Brief Dates with Hideous Men


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Jorge Luis Borges

Centuries of research have led me to believe you did not choose this restaurant at random.

It just so happened that while consulting online reviews of the restaurant that you proposed, I was also leafing through “The Coherence of Incoherence,” written by little-known Greco-Arabic Kabbalist, Diogenes Ibn Kakacephalus. Upon laying my Google Maps printout beneath Kakacephalus’ semi-translucent tracing of the Divine Topology I noticed a disconcerting phenomenon I could not dismiss as mere chance.
This Olive Garden, where we now eat, fell upon the fourth seraphic peak of Kakacephalus’ topology. Four: the number of nodes in the elemental locus of Anaximander of Dubuque. This Olive Garden is on 4th Street, in the 4th largest city that contains every vowel. It also has 4 stars on Yelp.

“Eat before it gets cold,” you say. Ha! Why do I laugh? I felt I have had this conversation before.

In my youth, I dabbled in philosophy when I was not enjoying the company of whores and watching the caballeros’ knives dance on the Calle Serrano. Are you familiar with the Paradox of Achilles and Tortoise? Well then, you understand that since you started eating before me I can never catch up to you. Why even bother beginning?

Yet, perhaps it is I, Borges, who will never be caught by you, (who may be Borges also.)

Perhaps I am dreamt by you, my dear. Perhaps you are dreamt by me. Perhaps we are together dreamt by another fellow, that loud, fat one over there who is shouting into his cell phone.

And before you ask: I do not tip. I find it vulgar.

Oh fine, leave me! I’ve got plenty of other potential dates waiting in the wings.

I wonder if Borges is free tonight.

David Foster Wallace

OK, and so it’s pretty near impossible to calculate the astronomically high social capital needed to basically even set about one foot in the door of this restaurant, much less procure keister-friendly real estate for a prandial confabulation


It’s hard to get a reservation here.


Don’t we all? I’ve always felt there’s something deeply, deeply American about sloughing off the choice to pick a menu item onto someone else. Please understand that I’m not trying to moralize w/r/t your choice, but you should be aware of the cost, the disconcerting ease with which you[1] sacrifice your ability to make a decision for the sake of convenience.


Oh. You’ve never eaten here? Ok, the cheesy bread is pretty good.


I’m stuck in a bind here. You want me to “tell me (you) about your (my) self.” I get that. And I understand why. It’s bromides like these that help drag us through the honest-to-God-this-is-horrific, ego-denuding process of establishing a genuine connection between persons, but for a moment appreciate how problematic that request is.


Look, basically I don’t want to bamboozle you. I just can’t physically bear the possibility that I might euchre you out of an impartial impression of me before the cards have even been dealt, so to speak.[2] Would I be telling you the “Gospel Truth,”[3] Or would I just be telling you what you want to hear?


I’m aiming to make this particular corner of this particular restaurant, if only one place, a zone of complete sincerity. A kind of anti-bullshit Xanadu

Q! Q.

  1. I understand.
  2. drunk

So the task of remunerating this fine eatery rests on my shoulders, tip included?


I hate being a fucking human being.

[1] And to some extent everyone in our generation who basked in that cathode-ray lit multitudinous plenty of postwar America, present author included.

[2] The semiotics of the Illinois State Euchre Championship remain mystifying even to me.

[3] N.b. that I fully acknowledge the hokiness of this terminology, but suffer me a bit of hokiness, OK?

Ernest Hemingway

The restaurant was small and tidy. I wanted whiskey, but the waiter told me they didn’t serve that here. The date was a damn decent-looking woman.

“So you said you’re a world traveler,” the date said.

“I’ve been to Spain,” I said.

The waiter brought us some cheesy bread. It was good and it sat heavy in my belly.

“What was it like to be in Spain?” The date said.

I told her about the hot, flat days at San Carlos and the shouts from the bull ring, and the broken bodies floating in the Bay of Biscay. I told her no more than I wanted to say.

The date told me that was interesting because she was going to Des Moines next week. “I have never been to Des Moines,” I said. I’m sure it’s a lousy place. We ate without talking for a while. The first beer felt good, so I had seven more.

“So how many lions have you killed?” The date asked. On my E-harmony profile I had said I had hunted lions but not that I had killed them.

“Enough” I said.

It’s bad form to ask about E-harmony. The evening looked like it had gone to pot, and the date was acting more bitchily than she ought to. I felt like fighting someone but I’d be damned if I could figure out who. I took a smoke and thought on the ride back that maybe she was a decent woman after all. At least she was pretty. Damn pretty.

I walked her up to her door. Damn fine in the bugs and light. “I’m going to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro tomorrow before lunch,” I said with a smile, “You’re coming too, yes?”

“No,” she said.

On the way home I got very drunk.


Peter is a speech therapist based in Blacksburg, VA who writes occasionally but far less than he ought to.

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