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Created by Diane Brown, Buena Beach is an online soap opera, giving up all the juicy details of some of the hottest guys and gals of Buena Beach, a small town in Southern California. Check back everyday for a new episode here on HelloBeautiful.com.

Eddie

I bought a new shirt and a pair of shorts for my date with Alice, but I’m wearing my lucky pair of socks that are at least ten years old. Not lucky as in I plan to “get lucky” with them on (or soon after taking them off); but lucky because I’ve had some good things happen to me while wearing them – spinning at my first gig, receiving my bachelor’s degree, and enjoying my first of over a thousand straight days of sobriety. So I’m hopeful that with these socks, Alice and I will have a great first date. And that the Angel’s will win.

Lauren got this all started, surprising me with a pair of tickets (I don’t even want to know where she got the money to buy them) to this afternoon’s game with a stickie attached to them on which she’d written ‘Take Alice out to the ball game’.

“I know they’re pretty high up, but that’ll be okay. You can have her walk up the stairs first and get a nice look at her butt on the way to your seats.”

I’d insisted that I would never do such a thing, but had to admit to myself that Alice did have a nice backside. Okay, maybe I might take a quick peek. Just on the low-low.

“But Eddie, please. Be very selective with what you eat. She’s not gonna want to kiss you if you have clumps of nachos in your braces. Either use your back teeth to bite, or stick to food you can sip through a straw,” Lauren said, also suggesting that I wear a baseball cap that coordinated with but didn’t exactly match my shirt.

Figuring she knew much more than me about dating, I’d taken her advice, wearing my black Angel’s hat along with my new red Angel’s t-shirt. For a second, I thought Lauren might insist I buy Alice a corsage, and then have the two of us pose for pictures in front of the Café, where I was scheduled to pick her up at 11:00 a.m. Lauren started working there just last week, so I had a feeling she might be around this morning to check out the whole event.

“Also, Eddie. I think you should take your car in for a good washing. I’ve noticed that Alice has no tolerance for messiness, and your back seat looks like a junkyard. And don’t chew gum. I know you’re not supposed to with your braces and all, but just in case. Instead, buy some red vines and chew on those – it gives your palate a nice cleansing without giving your breath that desperate, over-minty, ‘Please kiss me’ breath.”

There were too many rules and details and suggestions. Her advice was wonderful but after awhile, I just had to tell her to let me at least try to make it through this first date. If all went well, we could debrief and she could lecture me for another hour and a half about what to do on the second date.

One thing I will say, however, about approaching women these days is that at least there are options. I went against Lauren’s recommendation and asked Alice out via instant messaging. Maybe that was a little tacky, but at least I ended the message with a little yellow happy face. And it’d worked – true to form, my instant message got an instant response, her typing in a capitalized ‘yes’ followed by four exclamation points.

Lauren, of course, was none too pleased with me when I told her how I’d asked Alice to the game, despite the outcome. “How does she know it’s a date?”

I’d shrugged, not really thinking that deeply about it.

As we sat the Café during her break on Saturday, Lauren had groaned aloud, bringing her cup of water down with a thud. “Eddie, I bet she thinks this is a ‘friend’ thing.”

“It is a friend thing.”

“No,” she’d said. “It’s a ‘more than a friend’ thing. If you would have asked her out to dinner, there’d be no reason to clarify…”

“Hey, you’re the one who got the tickets,” I remind her.

She sighed. “I’m just saying, due to the nature of the place you’re going, you need to make it clear that it’s a date. And that also means you have to take her out to eat afterwards.”

She kept at me throughout her break and beyond, so I finally agreed to give Alice a call to confirm that our little excursion would include dinner, and that it was indeed a date. Although instead of calling, I e-mailed her, conveniently leaving that detail out when I told Lauren the next day that everyone was clear about the intentions of the trip.

Today, I find street parking just a quarter of a block down from the Buena Beach Café and feed the meter, giving myself fifteen minutes – just in case she’s not quite ready. You know women.

When I walk inside, it’s clear that the entire staff (and some of the customers too) know that I’m “Alice’s Date”, friendly grins plastered on their faces as they turn to sing “Hi,” to me. Searching the floor, I don’t initially see Alice, but easily spot my mentee. Lauren comes from behind the counter when I wave to her. “You want anything? Cupcakes? Croissant?”

“Nah, I’m cool,” I tell her.

“Good job. I was testing you – remember, stay away from food that will stick to your braces. When are you getting those things off, anyway? You’re not going to be able to have a decent dinner date as long as you’ve got them on.”

“Not much longer, hopefully. Is she here?”

“Yah. She’s in the back, getting ready. You guys are gonna look so cute together.”

The door to their back room opens and out comes Alice, wearing almost the exact same ensemble as I, hat and all.

I’m gonna kill Lauren.

“What’s up, Eddie?” Alice says, unfazed by our twin look. I give her a hug, hearing Lauren’s little voice in my head reminding me about Alice’s booty.

“You ready?”

I think she’s about to say ‘sure’, but just then, we’re interrupted by a trio of Buena Beach’s finest. And based on their swagger, they’re not here for coffee and pastries. They’re all business. Alice takes a couple of steps towards them, smiling as the officers near us, checking the place out. “Good morning, officers. Can I help you?”

The lanky dark-haired one speaks up. “We’re looking for Alice Castellanos?”

Alice crosses her arms, seeming slightly suspicious about their question. “I’m Alice. What can I do for you?”

Without flinching, one of the other officers pulls out his cuffs and walks behind Alice while the lanky guy speaks again. “You’re under arrest, Ms. Castellanos for possession and distribution of marijuana.”

“Hey, hey, man. What’re you doing?” I find myself saying to the one who’s closing the cuffs around Alice’s wrists, a stocky man with a mustache. The third officer, a no-nosense woman about as big as Tinkerbell, has made her way to the counter, directing Julio to take out all of the baked goods in the case.

“Sir, please step back,” the first guy tells me just as Lauren, who’d returned back to the counter, joins us.

“What the hell’s going on? Leave her alone, you stupid idiot.”

“Lauren,” I say quietly through clenched teeth, holding on to her arm so that she doesn’t tackle one of the police officers. “Please, you need to relax.” It wouldn’t look so good if she got arrested under my mentorship. After trying unsuccessfully for another few moments to untangle herself from my grip, she seems to calm down so I let her go, although she’s still giving each of them the evil eye. I’m just worried about Alice being alright. “Alice…?”

“Eddie, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry,” I tell her, although a small part of me is beginning to grow a little concerned. But no, I’m sure there has to be some misunderstanding here. Marijuana distribution?

“No, really Eddie,” she continues as the female officer hands the stocky guy the bag of goodies, taking over Alice’s handling, nudging her towards the door. “I don’t know what this is all about. But can you guys call Chris and have him go downtown to meet me?” she asks over her shoulder.

“Of course,” I say. “I’ll go down there, too.”

“You don’t have to do that,” she says, Lauren growing anxious anew. I grab her arm gently again, just to make sure she doesn’t race outside, grab one of their billy clubs, and start pounding away.

Once they exit, the entire room exhales collectively and a quiet chatter erupts. I tell Lauren to grab her things and to come with me while Julio volunteers to give Chris a call. Lauren and I hop in my car, and she comments on how clean it is to lighten the mood some.

“Yah,” I say as I turn on the ignition. “Too bad she won’t get a chance to see it.”

“Oh, pull your panties out of your crack – she’ll be out tonight. You can post bail for her, right?”

“Right, right. Of course,” I say, an uneasiness building in my belly. I want to believe Alice, to have full confidence that she’s done nothing wrong, and that she’s innocent. But for some reason, I can’t shake the morsel of doubt I feel. And even if she isn’t all that innocent, there are worse things she could be doing, right? Is a little weed all that bad?

Yes it is, my conscience tells me. As a business owner, a school administrator, a role model, and an unofficial mentor, it is. So all I can do now is lift up a prayer for her – that she’ll be okay, that we’ll be able to get her bailed out soon, and that these allegations are false.

Well, looks like it’s time to throw the socks away. So far today, that haven’t proven very lucky at all.

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