“Why did you choose this place?” His nose is scrunched.
His upper lip is pulled up at the corner. “It’s very dark in here.”
“You said you didn’t mind where we ate.” She sighs,
closing her eyes for a moment.
“Well, I mind now.” He tries to move his chair, but it
catches on the thick carpet. “How do they expect you to move your chair?” He
tugs it again.
“Do you want to go somewhere else?”
“I’ll survive I suppose,” he says and flicks open the
menu. “When in Rome,” he mumbles, “although I suppose Rome would find the
association rather insulting.”
Fran folds her napkin in her lap. Paying careful
attention to the errant corners and folds.
“What are you going to have?” He leans forward, peering
over the menu, and his reading glasses.
“I haven’t looked yet.” She watches the people at the
next table. Young, beautiful, in love. She traces the damask pattern on the
white tablecloth. “These are like the ones we had for our wedding, can you
remember? The tablecloths?”
He peers again. “Why would I remember the tablecloths at
“Because your Mother insisted on them and they blew half
“Mother, does have good taste. She wouldn’t think much of
this place, though. Too flashy, very nouveau riche.” He pretends to shudder,
and nods at the menu. “The show starts at nine.”
“I know.” She glances at the glossy pages.
“I don’t want to be late.” He says behind the menu.
“Fine, what are you having?” She says, snapping her menu
“I can’t decide.” He re-appears, perky eyebrows with
black, piggy eyes. “What do you think I should have?”
Her smile disappears, sucked into a thin, straight line. “For
heaven’s sake, can you not make a single decision on your own?”
“I was just making conversation, Fran. It’s date night,
remember? Dr Benedict says, we should-”
“No, you were not making conversation. You were waiting
for me to choose so you could blame me if you didn’t like it.”
“When have I ever done that?” He squints in the dim,
“Only at every session we’ve had with the good doctor.”
“But Mother says therapy-“
She signals the hovering waiter. “I’ll have the house
The waiter turns, eyebrows raised, pen poised.
“I haven’t decided yet.” Panic cracks his voice. He
perches on the chair scouring the pages, jaw pumping. “Why did you do that? I
“He’ll have the line fish, grilled, with a side salad.”
He deflates. Disbelief floods the table, followed by an
angry fist. “Why did you do that? You knew I wasn’t ready.”
“You’re never ready, Frank.” Resting her hands on the rattling
silverware. Her wedding ring glints, mocking her with its cheeriness.
“Well, I didn’t want that.”
“Yes, and now you’ll blame me. Your life is my fault.”
“Why are you being like this?”
“Like what? Like the woman you chose to marry, and then
complained about for the next five years.”
He stares at her. Mouth agape.
“What? Honesty too nouveau riche for you?”