I am on the sidewalk outside the café wondering how I should play this. I ask myself, “What do I want?” That’s an easy one. I want her to fall madly in love with me. I want her to look at me with those eyes that were flashing with anger on the subway platform, no less impassioned, but with desire instead of rage. “Stop!” I tell myself. “You sound like an idiot. Just listen. Give her a chance to vent all the anger out. And then be yourself. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. That’s it. That’s all you need to do.”
I pull the door open. I can tell in an instant she’s not there. Of course. It was silly to think she would come. OK, I will have a pastry, which I will enjoy enormously, and then I will have a good laugh at myself and feel good for being optimistic enough to show up. I’ve just taken my first bite of tart when she comes in. She sits on the edge of the chair across from me and holds her purse in her lap like she’s just sitting for a moment before running off to her next appointment.
She took a breath and got right to it. “I came because I wanted to tell you how rude you were and maybe by doing so, I can save some other woman unlucky enough to fall into your path the unpleasantness of having to hear your opinion.”
“Wow. OK. Fair enough. Point taken,” I said.
“That’s it? That’s all you have to say to me?”
“I was hoping you were going to explain to me what you thought Marcy from the book you were reading accomplished, because I didn’t really see it, she just seemed stuck to me. But it seems like maybe you only came here to tell me off, so …” I wasn’t at all sure what to do with this situation. She seems really angry, and I don’t really get it, but she’s beautiful and I want her to stay. “Will you at least let me buy you a slice of tart? The tarts here are really unbelievable.”
Her eyes flash again, even more brilliantly this time. “Tart? You want me to sit here and eat a piece of tart with you? You really don’t get it, do you? You’re such an arrogant prick. I was sitting there enjoying a lovely afternoon, and up you come and start lecturing me about ‘making things happen’ like you’re some kind of Tony Robbins guru or some shit like that. Criticizing me for not having enough ambition. For letting the whole book go by without ‘stepping up.’ Is that what you think? That I need to step up? You know what? I’m fine. I do not need to step. Up.”
In that moment it is perfectly clear to me what happened, but it looks like she is about to leave. If she doesn’t scratch my eyes out first. “Wait, stop, please don’t leave. Listen, can you tell me your name? Will you please let me buy you a tart. They really are delicious. Or a cup of tea or coffee or whatever it is you drink. But even if you won’t have some tart, will you at least let me say a few sentences?”
“OK, go ahead, I won’t stop you.”
The waitress comes by and she orders a latte.
“I think what I want to point out is that when I talked about the book earlier this summer, I was only disappointed in Marcy, the fictional character in the novel. That’s it. I wasn’t criticizing you. Do you get that? I don’t know anything about you. Or your ambition. Or what you have or have not made happen.”
“Of course you don’t know anything about me. That’s what I keep saying. You don’t have any right to tell me what I should be doing.”
“Can you please tell me your name so I know what to call you? You don’t have to give me your real name, just something I can use for conversation.”
“Call me Marcy.”
“You mean like in the book? Is that really your name?”
“No, but it’s good enough for now, for this conversation.”
“Um, but I think maybe that’s not going to work for the point I’m trying to make. Because I wasn’t commenting about YOU, I was commenting about Marcy in the book. Who are two completely different people in my mind.”
“OK, fine, my name is Katie.”
“Do you see my point Katie? You keep responding to me like I was talking about you, but I was only talking about Marcy, who is a fictional character in a fictional book. All I know about you is how angry you get. And that you wear a Fitbit with a green band.”
She starts to say something but stops. She is sitting there looking at me with a strange look on her face when the waitress comes and puts her latte down. She starts to say something to me and then turns to the waitress, “Can I have a slice of tart?”