The guys I dated before Todd weren’t anything to write home about – seemingly pleasant company, but not engaging in a lifetime sort of way. And I had zero man-luck in med school. There were too many willing undergrad girls looking to land a doctor so the single males in med school were severely oversexed…

I thought I was modern. A go-with-the-flow kinda girl who wasn’t in a full-on sprint to coupledom. But after being propositioned by far too many drunk partygoers, I concluded that I’m nicer than I put on. Perhaps all of those years of Sunday school stuck because a roll in the hay was of no interest to me.

That, coupled with the fact that I never really had a serious long-term boyfriend kept me in good standing with Flossie and her friends at church who regularly asked God to send me a husband before I gave up and sinned. She said that if she waited then so could I. She also said that the best husbands are friends first.

Editor’s note: Click here for chapter 1here for chapter 2, and here for chapter 3 in this weekly fiction serial.

Problem was that no straight fellas wanted to be my friend and every relationship I did have seemed to end at three months. There was always something major missing, so I’d rip off the band-aid, knowing I hadn’t met that worthy sparring partner. But at the less-than-fresh age of thirty, I wondered if I would ever belong to someone.

I wanted exactly what my folks had but that ideal scenario was seeming less and less likely each passing year. One night (under the influence) I nearly signed up online to be a nun. I figured I’d made it through half my life without experiencing a man, why not die intact? At least nuns get respect for a chaste life instead of being scoffed at. My study buddy, Annie, thoroughly enjoyed teasing me. She loves men and thought my lack of experience was funny. She said I didn’t know what I was missing. Like I needed reminding.

If it weren’t for my roommate also being entirely unsullied, I’d have thought I was a freak. It’s funny how Lilly and I were so similar despite the fact that she’s from a tiny village in Cameroon and I’m from Silver Spring.

We were determined to graduate with honors, without boys getting in the way. We had learned from the mistakes of friends, Annie in particular. She’d been around the block a few times before Charlie locked her down. She dropped out of med-school for a year to have her child, not knowing who the father was. But that’s of no consequence. Her son, Jacob, is the joy of her life and she’s pressing on for him.

The night I met Todd, Jacob had a babysitter. We could have celebrated the end of the semester anywhere, but Annie insisted on McGarvey’s so she could flirt with Charlie. They liked to play pick up. I wished Annie would just shut up about the other stuff they played.


Peering over my shoulder, I snuck a quick glance. The stocky one caught me looking and flashed a cheeky grin, so I snapped back to forward facing position, sat up straight on my barstool and sipped my beer. Ugh. I didn’t want those two jumpsuits thinking I noticed them.

I never considered military types as potential mates. They seemed either too loud, too intense or too stupid to interest me. But Todd was a little different. A tall, lean build and buttery blonde locks with a hint of wave on the top, neat and trim on the sides. Not at all like a tree trunk.

He had a smile on from the moment he entered McGarvey’s, dimples killing me from afar. But I wasn’t going to get goofy over him like the girls next to me, sticking their chests
out like two broody hens. Ridiculous.

Annie began to chuckle as Todd approached the (only empty) barstool next to me where my purse was perched. “You mind if I sit here?” Todd asked, picking up my purse and handing it to me with a crazy beautiful smile.

“Uh, yes, I do mind. I’m waiting for someone.” I replied, unaffected. But my
stomach was jumping around and I felt a peculiar degree of uneasiness.

“Well, can I sit here until he arrives? I’d kinda like to sit.”

“What, do you have arthritis in your knees?”

“No, but I do have some shrapnel in my thigh…Does that qualify?”

“Oh. Sorry. Sure, sit.” I said, looking away. I took another sip of my beer. “Stupid, Ruby!” I thought to myself. Annie was watching us closely, giggling as I stared straight ahead, ignoring the delicious male next to me that every other girl there was hoping to bed that night.

I was relieved when Lilly finally arrived. I waved her down, grabbed my purse off the floor and addressed Todd in a matter-of-fact tone. “Your friend can have my seat. My girlfriends and I will just go stand over there” I said while motioning to the other end of the thirty-foot bar.

“Are you always this sticky sweet?” he asked, setting his empty beer glass down for a refill.

I ignored Todd’s snide remark, mostly due to the fact that I didn’t have a clever rebuttal. I looked away as if Todd had said nothing at all.

Annie’s boyfriend Charlie flipped the tap then returned a perfectly poured IPA to Todd. From the look on Charlie’s face, he didn’t approve of my curtness, especially to one in uniform.

I didn’t intend on being so rude, I just figured good looking guys are too pretty to be smart. Besides, it’s not like highly eligible guys go for beanpoles like me anyhow. If it weren’t for my decent hair and lack of outdoor plumbing I could be mistaken for a dude. Not that I cared. I’d rather be smart than pretty. Dad always thought that my brain was my best feature, even when I was a little girl in tutus. It’s funny, I never felt the need for a man in my life while he was still alive.

I finally curtailed the inner monologue and peeked at Todd, who appeared somewhat annoyed. But I found his irritation rather amusing and seized the opportunity to push him a little more. After all, how often would I get to grill a specimen male?

“Sorry, where are you from? Sounds like you speak Southern…”


“Not Northern Virginia, I take it…”

“No. Are you?”

“No, I grew up in Maryland.”

“So what do you do when you’re not at charm school?” he queried.

“I’m a physician. Well, in training… at Hopkins.” I sneered. Todd suddenly looked impressed, raised his eyebrows and shot me a one-sided smile.

“My buddy Bruce here was a medic in his previous life…” he said. Bruce was directly behind
him, chatting with the hens.

“His previous life?”

“Yeah, before he got Lasik he was a medic. He wanted to fly but his eyes were bad so he went to Field Medical Service School… His old unit called him ‘Doc.’ He was pretty good.”

“And how long is that training?”

“Uh, two months–or something like that…”

“So I could have just enlisted and went to school for two months instead of long, grueling medical school that’s fifty grand a year… All for the same title? Would have been nice if someone told me that ahead of time…” I half-teased.

“I don’t suppose you can handle a rifle or stop the bleeding on a human piece of Swiss cheese then carry him down a mountain and load him up on a bird?”

“Uh, no.” I replied.

“That’s why he’s called ‘Doc’, and you’re just called ‘Doctor.’ There’s a difference. And, personally, when my turn came, I was happy to have a ‘Doc'”.

Annie was listening in and gracious enough to change the subject since I’d just essentially been spanked. She nudged Bruce, cocked her head and turned on the sass. “So… do
you often frequent co-ed bars in your cute little royal blue jumper? I don’t suppose you’re here looking for an easy target?”

“Who told you?” Bruce asked with a quizzical brow before letting out a goofy chuckle.

“Actually, I don’t try to get laid. Too much work… And they never call me afterward… Then I get my feelings hurt and all of that… I’d be happy just to get a peek at some pinkies. Mardi Gras is my favorite holiday. My call sign is Jugs.”

“Jugs? Really?”

“It’s short for Bruce…”

“I’m sure it is…” smirked Annie, rolling her eyes.

Todd began to laugh as Bruce inspected the pair on Annie with a crooked smile. Charlie heard the entire exchange from across the bar, grinned and shook his head. Annie’s shelf always got too much attention, not that Charlie minded.

“What are you here for anyhow?” I asked Todd.

“Did you catch the air show this afternoon?”

“No, why?”

“That’s what I do. I fly jets… for the Navy. I’m a Blue Angel…”

“Oh. Do you fight? I mean, get deployed on missions and stuff?”

“No. Well, I did, but now I don’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because after I’d been deployed twice and injured pretty good, my mom got it in her head that I need to be home. She called in a few favors without consulting me. Her dad’s a retired rear admiral… I was pretty pissed…”

“Why would she do that without asking you first?”

“You don’t know my mom.”

“I don’t, but apparently someone does if she managed to get you a spot on the Blue Angels.”

“She didn’t get me the spot. I got the spot.”

“How can you know for sure?”

“Because I made the team laugh the hardest. The funniest candidate gets the vacant spot.”

“What was so funny?”

“I told ’em about the time I stole my dad’s Mercedes…When I was fifteen…”

“What happened?”

“Well, my buddy Erick and I decided to take Dad’s car out because some girls from school were having a slumber party. We wanted to, you know, see what girls at slumber parties do…”

“So at fifteen, you were a car thief and a peeping Tom?”

“Yeah. But that’s not the funny.”

“Right. That’s just disturbing.”

“So we pushed the car out of the garage and down the drive. We found the party about three miles down the road and parked behind a barn before sneaking up to the basement window. The girls were in their nighties, lip-syncing ‘Like A Virgin’ while watching MTV. They were really into it!”

“The worst one was Jenny Valentine. She was pole dancing on the basement water pipe. We couldn’t believe our luck! We sat there in the dark for almost thirty minutes but it was getting late so we headed home. We were doing good until a colony of bats flew in the windows. Erick and I both started screaming like little girls! I rolled the windows up, thinking the bats were all out but a few were stuck in the car. They were in our hair, biting us, and going kamikaze on the widows. I was so scared that I wet myself.”

“You wet yourself? Is that it?” I asked, holding back my laughter.

“No. Erick was bit on the nose but the dang thing wouldn’t let go of him. He and the bat were screeching eye to eye. It was scary as hell.”

“Is that it?” I asked, muffling my laugh.

“No. I opened my door, got out and ran around the other side to try and get the thing off his nose. The bat finally did let go and flew out the door with the other two.”

“Was that it?”

“Well, no, because Erick’s nose immediately started swelling up and we were both convinced that he got rabies. But we couldn’t drive to the emergency room because my dad was the hospital’s former chief counsel…”

“Chief counsel?”

“Head lawyer. Anyhow, somebody would tell Daddy that I’d taken the car, and I would have been grounded for life… so I got back in the car and turned the lights on, only to find that the dang bats had shit all over the inside and outside of the car.”

“Ha ha! Is that the funny part?”

“No. Not funny. Because we drove it home then tried to clean it up with Lysol. It took the finish right off the car and discolored the leather on the seats. Worst part was Erick started feeling really sick. He was burning up. I had to go inside and wake up my dad at 2 a.m. and tell him I used his car to go spy on girls and that the Mercedes was shit on and molested with Lysol… Oh, and that Erick was dying on the garage floor…”

“Is that it?” I asked, anxiously.

“No. Dad was so tired that he forgot to get dressed. He’s a big boy and I’ve never seen him waddle that fast. He made it to the garage in his underwear, saw Erick, called 911 and requested an ambulance for a sick kid with his nose half bit off…”

“That all sounds terrible… Talk about bad luck…”

“Well, no, the bad luck was when the EMT got there. We were explaining the whole night to my dad, trying to keep him from killing us both. Seriously, I’ve never seen my pop that angry in my entire life. His face was redder than hell!”

“So him wanting to kill you was the funny?”

“No, the funny was when the EMT overheard Erick talk about a girl named Jenny dancing like a whore on the water pipe…Turns out his daughter, Jenny, was at a slumber party down the road…”


“Yep. So, the EMT was good and angry by then, but Erick was nearly passed out with a high fever so the guy started cutting Erick’s clothes off so that he’d cool down. But as soon as the EMT started cutting his pants, Erick started screaming something about how sorry he was…and promised never to look at Jenny Valentine again…”

“No way. Are you making this up?”

“No, Ma’am.” He baited, in a distinctly early-Virginia drawl.

“Then when is the end coming?…”

“Ah, yes–The big finish. Apparently, Erick didn’t want the guy to cut off his pants because he’d gotten a little aroused by Jenny’s charming rendition of ‘Like a Virgin’ with the water pipe…

“Oh, no!”

“Oh, Yeah! That EMT started cussing at poor Erick and tried to hit him! Mind you, Erick’s nearly passed out with a 104-degree fever. Dad had to bear-hug that EMT to keep him from killing Erick with the scissors!”

“Poor Erick! Puberty sucks!” I couldn’t help but laugh. And once I started, I couldn’t stop. Watching Todd tell that story and the faces he made when the EMT saw what was in Erick’s underpants had me snorting out loud with half the bar stopping to watch.

Todd told the story with such charisma, reliving each scene as if he was fifteen again. We were near strangers but I had already found myself thinking about staying later than I’d planned. I liked being near Todd. His enthusiasm was contagious. And he was obviously pleased with his own performance because once he heard me snort, he was laughing even harder than I was and smacked poor Bruce on the back, nearly knocking him over in the process.

We had laughed so much that by closing time, Todd’s voice was cracking from overuse and no amount of cold beer could help with that.

At 1 a.m. Todd and Bruce walked us back to my car. Todd opened my door, helped me in, shut the door, then winked and walked away. It seems that he was on to my game. He didn’t even try to kiss me and I was irked. But when I got home I found a note on the back of his business card, discreetly tucked into my purse.

I love grouchy women. Can I see you in two weeks when I’m back? Digits on reverse. 


It was nearly three in the morning before I finally felt tired. I thought about Todd and how good it felt to let go, even in front of a hundred strangers. I hadn’t laughed that hard since before Dad died.


Photo by alles (Pixabay)