Musical Squares

Story Sent in by James:

I sat down in a restaurant booth with Margaret on our first date. Not five minutes in, she asked me if we could switch seats. "So I can see the door better," she said.

I glanced at it. "Expecting somebody?"

"No. I'd just feel better if I could see it."

I asked no further questions. We switched and soon afterward put in our drink orders. She asked, "I'm sorry, you're going to think this is weird. Can we switch again."

I cracked a smile and asked, "What's going on here?"

She replied, "Nothing. I just want to switch back. Last time. Promise."


"I just want to, all right? I don't really feel like having a War-and-Peace discussion about it."

We switched again. Her tone had shifted, and she seemed more impatient with me, regardless of whatever else we talked about. We put in our food orders, and I tried my best to forget about our double switch.

Our food arrived, and if I had been anticipating another request to switch, I wasn't disappointed. Sure as anything, she asked me, "Can we switch?" again.

"Why?" I asked. "This is ridiculous."

She said, "I just want to."

"Well, I just want to stay here and eat, so no."

I dug into my food, and she stared at me, hardly making a move. I did my best to avoid eye contact with her, but alas, it was too much to bear and I caved. I stared back, but still hoped to inject some levity into the situation. "Staring contest?" I said, "You're going down."

She said, "I can't believe you."

"You will. I'm pro at staring contests."

"You really won't switch with me? I mean, really? It's not a big deal. Just switch seats. That's all."

"If it's not that big a deal, then why do you want to switch so badly? We've already done it twice. Is the view really that much better on this side?"

She leaned in over the table and whispered, "The same people who've been watching me drink will see me eat if I stay on this side."

I looked around. "What people?"

She said, "Everyone else in the restaurant besides us. They've been watching me drink, and they're also going to watch me eat if I stay on this side. Let me switch. Please."

"What does it matter?" I asked, trying to understand.

She picked up her plate and said, "I'm sorry. I'm hungry. Please understand," and she walked away with it, towards the bathrooms.

I finished my meal, and not long afterward, she came back with a mostly empty plate. She sat back down and set the plate on the table. I asked, "You seriously just went to eat in the bathroom?"

She nodded. "No one to watch me there."


We didn't have that much left to talk about, I decided, except for how to split the check. I couldn't leave her fast enough.


  1. Some days I think part of the world's population is going stone-cold clinically insane in the membrane.

  2. Doc Holliday always sat with his back to a wall at the saloon...

  3. Actually yes, yes - every day...

    If Doc Holliday had asked others to switch seats with him every three minutes, I think his legend wouldn't have reached us today.

  4. ^...cuz she was acting weirdly cunty and did not deserve to be paid for.

  5. ^^ Because this is the 21st century and women can pay their own way?

  6. Because girls DESERVE to get dinner paid for, because of that there ver-gina thingy.

  7. ^^^^ Because the custom of men paying for dates arose as a way of thanking the woman for the pleasure of their company, rather than her eating in a toilet stall while undoubtedly rocking back and forth and muttering to herself?

  8. Actually, not wanting someone to see you eat is classic eating disorder behavior, even to the point of eating in the restroom.

  9. Someone who had an eating disorder that serious probably wouldn't have wanted her date to see her eat either. She also probably wouldn't have agreed to do something that involved eating on a first date, since in her mind, he would be disgusted by seeing her eat.

  10. Eating disorder was my first thought too, although plain ol' crazy remains a possibility.

  11. My vote is for plain ol' crazy. My ex-boyfriend was diagnosed with schizophrenia after our relationship ended, and one thing that would drive me absolutely fucking bonkers was the "let's switch seats. no. wait. let's switch back. no. wait. let's switch again" thing. I swear to God, I put up with that crap for far too long.

    (Disclaimer: I understand it wasn't his fault and I hope he is doing better now but HOLY MOTHER OF GOD it drove me nuts. I could write a novel about having a relationship with someone who is mentally ill who doesn't know it yet. I'm not trying to be mean. I'm a little crazy, too, but I don't get all worked up over which seat to sit in.)

  12. PS: Have to add: I agree that someone with an eating disorder would probably not agree to go out to a dinner date.

  13. Well maybe HE suggested eating out and she just didn't want or know how to tell him the problem.


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