When Date #3 escorts me to a table for two at La Colombe, the oh-so-elegant coffee shop just off Rittenhouse Square that he’s chosen for our second date, he informs me that he takes “great umbrage” to my having dubbed him “the older man.”
“But you are older,” I reply, dabbing at the coffee that I, being the oh-so-elegant-girl that I am, have managed to spill all over my saucer. “And ‘older’ is not the same as ‘old.’ I wouldn’t date an old man.”
With nary a rebuttal, Date #3 slips out of his seat and returns a moment later with a stack of napkins. He slips one beneath my pain au chocolat, three beneath my coffee cup and keeps the rest close at hand. I’m half expecting him to construct a little napkin fortress, lest he find himself at the receiving end of another decaf deluge, but Date #3 has more pressing concerns. In particular, the fact that I’ve taken to calling him Date #3.
“How else am I supposed to refer to you?” I demand, waving my pain au chocolat for dramatic effect. And no, just in case you were wondering, pain au chocolat does not a good date snack make. It’s too flakey and sticky and if you’re not careful (and even if you are), your plate ends up looking like crime scene in which half a dozen innocent croissants were bludgeoned to death.
Date #3 only shrugs. He’s not keen on numbers, categories or any of the euphemistic devices I’ve devised to protect the identities of those men unfortunate enough to find me appealing. But here’s the thing about Date #3: he’s a lawyer, and from what I gather, he doesn’t lose very many cases. If he were to take “great umbrage” to anything I’ve posted on my blog, he could sue me for libel (in fact, I’ll bet he even knows the difference between “libel” and “slander” whereas Yours Truly has just had to Wikipedia the two to confirm). And knowing Date #3, he’d win the case.
So, beyond a few trite remarks on his cufflink collection, what can I say about the “enigmatic barrister” (which is perhaps what he’d prefer me to call him) that won’t get me into trouble?
He likes words. The last time I fell for a man who liked words, it was a total disaster (a trans-continental, trans-Atlantic disaster that spanned several boyfriends on my part, several girlfriends on his and several years, until it finally ran itself into the ground last January. We’ve not spoken for over twenty months and although I realize this an odd benchmark to note, I note it with all the pride of a recovering addict who’s been “sober” for almost two years now). Granted, the correspondence was fabulous—indeed, I’d suggest we get together, edit it and publish it as the John and Abigail Adams of the twenty first century if such a literary endeavor wouldn’t cost me my hard earned sanity—but I’ve always complete sucker for a man who loves words and knows how to use them.
Hence Date #3.
Oops. I meant to say, “Hence the enigmatic barrister.”
When he first invited me to meet him for dinner, he emailed me to say he’d be wearing a pink mufti. “A mufti?” I wondered. What the hell is a mufti? Whenever I’m faced with a word I don’t know, my brain goes into standardized testing mode and presents me with an image based on the entirely senseless criteria of “this word sounds like that word!” This is one of the reasons that I didn’t do so well on the GREs (and why I’ve mistaken the Spanish “embarazada” for the English “embarrassed” and no, they definitely do not mean the same thing).
So there I am, contemplating the meaning of the word “mufti” and given the way my brain works (or rather, doesn’t work), I start to picture the enigmatic barrister wearing not a mufti but a mumu. And this, I know, cannot be right. So I google it, and a few hours later I’m face to face with a man who’s wearing a gray suit and a pink dress shirt.
When we meet a week later for coffee at La Colombe, he’s wearing a purple mufti. I’m tempted to take my new vocabulary word out for a spin (something along the lines of, “How lovely to see you, Date #3. I can’t help but notice you’re wearing a purple mufti today”) but then it occurs to me: I don’t actually know how to pronounce the word mufti. Is it moof-ti or muff-ti?
It’s like my sophomore year of college all over again, which is when I prepared (and nearly gave) a presentation to my European history class on homosexuality under the “Weemer” Republic. Thankfully, my co-presenter was a German major and she lost no time in setting me straight.
But there are no German majors in sight at La Colombe. So I decide to scrap the “mufti” comment and spill my coffee instead.