EVERY OTHER SATURDAY – Excerpt
“I think you should go on J-Date.”
Lyric examined her hot dog as though it were a delicacy from an exotic country. The way she wrinkled her four-year-old nose reminded Dave so much of his ex-wife it was painful.
He was stopped with the third chili-slaw dog halfway to his mouth. “How did you hear about J-Date?”
“From Rachel. Her aunt went on J-Date and found somebody to marry. Rachel gets to be a flower girl in the wedding.” She took a tiny bite of the hot dog and chewed appraisingly. The traditional Varsity paper hat was nestled awkwardly into her wild straw-colored curls, streaked with blonde. It was early August, their last Wednesday of the hot Georgia summer. Dave thought a trip to Atlanta’s oldest fast-food institution was in order.
“You think I need to find someone to marry?”
“Daddy. You are very handsome.” Beneath her curls, she gave him a sympathetic look. Dave marveled for the millionth time that he had helped create this perfect little person.
“Are we talking about Rachel from your class? Rachel Epstein?”
Lyric rolled her eyes. Classic Debbie, only smaller and cuter. “What other Rachel would I be talking about? She gets to wear a twirly white dress with lace and a black ribbon and shiny black shoes for dancing…”
“Wait. Is her aunt the one with the curly blonde hair? The one who came to the Hanukkah party last year?”
Lyric shrugged. “I guess so. I want to be a flower girl, too, Daddy.”
“Rachel’s aunt was on J-Date?” If he remembered correctly, Rachel’s aunt was hot.
“Yeah, she was about to turn into a bird.”
“A bird?” Dave took an icy slurp of his Frosted Orange—the Varsity’s signature frozen dessert that was half milkshake, half Creamsicle.
Lyric nodded seriously. “If a girl doesn’t get married on time, she turns into a bird. Rachel said she heard her mom say her aunt was already getting bird feet.”
When he worked it out, the laugh almost made him choke. “Baby, are you talking about crow’s feet?”
“It’s not funny,” she said. “Girls should not have bird feet.”
After a few minutes of squinting across the table and pointing at the creases next to his eyes, she still seemed to doubt his explanation. Finally he settled for, “I don’t mind crow’s feet on a pretty girl. And I will love you forever, even if you have monkey feet.”
This sent her into a fit of giggles, and they drank their Frosted Oranges, discussing the different types of animal feet they would like to have if they could.
“What are we doing next?” Lyric wiped a pale orange mustache with the back of her hand.
“I thought we’d go see where the big girls play basketball at Georgia Tech.”
Lyric was tall like her mom, and Dave hoped she might one day be interested in basketball. Not that he’d pressure her. But he’d pulled some strings with the athletic director at Tech, and arranged for a personal tour this afternoon. He could show her the locker rooms and the trophies and maybe get her a team ball.
It couldn’t hurt. “Isn’t that exciting?”
She shrugged. Damn. He’d chosen wrong again. “Or we could do the zoo? I’m okay if you want to do something different.”
Lyric’s bottom lip jutted out. “I was hoping we could meet Mommy at the movies.”
“Mommy’s going to the movies today? By herself?” He knew it was wrong to ask his daughter about her mom. But Debbie hadn’t mentioned a date this week. Not that he cared.
“Nope,” Lyric said. “With Uncle Aaron. That’s why I wanted to go.”
Dave stopped cold. “Uncle Aaron? As in, Daddy’s best friend Aaron?”
The words rattled their way out of his mouth.
# # #
From romantic comedy author M.J. Pullen comes a unique story about finding help when you need it most, and love where you expect it least.
Even though their daughters have been in the same Jewish preschool class for three years, struggling store owner Julia Mendel and sports blogger Dave “from the Man Cave” Bernstein have never gotten along. She sees him as a definitely arrogant, possibly misogynist symbol of everything that’s wrong with the men in her life. He sees her as the odd, short-tempered PTA president, out to make his life more difficult at every opportunity.
As part of his job, Dave accepts an on-air challenge: go out with a different woman from a Jewish dating site every Saturday for the next four months, and blog the results. He quickly secures his daughter’s favorite preschool teacher (and super-nanny) Ms. Elizabeth to make the experiment possible. Little does he know Julia is in desperate need of the same sitter for the same schedule, so that she can take a part-time job while pacifying her son, who has severe OCD.
A confrontation in the carpool lane leads to an uneasy compromise: they will pool their resources to share Ms. Elizabeth’s services every-other Saturday night. After a while, Dave finds himself sharing his dating stories with non-Jewish Julia across her kitchen table; while she reluctantly turns to him for the masculine perspective – especially for her son – she’s been missing since her divorce. As the Saturdays wear on, however, they may discover they have more in common than car seats and custody schedules.
M.J. Pullen Bio:
MANDA (M.J.) PULLEN, former therapist and marketer, is the author of complex, funny contemporary romances. She was raised in the suburbs of Atlanta by a physicist and a flower child, who taught her that life is tragic and funny, and real love is anything but simple. She studied English Literature and Business at the University of Georgia, and Professional Counseling at Georgia State University.
Manda has a weakness for sappy movies, juicy gossip, craft beer and boys who talk baseball. After traveling around Europe and living in cities like Austin and Portland, she returned to Atlanta where she lives with her family.