Blind Date 2.0

When Lori met Brent for the second time, something clicked. Standing with his back against the wall of the character home, he looked sharp in his tan dress pants and dark-coral sweater. His soft brown eyes and polite conversation drew her in, putting her at ease. Their host, John, stood alongside them in the main-floor hallway of his Bankview rental while his girlfriend, Bonnie, finished getting ready upstairs.

Nothing bad had happened the first time Lori and Brent met. It was just a little nerve-racking. It all began when Bonnie, her bubbly new coworker at the dental clinic, suggested the four of them go out on a Saturday night. So in October of 1986, they went to Yuk Yuk’s and listened to stand-up comedy, which Lori had thought would take the edge off meeting someone new. The intermission gave her and Brent a chance to visit, but the conversation was awkward. The venue was loud, making it difficult for them to hear each other. Lori tried to talk to Brent as they sat squished in among some burly Calgary Stampeders. A sports enthusiast, Brent recognized the pro football players immediately. Lori had hitched a ride with Bonnie and John, so it was a quick goodbye to Brent at the end of the show, and that was that.

Their next date was the following March. Once Bonnie had completed her toilette, the foursome headed to the trendy Fourth Street Rose Restaurant and Bar for a light supper. Lori wore an off-white-and-navy dress she had purchased from Le Chateau and matching navy shoes from Arnold Churgin in Chinook Mall. She would later find out that Brent considered her style “earthy.” He also confessed that he had almost canceled their second date, having returned from a ski trip to Fernie, British Columbia, earlier that day. He was tired and craved sleep in his own bed, but his buddy Andrew had encouraged him not to miss the opportunity to see Lori again.

Lori and Brent’s second date occurred on a delightful spring evening with balmy temperatures. Following dinner, the party went to The Bank, an iconic nightclub in the lively and vibrant Steven Avenue area.

“Would you like to dance?” Brent asked her.

The night was young. They were the first couple on the dance floor.

“That’s Mike Vernon standing over there.” Brent subtly pointed. “He’s a goalie for the Calgary Flames,” he politely informed her, apparently noticing her lack of recognition.

A few more dances, a couple of breaks, and it was time to call it a night.

Bonnie and John needed some last-minute snacks at the 7-Eleven, so they made a quick stop and ran inside.

“It’s my birthday on Friday,” Lori casually told Brent as they waited in the back seat of John’s car. She was impressed that Brent had asked her to dance so early in the evening. He was easy to talk to, and she could hear his conversation, unlike their blind date five months prior.

When John returned, he drove them back to Bankview and their respective vehicles.

On Friday, a dozen red roses were delivered to Lori while she was working at the Forest Lawn Dental Clinic.

“Wow!” said Bonnie.

“They’re from Brent,” Lori said, smiling as the girls stood at the reception desk. “I told him that my birthday was today. Could you give me his phone number so I can call and thank him?”

Once she got home that evening, after a delicious turkey dinner prepared by her mother, Lori slipped into the master bedroom for privacy and dialed the number on the landline.

Brent picked up after only a few rings. Once she’d thanked him for the flowers, he asked, “Would you like to have coffee with me tomorrow night?”

“Yes,” Lori replied, pleased she had caught him at home.

The pair met the next evening at Café Calabash and spent a couple of hours chatting steadily. Lori ordered an Irish coffee followed by a regular coffee with cream. Afterward, Brent walked her to her car.

Lori plucked a piece of paper from underneath her windshield wiper. “Looks like I got a parking ticket.” She had seen the No Parking sign earlier but didn’t think it would apply on a Saturday night.

They chuckled.

“Would you like to go skiing with me tomorrow?” Brent asked before they got into their vehicles and left the parking lot. He said it was a new hobby and that he enjoyed getting to the mountains as often as he could.

Lori didn’t sleep that night because of all the caffeine. Yet the lack of sleep didn’t stop her from driving forty-five minutes to Brent’s apartment early the next morning. She transferred her skis to his 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass—a university graduation gift to himself, he’d told her—and they set off for Nakiska. It was her first time on the perfectly groomed Olympic-length runs, and she did her best to keep pace with him.

“Will you have dessert with me tomorrow night?” Brent asked after their day on the slopes.

Lori agreed to meet him at Moxie’s the next night. That time, she ordered decaf tea and cheesecake.

The pair enjoyed each other’s company so much that they hung out daily. Brent often sent bouquets of flowers to the dental clinic. Lori’s dad would smile as she carried them into her home after work. Brent was making a good impression not only on Lori but also on her family. Her mom especially liked Brent, and the two of them bonded quickly.

One evening, she and Brent had just finished supper at his apartment and decided to go for a stroll on a nearby hill. Once they got there, he said, “Put your hand in my pocket.”

Lori carefully slid her hand down the front pocket of his slim-fit Levi’s.

“Go a little deeper,” he encouraged after she came up empty-handed.

Her second attempt yielded success. Lori couldn’t believe her eyes as she examined a sparkly diamond solitaire ring with a yellow-gold band.

Brent’s cheeks flushed as he looked into her eyes. “Will you marry me?”

“Yes!” Lori was enraptured by his proposal.

It was Saturday, May 9, exactly six weeks after their first coffee date at Café Calabash.