The first official gathering of the Wolff social club, which they’d jokingly called “Two Left Feet,” was going about as well as the name would allow.
In his eagerness to get the ball rolling on meeting potential new love interests, Gardener kinda forgot to warn his pop that he’d already invited people over first thing in the morning, making for a somewhat awkward pajama breakfast for Ace.
It only took a couple minutes before Gardener lost interest in the gathering and fired up the gaming console, leaving Ace to discreetly inhale his meal as quickly as possible while his guests looked to him for cues as to what behaviors might be contextually appropriate here.
Ace wasn’t operating on enough sleep to be able to lead though, and sat trying to process the grim realization that his son had actually included Dina Caliente in his list of romantic hopefuls – something that seemed to Ace fairly high on the list of things one does not simply do.
Ace’s mind began to fill with all kinds of dread until a familiar hoot of victory interrupted the downward spiral of his thoughts, allowing him to politely slip off to the shower.
With a gaming win under his belt, Gardener perked up and began a riveting debate with Bob Pancakes about the latest streaming SciFi series he’d been binging, which quickly became a diatribe against un-sciencey science.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, Gardener must have thought that displaying an ability to loudly correct the myriad technical flaws of bad television was attractive to the opposite sex. It is unclear why so many of his ilk (Geeks, that is) hold this belief, when there is so much evidence to the contrary. Alas, once one gets going it’s hard to stop, and so he and Bob continued to puff out their feathers like a couple of pedantic peacocks, parading their enthusiastic opinions in front of Hot Blonde #2 as though they were filling an imaginary “she’s impressed” meter.
When the imaginary meter reached full, they finally shut up for a moment and looked to their female couch-companion, who they were sure had been thoroughly enjoying basking in their glory this whole time and would now offer some verbal assurance of their greatness.
Turns out, Hot Blonde #2 had an actual name. It was Aimee Bachman, her hobbies did not include watching bad sci-fi, and she was perfectly capable of forming her own opinions, thankyouverymuch.
Aimee wasn’t mad or anything, but Gardener’s ego was bruised, so he turned his attentions to Hot Blonde #1, known to most as Dina Caliente.
Now, Ace had a certain reverence for famous franchise premades and believed in keeping a respectful distance, as one might if they found themselves a traveler in a land where gods walked among the people in secret, and, being the only one who knew this, didn’t want to, like, disrupt the natural evolution of the planet, or whatever. Anyhow, Ace had been keeping a watchful eye on Dina all evening. When he saw Gardener plop down in the seat next to her and polish his nails on his sweatshirt, he gritted his teeth and prepared for the worst.
Gardener then got up, strutted around the counter, and plopped himself on the other side of Dina, as though his next attempt required a different angle. Ace subtly (he hoped) maneuvered himself over to the coffee maker so that he could intervene if things got worse.
But, it turned out, he had nothing to worry about. Ms. Caliente had the situation well under control.
“Oh honey,” Dina said with some sympathy, “You’re gonna have to try harder than that – I live with Don Lothario, after all.”
“Ask your pop here about ‘the Don’ if you need a refresher,” she added with a wink in Ace’s direction.
The color left Ace’s face and settled in his neck. For a moment he paused in the corner, sure he’d been caught. But then he remembered the screwdriver he always carries in his pocket, and started intently tinkering with the coffee maker.
Dina must’ve been an old hand at this indeed. She continued to deftly control the room, leveraging the elder Wolff’s (well, Sloan’s) trepidation to ward off the advances of the younger.
With that, Ace jabbed the screwdriver a little too far into the housing of the machine, sending sparks flying from the digital panel. He scoffed at the poor workmanship, as though tonight were the coffee machine’s fault. And then, finally, he turned around and put the conversation out of it’s misery.
“Wulp,” he said, “I think it’s time we take this gathering out back and shoot it.”
Gardener shrugged and got up. Dina smirked and said it was nearly past her bedtime anyway. Ace walked her out, apologizing profusely as soon as they’d left the house.
“I’m sorry you were dragged onto this trainwreck.”
“Oh, don’t be,” she said. “You’re fine.”
“In truth, I didn’t mind tonight,” Dina said. “I don’t get out much, and meeting new people isn’t a bad thing.”
The two parted with polite promises to keep in touch. Ace was just relieved there were no hard feelings. He returned inside intending to shoo the others off, but Aimee and Bob were still puttering around chatting, the Lady Pancakes was dancing and he didn’t know where the heck Gardener had slipped off to. He decided to just go to bed and let his son handle officially ending the club gathering when he emerged from wherever-it-was. Surely Gardener could manage that.