By Mr Ninny
Poor old Drib Drab. He's a swell guy if you hold your breath when you’re around him, and he might be a little weird or intense, but his heart is in the right place and he deserves a good woman. Speaking of which, I saw him last night after his blind date with 'Betty' – a friend of a friend of a friend. Apparently she was new in town and was feeling a little lonely. It seemed perfect.
Everything was organised for him and he was told to meet her at 8pm below the clock tower with a single pink carnation in his lapel. He was so nervous he arrived four hours early, chain smoking and already tipsy with nervousness.
It was during their meal at Mildly Famous Tony's that I had the first call from him as he hid near the toilets.
"She looks like a penguin," he whispered through gasps of desperation and anxiety. "A pen-guin. And she's eating the fish."
I asked him what on earth he wanted me to do about it, to which he replied that he needed me to come and get him. He said he was having panic attacks and he couldn't breathe properly.
"Relax, relax," I said. "If you don't like her, finish the meal and say you had a nice time. Then kiss her on the cheek and tell her you need to get up early. If she asks for your number, give her mine and I'll break the news to her if she ever calls. Easy peasy."
He was out of contact for several hours, so I trusted my advice had worked. It was then I heard the phone ring.
"Okay. Now what do I do?" he said.
"What do you mean 'now what do I do'?" I replied, trying not to get any of my honey and avocado face-mask on the phone.
"I'm at her place and everything is tiny to accommodate her stupid penguin size."
I almost knocked over my tray of scented candles. "Why the hell are you at her place? What happened to saying you were tired and had an early start?"
"It was too hard to say anything; she seems really keen on me. I walked her home and then she invited me in. She keeps touching me with her stupid flipper thing," he said, before hurridly saying he had to go.
The third call came at about midnight. I switched off my epilator and asked him what now? In my most annoyed voice.
"I'm in hospital. Can you come and pick me up?"
"Jesus God. Why are you in hospital?"
"I hurt my eyeballs."
"Er…well, she sort of went in for a kiss whilst we were sitting on her tiny sofa."
"And when she kissed me she caught me in the eyeball with her beak. And when I screamed, she did this weird clicking sound and started pecking at my face like I’d stolen her egg or something. It was terrifying. And that woke up her dad who came wobbling out and he started pecking at me, telling me to get out of his house. The whole family is nuts."
"Drib Drab...are you saying she's a real penguin?"
There was a lengthy silence, and then he let out a long, long sigh.
"I told you hours ago that she was a penguin."
“No,” I replied, my head in my hand. “You said she looked like a penguin.”
“She does look like a penguin. She looks exactly like a penguin.”
So that was that. I picked him up in my truck and let him stay at my place. The doctors said he’d be blind for about two weeks. He looks terrible.
Oh, and Betty called this morning - he had at least given her my number. She seemed really embarrassed. I said that we all do silly things when we're nervous and fancy people, especially if you're an aquatic, flightless bird and they're a bipedal primate. That was just one of life's lessons we all have to learn at some stage.
Love, I also told her, was a cruel mistress - but I knew of a whole zoo of possibility just waiting for her down the road.