Jerry slid in to the booth with his drink in hand.
"How was your date?" Annie smile at him. Well smirked as much as smiled.
"I take it you've already heard from her?"
"Oh yes. She had a lot to say."
"I'm sure she did."
"So fill us in! What did she think of our Jerry?" Carla asked.
"Asshole. I think that pretty much sums it up."
"Wow, nice first impression there, Jer, good job." Carla patted Jerry's shoulder.
"I'm the asshole? Me? I'm the asshole?"
"She said you yelled at her for supporting the troops." Annie said.
"You yelled at her for supporting the troops? Seriously, Jerry?"
"I didn't yell at her for supporting the troops. Okay, maybe I used a bit of tone with her, but I didn't yell at her."
"Oh well that makes it better, you just used tone with her for supporting the troops." Carla shook her head.
"Just wait a second, let me tell you about the evening before you all judge."
Annie waved her hand, "By all means, tell us how the evening lead to you yelling at, excuse me, using tone at her about supporting the troops."
Jerry looked at his two friends and started, "So it started before the date actually. Carla, you know that Annie fixed us up right? After telling me that this girl she worked with would be perfect for me. Perfect. So I call Bella and make plans. She wants me to pick the restaurant. Great. I ask her if there was anything she didn't like so I could avoid it, she said, no she likes everything so I was free to pick. I took her to Gino's."
"Oh I love Gino's, they have the best bread, I need to go...." Carla trailed off when Annie and Jerry both looked at her, "Sorry. Go on."
"Anyway, so we get to Gino's and sit down. She opens the menu and shakes her head, 'Do you think they have gluten free pasta?'
I'm shocked, 'Oh no! Do you have Celiac disease? I had no idea, Annie never mentioned it, we can go someplace else.' Oh no she tells me that she has a gluten issue. She is staying away from it because she's read so many things online that talk about how you should, and then she says she needs to go wash her hands because the menu was sticky and she would just figure it out she was used to working around other people not understanding the seriousness of gluten issues.
So she leaves the table and I'm trying to decide what the hell I've signed on for. Gluten issue? What the actual hell? Issue? That's new. And it's even worse than intolerance and sensitivity. Now it's just an issue. Since when is it okay to have issues with gluten? And if you do have issues why don't you tell someone that when they ask where you want to go for dinner so they don't pick an Italian restaurant! So then she comes back to the table and the waiter comes over.
She starts in on him. How is this made, what is in it? Pretty much every dish they have she wants dissected so she can dismiss it. She wants to talk about every single thing. Even things that obviously have gluten, like, oh I don't know, every pasta dish on the menu! He finally suggests that she get their marinara over the steamed vegetables, a lot of people who are avoiding gluten really like that. She's fine with that, perfect. Then he asks is she wants cheese. And now we are off talking about if the cheese is from GMO free cows. But she doesn't say it G-M-O she says geemo. It took me forever to even figure out what she meant. Geemo free. It has to be geemo free. He tells her they use organic milk so it should be fine."
Carla tried to suppress a little giggle, "Sorry, but I can just imagine your face by this point!"
"Oh and it just kept getting better. She asks me what I think of her name, see she used to go by Izzy but then after Twilight came out she changed to Bella because that way people would think she was like Kristen Stewart when they heard the name and she figured that would give her some sort of advantage over other people. I'm not sure what advantage, she didn't let me ask any questions just moved on to her next topic.
And it's politics. Politics. On a first date. Who does that? And she starts in on how horrible it is that everyone wants to blame other presidents for issues going on now when they didn't have anything to do with it. I told her that actually you couldn't always blame the sitting president for what was happening because the policies could have been set in previous administrations. I told her that part of what you were seeing now you could picture with a ladder image, say that the rungs of the ladder were previous presidents and the way we got to where we are now was by each consecutive step, we didn't just wind up at the top of the ladder, we had to get here somehow. And that the two sides holding the ladder together were really more of an issue than any of the presidents. If the two sides keep pulling away then you can't anchor the step and go anyplace. So we needed to figure out a way to get the democrats and the republicans willing to at least talk to each other again or our entire system was going to fall apart.
She just looked at me horrified then said, 'So the only way to get ahead is by climbing on people? That's awful.' And I started to try and explain what I meant but then dinner came. And she had issue with the steamed vegetables. Seems that there was broccoli in the mix and she had heard that broccoli was bad for your thyroid. I asked if she had thyroid issues and she said no, but that with all of the radiation making its way over from Japan all the time that the government won't even talk about she didn't want to risk it. I told her that I was pretty sure cooked broccoli wouldn't be an issue and that it's only raw that people with actual thyroid issues have to worry about. She made the waiter take the plate back and remove all of the broccoli anyway. And then proceeded to tell me about how you shouldn't eat fish anymore or swim in the ocean because of Japan and Fushimama, yes, Fushimama. She said when she was in Florida visiting her sister she couldn't believe no one was worried even a little bit. I told her that she knew Florida was the Atlantic right? She said, 'Yeah, the Atlantic Ocean.'
Finally after a few more interesting discussions about global warming and the people who don't believe in science arguing that it's not real right in to a discussion on vaccines and how they are dangerous, dinner was over and I was able to make my break."
"And this is when you yelled at her?"
"This is when I used tone with her. She pulled out her giant key chain and put it on the table. Sparkly, gaudy, red, white, and blue key chain with I SUPPORT THE TROOPS on it. So I asked her, 'You support the troops. Cool. How?' she just stared at me. I pointed at the key chain again, 'You support the troops. What do you do? Do you volunteer your time at the VA? Do you donate to Wounded Warriors? Were you in the service? What do you do?' And she tells me, 'I support them!' And yes, I might have gotten a little snippy, I picked up the key chain and saw the Made in China tag still attached, 'Is this it? You bought a key chain and think that's supporting the troops? Did you even buy it from a fund raiser?' And then she tells me she doesn't think she will accept a second date from me. I just started laughing. Like a crazy person."
Right at that moment a giant sparkly key chain was placed on the table, "It's true he did. Like a complete nut. Hey, I'm Izzy." Jerry looked on with a stunned expression as his terrible date joined the table and introduced herself to Carla.
At this point Annie started laughing, "So you remember a few months ago when you told me I was too picky in my dating? That you were sure I was making up how awful some of these guys were? Well..."
"You set me up? Seriously? You set me up?"
"Yep. I was telling Iz about it at work and how mad it made me and that I wanted to teach you how bad it could be."
"And you volunteered to do that? To torture someone with a bad first date?"
"Oh yeah, without hesitation, it seemed like fun." And she gave Jerry a wicked grin.
"Unbelievable! I should have known that no one could be that bad! You hit every one of my hot buttons, every one. How could I not see it?"
"Yeah, I thought I lost you when I was talking about global warming, that you had figured it out when I talked about how horrible it was that the polar bears couldn't even get to the penguins anymore because of the ice flows. But nope, you were still buying it."
"Oh my god... You know I can't go back to Gino's now right? You gave the waiter such a bad time I am too embarrassed to show my face there!"
"Oh don't worry about it, he was in on it. When I went to wash my hands? I was actually tracking him down to let him know what I was doing and to slip him an extra tip to play along. Wasn't he great?"
Jerry just shook his head, "You played the long con on me, Annie, I'm impressed."
"Well I couldn't very well have fixed you up with Iz right after the conversation right? You would have figured it out for sure then. But a month later? After subtly talking her up to you? Telling you how great she was at her job, how much fun we had at work? No worries."
"I am stunned."
Izzy smiled, "Yeah, I can see that. Oh! And you know your ladder theory on politics? Interesting but I think you are missing the obvious. The side rails aren't the two parties, they are really the House and the Senate. If you don't have all three working together nothing is going to get done..."
And as Jerry and Izzy actually got to know each other, Annie leaned back and whispered to Carla, "I knew they'd be perfect together, but I'm glad I got to mess with him first."