The man sitting next to me is on a date. I know this by the way he answers his phone. He has that higher-pitched air of non-threatening concern so essential in the initial wooing process (You know, the one that gets abandoned forever after a few weeks)…
‘That’s alright. I was a little late myself…No, it’s the independent one next to Starbucks… OK, see you in a few minutes.’
His date arrives and greets him with a warm smile. The man, eager to impress, steps up to the plate and unleashes the conversational mother-load: ‘Sorry for the terrible directions. Maybe we should have just met at Starbucks…but…I like to drink in places where they pay their tax.’
Even the delivery is a little strange – Kind of passive aggressive – Like: Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.
‘Oh,’ the woman replies, a little taken-aback. ‘Well, it’s a nice choice.’
‘Yeah…lots of companies seeking to avoid…tax…at the moment…there’s…’
He glances around the room in desperation. Our eyes lock and we share a telepathic moment.
Help me brother!
Hey man – You did this to you – Pull your shit together.
‘I think maybe some of the banks,’ his date tries to assist.
‘Yes, probably – good…good‘
I hate to see brethren stumble, but what am I supposed to do? Lean across and say: Tell her she looks great you douche? And besides, my date has just arrives and so I’m like: Watch and learn my young apprentice. Listen to the Surgical Sensei work his lyrical mastery…
…And within less than a minute we’re talking about Supply-Chain-Management.
How the hell did this happen?
I fall back on my training. It tells my to show interest and ask questions, so I dredge up: ‘What’s the best supply chain you’ve ever managed?’ Her face relays so many complex messages – a mixture of I’m sorry for bringing this up / Stop asking questions / You’re only making it worse, whilst also answering the question (Multi-tasking! Women are amazing!)
Over on the next table the other guy’s date is performing the coup de grace. ‘I think maybe Google don’t pay tax as well?’ They leave soon afterwards. I appreciate their honesty (put it down to experience and move on).
But I’m still there, trapped in a rictus. I don’t think it’s the women’s fault or mine – Nothing in common – that’s all. Time and time again I’m bottling lightning and laughing at my own jokes (always a good sign), but no amount of electricity can reanimate a corpse.
Forty minutes in fate cocks the weapon and places it against my temple.
A comment about TV prompts her to say ‘I’ve just finished watching the Nordic crime drama – ‘The Killing.”
‘What a coincidence – I also enjoy killing…’