(approx. 5 minutes to read)
Some of Urijah’s friends at the office were going out this evening (Thank God It’s Thursday). Why not Friday? Most of them had families, so they spent the weekend at home, but two Thursdays a month they would go do something for fun, and as Georgia might say, “for team building.” She clearly needed an excuse to go out and have fun.
This time was different. Urijah and Nivia were talking on the phone for a week now, and he liked her a lot. They got along well at work and she was smart and pretty. They seemed to get along well away from work as well, Urijah asked her out during their phone call on Tuesday and she said ok. She did ask if they could do their first couple of dates with the group from work and Urijah was happy to agree. He knew that she would feel way more comfortable around people they both knew, and he wanted her to enjoy everything about their time together.
And where “enjoying everything” was concerned, she had mentioned something that she loved doing in one of their conversations. There was an all access arcade with a flight simulator from the late 90s that she loved. She tried to go to there three or four times a year, but she let it slip that she hadn’t gone for almost six months. If he could convince the group to go to the arcade, it might show her that he would speak up for her and that he paid attention. It couldn’t hurt his chances for the next group activity to also be their second date.
When the informal committee was held fifteen minutes before clock out time, Urijah made his move, “There’s a really cool arcade near downtown called ‘The Faded Matrix,’ I hear it’s a bunch of fun.” He could see Nivia in his peripheral vision and she looked a little startled at first, but a small smile crept on her face.
Seth was standing next to Urijah and he had a better idea, at least he seemed to think it was a better idea, “Juan and I were talking about going to get some drinks. We’ve all had a rough week with the Irish Manufacturing account mess.”
“Right, but we saved that account,” Urijah said, “Let’s go have some fun. Blow up some pixilated enemies.”
Georgia was standing near Nivia, who was grinning. Georgia didn’t have a better idea, or even a different idea. She just knew one thing, “Parking anywhere near downtown is horrible, and we’re going to be taking six different cars. Nightmare.”
“It doesn’t really matter anyway,” Juan said, “I really would like to get a little buzzed. I think most of us could use a drink or two just to take the edge off.”
“I bet you The Faded Matrix has a bar,” Urijah suggested, “most of these places are targeted to adults anyway.”
“They don’t,” said Nivia, she sounded amused, “they’re in a dry part of the city.”
“Sounds like a place for kids then,” Urijah said, smiling at Nivia.
“Or the young at heart,” she smiled back.
Mary spoke up, “I’m with Seth and Juan on this. A bar sounds fun and I’d like to play some pool. I’m also with Georgia. I’m driving Juan, and I don’t want to mess with parking near downtown.”
For the first time since the conversation started, Urijah didn’t know what to do. He could call for a vote, but he didn’t have the votes. He would suggest splitting up, but this was a night for co-worker bonding, and Nivia wanted to hang with the group anyway.
His phone buzzed and he had a text message. He didn’t have time for whatever it was. He needed a solution. He looked at Nivia. If she didn’t seem too disappointed maybe he would just let it go and suggest the arcade again next week whether they were sharing a second date or not. She was looking straight at him and holding her phone in her hand. She had a knowing smile and nodded toward his phone. What was she…
He opened his phone screen and saw the message was from Nivia, “Thank you so much for trying. =) They don’t have that flight simulator anymore anyway. When I went there six months ago he said they sold it to a friend of his.”
He looked at her and they shared a nice moment. He may not have got her to the arcade, but he thought she at least knew now how much he wished for things to go well with them. Then it occurred to him that sold to a friend might also mean sold locally, and he opened his screen again.
“This bar is a complete dive,” Nivia said, as she brought the simulated plane in for a simulated landing.
“I know, but they have a pool table, and since they bought one of the best games from the 90s from a friend a few months ago, I guess it’ll do. Is it my turn now?”
“You think you can do better?”
“Not even close. If I can even get the plane off the runway, I’ll consider it a success.”
Chris McGinty is a short story writer who loved a driving simulator from the 80s called “Hard Drivin’.” You should check it out if you ever get the chance.