his glass of beer, thin lips curled into an unsettling smirk. His pinstriped red fedora and matching tie are at odds with his black cargo shorts, fanny pack, and hiking boots. The entire ensemble makes me feel embarrassed by association.
“Are you serious?” I don’t quite manage to keep the incredulity out of my tone. He frowns.
“Of course I’m serious,” he replies, scratching his neckbeard-clad chin with a sandpapery rasping noise. “What better way is there to get to know one another?”
“Why not just tell me about yourself? Or is there anything you’d like to know about me?”
He scoffs loudly, dismissively. “Where’s the fun in that?”
I shrug. “I don’t know, immediate gratification?”
“Oh, I despise immediate gratification. The thrill of the chase is what life is all about, after all.” He winks at me. I hide my face in the cocktail menu without comment.
After a few moments of silence, he clears his throat. “See anything you like?”
“Yes, actually. I was thinking of getting a dry martini.”
He raises one bushy, dandruff-flecked eyebrow at me and flags down a waiter.
“Another Guinness for me, please, and a lemon drop for the lady.”
The waiter nods and rushes off.
“Why did you do that?” I’m almost too startled at his rudeness to be upset. Almost.
He gives me a condescending smile. “Trust me, you’ll like it better.” I feel his foot brush against mine. I hook my feet behind the front legs of my chair. “Martinis don’t suit beautiful, delicate women such as yourself.”
“I’m pretty sure I’m capable of making decisions on my own, thanks.” My tone seems to irritate him. Scowling, he finishes his beer in one quaff, delicately licking the resulting froth from his moustache. When this doesn’t satisfy him, he dabs at the affected area with his napkin.
Neither of us speak for a minute or two. I’m about to get up and leave when the waiter brings our drinks. He smiles at us expectantly.
“Is there anything I can—“
“That will be all for now,” Gareth snaps without even glancing in the waiter’s direction. His eyes remain locked on me, as though trying to stare me down.
“Alright,” the waiter replies with forced cheer, loading the empty beer glass onto his tray. “Let me know if you need anything else.”
My date grunts noncommittally, waving a hand in a dismissive gesture. As our waiter walks away I resolve to tip him generously.
I sip my lemon drop experimentally. It’s too sweet for my liking. Gareth is watching me closely with a self-satisfied smirk.
“My question still stands.” His expression is playful, but his tone makes him sound like he’s addressing a misbehaving child.
“Mm? What question is that?” I mutter against the rim of my glass. Its sugar coating is gritty against my lips.
“Truth or dare, of course.”
I sigh, resigned to my fate. “Fine, truth.”
He grins like a smug cat and takes a long quaff of his second beer. “What’s the grossest thing you’ve had in your mouth?”
“Nope. Pass.” My reply is nearly instantaneous. His displeasure is readily apparent.
“You can’t pass,” he objects.
“Yes, I can. I’m not playing otherwise.”
He makes a disgusted sound in the back of his throat. “Fine, but that means I get to ask another question.”
I raise my eyebrows at him. “Go ahead, then.”
“Why don’t you want to answer that question?” His voice is petulant now, face wrinkled in frustrated incomprehension.
“I don’t like being asked leading questions.” I rest my chin in my hand and look up at him. “Truth or dare?”
“Dare,” he replies with a coy half-smile.
I push my drink towards him. “I dare you to finish this for me.”
His face is blotchy and red with fury. He flexes his meaty fingers in a vaguely threatening fashion, but eventually he obeys. What remains of the drink is downed in one gulp.
“Truth or dare?” He growls, cracking his neck.
“Are you ever going to choose dare?” He practically snarls his question, but seems to catch himself afterwards and settles down a little.
“Probably, eventually. You never know.” I shoot him a bored look. “Truth or dare?”
He lets out a long sigh and rubs his temples with his index fingers. “Truth, I suppose.”
“What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done?”
“Pass.” His voice is icy, expression haughty.
“Seriously?” I raise an eyebrow at him, but his expression doesn’t change. “Fine, then. What’s something that people usually misunderstand about you?”
He barks out a short laugh, expression softening a little. “My fascination with German military history. Apparently appreciating the might and effectiveness of Germany’s WWII-era military gives people this strange idea that I’m a Nazi. That’s absolutely preposterous, of course—”
I groan. “Dare.”
His face practically lights up, then shifts into a sly expression. “Kiss me.”
“You’ve got to be kidding.”
“M’lady, I would never joke about such things,” he replies, tipping his fedora. I throw up a little in my mouth.
“No fucking way.” I laugh in disbelief.
He glowers at me. “I don’t appreciate this discourtesy.” His brows are so furrowed in anger that they look like they’re about to merge into one big, dandruff-filled entity.
“Did you actually think that would work?” I can’t keep the disbelief out of my voice. It does nothing to soothe his anger.
“Are you always such a bitch, or is that just how you behave when people treat you well?”
I grin at him. “Obviously it’s not the second one, you’ve been absolutely horrible to me this entire date.”
He begins to rise from his chair.
“No, don’t leave. I have a dare for you!”
Gareth pauses halfway through the motion of standing up and slowly sits back down. His face is still beet red, and he seems to be struggling to regain his composure. “I’m listening.”
I put on my sweetest smile and stifle a laugh. “I dare you to fuck off.”
He leaves without another word.
Sharon van Wyngaarden is a student in the Professional Writing program at Algonquin College. She enjoys taking long walks, drinking tea, and reading a good book. She also loves spending time with friends – especially if it means subjecting them to the torment that is watching terrible Nicolas Cage movies.