Story Sent in by Lisa:
Mitchell and I met in an online J. R. R. Tolkien forum. Yes, I'm a dork. Moving on, our conversations took us off the forum and into email, Facebook, and phone calls. He lived a couple of hours away from me, which was good to know.
Our talks ranged from Tolkien to Tolstoy, from Saruman to schooling, from Faramir to family. He was a lot of fun to talk to, and my mind had, even without my prompting, begun to shift him from "friend" to "more-than-friend." We had some great talks.
Finally, he brought up the idea of meeting in-person. I had a feeling it was coming, but I still felt the first-date butterflies. We found a Chinese place about halfway between us (a little closer to me) and we set the plans in stone.
Due to how well we knew each other offline, meeting in person was comfortable, almost from the start. Of course, I was a bit nervous at first, but in person, he came across as just as funny, clever, and geeky.
Everything went well, right up until dinner was served. Over his plate of kung pao chicken, he folded his hands together and said, "I'd like to say a prayer to Frodo."
Thinking this was a joke, I went along with it. He went on, "Frodo, great sacrificer, hero of us all, grant that the heat of this dinner be not so hot as the fires of Mount Doom."
He then fashioned his meal, with his fork and knife, into a mountain-like pile on his plate. As I watched, he tapped a little divot into the top of the pile, like the top of a volcano. He then pointed to my hand and asked, "Can I borrow your ring?"
I was wearing a simple silver band with a hematite stone. I said, "You're not going to throw this into... Mount Kung Pao."
"Oh, come on. It'll make it official."
I laughed. "No, that's okay. Let's eat."
He said, "I can't eat until the ring is destroyed. It's just metal. The sauce will wipe right off."
I shook my head. "Can you pretend to throw it in? I'm sure that Frodo wouldn't be upset."
"Frodo would want me to eat, and you're stopping me," he said, his voice taking on a more serious, edgier note.
"I'm not giving you my ring. Come on. Let's eat."
I ate. He didn't. He sat there with his arms folded the entire time. I tried once more, entreating him to start on his dinner, but he shook his head, sadly. I went right back to eating. As I did, I noticed him pantomiming the removal of a ring from his own finger and tossing it into his food. He did it over and over, instead of moving on and talking to me. Well, his choice.
When the waitress finally came by, she said to Mitchell, "You didn't like it?"
He replied, "I'm sure I would've loved it, but she," he pointed at me, "wouldn't let me eat."
The waitress looked at me, then asked him, "Want me to pack it for you?"
He said, staring at me, "Depends. Will you lend me your ring so that I can finish what I started?"
I replied, hoping to jolt him out of his stupidity with a clever reference, "No. The council laid it upon me to bear the ring."
He shook his head and muttered, "You idiot. I would've given you everything," then turned to the waitress and said, "Yes, pack mine up. And separate checks."
She left and he said, "I would've paid if you played along."
I said, "You'd have had a shot at a second date if you weren't some whiny kid."
"Well, one of us isn't getting laid tonight."
I gasped at the low blow, but I was equal to it. "And one of us is very grateful for that."
There wasn't much talk after that. The checks (and his packed-up food) were delivered to the table. He slipped in some cash and left as fast as he could.
In his haste, he completely forgot his chicken. It made an excellent dinner for me, the following night.
Story Sent in by Lisa: