I stood outside the coffee shop and nonchalantly leaned against the window. Was he inside waiting for me? Hadn’t we agreed to meet outside?
A man with a fur collar on his coat waved to me and pointed to the seat next to his.
No. That wasn’t Brown-eyes. He’d never wear fur on his coat. He’s a pure leather man. I mouthed “No thanks.” And kept looking.
“Over here!” Brown-eyes called from the bench on the corner. “Figured I wouldn’t block the door from over here.”
He was wearing a large brown hat. Two reindeer antlers sprung several feet into the air from the top of the hat, making my date appear to be even taller than he was.
“Oh my God.” I smiled. “Hope you didn’t kill a reindeer to land that hat.”
“Nah.” He said, reaching up to stroke the antlers. “Santa gave it to me.”
I laughed. “Santa doesn’t like you, does he?”
Two four-year-old children ran up to him, pointed to his hat, and started singing, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”
“Yup.” He nodded, as he kissed my cheek. “Kids love this hat.”
I shook my head. “I’m glad to know where you get your fashion sense.”
“This has nothing to do with fashion, though, you have to admit, I look pretty good with antlers, don’t I?”
“I wore the hat so you wouldn’t lose me in a crowd.”
I melted. Right there. Right then. Wow. He had dressed differently for me?
He continued. “I almost lost you on our last date, so I wanted to be sure that you wouldn’t confuse me some other guy.”
I melted a bit more. Wow. How cool was that? He knew I didn’t have a visual memory. In fact he had figured out that I couldn’t hold people’s images in my head once they had left my sight when I mistook someone else for him on our last date.
I bit my lip. “Thanks. Thanks for understanding.”
He waved his hand at me. “Do you have any idea what a relief it is to have a place to wear this hat?”
I laughed. “What did you buy it for?”
I inhaled quickly. Yeah. We’d better talk before we went to dinner. “Um. Just so you know. I agreed to see Cool-guy tomorrow night.”
He was quiet for a moment. “How’d he talk you into that?”
“He wasn’t wearing antlers, was he?”
I laughed. “No. I’m sure he hasn’t even considered antlers.”
“Good.” He said, watching my face. “Because I don’t want to play second fiddle. I’d take these antlers off in a second if I thought he was playing the same game.”
“No antlers. We’re exchanging Christmas gifts. Well. I mean. He has a gift for me.”
“Yeah? Well. That’s not till tomorrow.” He said as we started walking down the street. “And, tomorrow’s so far away.”
A shop owner came out of her store and hung a small red ornament from one of the antlers.
Brown-eyes bowed to her. “Ok. I’ll put in a good word to Santa. I’m guessing you want more diamonds in your stocking?”
“How did you know?” She laughed.
We walked down to my favorite restaurant.
“I love it here.” I said. “Did you make reservations?”
“But, of course.” He said, holding the door.
The host wasn’t so sure. “Sir. We have a ‘No Hat’ rule in our dinning room.”
“Good.” Brown-eyes said. “I agree with that rule.” He stood up straight. “Is our reservation ready?”
The host shook his head back and forth rapidly as if he was trying to shake away a bad image. “I’m sorry sir, but you will have to remove your hat before you can enter this dinning room.”
Brown-eyes pointed, dramatically, to his hat. “This hat is fulfilling a medical need.”
“OhGodno.” I whispered, tugging on his arm.
Brown-eyes stood his ground.
“Do you have a doctor’s note?” Host smiled the biggest smile he may have produced in years.
“Can you give me ten minutes?” Brown-eyes countered.
“OhGodno.” I whispered.
Brown-eyes turned to me. “We need to fight this.” The antlers swayed back and forth with anger. “How dare they take away your ability to find me amongst strangers.”
“Comeon.” I said, tugging on his sleeve. “Let’s go across the street. They’re a lot nicer over there.” I softened my voice. “Or, you could take off the hat.”
“No.” Brown-eyes said, locking eyes with the host. “I want to see the manager. NOW.”
My eyes got big. Um. Oh God. No. No. No. My visual memory isn’t the kind of thing I tell many people. And. Now. He’s going to shout it out in a restaurant? This’s a little too much antler drama for me.
I turned to my date. “I don’t usually go on about my disability.”
He looked at me. “You don’t? You don’t fight for your rights?”
“Not when it comes to antlers.”
“Ok.” He said. “Don’t worry.” He patted my arm.
In a few moments a man with an expensive suit was standing in front of us.
Brown-eyes met the man’s stare, then turned up the volume of his voice so the whole restaurant could hear him. “Am I to understand you don’t let people with disabilities eat here? Isn’t that against the law?”
I blushed a deep red and looked at my feet. Were they all going to think the ridiculous hat was some kind of therapy tool for me?
The manager sent a confused look towards the host, who lost his smug look. “Please, seat them immediately.”
Brown-eyes burned triumph from his eyes like torches as he followed the host to our table.
I followed behind them wishing there was a way I could make a mad dash for home. But. If I tried to escape, I was pretty sure Brown-eyes would chase after me, wondering what was wrong.
Um. Not sure I could take any more Antler Drama tonight.