My supervisor, Patty, insists I go out with her brother.
I'd love to have you in the family, She jokes, Plus, you and Steve have a lot in common: you're both short.
During the date, I silently compare Patty's well-intentioned bluntness to the caustic comments her brother keeps firing across the table at me. We are both twenty-six. He's cute with brown hair and icy grey eyes, but his smile looks more like a sneer as he analyzes my appearance, delivering non-stop criticism: my hair needs straightening, my mouth is off-center, my face too full and my heels too high.
Thinking of Patty, I shut up and take it, a fake smile straining my too-full cheeks. There's relief when the evening is over, relief in escaping from Steve, who's probably feeling the same. So, when the calls and texts start early the next morning, my off-center mouth drops open in shock. I ignore his hourly messages, hoping he'll take the hint. Instead, he reaches me at the office, demanding I see him or explain why I won't.
Because, I reluctantly admit, I'm not interested.
Me neither! He shouts into the phone, snapping it closed.
I have managed to offend my supervisor's brother after all. It's my fault for accepting the equivalent of an interoffice date. No more, I vow.
Catching me at the elevators later, Patty takes my hand, Sorry my brother rejected you, but don't worry, She adds, smiling reassuringly, I have a cousin who'll love you.