Thanks to a well-organized email campaign by a few high school students, you are being subjected to another chapter of Justin Trudeau fan fiction.
In case you need to get caught up: Chapter 1 | Chapter 2
Chapter 3: In Which You Have the Best First Date Ever
It’s hard to believe how quickly things are happening for you.
One week ago, you were just another newly elected member of Canadian Parliament, living in Toronto because you mistakenly thought it was the capital of Canada. And now here you are—living in Ottawa (?!?), the pretend girlfriend of a prime minister, and the recipient of the 2018 Polio Eradication Champion Award! (OK, maybe “recipient” isn’t the right word. What is the word for when you steal something from Justin Trudeau’s office when he isn’t looking?)
Tonight is a big night. It’s your first fake date with Justin Trudeau, and it’s also hot dog night, which is the night that you eat a hot dog. You can hardly concentrate at work all day—partly because of excitement, and partly because your job is so boring.
When you get home, you have just enough time for a quick meal of hot dog before you have to start getting ready for your date. Unfortunately, you have no idea what to wear. Should you wear a bathing suit, in case your date is at the waterslide? Thinking back, you recall Justin Trudeau specifically saying your date wasn’t going to be at the waterslide. (This was after you repeatedly suggested going to the waterslide.) But what if that was just misdirection???
You eventually settle on a simple black dress, with your bathing suit underneath, just in case. You are putting the finishing touches on your hair (more bobby pins = more fancy!) when you hear the downstairs buzzer. You don’t want to keep Justin Trudeau waiting, so you only add 15 or 20 more bobby pins before dashing out the door.
Justin Trudeau is waiting on the sidewalk outside your building. His hair is even more tousled than usual, and he’s wearing a dark suit with his shirt collar unbuttoned at the top. Your eyes catch for a second on those few inches of exposed collarbone. Then you feel self-conscious and try to play it off like you’re just examining a mole on his neck.
“You look nice!” he says, sounding so surprised that it doesn’t really feel like a compliment.
“I think that mole on your neck might be cancerous,” you reply, as you climb inside his shiny silver car. It’s definitely the fanciest car you’ve ever seen, though usually you make a point of never looking at cars, because you don’t want to be bored.
“Where are we headed?” you ask, once Justin Trudeau has settled into the driver’s seat. You want to seem relaxed, so you recline your seat all the way back.
“We went over this like ninety times yesterday,” he says, looking annoyed for some unknown reason. “We’re going to Tim Hortons.”
Tim Hortons is the hottest new restaurant in Centretown—a bustling neighborhood in downtown Ottawa that boasts over six (!) restaurants. You do vaguely recall him mentioning something about it, but you thought that was just more misdirection.
“Right,” you say, trying not to sound disappointed. “I guess I won’t be needing these.” You take a pair of swim goggles out of your purse and sadly drop them out the window.
“Let’s go over the plan for tonight,” he says. “We have one goal, and it’s to be seen together having a good time. With any luck, that will be enough to start a rumour that we’re dating.”
“Why don’t we just TELL everyone that we’re dating?” you ask. “We could make an announcement on Good Morning, Canada!” you add, guessing that there might be a morning show called Good Morning, Canada!
“No, we can’t be too obvious. We don’t want people to suspect that this whole thing is a ploy to boost my popularity before the election.”
“Which it is, right?” you say, just to confirm. You don’t entirely remember why you are doing this.
“Yes,” he says. You notice that he looks even more alarmed than usual. “So we have to be discreet, while still making sure that we’re seen together,” he adds in his stern-but-sexy voice. “Tim Hortons is the perfect place to go, because it will be swarming with journalists.”
“Wow,” you say. “Where I come from, journalists can’t afford to eat at restaurants.”
“That’s another thing,” he says, sounding even sterner but not necessarily sexier. “You have to stop telling everyone that you’re from the States. If word gets out that a U.S. citizen has been elected to Parliament, it will be a huge scandal, and this whole thing will blow up in our faces.”
“Are you sure that only Canadian citizens can serve in Parliament?” you ask. “Is that written in a constitution somewhere? Wait—do you guys have a constitution?”
You’re pretty sure you’ve just found a great loophole, but Justin Trudeau doesn’t respond. Instead he lets out a very long groan that lasts for the rest of the ride to the restaurant. You’re not sure if it’s because of something you said or whether he’s suddenly fallen ill. Either way, you’re still excited. Date!
Even though it’s a Wednesday night, Tim Hortons is packed. There must be five or six people crowded at the front of the restaurant waiting for a table, but Justin Trudeau strides right past them, straight to the maitre d’ stand.
“Right this way, Mr. Trudeau,” the maitre d’ says, jumping to attention. He leads you through the dining room to a quiet table at the back of the restaurant. Looking around, you can see why this place is so popular. They serve breakfast all day. Even in the afternoon and at nighttime!
Justin Trudeau politely pulls out a chair for you. As you go to sit down, he leans in so close that you can feel his breath on your cheek. “Remember our plan,” he whispers, but you have no idea what he’s talking about.
“The breakfast sandwiches are excellent here,” he adds, speaking louder now as he takes his seat across from you. You notice the people at nearby tables taking furtive glances in his direction.
“I actually already ate,” you say, thinking fondly of when you ate a hot dog.
“You already ate?” He sounds confused and a little annoyed, but what else is new.
“It’s hot dog night.” You start to explain about hot dog night, but he cuts you off.
“You’re going to have to have to order something anyway,” he says, lowering his voice and leaning in toward you. “I’m going to look like a jerk if I’m eating dinner while you just sit there staring at me.”
“It’s OK, I brought a book!” you say. You reach in your purse and pull out your copy of Be My Guest by Conrad Hilton. You have a policy of only reading books that you find in hotel rooms.
“Put that away!” he whispers, glancing around uneasily. “Have you ever been on a date before?” he asks, but you get the strong sense that he doesn’t actually want you to answer.
The waiter comes by and, before you can say anything, Justin Trudeau orders a turkey sausage breakfast sandwich for each of you and a bottle of wine.
“So,” he says, turning back to you with a tight smile. “I thought you told me that Monday was hot dog night.”
“It’s a Monday-Wednesday-Friday thing,” you say, blushing a little. You must have mentioned something about it when you were trapped in the elevator together, but that was two days ago. You’re surprised he remembers.
“Oh, it’s only three nights a week? Then I see why you couldn’t possibly have skipped it tonight.” He looks genuinely amused now, and you can’t help but smile back at him. You love talking about hot dogs!
The waiter returns with your food, which is fashionably wrapped in paper.
“Don’t look now,” Justin Trudeau says, leaning across the table toward you. “But the gossip columnist for the Ottawa Citizen is headed over.”
You turn around to look, of course, because that is always what you do when someone tells you not to look. You scan the crowd until you spot a thin, bespectacled man making his way across the room.
“Remember,” Justin Trudeau whispers, calling your attention back to him. His face is only inches away from yours now. “We have to act like we’re not on a date. We want him to think we’re hiding something.”
“But we are hiding something,” you point out.
“This should be easy then.”
The man with the glasses has reached your table now, and he claps Justin Trudeau on the back.
“Mr. Trudeau!” he says, as if he is surprised and didn’t just deliberately walk over here. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything,” he adds, sounding very much like he hopes he is interrupting something.
“It’s nice to see you, Felix,” Justin Trudeau says, standing and shaking his hand.
Felix turns to you expectantly, and recognition dawns on his face. “You’re the new MP from Nunavut, aren’t you? My name is Felix Leblanc.” He holds out his hand, and you shake it reluctantly. You immediately dislike him because he looks smug and also wears glasses. “I suppose Mr. Trudeau takes all the freshmen MPs out to dinner?” he asks, glancing at Justin Trudeau with a sly smile.
“Yes,” you say quickly. “He’s going in alphabetical order.” you add, because when telling a lie, it’s always good to add a bunch of unnecessary details. “Tomorrow he’s taking Jean Bouchard to dinner.”
“Oh,” says Felix, looking confused. “I didn’t know that.”
“It’s true,” you say cooly. “Afterwards, they’re going to the waterslide.
Now Felix looks even more confused. You try to give Justin Trudeau a surreptitious thumbs-up, but Felix definitely notices it.
“So,” Felix says, eyeing you curiously. “How long have you lived in Nunavut?”
Uh oh. You weren’t prepared for this question, and you definitely don’t want Felix to start digging into your past. You decide that it’s time to resort to your signature move, which is pretending to choke.
“Before I answer your question, I’m going to take a bite of this breakfast sandwich,” you say, quickly unwrapping your sandwich and taking a large bite. You chew for a few seconds while holding up one finger as if to say “just a second while I finish chewing!” Then you widen your eyes and wrap your hands around your neck like you’re choking.
“I’m choking!” you say.
Felix’s face turns white, and he looks around the room in a panic. “This woman is choking,” he says loudly. “Is anyone a doctor?”
You turn to Justin Trudeau and your eyes lock with his. He looks more frightened than you’ve ever seen him. Before you can think of a way to signal to him that you’re OK, he’s already darted around the table and is standing behind you with his arms wrapped tightly around your waist. It’s kind of romantic! You’re so flustered that you actually start to choke for a second.
Then he presses his fist into your diaphragm, and the situation no longer feels romantic. Chewed-up food goes flying out of your mouth and across the table, which is even less romantic.
“Are you OK?” asks Justin Trudeau, still sounding alarmed. By now, a crowd of diners has formed around you.
“I’m fine!” you say quickly, to get Justin Trudeau to stop thumping you on the back. “Sorry,” you add. “That was embarrassing.” You take a drink of water and try to compose yourself. People start to wander back to their tables, but you can hear them whispering.
“You’ll have to excuse us,” Justin Trudeau says to Felix, even though his eyes are still locked on you. “I should get her home. I think we both need some time to recover.” You can’t help but notice that his hand is still resting on your back.
Back in the car, Justin Trudeau seems genuinely shaken. You’re touched by his concern, and you try to reassure him by explaining that you were only pretending to choke. But instead of congratulating you on your quick-thinking, he gets really mad.
“What do you mean ‘pretending to choke is your signature move’?” he demands, his face red with anger.
“I just mean it’s my signature move! The same way your signature move is that thing where you balance yourself on a table. You know what I mean, right? Look, I have a photo in my wallet,” you say, reaching for your wallet.
“Don’t try to change the subject.” he snaps.
“I don’t see what the big deal is,” you sigh. “I pretend to choke all the time. It’s a great way to get out of awkward or boring situations,” you add, giving him a helpful life tip.
“I thought you were actually choking!” he shouts. “You scared the hell out of me. You have to promise to never do that again.”
“No deal!” you say, because you’re a tough negotiator. “If it wasn’t for fake choking, I probably never would have even been elected.” Which is true. You pretended to choke during three different debates—twice to get out of answering a difficult question, and once because you just thought it was going on a little long.
“I’m starting to think that this whole thing was a mistake,” he says, almost to himself.
You feel a little sick to your stomach. Has hot dog night betrayed you yet again? Or are you just scared that you’re about to lose your fake boyfriend, and all of the free breakfast sandwiches that come along with having a fake boyfriend?
“Our goal tonight was for people to see us together, right?” you argue. “And that’s exactly what happened. Everyone in the restaurant saw us together!”
“I guess that’s technically true,” he says grudgingly.
“Plus, you looked like a hero. I can see the headlines now: “TRUDEAU DOESN’T ‘CHOKE’ UNDER PRESSURE: PRIME MINISTER PERFORMS HEIMLICH MANEUVER AND SAVES THE LIFE OF BEAUTIFUL AND MYSTERIOUS WOMAN.”
“Wow, were you a headline writer in a previous life?” he asks dryly, but you can see the hint of a smile on his face.
“Yes,” you say, because you did use to be a headline writer.
“Look,” he says, his expression turning serious again. “If we are going to do this, I need to be able to trust you.” He maneuvers his car into a spot in front of your building and then turns to face you. “You can’t pull stunts like that without talking about it with me first. So, do you have any other ‘signature moves’ I should know about?”
“No,” you say, wondering if faking your own death counts.
“OK then,” he says. One side of his mouth turns up in an adorable lopsided smile. “Are you free on Saturday?”
“Yes,” you say, grinning widely. You’re surprised by how relieved you feel. For a second there, you felt certain that he was going to break up with you. Then he’d probably make you give back his 2018 Polio Eradication Champion Award, and you would no longer be the polio eradication champion.
You continue staring into each other’s eyes for a long moment.
“Are you going to get out of my car?” he finally asks. Then you have to get out of his car, because it would be awkward not to.
Thanks for reading, and check back soon for Chapter 4, which I’m definitely going to write!