In the restaurant with your husband you smell the perfume you used to wear 20 years ago. You turn around and see a girl barely out of college on a date with a boy.
“That’s me,” you tell your husband. “On my first date with you. She’s wearing the perfume I used to wear.”
Your husband nods politely, then continues to eat in silence. You try to go on with your meal, but you can’t stop turning around to look at the girl. It’s like a tunnel into the past. You’re watching your younger self gaze into a boy’s eyes, blind to what the future holds, completely oblivious to the idea that one day you’ll have a past to look back on, a history of choices to pick apart in hindsight and second-guess. This could be the meal where she decides that’s the boy for her, forever. This could be it.
Your husband yawns, gets up from the table to go to the rest room.
You get up from your chair and go to the girl’s table.
“Excuse me,” you say. “Can I speak to you?”
The girl gets up and follows you to the bar.
“Run,” you say.
The girl looks back at the boy at the table.
“No,” you say. “Run. Go.”
“But,” she says.
“GO NOW!” you scream.
The girl turns and sprints out of the restaurant. The boy gets up to give chase, but you stand in his way. You shake your head no.
“Let her go,” you tell him.
The boy sits back down.
You return to your table, just a few seconds before your husband comes back from the bathroom. The two of you finish your meal, quietly. The scent of the girl’s perfume still lingers in the air, making you a little too nauseous to eat very much of your entrée.
Happy Perfume Day!