It had been twenty-five years since Griffin dated. The only reason he asked Amy to dinner was to appease his daughters. After his wife Cheryl passed away fourteen years ago, Griffin devoted his life to raising Nicola and Sabrina. Now that they were both grown, his girls seemed more interested in their father’s love life than their own.
Griffin asked Amy out to dinner because she seemed like a safe choice. They attended the same Bible study at church. She was bright and funny and attractive and at a similar stage in life. If nothing else, they could spend the evening swapping parenting stories.
He took Amy to a sushi restaurant called ‘He’s Got a Knife’. Griffin hoped it would help him appear playful and sophisticated. Being a boring old home body, he knew very little about restaurants.
The two sat a long bar. A man in a white coat and chef’s toque approached. His name tag read ‘Len’.
“May I help you?”
“Yes,” said Griffin quickly. He paused nervously and looked at Amy. His pained expression was an attempt to apologize for his presumptuousness.
“Is there something two can share?” asked Amy.
“Ah, yes. No problem. I’ll be with you shortly. Would you like anything to drink?”
Griffin waited for Amy.
“Water please,” said Amy.
“Same for me,” said Griffin.
The chef stepped away. Amy gave Griffin a look of concern.
“If you want wine or a beer, please don’t let me stop you,” she said.
Griffin looked perplexed. “It’s okay. I prefer water.”
“Oh, okay. I just thought you were thinking, with me being a recovering alcoholic,” said Amy.
“I didn’t know that,” said Griffin.
Amy blushed and looked around the restaurant.
“How long have you been… recovering?”
Griffin and Amy sat in silence. Neither one had the courage to look at each other.
“Does it get easier? After a while?”
“Yeah. The first few months were killer. I don’t want to say it gets easier. I mean, it does, but it’s when you get overconfident that you slip. You know what I mean?”
“That makes sense,” said Griffin.
Len the chef returned and began slicing salmon. Amy noticed all the band-aids he wore under his vinyl gloves.
“Knives look sharp,” said Amy.
“You have no idea,” said Len.
Beads of sweat formed on his forehead. After five minutes of slicing he presented the first course. It looked like pâté.
Griffin and Amy shared looks of trepidation. Len noticed their hesitation and dropped his shoulders.
“I’m terrible at this, I know,” he said.
“No, it’s fine,” said Amy.
“Don’t lie,” said Len. He pointed to the salmon he just finished slicing. “That looks like something my cat threw up on my couch.”
“It’s not that bad, really,” said Griffin. He looked at Amy for help.
“You don’t have to be nice. I never wanted to be a chef. My mom made me. All those Food Network shows, I hate ‘em. The only reason I became a sushi chef was so I wouldn’t have to cook. You think this is bad? You should see me make pasta. Last time I made linguini, three people went to the hospital.”
“Out of curiosity, what would you’ve been if you had your way?” asked Amy.
Len looked back at the kitchen to see if anyone was watching. “I always wanted to be a phlebotomist. You know, work in a lab. How cool would that be?”
Amy spoke carefully. “Well, I’m the CFO at Mercy General and I know we do training. If you’re serious and would like a career change, I can look into it for you.” Amy pulled a business card from her bag and handed it to Len.
Len was so excited he dropped his knife and ran to the kitchen.
“I didn’t know you were a CFO,” said Griffin.
“It’s not really that glamorous,” said Amy.
“It’s glamorous enough for me,” said Griffin. “I’m a librarian.”
The two giggled under their breaths.
“Maybe we should find some place else to eat. That is, if you still want to,” said Griffin.
Amy sighed and smiled. “Absolutely. Who knows how many more lives we could save?”