Writing Practice, May 12 2015
Gwyn drinks water. She sits in a restaurant. Across from her is a date. It is their first. A little music plays, but she doesn’t hear it much over the chatter of other people here to also have dinner, some of them even on dates. But they probably aren’t on dates like she’s on. Across from her sits a man, and she’s burying the lead, even in her own mind, where this narrative is playing out in real time. The man looks typical enough. He is wearing a light sports jacket, which she has to assume is warm and comfortable and stylish. She doesn’t really know for sport jackets. She only knows that they’re called that because her grandfather liked to wear them at almost every occasion, whether it was too nice or not nice enough to warrant. She is burying the lead, thinking about her grandfather, and she knows she has to talk. She has to talk, because he won’t.
Gwyn’s friend at work set them up. Did she know? She couldn’t have known.
“You won a contest?” She asks, desperately. It’s been minutes of her just asking yes and no questions. This man, who looks typical enough, began the evening by motioning towards his mouth and making it as clear as he could that he could not use it. Gwyn, who is wearing a lovely purple and white dress, who tried really hard to get to this unnecessarily tough-to-find restaurant on time, only got to the question she asked through a series of other questions she did not think she’d be asking.
Questions like: why aren’t you talking?
Questions like: wait, this is a choice thing?
In a few minutes, after the man who gave his name by way of his business card (Nate Wells, psychiatrist, phone number, email) she gets over the confusion and moves right onto incredulity. But she wouldn’t get there for a few minutes. She would live in the confusion throughout the entire bread-stick portion of the meal.
“What kind of contest forbids you to talk?” Gwyn asks, the words slipping out of her too quickly to mask the judgment. The man answers with his hands. He has not been miming for very long. He is far from good at it. He’d lose as a sober game of charades, which this is because the cocktails are only on their way.
“I don’t understand,” she says, not understanding. Not particularly wanting to understand. Not particularly wanting this date to continue, only minutes after shaking his by-choice mute hand and peering into his by-choice mute-but-still-cute brown eyes. Would it be cruel? Would she be inconsiderate to leave at this point?
“How long do you have to be silent to collect the money?” She asked, assuming there is money involved. She should have asked if he won the game or lost, or if it was still going. Nate puts up one finger, then twirls it around 360 degrees.
“So if you stay silent for a year, you win a lot of money?” She asks. He shrugs, and makes a “kind of” hand signal that only kind of communicates “kind of.”
She has more questions, she tells him. She can ask them. She can spend the entire evening asking questions, and then probably more nights. And then maybe he would have questions for her, she suggests. She suggests this as inevitable. I’m interesting, she says. I’m confident about this. He smiles at the braggadocio. And in that moment, of her explaining and him listening, they have a moment. It isn’t romantic, but it is enough for her to order an entree.