​​​​​​Because humor is funnier when you know it's true.

I’ll take the cheesecake

The Cheesecake Factory is known for its diverse menu, humongous portions, friendly atmosphere, and, of course, cheesecake. What should be added to that list is: a place to take Marta on a first date. When I walk into any of their restaurants, I imagine the staff whispering, “Here comes the chunky redhead with yet another weirdo. Poor girl, how she tries and tries to find love.” A tear rolls down a sympathetic server’s cheek. “Let’s give her a slice of caramel pecan turtle cheesecake on the house. It’s her favorite.”

I meet Kevin at The Cheesecake Factory in Coconut Grove. His awkward shyness is painful to watch. He barely speaks two words during the evening. His slurping noises (he is a loud drinker) are the only reminder that I am not a solo diner.

Roger chooses The Cheesecake Factory at the Aventura Mall. During our meal, I find out about his love of Star Trek and his ownership of multiple Star Trek costumes. I can talk about that. “I love Captain Janeway!” I exclaim happily.

“Oh, please!” He spits with disdain. “Janeway is a moron who got her ship and crew stranded in the Delta Quadrant because of her shortcomings as a Federation captain!”


I say, “I like B’Elanna and Paris…”

My date interrupts and waves his hands dismissively. “Voyager is an embarrassment in the Star Trek universe.”

No more Voyager. Got it. Still hopeful, I go on. “How many Trekkie costumes do you own?”

“Uniforms!” he corrects with indignation. “Not costumes! Uniforms!”

I shut up. I do not like the Voyager crew (or Roger) enough to argue. He continues to explain the difference between each U-NI-FORM (That he regularly wears. Where, I wonder?), and captains, and fleets, and ships, and alien communities… Who knows? I doze off somewhere between Kirk and Picard.

Back at The Cheesecake Factory in Coconut Grove, I meet Steve. He spends all night talking about his collections of The Simpsons figurines. I have never seen the show. All I know is that they eat pink donuts. After the Janeway fiasco, I am afraid to ask who in the animated series eats pink donuts.

I love donuts; Steve and his toys, not so much.

Bill meets me at The Cheesecake Factory at the Aventura Mall. He shows me the new sheets he bought before our date. He explains that his mother refuses to do his laundry anymore, and he does not have clean bedding. “I don’t understand why she’s being so stubborn,” Bill whines. “The washer and dryer are right next to my bed in the garage.” He takes a deep, frustrated breath. “I tell her, ‘Mother, just put my dirty clothes inside the machine and dump some detergent on top.’ How difficult is that?”

Indeed, how difficult is it for a 40-something year old man to do his own laundry? Wait! What was that?! Bill lives in his mother’s garage? Next!

John, at The Cheesecake Factory in the Grove, shares stories about his six kids with six different “baby mamas” (His word, not mine). “How many children do you want?” he asks. “I want three more as soon as possible.” When the bill comes, John asks with hopeful eyes, "Any chance you can cover this? These damn child support payments are killing me, ya know?"

Nathan, a self-proclaimed fitness guy, and I do not even make it inside the restaurant. When he reaches out to me on Match.com, I read his profile carefully before responding. I always do. He is a buff guy looking for a fit and athletic girl. Athletic. I laugh so loud I scare my cat. Someone did not look at my photos carefully. I send him a response. “Thank you for your interest but please look at my photos again. I am far from an athlete and I carry a few extra pounds with the security that my dress size is not what makes me the awesome woman that I am. We are not a good match. Good luck in your search.” He immediately responds. (Someone is sitting by the computer.) “I DID look at your photos. You are gorgeous! I love you red hair. I want to meet you, please. How about The Cheesecake Factory?”

I wait by the entrance of the restaurant in Pembroke Pines. I see Nathan approach with a wide, happy grin. As he gets closer, his smile fades. Once he reaches me, he immediately announces, “You’re right. You ARE too fat,” and walks away. I do not get to say a word.

I go inside The Cheesecake Factory and order a slice of cheesecake to go.

At this point, I prefer dessert. Wouldn’t you?

-Marta A. Oppenheimer

Marta A Oppenheimer is a twice divorced woman searching for love in Miami, the land of palm trees, hurricane warnings, and Kim Kardashian lookalikes. In between dates, Marta is a published writer, graphic artist, spoken word performer, and a non-profit animal rescue group volunteer.

Marta’s stories have appeared on Chicken Soup for the Soul, Miami Living Magazine, TrueHumor.com, Ariel Chart International Literary Journal, and performed on The Moth Miami StorySlam, Miami Book Fair, Lip Service Stories: True Stories Told Out Loud, Raw Storytelling: Live True Storytelling Show, and The Only in Miami Show on Jolt Radio. The short story, “Love in a Pumpkin”, became a short film and an Official Selection 2022 for the Havana Film Festival in New York City. You can read more about her romance perils at: thedatingdaysofmartao.com and on Facebook: facebook.com/thedatingdaysofmartao but keep in mind that dating after 40 is for the brave. ​