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Story Sent in by Patrick:
Jennifer and I talked online for a week before our first date. We got along fine, but there was some back-and-forth over the phone about where we were to go for dinner.
I said, "What kind of food do you like?"
"I love Chinese."
"Do you like Great Wall? That's a good place."
"Ugh. No. I had a bad sweet-and-sour chicken experience there."
I replied, "Okay, how about Master Wok II?"
"That's kind of just a hole-in-the-wall, isn't it?"
"No. It's a full restaurant."
"Oh. Well it sounds like a hole-in-the-wall, so no."
"Those are the only two Chinese places in town. I don't mind going out of town–"
"Let's do Italian. Do you like Fredo's?"
"Fredo's closed last year."
"What? No! Let me look that up..." She looked it up, then said, "You're right. They closed. I'm still really in the mood for Chinese."
"Master Wok II is our best bet. It's a bigger restaurant than Great Wall, and Great Wall's big."
"I don't want to eat at a hole-in-the-wall take-out place."
"It isn't one of those. It's a big restaurant. I think they have plants, fountains, and tapestries. Hole-in-the-walls don't usually have those."
The night of our date, she showed up on time, glanced into the windows of Master Wok II, and said, "Looks like a hole-in-the-wall to me. I knew it."
I led her inside to the anything-but-hole-in-the-wall restaurant. It was even bigger than I had remembered it. A host came up and took us to our seats, then left us alone.
Jennifer hit the side of her chair a few times. "These seats are shoddy. They must have found them in a bargain bin."
My seat was fine, or maybe I had lower seat standards. In any event, Jennifer then knocked on the table and asked, "You think this is wood or cheap Formica? The lighting in here is so dim that I can't tell."
I asked her, "Want to go somewhere else?"
"I want to go to Fredo's, but they closed. Thanks for informing me of that, by the way. It ruined my day."
"I wasn't the one who closed it."
Our waters came. Jennifer tasted hers and spit it back into her glass. "Tastes like it came from a hose," she complained. I resigned myself to accepting that she'd likely complain about everything the entire time, and that she'd throw everything I said or did back in my face.
"What would you rather be doing?" I asked her, "Since you don't seem to be having a good time."
"I'm having a great time," she said, picking up her fork and playing with it, "I'm having a ball."
Our waiter returned and asked for our food orders. She asked him, I'm not joking, for veal parmigiana. He informed her that they didn't have it, although they did have Szechuan beef. She slammed her menu closed and said, "I'll just have a salad. Iceberg lettuce. Do you have that in China?"
Throwing one last effort into it, I asked her, "What can I do to make this a better evening for you?"
She didn't answer me, but she took out her phone, typed something into it (it may have been a text. I'm not sure) and then she stood up, grabbed her purse, and said, "I've got to go. Goodnight!" and left me there with an order of chicken and broccoli and a house salad en route.
An email arrived from her later that night with the single line, "Found a good Italian place and had my veal!" Looking back, I'm glad we both got what we wanted.