#FridayFlash: A Bucket of Rocks

"A Bucket of Rocks"

by Tony Noland

"Ah, hang on just a sec."

Her glass of pinot gris is almost to her lips when he says it. She almost spills a drop when she stops it without taking her first sip.

"I, uh... I just wanted to ask, I mean, before you drink that, I wanted to ask..."

She lowers the glass, sets it back on the table next to her menu. Off to a poor start, the date is shaping up to be one of those where you drink too much. Now, when the drinks had arrived and they had something to do that would give a perfect excuse for not talking, he wants to talk. His beer sits untouched in front of him.

"Do you want this?"

Unaware and unintentionally comic looking, her eyebrows are up and her mouth is open in surprise. Does she want this? This? Another first date? Another evening wasted, spent dancing the same old stupid dance, circling, posturing? Another night of bad theater, playing the starring role of Single Woman against a fill-in-the-blank guy playing Single Man? Why would she want this?

"Because it looked like you really would have rather had the beer."

Oh. He was asking her if she wanted his beer. Good Lord.

"The only reason I ask is... well, look." He takes a deep breath, then rushes on. "The fact is, I don't really like beer. I ordered it because that's what guys are supposed to drink. Every time I go out on a date I drink beer when I'd really rather be drinking wine. It's stupid that there's a gender thing tied up in it, and maybe it's just me being too concerned with how I'm presenting myself here, and..."

She says nothing, lets him have his say.

"OK, and now I'm talking too much, even before drinking anything. It's just that I thought I saw you hesitate when ordering wine, and then when she brought the drinks, it looked like you would really rather have had the beer. The long and the short of it is, I think I could really get to like you, and I want to get off to a good start." His mouth twisted into a half-smile. "I'd like to get off to any kind of a start on a date without a bunch of b.s., to be perfectly honest. So, what I'm trying to say is, do you want to trade drinks?"

Her answer is not that long in coming, but long enough that it's obvious she is considering carefully how to respond.

"Actually," she says, "I don't really care for beer. I ordered the wine because I like wine."

"Oh. Ah, right. Well... right, sorry." For three seconds, a complicated swirl of emotions plays across his face, ultimately settling on a mixture of disappointment and grim resolution. Another one of those dates where you drink too much.

His bottle of Heineken is almost to his lips when she laughs out loud. He spills a bit onto his lap when he stops it without taking his first sip.

"I'm just kidding," she says. "I would really rather have the beer. I'm just... well, it's hard to admit that someone has you pegged so well."

He grins. She does the same.

The waitress, working up another check over at the cash register, hears the laughter and she smiles. First date. Thank God it seems to be going well. They always tip big when they laugh.

Feel free to comment on this or any other post.


  1. This was fun to read. We've all obviously been there once or twice.

    (I have repressed the few first dates I've been on.)

  2. Breezy, fun, coy, nice.
    The kind of date we'd all like to be on.

  3. Awwww.
    As a fellow beer drinker, I like this girl

  4. Heh, I almost had them doing shots at the end. Tequila for her, top-shelf vodka for him.

    Thanks for reading, guys!

  5. Oh the poor girl! I kept screaming at her to Leave Now! :)

    Great fun story Tony.

  6. I like the savvy of the waitress. She knows exactly what's in her best interests. the difference between affairs of the heart and affairs of business I suppose.

    marc nash

  7. Awww. The awkwardness of first dates is such a universal "ouch".

    Really enjoyed it. And I'm staying for the shots!

  8. This was a fun peek at the awkwardness of that first date. I like how you ended with the waitress.

  9. LOL - really enjoyed this! I was hoping she was going to like him because he was wanting to be honest, so I'm delighted with the way it turned out. Hope the waitress was suitable pleased with the tip! :-)

  10. Adorable. Just adorable. To be fair, I know plenty of women who like beer just as much as they like wine... where would such a silly preconception originate?

  11. Aw, this is just great. I love his awkwardness, and how her internal monologue doesn't match when he starts off. You rock Sir.

  12. This was really nice to read. Good dialogue Tony. :)

  13. The date's speech was awkward and perfect. You've perfectly captured first date.

  14. You portrayed them and their tension so well. I'm glad they work it out.

    Nice writing.

  15. This was just a bonbon I cooked up this morning. I'm glad you all liked it!

    Makes me want to do shots, though...

  16. I know you wrote this quicker than usual with your schedule, Tony. I gave it an editorial glance and came up with a couple of notes. "almost" shows up twice in the second paragraph. A few cases of ellipses needed one more dot, traditional when elipsis end a sentence that is not concluded later and/or the next statement is punctuated like a new sentence: second elipsis in third paragraph; 1st in the 9th, arguably the 2nd. In all the other cases it's fine. The dialogue is otherwise technically sound as well as natural.

    Hope everything's okay and you're avoiding the sharks.

  17. Enjoyed it very much, but I think there's a tiny typo that had me scratching my head:
    His bottle of Heineken is almost to her [shouldn't it be his?] lips when she laughs out loud. He spills a bit onto his lap when he stops it without taking his first sip.

    Otherwise, he's practically pouring the beer to her, but spilling on himself...

    Nice that she doesn't spill, but he does. And totally with you on the shots. :)

  18. Poor insecure creatures. Order what you like, for goodness sake. My favorite character is the waitress. She knows what's what.

    Great story, I can just see these two dancing around each other trying to perform correctly. Let's hope they relax a little. ~ Olivia

  19. Yay! Short and satisfying like a glass of Pinot Gris. :)


  20. Ooh, really liked this. Entertaining and kind of subtly hits on an issue I'm interested in, gender roles and all that.

  21. I'm oh-so-glad to be a) married, and b) not in my 20's any more! lol You've captured the first date awkwardness very well :-)

  22. Benjamin: I'm quite interested in gender-based expectations as well. Literature deals extensively with women breaking out of societal strictures and the consequences they experience. Men historically have more freedom to do what they want, so being an iconoclast is comparatively easy for me. However, there are some cultural norms that guys are supposed to adhere to.

    When a guy makes a conscious decision to NOT follow, what happens? I can tell you, letting it be known that you don't follow sports very closely is tantamount to admitting a testosterone deficiency.

    PJ: VERY glad to have all of this behind me.

  23. This was fun! I'm trying to figure out how the title fits in though...

  24. Laura: A bucket of rocks is an ice bucket filled with Rolling Rock beers. There's nothing more relaxed, friendly and unpretentious than a bucket of rocks. It's the ultimate expression of being comfortable in your own skin, and in the company you're with.

    This scene begins as the antithesis of relaxed, open & friendly. It's all about posturing, posing, pretending. By the end, though, these two have made a decent start.

    One day, if they're compatible beyond their acceptance of each other's choice of beverage, they may find themselves relaxing together, enjoying a summer evening with a bucket of rocks for her, and an iced sangria for him.

    The title refers to the hoped for outcome in the quest for love and companionship.

    Pretty obscure, I know, but most of my titles are.

  25. This was good. I'm glad things worked out and the waitress got a big tip! The only thing I didn't understand was the title. Maybe the date was a bunle of rocks? I'm not familiar withthe slang.

    Good story with nice ending.

  26. I liked this, though it brought back some memories from years ago I thought I'd managed to blank out!

  27. Lots of fun. A unique twist, to be sure.

  28. I enjoyed your tale of insecurity! Thanks for explaining the title - that is very interesting.

    I prefer wine! Well, maybe the occasional dark beer.

  29. I love how refreshingly awkward this is. I am not sure if those two words should be used so close together, but I did it anyway ;-)

  30. Very true to life, I've had a few dates like that.

  31. I think your use of "bad theater" sums the whole exercise up nicely. That's what these occasions often turn out to be.

  32. I'm glad you all liked it! I think we can all agree that it's best when those days are behind you.


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