How Taeyeon got through the rest of the shopping, she’d never know. But she managed to, somehow. She wasn’t sure if she was happier or more nervous to arrive at Tony’s and as they entered the place, she could’ve sworn that everyone knew how chaotic her inner thoughts were. Candy canes, pink, clogged toilets, diarrhea, Tiffany, strict professors, incorrigible friends, baby blue panties, pink panties, pink bras, were tossed about in her mind like unsecured luggage in the boot of a car on a bumpy road. Some of the chaos was bound to show in her eyes, right?
“This way, please,” said the waiter who showed them to their table. As they walked over the plush carpet of the reception, past baroque-styled wallpapered walls and under chic, modern chandeliers to their table, eyes followed them. Upon sitting down on the gold-plated, red-cushioned chair that was her seat, Taeyeon also noticed the waiter’s eyes flitting furtively between Tiffany and her. Why were the patrons and waiters staring at them? Not knowing the reason unsettled her.
Was it unusual for two ladies to dine at a place like Tony’s? Why was he looking at them with suspicion? Tony’s had been Sunny’s recommendation and Yuri had given a thumbs up as well. Surely there was nothing wrong with her choice? Or was there something wrong with her? Maybe it was wrong of her to have improper thoughts of Tiffany in an alluring set of candy cane lingerie when she was in a place as posh as this. Yes. That must be it. Some of those improper thoughts must be showing. She’d better stop those thoughts.
Stop. Stop. Stop.
Stop and focus on the things that mattered. Like Tiffany.
“Something on your mind? The waiter has been trying to get your attention.”
Taeyeon looked up at the waiter who was now looking at her with even more suspicion and coughed, awkwardness oozing from her every pore. “I…I was just thinking about some…stuff…”
“Okay…but would you like to have a look at the menu? What would you like to drink?”
Taeyeon blinked. Drink? Right. Yes. They’d have to drink something. Of course.
“Would you like some ice wine, Miss?” asked the waiter.
“Alright, that will be two ice wines for the lovely ladies.”
Taeyeon stared as the waiter bowed slightly and left, relieved to have gotten though the ordeal. Boy, ordering a drink had never been so difficult before.
“I should’ve mentioned this earlier, but now seems like a good moment to say it.”
“Huh?” Taeyeon was mystified.
“You’re so pretty today. I like your fluffy pullover and cute little skirt. And did you do something to your hair? It looks different.”
Taeyeon blushed. She had given her hair a few extra brushes, blown it dry and applied an expensive hair product that Sunny had given her to give it an extra sheen. Tiffany had noticed!
“I…I applied something extra…my roommate…she…said it would make my hair shine and look softer.”
Tiffany giggled. “I put the same thing on my hair too. Do you like it?”
Taeyeon nodded as though her life depended on her head bobbing and smiled shyly. “You look exceptional today. Your red dress looks very good on you.” Taeyeon stopped to swallow her saliva. “And…and your lipstick is a very nice colour too.”
Tiffany giggled even more and looked pleased for her smile was radiant. “I’m glad you noticed.” But she looked down and fiddled with the end of her fork suddenly. “I wore it for you.”
“Your red dress?”
Tiffany smiled and nodded.
“Why?” blurted Taeyeon, and the urge to kick herself had never been stronger. What a stupid question to ask!
Tiffany’s eyes widened marginally for a split second before narrowing into intimidating slits. “Are you seriously asking me why?”
Taeyeon decided there and then that words weren’t her best friends because they liked to desert her in her greatest hour of need and leave her mouth hanging open, looking stupid.
“Most people would want to look good on a date, don’t they?”
“Yes, of course, they would.” Taeyeon felt more and more stupid with every word that left her lips but she had to say something, didn’t she?!
“So if you had to ask, does it mean this isn’t a date? Because this is a pretty posh place to go to if it isn’t a date.”
Holy macaroons, Sunny was right! Tiffany did treat this dinner as a date. Thank goodness she had listened to her.
“This is a date.”
Tiffany’s stance relaxed almost immediately and her eyes softened into fluffy marshmallows. “Good to know we’re on the same page.”
Taeyeon smiled, relieved that Tiffany had calmed down, just as the waiter returned with their wines.
“What will you be having for dinner?” he asked pleasantly.
Taeyeon shifted uncomfortably when the waiter raised his eyes from his notepad, looked at her and flashed a charming smile. Why was he smiling at her like that? Meanwhile, Tiffany was glaring at the waiter. It was the same glare that Tiffany had given her during the lecture and she could be sure now, that she hadn’t imagined it. But why was Tiffany glaring at the waiter? And why did she receive the same glare in the lecture? Taeyeon was clueless.
“I…I’ll have the loin steak. Medium rare.”
“Good choice, Miss. Pretty girls like you have pretty good taste.”
Taeyeon was thoroughly confused when Tiffany’s glare intensified tenfold but the waiter appeared to be unperturbed as he turned to Tiffany to take her order.
“I’ll have the same thing as her,” said Tiffany, sounding curt.
The waiter nodded, scribbled quickly, then turned back to Taeyeon and asked, “Would you like a glass of red wine to go along with your loin, Miss?”
Taeyeon smiled, “Can you recommend a red wine to compliment my steak?”
The waiter flashed a charming grin and said, “It would be my pleasure to recommend the Cabernet Savignon to a lovely lady like you, Miss.”
“Tiffany, would you like one as well?” Taeyeon asked, despite feeling a little nervous about Tiffany’s mood.
Tiffany nodded so Taeyeon turned back to the waiter and said, “We’ll both have the same wine, thank you.”
“What a flirt,” said Tiffany with a frown as soon as the waiter was out of earshot.
“That waiter. Who else?”
“Oh.” Taeyeon relaxed instantly. For a minute, it had seemed as though Tiffany was angry with her over something. “Yes, he is.”
“If I weren’t worried about what he’d do to our steaks, I’d have told him to stop looking at you like that.”
“If you aren’t happy about it, we can go some place else,” Taeyeon suggested. The last thing she wanted was Tiffany feeling unhappy about anything.
But Tiffany simply smiled and shook her head gently. “It’s alright. Let’s not ruin our dinner because of a flirty waiter.”
“Okay.” Taeyeon smiled. “The steaks here are supposed to be really good anyway.”
“You’ve eaten here before.”
“Oh.” Taeyeon felt a little disappointed. She had hoped that Tony’s would be something new and interesting to Tiffany.
“But coming here with you is different,” added Tiffany.
Taeyeon perked up at once and grinned. “Really?”
Taeyeon smiled at Tiffany over the candlelight and Tiffany smiled back, and for a moment, her world was just two. Taeyeon. Tiffany. And nobody else.
They were served promptly. The waiter returned with a basket of bread rolls and little slabs of butter and placed it between them. Taeyeon was feeling quite ravenous by then and dug into them like a bee to honey. But she froze, her teeth sunk deep into a bread roll, the corners of her lips glistening with oily butter, when Tiffany giggled suddenly. Her eyebrows arched as Tiffany’s eyes curled into crescent moons that twinkled, questioning the reason for Tiffany’s amusement.
“I’ve never met anyone like you.”
Taeyeon stared. “Mmm?” she responded, her mouth full of bread.
Tiffany giggled again and moved her jaws as though she were chewing. “Chew, Taeyeon.”
Taeyeon obeyed and Tiffany giggled some more.
A hot and cold sensation streaked through her body from head to toe and left her grinning like an idiot.
“I…don’t know what to say…”
Tiffany smiled. “You don’t have to say anything. I was just thinking out loud.”
Eyes still locked on Tiffany, her arm moved on its own accord and flipped the cloth covering the bread basket. She took another roll of bread, still smiling like an idiot and put it on her plate. But Tiffany’s lovely smile turned into a look of horror and she screamed, “Taeyeon!”
Huh? What? What?
Tiffany was flapping her napkin at something flickering. Taeyeon looked and gasped. Holy cow! She had flipped the cloth onto the candle flame! The cloth was on fire!
Emergency! Red alert! Put out the fire!
Taeyone grabbed the nearest glass of water and tossed it on the burning cloth, but instead of extinguishing, the flames exploded into even larger ones.
“Taeyeon! That was wine!” shrieked Tiffany.
By then, the patrons nearby had backed away as waiters rushed to their table with jugs of water which they threw over the flames. Shrieks and screams filled the air and Taeyeon was shocked beyond words. She…she had started a fire in a lovely steakhouse while on a first date with Tiffany. Nothing…nothing could get worse than this. Yet, there was nothing she could do to help , she thought miserably, other than standing to the side, watching the waiters as they did their best to get the situation under control.
After a few jugs of water doused the flames, calm was somewhat restored in the restaurant. But the charred bread basket cloth, tablecloth, bread and pools of water surrounding them were horrid, incessant reminders of the mess and trouble she had caused.
“I’m so sorry,” Taeyeon apologized profusely to the manager who had stepped forward to ensure that they were alright. “I’ll pay for the damages.”
“It’s alright, Miss. It was an accident.”
“But…but the tablecloth…the basket…”
“Don’t worry about it. They can be easily replaced.”
“I’m really, really sorry…”
“Apology accepted.” The manager smiled kindly. “Would you like to continue your dinner at another table?”
“I’m so sorry…”
“Miss, you’ve apologized enough. Accidents happen all the time when you’re in this line. We’ve seen entire stacks of plates crashing onto the floor and trust me when I tell you that this isn’t the first fire we’ve seen in this place either.”
Taeyeon took a deep breath and tried to stop herself from apologizing again.
The manager then smiled kindly and said, “My waiter will show you to another table.”
Taeyeon didn’t know what to say. She was touched and thankful for the manager’s kindness.
“Thank you,” was all she could manage and the manager smiled.
Taeyeon didn’t touch any of the bread after that. All she did was sip at her wine while they waited for their steaks. Tiffany wore the most unusual smirk on her face the entire time. It looked as though she were holding something back but Taeyeon wasn’t sure what.
“Aren’t you going to have anymore bread?”
Taeyeon shook her head vehemently. “No. No more bread…no more for me…”
As soon as her reply left her lips, Tiffany broke into giggle after giggle, a whole series of them, unstoppable, uncontrollable.
All Taeyeon could do was stare. “What?”
Tiffany was almost in tears, she was giggling so hard. She shook her head, tried to stop giggling, but failed as her giggles took over again. The waiter arrived with their steaks and Tiffany was still in giggles. All Taeyeon could do was wait. Wait for Tiffany to stop giggling. Wait for the steak to be served. Wait for the burning shame and embarrassment to fade away. Wait for a miracle that would reverse everything so that her very first date with Tiffany wasn’t an utter failure.
Something that Tiffany had once said floated into her mind just then.
“Shit happens but we flush it away with good things.”
Now, shit had happened, but where were the good things to flush it away with? Nowhere to be found as usual. On top of that, she had to deal with a date who either glared or giggled for a reason she couldn’t fathom and best friends who were going to laugh at her mess up rather than comfort her.
This, ladies and gentlemen, was her wonderful life.