It's a quarter past five, and two weeks of speed-texting and one muffled phone call later, here we are. His eyes are piercing grey, his cheekbones high and hollow, like the insides of a psychopath's heart. He's not unattractive to look at, him with his close cropped hair and his arched eyebrows, and on a good day, I can sulk in the dark recesses of my mind and write a haiku about him. He greets me with a cheerful high-pitched Hi. The haiku dies before its five syllables could even begin.
His face had hinted at a baritone voice, but I am clearly wrong. Now I notice that his chin is too weak, his shirt has a slight tear and his nose is off-centre. He seems socially awkward, but not the kind that is sexy. Two looks at me nervously through his grey eyes as they dart back and forth in the coffee shop, as if we are being watched by assassins. He's an entertainment journalist who runs a celebrity gossip blog under a pseudonym, so we probably are. We call for our coffees and a brownie to share and get ourselves a table in the corner. No hired ninjas around, so we are good to go. I momentarily long to run my hand through his stubble in the private confines of our little alcove, but he would probably shriek like a girl.
He tweets about celebrities anonymously, he tells me, making a living making jokes at their expense - but all under an alias. A gay man working under a mask, belittling people that he knows? I twitch, as he nibbles at our dessert. The man has eaten most of it, not that I begrudge him for it. He regales me with stories he covered, with the ones he broke, and I battle a graphic image of him huddled on his laptop, wearing a hoodie and chugging down espressos. They are the usual, no needles in his haystack. A thirty-something 'has-been' and her nose job that went disastrously wrong. A starlet campaigning for LGBT Rights who also doubles as his best friend. An aging superstar cheating on his wife with her best friend, and other such sleazy things that Jackie Collins novels are made of. Did I know any of it?, he asks me. I shake my head and he smiles, pleased. The rest of the evening is a mash of Did You Know's and Did-You-Not's. Did You know this - Did you not know that - Did you know - Did you not- know-not-no-naught- no, no, no, no. I silently shriek in my head as his high-octave voice cuts through my heart, and realize that I can do one of the following three things:
A. I can pretend to rush to the washroom and never come back, vanishing into the city forever.
B. I can be upfront and tell him that I don't think this will ever work, shake hands like grown men, probably give him a hug and part ways with a simple goodbye. No hard feelings, right?
C. I can take the slab of brownie and shove it down his throat, and then get charged with attempt to murder. Five years in the penitentiary as opposed to fifty minutes of this?
I chose to do none of the above, and go with option D. I smile at him, and ask him whether he would like another brownie. He politely refuses. I do the Congo in my head. We split the cheque, just like I plan to split our goodbye. We make promises to meet later; promises that we both know don't mean a thing. He tells me his twitter handle on a parting note, leaving behind a virtual trail of breadcrumbs for me to follow (or retweet, if I feel like it, he quips.) I smile.
I let the trail be, and walk away towards a hypothetical number three.Suggest a correction