Story Submitted by Rupert:
I met a lovely young lady, Julie, at a bookshop. We had a good conversation, discussed books we liked, and our various common experiences. Everything continued fine so we made a date for a movie and dinner that weekend.
She asked me if I had a preference on place, and I mentioned that I was a vegetarian and told her, "I'm not militant about avoiding places that serve meat, but it would be best if we could go somewhere with a good selection of vegetarian food."
She said, "Got it. I know a great place." All fine then.
I forgot the name of the movie that we saw. It was a romantic drama that she wanted to see because she'd "read a really good review!" In hindsight, I should have asked where she'd read the review, as it turned out to be within the pages of a particularly vapid magazine.
The film was slow (at best), and to stave off boredom, I munched my way through a carton of stale popcorn. By 45 minutes in, I contemplated eating the carton itself for diversion. It was so bad that I turned to Julie to make some smartass comment, but in the flickering light of the screen, I saw her face wet with tears. Her hands were clutched together and she was sobbing into her sleeves. To be polite, I managed – with heroic effort – to refrain from making sarcastic remarks about the film.
Finally, we made it to the restaurant. It seemed charming enough except for the fact that it was a seafood place. Now this may only be my own experience, but I have yet to see a seafood restaurant that has anything remotely resembling decent vegetarian fare. Even a steakhouse will have grilled or baked vegetables and as many ketchup-covered chunky fries as one could possibly desire!
I said to her, "This is a seafood restaurant. I'm a vegetarian."
She replied, "Vegetarians eat fish." Not a question – a statement of unassailable fact, spoken with iron-clad confidence.
I rebutted her, "No, we don't. At least, I don't."
"You'll be fine."
Not for the first time that evening, I wondered if the date was going poorly. However she seemed perfectly content and I didn't want to rock the boat... after all it had to go back out to get the fish of the day tomorrow!
I had a miserable excuse for a salad. She constantly asked if perhaps I wouldn't rather have the pike, or perhaps some tuna? When I refused, on grounds of vegetarianism, she gave me a look of wounded indignation and we spent the remainder of the meal in awkward silence.
When we parted, taking separate cabs home, I gave my best I-had-a-horrible-time-tonight-but-I'm-trying-to-hide-it-because-you're-pretty-and-we-read-the-same-books smile and lied through my teeth:
"I had a great time tonight!"
Story Submitted by Rupert: