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There were seven moons
I could hear music the entire evening.
When I asked him what he did for work, I think he misunderstood the question. He told me he liked to cultivate virtue.
I wasn't sure what he meant but it was a little early to say something like that. Instead I asked him why. The waiter brought us bread while he replied that in his personal opinion, a good life is composed of virtue.
I asked him if he meant a happy life. He frowned and explained: No. That if you try to be happy, you'll fail. That you have to try to be virtuous.
I smiled behind the wine he had ordered us. The last man I saw was married. My date could have been his son. Have you ever dated a married man? I don't recommend it. In general, you should not date people who do not know what they want.
Outside the restaurant, I told him to take my arm. You can learn a lot about a date by how excited they are to walk arm in arm. He was sheepishly pleased (very good). We walked through the park on the way to my house. We talked about anything. We walked past couples playing tennis and teams playing cricket. There were three moons.
"I have to ask you the question I always ask on a first date," he said.
"What's a truth you believe that nobody around you believes?"
It's a pretty good question. I hid it away to use in the future. Maybe I was still thinking about virtue because I said: "People know when they are being lied to. We pretend we can't but it's very obvious if you pay attention".
He was nodding. "I think that's so true. That's really interesting." His brows furrowed like the old professor he should one day become. "You know what I think? I think maybe if you tell the truth, it's easier to tell when people are lying. But if you lie, it's like you're all covering for each other".
He grinned, pleased at the connection he had made. It made me grin too. Is it true? Who knows. We were just being pretentious. Being pretentious is fine if it's in private. It's like sex. Just don't make other people put up with it.
"What about you?" I asked.
He replied with great effort (which seemed unnecessary as he knew it was coming). "I don't think men and women can work together."
"Oh," I said. I blinked. “Huh.” It wasn't something I had heard in person before -- but I know the deal. Makeup. Heels. We're trouble.
"Because of the sexual tension?" I asked, innocently.
I nodded sagely.
"Do you agree?" he asked.
Before I could stop myself: "When I see a man's shoes shining, I do want him."
Horribly, automatically, he glanced down at his oversized brogues. I felt a pang of pity.
"Sorry," I said, "That was rude." But it was too late. He had clammed up again. Darn. I thought he might walk away, into the park. I've done that before -- walked out on a date. You should try it at least once, to know you're capable.
Maybe he should've. He didn't. The stars were blinking in and out of Christmas colors, but he didn't notice.
When I opened the door to my apartment, my housemate was lounging on the couch. "Hey Janine". She was in her underwear, the way I've asked her not to be. I introduced her to my date. She offered him a cigarette. He (blushing) refused. She turned to me and asked if I would be around for pasta tomorrow night. "Of course". Meanwhile, he was spinning around the apartment in awe. My paintings covered it. This is when I offered to paint him.
He sat on the fire escape and tried to look off into the distance. I told him to relax. Of course, this made him tense up more. There are a lot of things that work like that, you know. Do you know how many people told me to calm down when I was a kid? Do you know how many times I calmed down?
Once I got his face, I told him it was okay to talk. But he said little. He asked if I had ever made money from selling my paintings. I told him I had just never felt like selling them. Presumably he knew I was lying. I drew his aura (many reds). He asked what I wanted to do after I graduate. I told him my plan was to marry somebody obscenely wealthy. I realized this could hurt his feelings and added "or somebody who could become so". This seemed to satisfy him. I drew the sun that hides under the ocean.
When I was done, I showed him. He took it gently and I watched happiness burst out of him like yolk from a shell. He stopped himself from touching the paint. He thanked me deeply, then we sat a while longer on the fire escape. There were seven moons.
"Can I ask you one more thing?"
"Of course." I was struck by the premonition that we would not meet again and that it was possible that both of us would wake up tomorrow and never remember this night again.
"Is there anything you'd like to change in your life? Is there anything you're unhappy with?"
I smiled at him. "Everything is perfect," I said. "Everything is perfectly what it is."
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