Allie had the head of an elephant. Thom blinked; she did not look anything like the picture she had sent him. Her body was small and slender, her neck an elegant slope. The elephant’s head seemed to come out of nowhere—no transition from Allie’s smooth skin to its gray wrinkles. She looked like a Frankenstein experiment, politely crossing her legs as she settled at the bistro table. Thom said, “Your dress is nice.”
Allie lifted her trunk. “Thank you,” she said with the pink mouth underneath. Her voice was light and airy, very feminine. Thom coughed. Allie carefully spread her napkin over her lap. “Have you ordered yet?” she asked.
“Uh, no,” Thom said. He clenched and unclenched his fists, tongued an ulcer growing in his cheek. “I thought I’d wait for you. You said you’ve been here before. I wanted to ask what you recommend.”
“That’s so sweet!” Allie exclaimed. “You really should try the orzo pasta.”
“Yeah,” Thom said. His jaw hung slightly ajar. He watched Allie place her trunk in the glass of water in front of her. She was having trouble locating the dainty glass beneath her monstrous trunk, and she tipped it over. Thom leaned forward and caught it. The water soaked into his sleeve. “Ah. Whoops,” he said.
Allie stood up. The napkin fell out of her lap. She anxiously gathered a handful of napkins from the dispenser on the table and leaned forward to help Thom clean up. Her head was very heavy; she tipped forward onto the table, knocking forks and menus about.
Thom sighed and took her hand, lifted her up. He helped her back into her seat and reset the table. He noticed that Allie was crying just a tad, but he didn’t say anything.
“I’m sorry,” Allie said, holding her purse against her chest. “I’m just so clumsy, and—and—Yikes. I’m sorry.”
“There have been worst first dates,” Thom said.
“Yeah,” Allie said. She allowed herself to smile.
“So,” Thom said. He shuffled in his seat and held his menu up in front of his face. “You don’t really, uh, look like your picture, you know. I wasn’t expecting this.”
“Oh shoot. I’m sorry. I must have accidentally sent an old picture.” Her enormous cheeks were growing red. She held her trunk up to her forehead to hide behind it. “Are you disappointed?”
“I mean—I—everyone stretches the truth a little on those things. I’m not exactly 6’2” myself.”
Allie giggled at that. Her laugh was very cute, dancing out of her monstrous folds of skin. Thom laughed at that. They were laughing harder, then. Thom held his chest as he tried to force the guffaws to subside. Allie couldn’t catch her breath. A painfully large hiccup erupted from her trunk in an obnoxious burst before either of them were able to calm down.
They were still wiping the tears from their faces when the waiter came to take their orders. Allie sheepishly ordered a salad. Thom said, “Yeah, uh. I guess I’ll have the orzo pasta.”