Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/396526-A-Modest-Proposal
by Sophy
Rated: E · Short Story · Comedy · #396526
Taking the bite out of a romantic dinner for two senior citizens.
This story was the 4/10/02 Winner *Smile* in the "Writer's Cramp" contest, where the prompt was to write a 1,000 word story in 24 hours with:

A "found" pair of lost dentures...a senior citizen date...a steak dinner and a jar of baby food...your story is a romance-filled evening gone awry.

A Modest Proposal

Stepping out of the shower, Max wiped off the mirror and peered at himself through the fog. “Not bad for an old fart,” he thought, flexing a few muscles.

He leaned closer and smiled. His reflection smiled back with dingy teeth. “Can’t have that tonight of all nights,” he said, grabbing his denture cleaning kit. A quick glance around told him that his soaking glass wasn’t there. His daughter Katie probably put it in the dishwasher while she was cleaning his apartment for the “big date,” as she called it. He would have to improvise. He was not comfortable wandering around in front of his daughter and eighteen month old granddaughter with only a towel, so he searched the bathroom for something else to use.

Katie was supposed to be gone already, promising to leave while he was in the shower. But he could hear her out there, looking for something to do, as if he didn’t know she was stalling, hoping to say hello Carol. She was nervous, and who could blame her? Max was planning to propose to Carol tonight.

He’d been a widower for five years, and even though Katie liked Carol, Max knew it would be an adjustment for her. He had talked things over with her last week, getting her blessing to ask Carol to be his wife. Katie cried at first, tears of joy and sadness, she admitted. Happy that her father had found love again, but still sad for the loss of her mother, his wife.

And then she’d given her blessing and offered to help create a special, romantic evening for them. She cleaned his apartment from top to bottom, and prepared all of the fixings for a steak dinner. All Max had to do was light the grill, open the wine, and cook the steaks

But now she wouldn’t leave.

“If I could just say hello,” Katie pleaded when Max asked that she leave before Carol arrived.

“Honey,” Max said, “I really appreciate all your help tonight, it’s wonderful! But if she gets one look at your face she’ll KNOW what’s up, and I really wanted to surprise her.”

So Katie had grudgingly agreed to go, though she was still lurking out there now.

After rifling around in a few drawers, Max found one of Rebecca’s larger “tippy cups” ~ she spent a lot of time there, so many of her things were at his apartment. He removed the lid, filled it with water, dropped in the soaking tablet and dentures, put the lid back on, and set it to the side. When he emerged from the bathroom dressed to the nines a few minutes later, Katie was in the kitchen scrubbing the oven.

“Honey, you don’t need to do that, we aren’t even using the oven!”

“But Daddy!” she protested.

“Poppa no teeth!” shouted Rebecca from her high chair.

He smiled a toothless grin at Rebecca, who collapsed into giggles. “No buts, Katie. I love you, the place looks wonderful, everything is ready to go, but it’s time for you to let your old dad leave the nest and fly on his own. I promise to call you later.” He hugged her, kissed her forehead, and helped Rebecca into her sweater.

“Let me just do a quick run through the apartment one more time, Daddy,” she said, out of the oven and already on her way before he could stop her. She was back in sixty seconds, and out the door a minute later, calling out to him, “Don’t forget your teeth!”

He laughed, thought for the millionth time how lucky he was to have such a loving daughter, and headed for the bathroom. Where the tippy cup was missing.

After several minutes of frantic searching turned up nothing, he took a few deep breaths. Okay, calm down, think, where could it be? Had he been so rattled he’d moved it? He retraced his steps a few times, but to no avail.

Well, that was that, he’d have to call Carol and reschedule. He couldn’t ask a woman to marry him with no teeth in his head. He sighed heavily and headed toward the phone as the doorbell rang. He froze. What should he do? She was early! He must have stood there longer than he thought, because the bell rang again.

“Who is it?” he called out, stalling for time.

“It’s me, silly,” Carol’s laughter sang out from the other side of the door.

“Carol! You’re a bit early and I’m not quite ready,” he answered, hoping he sounded calm.

“No problem, I’ll wait in the living room while you finish.”

He had to let her in. He couldn’t say he had the plague or something, so he’d have to wing it. “Okay, I’ll unlock the door but count to 10 before you come in so I can get back to the bathroom, I’m not decent!”

She laughed suggestively, but agreed. He unlocked the door and sprinted to the bathroom.

Ten minutes later, Carol knocked gently on the door. “Max are you okay, honey?”

Max was sitting on the edge of the tub, head in his hands. He’d torn the bathroom apart but still couldn’t find his teeth. He must be getting senile. Should he tell her the truth, or make something up to get her to leave?

Never a coward, he decided to be honest. At least this way he’d find out if she really loved him. He put one hand over his mouth and opened the door. “This is really very embarrassing…” he started, and then told her about his missing teeth. When he finished she smiled, kissed him gently on the cheek, and asked to use the bathroom.

He stepped out of her way, shocked. So that was it, she was appalled, afraid to face him without teeth. She was going to compose herself in the bathroom, and then find a graceful way to exit. Head down, he headed for the kitchen, disappointed in how he’d misjudged her, wondering how he’d break it to Katie.

A minute later she was in the kitchen, arms open, smiling her own toothless grin at him. After they stopped laughing, they rummaged through the cupboards and found an old jar of Rebecca’s baby food. It was applesauce, so Carol chopped a banana into it, poured some milk into the wine glasses, and lit the candles as they shared a romantic dinner for two, during which she agreed to be Max’s wife.


Katie put Rebecca to bed, and then unloaded the diaper bag. She pulled out the tippy cup she’d found in her father’s bathroom, and was surprised it still rattled. She’d assumed it was ice when she dumped the liquid out in her father’s bathroom sink, but it would have melted by now. Curious, she popped off the lid and looked with horror as her father’s teeth smiled up at her from the cup.
© Copyright 2002 Sophy (sophie at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/396526-A-Modest-Proposal