Carlos picked up the receiver and put it back down again for the fifth time in a row. He paced the length of his apartment berating himself. Dios Carlos just phone the woman! She’s been your friend since the year dot, she won’t bite you know. Susanna has probably told her to expect your call anyway. You know what that girl is like once she gets an idea in her head she won’t let it go. She’ll nag at you every time Dylan comes for his lessons. You may as well just phone her and have it done with, you’ve nothing to lose, you are still friends, you just haven’t spoken in a while. It’s not like you will be making a fool of yourself with some stranger. “And there is no fool like an old fool” he said aloud and dialled the number before he changed his mind again.
The ringing seemed to go on for ever and he was about to hang up when the line clicked and a breathless voice said “Hello?”
“Catherine?” he replied hoping he’d got the right person even though the number on the card Susanna had given him was etched in his brain he’d stared at it that much.
“Carlos! Hello! Susanna told me she’d given you my new number, how are you?” her voice was as warm as he remembered.
“I’m good thank you, how are you?”
She said she was fine, and that she was so pleased Carlos had agreed to take Dylan on as a pupil. He offered his condolences on the loss of her husband and apologised again for not being able to attend the funeral. She assured him it was fine and that she understood he’d been away at the time. They talked of old friends, Catherine wondered if he still kept in touch with the other members of Il Divo “only Christmas cards and birthday cards I’m afraid to say” he replied.
After half an hour or so, just as the conversation came to an end with promises to call each other a lot more often now they had each others phone numbers, an idea popped into Carlos’ mind and before he had time to think about it he said “Would you like to meet for coffee one day this week?”
“That would be lovely! Would tomorrow be okay?” then she laughed “I sound like a desperate old woman don’t I?! But it is really the only day I’m free”
Carlos let out a deep rumble of a laugh “Well that’s okay because I’m a desperate old man! Tomorrow will be fine. Do you still live in the area? I can come out to you if you don’t, whatever is easier”
It turned out that although they hadn’t seen or spoken to each other in more than 10 years they did indeed live in the same area “How on earth have we managed to avoid each other for all these years!” Catherine exclaimed.
Arrangements were made, Good Nights were said, and they both put their respective phones down with a smile on their faces.
The following morning Carlos was up early instead of lounging in bed reading the newspaper as he normally did when there were no singing lessons booked. He showered, shaved, and headed back to his bedroom. He stood in front of the open wardrobe wondering what on earth he was going to wear. “Jeans or trousers?” he wondered aloud as he moved hangers of clothes along the rail “shirt or polo shirt?”
Light streamed through the curtains, the sun was out already, it was going to be a hot day again. “Well that pretty much decides it then” and he picked out a light pair of trousers and a polo shirt.
Catherine was also up early and was also standing in front of her wardrobe with no idea what to wear, wishing Susanna were at home so she could ask her daughters advice. It had been a long time since she had been on a date. “Is it a date?” she wondered “Do 60 year old women go on dates?” Don’t be so stupid a voice in her head scolded her of course they do. Get back to the important decision, what are you going to wear? Catherine could pretty much wear whatever she wanted within reason she had kept her figure well and looked ten, well five years younger than her years. A regular date with the colourist at the hair salon helped as well.
However the last ten years since Richard had died, she’d felt considerably older. Yes she had her family and the various committees she sat on, but was it enough? She’d had a couple of dates with a couple of nice men but it never amounted to much. Maybe she’d been alone long enough. Dress to impress she thought, and it being such a nice day, she picked out a long, flowing sundress that Susanna said picked out the colour of her eyes. I wonder if it’s easier for men?
She would have had her answer if she could’ve seen Carlos half an hour after he had “decided” what to wear. Clothes strewn everywhere, as he wondered if he looked “too dressed up” or “not smart enough” or “should he dye his hair” or “why don’t these damn jeans fit” and so on. Eventually he went back to his original choice, deciding that both dyeing his hair and Botox to get rid of some of the lines on his face would a) take time he didn’t have and b) make him look ridiculous. As for the jeans, well they must’ve shrunk in the wash. He wasn’t fat, he just didn’t have the same muscle tone he’d had in his younger days. His hair wasn’t quite as dark as it used to be, there was now a fair amount of grey, which his last girlfriend had said looked distinguished. But that had been a few years ago now. “I wonder when distinguished becomes just plain old”. He watched what he ate, and still didn’t drink an awful lot, although he had developed a taste for good wine lately. But he didn’t like to drink on his own. Maybe he could change that. That thought made him smile, grabbing his keys, wallet and phone he set off to meet Catherine.
They arrived more or less at the same time, hugged, and gave each other a peck on the cheek “Senora” Carlos said theatrically, pulling out a chair for her to sit on at an outside table.
“Gracias Senor” Catherine smiled “You look good”
Carlos took the seat opposite her “So do you”
A waiter appeared and they ordered their coffee.
“It’s a beautiful day isn’t it” remarked Catherine
“It certainly is” Carlos grinned “it certainly is”