Dinner in a restaurant

After the first few dates, dating turns into a chore. An expensive type of job interview, if you will. But it doesn’t have to be like that, and this one will stand out among the rest.

“So, what do you do for a living?” She asks. “Oh yes, thanks for asking.” You answer. “I’m a professional cubicle concubine. You see, my job function consists of pretending to be busy, and trying to look angry enough so that nobody dares ask me what I’m doing exactly. I’m not quite sure I remember what I’m supposed to be doing, and after two years of working here it would be embarrassing to step up to someone and ask them what I was hired for again.”

Her mouth drops, as you continue: “I contribute to society by playing Patience and Minesweeper and sending an error report to Microsoft whenever either of those two programs crashes. Did you know that 98% of people just don’t bother sending the report? How will Microsoft ever figure out why these programs keep crashing if nobody wants to cooperate with them?”

“Oh you’re so funny!” She says. You’re almost flattered by the fact that she still manages to force a smile at this point. “Now tell me the truth!” You begin to smile and say: “You’re so used to hearing lies that you don’t even recognize the truth anymore when it’s told to you!” She now begins to frown and says: “So you’re telling me you don’t have any ambition whatsoever?” “You’re operating under the assumption that ambition per default implies progress in a career path.” You respond. “Of course I have ambitions. At the moment, my ambitions consist of saving enough money to genetically engineer a stem-rust fungus to become virulent enough to destroy all of the world’s food supplies, trigger mass riots and finally lead to the collapse of industrial civilization.” You snide.

Surprisingly, she’s starting to look a bit worried by now. “Oh yeah, that’s really interesting… You know, I’ll be right back, just a little bathroom brea-” Oh really, is that so? “Well, you picked the right time then, because I have to take a big dump as well!” You interrupt. “Uhh what?” She says. “Don’t worry, if you really think people will steal our seats, you can just leave your Gucci bag here.” You respond. “No I eh…” “Alright you know what, I’ll stay here, look after your bag, while you go the the toilet.”

She regains her composure. “Look, if you want to have your fun at my expense and embarrass me in front of all these people by talking like a lunatic, that’s your problem, but this is over and I’m heading home.” You now begin to smile. “Oh really, is that so? Look beneath you. While I pretended to tie my shoelaces, I actually locked your Gucci bag to the radiator with this cheap lock I brought with me. If you’re gonna make a run for the exit and leave me with the bill, it will have to be…¬†without your bag.”

Her bag. Five weeks of whining to daddy because she needed the ultimate indicator of social status, and now some sociopath has taken it away from her. A panic reaction threatens to erupt. “Look.” She says. “I’m gonna go over there and call the cops if you don’t give me my bag.” “And then what? While you walk over there and call the police, I’ll leave the keys here and walk out of this building.

Look down under the table, what do you see? A pink lock. And here is the key. Notice the Hello Kitty doll hanging from it. Are they going to believe your story, or will they assume you’re merely making a big consternation for no good reason whatsoever, just because some guy walked out and left you with a bill? Do you want to take the risk?”

A sense of shock emerges on her face. “And remember, we’re merely playing chess at this point. You were keeping me hostage with your seventy dollar lobster salad that you barely managed to swallow without pulling a face of revulsion, and I merely responded by taking your horrendously tacky three-or-four hundred dollar Pink-purple Gucci bag hostage.”

“Give me my bag now, or I’m going to scream.” She says with a sense of confidence in her voice. I had hoped for something more challenging, a little more¬†sophisticated. You answer. “I have a bottle of Xanax with me. When you start your theatrical performance, I’ll start mine, and try to convince you to swallow your medicine, as if you were a social recluse who panics in public places.”

“This is all a matter of principle for you, isn’t it?” You continue after a moment of silence. “You’ve probably gone on more than a dozen first dates this year alone, and haven’t had a single occasion where you had to pay for your own meal. You can’t bear the thought of having your beautiful clean record spoiled by a guy like me.”

Now she begins to smile, as she recognizes she found an opponent of her own caliber. “I haven’t paid for a warm meal in three months.” She whispers. “I always bring my bag, just so I have something to pretend to dig in while you grab your wallet, and it always worked. And I’m not planning on allowing any exception tonight.”

“You’re an amateur.” You respond. “You brought your tools of the trade, and I brought mine. So go on, make your next move. Show me what you’ve got.” You state. “I told you what I’m going to do, I’m going to scream.” She whispers. “That’s mutually assured destruction.” You whisper back. “Missile launch in 3…2…” “Waitress!” You interrupt her countdown. “We’d like to pay here!” You say. “And pay you will.” She snares at you. As the waitress arrives, you stand up and say “Oh, I have to make a bathroom break”.

Then the unexpected happens. You feel a strong pull on your leg, and fall onto the table behind you. What happened? Mutually assured public humiliation happened. All eyes are now on your table. She had quickly snatched an umbrella from the old lady behind her, and pulled on your feet to prevent you from running out of the door. “You might have the superior tools, but I’m still better at improvising”. She says to you out loud, as tomato soup drips from your dress shirt.

The boss of the restaurant now runs up to you and declares: “What is going on here?” The old lady stands up and says “This young woman just suddenly grabbed my umbrella, and made this young gentlemen fall over, almost breaking his neck!” “Why is there a pink bag locked to my radiator!” The boss responds. “She thought I wanted to steal her bag!” You respond, pulling all attention to your head, as you quickly throw the keys onto her lap with a move you learned from a magician’s handbook.

“And who’s going to pay for this absolute mess?” And this is when mutually assured destruction grew into nuclear winter. You have about 4 bucks and a useless debit card with you. She didn’t even bring her wallet. With the mess you created, the boss is not planning on letting either of you walk away to bring some cash. This leaves just one option.

Fast forward half an hour. As she is trying to scrub the tomato-stains out of your dress shirt in the restaurant’s kitchen, you are doing the dishes. You hesitate for a moment, before asking: “So, how about next Friday?” A painful moment of silence emerges. She drops your shirt and responds: “How about Thursday?”

FIN