THE FIRST MEETING
Last Monday’s balmy 60 degrees and gentle breeze were only the first in a series of miracles in store for Brian Charlton and Zarmeena Waseem, winners of this year’s all-expenses-paid Commonwealth Times blind date.
Charlton, a senior psychology major, and Waseem, a junior broadcasting and Spanish double major – both complete strangers before being hooked up by CT loveologists – finally locked eyes for the first time Monday evening amid flying sparks, flurrying doves and perhaps the love theme from Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet,” in distant strains.
Allowing a long pause for both parties to catch their breath and composure, Charlton presented Waseem with a single white lily.
“Some people like real flowers, but … These last for an eternity,” Charlton said.
THE LOVEMOBILE pt. 1
CT chaperones ushered Charlton and Waseem to the Lovemobile, so named for its state-of-the-art construction designed to incite and maintain optimal passion/lovelust over any length of ride, with plenty of leg room.
“Wow, cheeseballs,” Waseem said.
Dispersing any concerns that they were being chauffeured to McDonald’s or Shafer Court, Charlton and Waseem found themselves instead arriving at Tarrant’s Cafe on the corner of Broad and Foushee streets. As though by providence, Lovemobile parking was available right by the front door.
Despite the distraction of a half-dozen identically dressed elderly women at an adjacent table, Charlton and Waseem managed to chat healthily for a good 20 minutes before any utterance of the phrase, “So, what’s your major?”
Not far into perusing the menu, the true meaning of “all-expenses-paid” dawned on the couple, who proceeded to order a frighteningly expensive filet mignon and two-part seafood platter. The latter dish included oysters, known since ancient times for use as a natural aphrodisiac.
Asked to comment on Charlton’s consumption of an entire intact squid specimen found in his calamari, Waseem said, “Attractive.”
“I am a man being a man,” Charlton said.
After a scrumptious dessert of upside-down apple walnut cake a la mode, Charlton and Waseem immediately agreed upon a 20 percent tip.
THE LOVEMOBILE pt. 2
As dusk faded to glistening twilight, Charlton and Waseem attempted to console themselves in the Lovemobile’s intimate backseat by speculating as to their ultimate destination.
Following a discussion of the Grammy awards, Charlton regaled Waseem with a synopsis of an episode of South Park involving a “gay fish.”
“I’m glad you found that funny,” Charlton said, as Waseem laughed.
“I’m actually laughing to be nice to you,” Waseem replied.
Charlton paused to express concern as to whether he would be returned home in time to complete an important psychology lab.
The Lovemobile came to a stop farther down Broad Street at The Dance Space, “Where real people really dance!” – an open-attendance dance instruction facility, complete with a 1,600 square foot wooden dance floor and “state-of-the-art sound system” play host to regularly scheduled classes for dancers of all styles and skill levels.
By the time it became apparent that Charlton and Waseem were to receive a free beginner’s salsa lesson, their protests had taken on a pale shade of resignation.
Having thoughtfully arrived 45 minutes early, the happy couple were able to enjoy a heart-to-heart in the cozy, dimly-lit hallway outside the dance studio, with plentiful interludes to gaze deeply into various wall decorations, bulletin board postings and a gorgeous window view of the parking lot.
He added, “If you wanna like, talk to her, I’ve got to take a dump … All that food’s gotta go somewhere.”
The hour-long group lesson enlightened Charlton and Waseem in the beginning steps of any seasoned salsa dancer’s career, flanked on all sides by mirrors exposing their every embarrassing misstep at every possible angle.
THE LOVEMOBILE pt. 3
A bittersweet air settled in the backseat of the Lovemobile as it carried the lovebirds away from a magical evening and Charlton home to his psych project – a glow of nostalgia, of good times gone by.
As their ride came to a gentle stop before his apartment building, Charlton and Waseem turned to stare once more into the eyes that, just hours ago, they had never known existed.
How much had changed in those hours.
“Well,” Charlton said, leaning in for a farewell handshake, “it was nice meeting you, Zakeeta.”
Waseem placed her hand in his and said, “It’s ‘Zarmeena.’ “