How Catholics Date

Fiction By Marlene E. Schuler // 3/3/2011

Philip Gray applied the finishing touches to his tie as he stood in front of a mirror. He took a deep, long look at his head make sure that each hair was in its proper place. Finally, he was ready for his date! After two hours of meticulous dressing, ounces upon ounces of hair gel and cologne, and careful preening of his garments, Philip decided it was time to call Renee to tell her when he was going to pick her up. His heart fluttered briefly as his finger flew over the well-known numbers on his phone. Renee’s melodious voice answered, and Philip faltered momentarily.
  “Oh- hello, Renee! It’s me!”
  “Hi, Philip! What time are you coming to pick me up?”
  “Around 5:30. Would that be good?”
  “Oh, and one more thing… I’m sorry. My car broke down, so I’ll have to drive my uncle’s diesel engine truck. You know, the one that has the duct-tape seats?”
  There was silence. Philip could hardly keep from laughing as he spoke again.
  “Just kidding, Renee!”
  Renee emitted a gale of her laughter that warmed Philip’s heart in a most delightful way. He had always loved her laugh, it was unique and no laugh he had ever heard was half so cheerful as hers. They bid one another farewell and hung up. Philip took a deep breath and looked at the crucifix hanging on his wall.
  “Today’s the day, oh my Jesus. Today’s the day!”
  With that, he resolutely walked over to his dresser, and took a small velvet box from on top of it. He opened it, and a small golden ring with a diamond cut into the shape of a heart seemed to smile up at him. Philip whispered an Ave, and was glad that he had had the ring blessed the Sunday before. He felt his knees buckling just at the thought of even asking her. Looking sheepishly into the mirror, he suddenly straightened.
  “Come on then, be a man! Even King Fernando was married!”
  Saint Fernando III was Philip’s hero, and had high hopes of naming his first son after the noble king. His thoughts dreamily drifted towards fatherhood as he went down the stairs, and was almost out the door before he realized he had forgotten something. He turned to the couch beside him, and saw that his eight-year old brother Brian was sitting there. He was wearing a tuxedo.
  “Well, you look -and smell- like you’re ready to go.” the tuxedo-ed boy exclaimed.
  “Yeah, but you can’t come like that!”
  “But it’s your date! You said last time that the Calvin and Hobbs t-shirt and jeans weren’t enough!”  
  Philip almost winced as he painfully recalled the incident. He thought for a brief moment, then looked at his brother.
  “Fine. You can keep the tux-” Brian happily leapt up the couch, but Philip held up a hand, “On the condition that you lose the bow-tie. It’s fake anyhow.”
  Brian frowned as he unclipped the obnoxious tie from his collar.
  “You would never tell, and you only know because it was yours once!”
  As he sulkily made for the door, Philip smiled and put his hand on Brian’s head. He quickly pulled it away as his lip curled in disgust.
  “What are earth did you put in your hair?”
  Brian stopped and smiled up at his brother.
  “The St. Philomena oil!”
  And with that, he went out the door. Philip didn’t know what to do; severely reprimand him or break down laughing. He decided against both and went out to start up the car. Brian was in the front seat. Philip got in the car and turned to his brother.
  “We’ve had a talk about this, Brian-”
  “I know, I know! But please, at least until we get to her house!”
  “Okay, fine. But as soon as we get there…”
  “Right. In the back!”
  Philip started up the car, and they were off. Was it just him, or was the steering wheel incredibly slippery? His heart was bursting- he needed to talk to someone! But these matters aren’t the sort of things you confide in a brother who is twelve years younger than yourself. In the meantime, Brian was busying himself with the air condition and the radio.
  “What’s this? And why is the guy’s head on the air thing just a circle? Why do they always have blue for cold and red for hot? Why does-”
  “I don’t know, and I don’t care!” Philip almost shouted. “Don’t you touch ANYTHING!”
  Brian put his hands on his lap and both were silent. Then, he was about to lift his hand to the radio knob and ask a question, when Philip reminded him that he was to keep quiet.
   Car rides go so much faster if you either have a good friend in on the way or if you’re nervous about something, and the case was no different for poor Philip. As he pulled up in front of Renee’s house, she came right out, as if she had been waiting at the window. Philip looked at Brian in a severe manner, then got out to greet her on the sidewalk. But as he led Renee back on his arm, Brian was still in the front seat. Philip cleared his throat and opened the door. However, Brian saw fit to flip awkwardly into the back seat rather than to get out using the door. Renee tried to keep a serious expression as she sat down, for Philip was quite put off with his brother’s antics. When Philip pulled away from the curb, Brian poked his head in between the front seats.
  “Where are we going to eat? McDonald’s?”
  “No! And buckle up!” Philip replied in a terse manner.
  “I am buckled.”
  Philip took a quick look into the back, and saw that Brian had taken the middle buckle and pulled it out all the way, giving him freedom of movement.
  “Get behind my seat, would you?”   
  Brian reluctantly did as he was told. Now, not that I’ve ever experienced it before or ever will, but I’m given to understand that it is extremely difficult to propose to a girl with a younger brother in close proximity. Philip was in such a situation. Before he had gotten into the car, he had tried to come up with solutions to his most delicate problem, but every single one failed in one way or another. He hoped that things would come easier once they got to the restaurant, but he was in for a big surprise. Pulling up to the front of the aforementioned establishment, Philip saw a large sign on the door.
  “What’s it say?” Renee queried. Women usually query at moments such as this.
  “I’ll go and see.”
  With that, Philip left the car and walked up to the door. The sign read:
With much regret, the establishment has been closed temporarily. Any reservations will be transferred to another date.

  A sudden vocabulary of unpleasant words came to Philip’s mind. For the lack of anything better to say, he merely stamped his foot and exclaimed, “Rot!” Renee got out of the car and came to Philip’s side. Reading the sign quickly, she turned to him.
  “Well, there’s always another restaurant, Philip.”
  “True, but the only one that’s worth going to is an hour’s drive-”
  “We don’t have to go that far! I know of a few diners in town.”
  Philip smiled, in spite of his annoyance. She was always trying to make things better, and usually she succeeded.
  “Really, I’d rather drive the hour. Besides, I don’t want this to be a diner night.” he paused, not knowing how to phrase his thoughts. “Brian even wore a tux. We could at least take him to a nicer place.”
  Renee laughed lightly, then both went back to their seats. Brian was on them immediately.
  “It’s closed, isn’t it? There’s a McDonald’s a few minutes away!”  
  Philip pretended not to notice him as he started up the car. On top of having a bouncy brother in tow on what was supposed to be the greatest date in history, the restaurant that he had reserved two weeks in advance was closed. Despite the pleadings of the two passengers, he decided to make the one-hour trip.
  It wasn’t too bad at first. Brian, after three admonitions, was quietly looking out the window, and Renee was happily looking at the music collection that Philip always had on hand (it was mostly Glen Miller and classical, by the by). She selected some swing music, and soon some toe-tapping music went on. Brian was on, too.
  “Oh, music! Can you turn this boring stuff off and put Starwars on?”
  “NO! Just leave it on!” Philip nearly shouted.
  Everything was quiet again. Only the music was making any noise. It was, regrettably, a long car-ride; whenever Renee brought up something, Brian always found something else to say. Eventually, the conversation (if it can be indeed be called that) lulled off into silence. Brian piped up.
  “I have to go to the bathroom, Philip.”
  “I told you to use it before we left!”
  “Well, I didn’t have to go then. But now I’ve really, really got to go…”
  “Just hang on until we get to the restaurant, we’re almost there.”
  More silence.
  “When are we going to get there?”
  “Ten to fifteen minutes.”
  “Oh. Do they serve cheeseburgers at the restaurant?”
  “Probably not.”
  FINALLY, they reached the restaurant. But as Philip opened Renee’s door, a man inside the restaurant came and replaced the ‘open’ sign with a ‘closed’ one. Philip ran frantically at the door and knocked.
  What will I do if this fails? Fernando, in heaven’s name help me! he thought.
  The man opened the door.
  “Something wrong?”
   Philip then proceeded to explain all that had happened. The man’s face brightened with a smile, and he told the three to wait in the foyer. Presently, another man in a suit came and told them to follow him. He led them into a large room, in the middle of which there was a fancily set table with candles atop it. The waiter smiled broadly as he pulled out Renee’s chair.
  It was a splendid dinner, and, much to Brian’s delight, there were cheeseburgers on the menu. But when the three went outside an hour later, they found that it had been pouring rain the entire time they were eating. They ran to the car, but as Philip unlocked the doors, he noticed with a sinking heart that one of the front tires was flat. Not saying a word, he slowly walked to the trunk, quietly opened it, and nearly broke down crying. This was perhaps the worst date he had ever experienced, and things weren’t getting any better. Taking the jack and the spare tire and not caring in the least what his suit looked like, he went back to the tire and began to work on the problem.
  Then, like an angel from the heavens, Renee got out of the car to see if he needed any help. As they worked, a thought flashed through Philip’s mind:
  It’s now or never.
  He dropped his tool, took Renee’s hand, pulled out the ring and slipped it on her finger. And of all the elaborate speeches he had arranged beforehand, all he could say was,
  “Would you marry me?”
  The rain fell. She looked shocked.
  Tears began to fall from her eyes, and all she could say was,



Our pastor once told us it

Our pastor once told us it was helpful to have a younger sibling along while you go on a date, to ensure that nothing remiss would happen. Hence the inspiration for my... unusual story! 

Marlene E. Schuler | Fri, 03/04/2011

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I've got to say...

I really enjoyed this.  Especially Brian -- everyone needs a brother like that.  Keep up the writing, and welcome to Apricotpie!

James | Mon, 03/07/2011

"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

Thanks a bunch! Brian is

Thanks a bunch! Brian is based on a friend's brother, who actually did put St. Philomena oil in his hair.

Marlene E. Schuler | Fri, 03/11/2011

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Very nice piece!

Anna | Mon, 03/14/2011

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

 This is great Marlene! Brian

 This is great Marlene! Brian is just so funny! He reminds me of my brothers and sisters!

Rachel M. Keifer | Wed, 05/04/2011



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