It wasn’t quite a date. I suppose if you’re being technical you could classify it as one, but it wasn’t.
There are people you have known for a while as friends, then one day a suggestion is made (“We’ve never hung out.” “Really?” “Yeah, we should.”) and you realise that regardless of the outcome, things can never return to the way they were.
Three days later, he is at her door waiting to be let in.
She smiles as she opens the door, looks him over once and says, “Why are you dressed like a farmer?”
“You heard me. I said why are you always dressed like a farmer.”
He was wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and sandals. Now he is wearing a frown as well.
“Umm… sorry. Sorry to disappoint you.”
There are three parts to a bad date.
The first is when you suspect things will not go well. It is where the person first peels off their mask and you’re taken aback by what is beneath. It is the first time in the movie where a shambling zombie lunges for an exposed neck and you admit to yourself that things might not go smoothly.
The initial mask was not meant to be deceptive, but it is different from now that the both of you are settling into the roles you will inhabit when you are alone together.
But you hang in there because people have multiple layers and they can end up surprising you.
An hour later, he looks up from his phone and asks, “Do you have a laptop I can use?”
“I have a laptop,” she says, “but I don’t use it.”
“I’ve heard stories. I’m not going to put a computer on my lap that will stop me from having babies. Same thing with microwave ovens.”
He thinks about it for a while and says, “Why don’t you put the laptop on the table when you use it?”
She shakes her head, indicating it isn’t up for debate. “No. I don’t use it at all.”
“What about your work? What about if you have to do something online? You have an MBA, how did you get past that while avoiding using your laptop?”
She shrugs. “I figured it out. But now if I have any computer things, I can always come to you.” She smiles as she says this and punches him playfully on the arm.
The second part is the decision point. It is when you have seen enough to come to a conclusion.
Hooke’s law of elasticity states that the extension of a spring is proportional to the load applied to it up until the yield point. Before the yield point, the material returns to its original shape when the load is removed. But past the yield point, any additional stress causes the material to become permanently deformed.
Everything today would count as deforming but wait, you’re not done yet.
“Let’s watch TV,” she says.
“Why? I thought we were talking.”
“I’m bored. We can leave it on and still talk.”
He asks, “What do you do when you’re bored?”
She says, “I watch TV.”
“That’s it. Just TV. If I’m not working, I’m watching television.”
He is irritated. “That sounds like a colossal waste of time.” He rolls the word in his mouth as he lets it drop: CO-LOS-SAL.
She says, “So is reading.”
She makes a chopping motion in the air with her hand as she delivers this coup de grace. An involuntary sound escapes from his throat like a mouse would make if you flicked a slipper at it.
The third part is the escape. Here, things have spiralled out of control and all you want is to get out with some modicum of dignity and without any confrontation.
From Sun Tzu’s The Art of War:
In battle, there are not more than two methods of attack–the direct and indirect; yet these two in combination give rise to an endless series of manoeuvres.
The television is on now and she becomes immersed in the show. Five minutes pass, then ten.
He stands up slowly and inches towards the door. With his hand on the knob, he looks back. She hasn’t noticed. He coughs once, and comes up with an excuse, “I’m going to pick up something from the car.”
She nods, her eyes fixed on the TV. He goes out to the car and drives home.
She calls two hours later sounding like she just woke up. “Whu-what happened?”
“Oh that? I went home.”
She is quiet for a while trying to remember if they discussed this, then she says, “Okay, talk to you later,” and the phone goes off.