This was a Monday I was not dreading.
I woke up with unexpected buoyancy. I had a secret romance to uncover and an actual romance of my own that was blossoming. I am not Marian the librarian. I’m a kick-ass combination of Nancy Pearl, Melissa Etheridge, Oprah, and a little bit of pin-up girl on the side. I am on fire. I am unstoppable. I am completely out of clean underwear.
I scrounge around my underwear drawer with the ferocity and sense of purpose of a drug-sniffing dog. Nothing. Damnit. I forgot to do laundry.
I always wait until the last minute to do laundry. My laundry habits are dictated solely by underwear. Everything else I can make stretch out and last until the next load. Except underwear. I vaguely remember thinking on Saturday morning, “Wow, I should really do underwear,” but I must have thought that I had at least one more pair. Damnit.
These are the reasons I need to find a clean pair of underwear before I go to work:
1.) I need clean underwear to feel like an authoritative sleuth. I’m sure that Nancy Drew or Miss Marple never went commando.
2.) I’m pretty sure it’s part of the faculty dress code/code of contact. Wearing (clean) underwear. If it’s not, then it definitely should be.
3.) If I need to climb a step stool to get a book on a high shelf, that would be bad news bears.
4.) It is technically my third date with Jamie. The third date is earliest date (in my estimation) that sex is likely/possible. I do not have the the bravado to pull off an authentic reaction if Jamie gets down there and I have no panties. It would be decidedly out of character with my personality thus far and I don’t want to risk having to explain my laundry habits either.
I look at the clock. I need to get to work in 45 minutes. That’s barely enough time to drive to Walmart, be indecisive about third date underwear, grab a Starbucks Frappucino-y drink in lieu of real coffee and get to work in time to run to the bathroom and slip on the new underwear.
I throw on a tan dress and light green cardigan and hit the road.
The Walmart is surprisingly busy for 7:30 in the morning. I run over to the underwear section. All thongs and boy shorts are immediately disqualified. Same goes for granny panties. Something that says “Yes, I’m a librarian, but I like also like to have hot, passionate sex on occasion.” Damnit, this is hard!
Bewildered grandmothers and teenage Walmart workers regard me with confusion. “Who is this woman and why is she staring at the underwear section so intently?”
I settle on a three-pack of bikini underwear trimmed with lace. My options are black, beige or leopard print. I have the car ride to campus to make my decision.
I park my car abruptly in the library lot and hoof it to the bathrooms next to the main entrance. I lock the stall door behind me and open the package.
Black, beige or leopard-print?
Black, beige or leopard-print?
Black, beige or LEOPARD-PRINT?!?!
I finally decide on leopard-print. You only live once, right?
I trot over to my office and catch up on work emails until it’s time for Anders’ appointment. I wonder if he’ll be accompanied by Professor Rosholt. I am packing up my things when Linda appears at the door of my office.
“Dorothy, I’ve decided that I’ll supervise Professor Estad’s appointment to the Norwegian Artifacts room this morning. As the head of this library, it would only be right for me to meet Professor Rosholt and answer any questions she might have about our facility.”
I start to politely protest, but as I inhale and look into her eyes, I realize that she is immovable. She has already made her decision, and not even a fire in another part of the library would make her change her mind.
“Of couse, Linda, whatever you think is best.”
I watch her stride off with purpose, off to meet what I can only assume will be a bewildered pair of professors, Estad and Rosholt.
I immerse myself in my work for the day, and before I know it, it’s almost 5:00.
I check my phone. There’s a text from Jamie.
“Meet me in the parking lot.”
Ok, I think, this isn’t too adventurous, rendezvous in parking lots certainly fall under traditional date-like fare, right?
I compose myself and insert a breath mint into my mouth. I have an overwhelming desire to exude grace. I should not be this nervous. I am a graceful, beautiful, intelligent young woman who is about to go on a third date with an incredibly hot actor who happens to have an adorable son. No pressure here, none at all.
I hastily grab one last look at myself in the reflection of the glass encasing my office before I head out to my car.
I arrive at the parking lot, but I see no Jamie. It is empty except for cars. I approach my car, cautiously. There is a note stuck under the windshield, which reads:
“It’s not easy being green. (In Spanish.)”
Crap, what does this mean? Is it a riddle?
Let me think. It’s not easy being green. That’s kermit the frog. In Spanish? Ah, La Rana, the bistro downtown. Tricky, Jamie, very tricky.
I hop into my car and put the key in the ignition.
I find parking near the bistro and enter tentatively. Jamie is sitting at a small table by near the front door. A small bouquet of roses sits on the table. I smile and sit down.
“Luckily, I deciphered your Spanish.”
He reaches across the table and gently takes my hand.
“I figured you would.”
Another disarming grin is shot in my general direction. I melt a little bit and am glad I opted for the leopard-print underwear.
He orders us a bottle of Cabernet. The wine is like crushed velvet, rich and full of texture. We dine, we laugh, we talk about everything from politics to which superheroes we liked as kids. This is too easy, though. I was instructed to bring my sense of adventure.
As we finish up our decadent cheesecake, Jamie leans in.
“Feeling adventurous?” he asks.
“Whenever I’m with you, I do.”
We both grin. He pays for our dinner, grabs my hand and pulls me up and out the door, into the brisk night.
“We’ll take my car, if that’s alright.” He opens the passenger side seat chivalrously.
I get in his car and wonder where on earth he’s taking me. But I’m very excited.
We drive out of Decorah and the stars are our guides. The car follows the bends in the road and lights in houses illuminate domestic Midwestern scenes.
I eventually recognize where we’re going. The waterfall right outside of town. We arrive, and Jamie parks the car.
“Do you know this spot?”
“Yep, I would come here when I went to Luther. It’s beautiful in the summer. Isn’t the park closed now, though? It’s after dusk.”
“I said you needed to bring your sense of adventure.” He hands me a flashlight and we carefully start to go up the trail leading to the waterfall.
I am quite possibly the clumsiest human being on the planet. And boots I’m wearing are definitely high on fashion but not on functionality. I stumble a few times, and Jamie takes my hand, guiding me up the gravel path.
We finally get to the point of the trail closest to the waterfall. It’s too dark to see the waterfall, but I hear the gentle gushing of perpetually cascading water. Jamie takes out two small candles in votive holders and places them on either side of the wooden railing. He lights one and then the other, leaning in close enough that I can smell whispers of Irish Spring soap through his sweater.
He looks intensely into my eyes.
“Dorothy, could I kiss you?”
I blink my eyes in rapid morse code signaling “Yes,” and it also comes out as a sigh between my poised and impatient lips.
He leans down and his lips brush mine. Slowly, tentatively at first and then the kiss blossoms into warmth and trust and longing. We are all lips and (tasteful) tongues and the moment is perfect. I am reminded of the moment in Gatsby when he waits for the exact right perfect moment to kiss her, as if he were striking a tuning fork.
Our first kiss goes on forever but is also over far too soon. Jamie brings me in, enveloping me in his embrace, and I gingerly place my head on his chest. We watch the flames of the small candles jump and try incessantly to reach toward the waterfall. We stand there in warmth in stillness for several minutes. Finally, gently, Jamie untangles his arms and kisses me once more, this time on my forehead.
“I’d like to stay longer, Dorothy, but I better get back to Lanesboro and relieve the babysitter.”
I look up into his sparkling green eyes and say I completely understand, even though I wish I could do everything to make him stay.
“I hope you’re okay with me wanting to take things kind of slow. I feel that this is something pretty special and I don’t want to screw it up by rushing into it.”
(AKA no leopard print panties needed this evening.)
I smile politely and plant a kiss on his cheek.
We walk/stumble back to the car and he drops me back off at the restaurant. He gives me one last quick kiss before I get out.
“I’ll call you,” he says.
I grin, blow him a kiss and wave.
I start to get my keys out of my purse and look up to see none other than Linda Birch.
“You’re out late for a Monday night, Dorothy.”
“Yup, just got done with a date.” (With my hot, age-appropriate actor boyfriend-to-be, I want to add).
“Do you think you have time—could I—that is to say—can I buy you a drink, Dorothy?”
Crap on a cracker, there’s no graceful exit from this invitation.
“Yes, of course, Linda, that would be great.”