Joseph walks in and sits down across from me without too much of a preamble, startling me from my fixation with my phone.
“I’m so sorry I am late,” he says. “I don’t know what happened except that I was really tired. So have you already ordered?” he asks.
“No,” I say. “I thought it would be rude to do that before you arrived – although I must say that given your behaviour, perhaps my rudeness should have been the least of my worries.”
“I already apologised, what do you want me to – cut my heart out and give it to you on a platter?”
I feel a frisson of anger pass through me at his entitled comment, and just as I open my mouth to reply in similar vein, my cell phone rings. I look down at the display. It’s Chris. Chris! My heart leaps into my mouth and I turn to Joseph. “I’m sure you won’t mind me taking this call,” I state, even though I think it is unbecoming to answer one’s phone while on a date with someone.
“Hello?” I say. I can hear the trepidation in my voice. I wonder if Chris can?
“So, um… I just wanted to let you know that I am aware that you have been looking for me,” he says. “Was it really urgent?”
“I just wanted to know how you are doing since-,” I look towards Joseph, who is scanning the menu and seemingly not paying attention to me, although he is so close within earshot that it is impossible that he can’t hear me. “-since the other day,” I say in brief.
“Yes, well,” he clears his throat, “you made your feelings clear and I certainly don’t want to, ah…”
“I didn’t make my feelings clear at all,” I start an impassioned speech, and then I remember where I am and who I am with. “Listen, I’m on a date right now-,”
“A what?” Chris asks.
“I mean, not that kind of… it’s… I’m having a meal with a friend-,” I try to correct my statement, but then this gets Joseph’s ear and he jerks his head up from the menu.
“A who?” he furrows his brow. I roll my eyes and turn back to my phone.
“Listen, Chris, can I call you when I get home? It shouldn’t take me more than an hour,”
“Yea, sure,” he says distractedly, and then we say our goodbyes and I turn my attention back to Joseph.
“So it turns out I may have to leave early, I have an assignment I need to finish up,” I tell him.
“Hmm…,” he rubs his chin. “Is that what they call boyfriends these days – ‘assignments’?” He waggles his fingers around that last word.
“So presumptuous,” I roll my eyes and signal a waiter, who I proceed to ask for another glass of very expensive wine.
“So tell me about yourself,” Joseph asks after he has ordered his whisky. I have to say that that is one of the most boring questions ever. I guess Joseph sees the look of exhaustion on my face. “Ok, if you’d rather, I can tell you about myself instead.”
“Sure,” I reply, taking a deep gulp from my glass. And then he proceeds to go on and on and on and on about what he does, where he works and how much he travels. Eventually, I am forced to cut him off.
“Listen, I really don’t think this date is working out,” I tell him directly. “Also I still have that work thing I need to do.
“I know I was not the best behaved when it came to time keeping, but can you not give me a chance to make it up to you properly?” he asks as I stand up and grab my handbag and my jacket. I shake my head. “I really messed up, didn’t I?”
“In fact you’re lucky I waited,” I say. “Thanks for the drink.” And then I walk out of the restaurant and make my way home to deal with Chris.