Leo wasn’t sure if he was overdressed or if this was even a date.
The last and only time he had met with Anna had been on the beach. Then, the fashion options for him had been a pair of Speedos or lengthier trunks. He had worn the latter. After their encounter they exchanged details and had since spoke online with the few Skype dates, but nothing as real as standing in a coffee shop on a Saturday afternoon. His phone buzzed.
Message from Anna: Hey, I’m walking in right now.’
Before he could put down the phone she had pushed the shop door open.
‘There you are. Thank goodness I didn’t wear my tux. This could have been disastrous.’ He said.
They exchanged kisses on the cheeks.
‘If you were wearing a tux I would have been out of here before I even came in.’ They both laughed then proceeded to the counter to place their orders.
‘I will have an espresso please.’ Leo went first.
‘Ewww, that’s disgusting. I can’t believe there is actually a market for espresso shots. If it was the cure to cancer I’d still take my chances with radiation,’ she turned to the barista, ‘A hazelnut latte please. And lots of cream.’
‘If you wanted sweets there’s a kids store down the road with a candy floss machine.’ He couldn’t resist the urge to avenge his drink.
They engaged in a bit of small talk and banter while they waited for their drinks.
‘Jesus, your shot of coffee is almost as expensive as my cup. Aren’t you supposed to be an economist?’
‘Yeah, you would think they would have taught us about coffee pricing in Harvard. I knew I should have gone to a state school.’
‘You dick!, are you making fun of my state school education?’
‘I didn’t know you knew swear words. Were you pretending to be a sophisticated writer on the beach? I can leave now.’
‘Only as much as you pretended to be a gentleman. Now pause with the small chat. I didn’t agree to this date because I think you’d be interesting. I just wanted you to help me with a writing assignment I have for Vogue.’ She reached into her bag for a small writing pad.
‘You sneaky bitch, I’m wearing my lucky cologne as well. I want a cut of your salary and my name mentioned as a co-author.’ He crossed his arm in mock protest.
‘I want Kim Kardashian’s figure and Simone de Beauvoir’s mind. We can’t all get what we want honey. Now stop being a smart ass and tell me what you think about the purpose of marriage in the 21st century? I might just have a spare ticket to the theatres.’ She flashed a mischievous smile.
‘This is like intellectual prostitution. You’re bribing me to sell my mind. I object!’ He raised his hand.
‘Don’t force me into using seduction.’ They both laughed. ‘I just want to get this out the way so we can have some fun and I don’t want to be that weirdo that brought work on a date so I thought I’d get you involved. And don’t even act like you aren’t dying to share your opinion, Mr Know It All.’
‘Well since you asked politely…’ he sipped some of his espresso, ‘you know I bought this to make sure you don’t bore me to sleep.’
‘It’s okay, I brought a taser just in case you…I won’t even complete this joke. Rape jokes aren’t funny.’
‘Aww, so you do have some standards. Okay, seriously. You see how we make these silly jokes, we recommend books to each other, share music, even if some of your taste is questionable. Well, that’s what relationships have become in this century. It’s about companionship and sharing. In the past, it was about functionality. A man provided and the woman nurtured. This goes back as far as hunter-gatherers’ time. But ever since gender roles became blurred, relationships have become about companionship. The old system with fixed roles just has no place in the post-industrial world. Not when feminism is near enough the buzzword of the decade right next to racism.’
‘Hmm, so you’re saying people go out to find people they can have the best companionship with as opposed to going out to find people that can functionally raise a family with?’ she said.
‘I’m saying it is literally impossible to use the old style. I mean I’m sure there are countries where women still dream about being a housewife but I don’t think they read Vogue there. The problem is that with this new model there is no standard operating procedure to define how to run a good marriage. Every relationship is different depending on the people involved, so for the most part, relationship advice columns are pointless.’
‘Thank you, it’s only my job to write them.’ She said.
‘You can leave that part out if you like. Life is meaningless, why should your job have any meaning?’
‘Thank you Mr. Nihilist. I see what you’re saying though. It’s not like before when we all thought men had to work and women cook. So for a woman to be the best wife she can be she just has to be the best homemaker. No one can teach you how to get on with someone else as a companion. You have to be like their wife, and best friend, and shrink, and travel buddy. It’s crazy.’
As she spoke, she scribbled down points to help her remember when writing.
‘Exactly, so you were listening. I thought you were going to yawn at the end.’ He said.
‘You’re a bit of an intellectual show off but hey, I like a man with a big…mind,’ she teased.
‘You are such a pervert. And don’t even hit me with that “no pun intended” line because I see what you did there.’ Said Leo.
‘Aww, sensitive Leo can’t take an adult joke.’ She mocked him. ‘Now stop being a bitch and finish that poison you ordered. “The Phantom of the Opera” is showing in half an hour and believe me, I will leave with or without you.’