Anna sat on the other end of the table with a suspiciously childish blush on her face.
‘Are you going to tell me what you are so happy about because I don’t think this is the first time you’ve had a candlelit dinner in a restaurant.’ Leo asked while cutting through his portion of medium rare steak.
She brushed some strands of hair away from her face.
‘Well, this is like our first date. I’m immature like that. These things excite me.’
‘Really? This is our first date?’
‘Well we met on the beach. That was our “meet”, not a date. And there was the coffee shop meeting which can hardly count as a date seeing as I brought my work with me.’
‘Okay, you make a fair point. But I feel like we have already spoken so much that I can’t get the first-date jitters. Damn twenty-first century communication. You have to think of something really personal to ask me now.’
They both backed a bit away from their meals in anticipation of a question. She took a sip of her wine for confidence then asked;
‘Have you ever cheated or been cheated on?’
This wasn’t exactly what Leo was expecting when he volunteered to answer a personal question but it was already on the table now.
‘Isn’t there like a rule that you can’t ask stuff like that on a date?’ he asked.
‘I’m not judging you. I just find it interesting because you come off as this perfect guy and I guess I’d like to know you are human like the rest of us. If it makes you feel better, I’m no saint. I’ve cheated before.’
It did make him feel better. There was something consoling about shared weaknesses. Leo believed this was the reason lots of religious bigots could hold such extreme views on homosexuality but overlook other biblical sins like adultery and fornication. The shared nature of these other ‘sins’ created a culture that downplayed their severity. He had to snap out that train of thought to get back to the question.
‘Well yeah, I’ve cheated and I’ve been cheated on.’
‘So you are mortal,’ she smiled, ‘why did you do it?’
He paused for thought.
‘Well, it’s not always for the same reason. When I was younger I think it was just an immaturity and curiosity thing. I had just discovered women and the find was too exciting to stick to one. Then I grew up a bit and started getting into semi-meaningful relationships. You know those early ones when you believe you’re in love and you’re going to marry the person, run off into the sunrise and live happily ever after.’
‘Mmhm,’ she nodded in agreement.
‘Then time passes and you realize you actually have nothing in common and you’re bored and trapped at the same time. Before you know it, you’re in another dorm room with some girl you just met at the bar.’
‘I can’t imagine you in college.’
‘I know right. It’s easier to imagine I was born looking like this. Fully bearded and all.’
They both laughed.
‘Then with my last girlfriend I think it was just pure discontentment and weakness on my part because I was actually happy in that relationship. I still regret it.’
‘Wait? You got caught?’
‘I always get caught. I’m like the worst kind of cheat.’
‘Danm, I’ve never been caught.’
‘Yeah, women don’t get caught as much as men. I’m not even sure why. Maybe you guys are just better liars.’
They both laughed.
‘A lot of people have this idea that if you love someone then you would never do anything to hurt them, especially cheat on them. I don’t think it’s true at all. In fact, we are more likely to hurt the people we love the most. But as regards to stuff like cheating, I think it is more as a result of our own personal weakness and not so much the realness of our love. Monogamy can be very difficult even with the right intentions. I’m not going to say we were made to be polygamous or anything like that, but Kanye West certainly had a point with that line where he says love is cursed by monogamy.’
‘You listen to Kanye West?’
‘I actually think he’s awesome.’
‘I think for me it was a mix of emotional dissatisfaction but maybe I was just being a brat and asking for too much. I also think when I was younger I did it as a compensation thing for insecurities. It’s crazy, no one prepares us for this relationship thing and it’s only the second most important decision we ever make.’ she said.
‘What’s the first?’ he asked.
‘What shoes to buy when you can only afford one. And that happens a lot.’
‘Now that is a philosophical conundrum if I ever heard one.’
They both laughed and carried on with their meal.
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