“Let’s see what our options are,” you say, moving to the couch and sitting down next to her. She has Time Out’s Guide To Barcelona, the travel book you purchased at Shakespeare & Company in Paris, France (the (i.e. the) premier European tourist destination where you two stayed the previous month in a flat the size of a storage closet in the Oberkampf, an arrondissment within walking distance of the cobblestoned Marais, for the extremely low rate of $1,600, never having quite experienced the “authentic European dining experience” because of lack of ability to comprehend the menus, but having been lucky to witness the complete emotional and psychological breakdown of a Turkish man outside your door at 5 A.M., New Years Day, that was so visceral and terrifying that you were actually shaking when it was over), open to the maps section.
“Well, as far as I’m concerned, there are two good options for tonight. You said you wanted Asian. You wanted Asian, right?” she says.
“Yeah,” you say.
“There’s an Asian place here,” she says, pointing to an intersection that she’s circled, “it sounds good. Or we can go here,” she says, pointing at another circled intersection. “It has traditional Catalan food.”
“Which one do you want?” you say.
“Well, I asked you to come help me decide because I wanted your opinion,” she says.
“I dunno. I guess I prefer the Asian, I don’t even really know what Catalan is,” you say. “Which one do you want to go to?”
“You want to go to the Asian, huh. Alright, we can go there,” she says.
“Well, what do you want?” you say. “Do you want the Catalan place?”
“No, no, Asian’s fine. I know you like Asian,” she says.
“Okay,” you say. You get up and move toward your coat. “Are you ready to go now, then? Or do you need to do your hair or whatever?”
“Yeah, no, I’m pretty much ready,” she says. She lingers on the couch. You put on your jacket. “It’s just that the Catalan restaurant seems really nice and quiet. The book says it has a really nice atmosphere.”
“Do you want to go to the Catalan restaurant?” you say.
“Well, you want to go to the Asian restaurant, it’s okay,” she says.
“I know that I want to go to the Asian restaurant. What I’m asking you is if you want to go to the Catalan restaurant,” you say. Irritation has crept into your voice.
“I don’t know,” she says.
“It sounds like you want to go to the Catalan restaurant,” you say. “Do you want to go to the Catalan restaurant?”
“Well, it’s just that the Catalan restaurant seems so nice, like a nice little Spanish place,” she says.
“Yes. I heard you say that a number of times already. You seem to be implying that you want to go to the Catalan restaurant. Do you want to go to the Catalan restaurant?,” you say.
“Well, if you want to go to the Asian restaurant… You said you wanted to go to the Asian restaurant–”
“Right, and you didn’t say anything. You just said ‘Okay.’ You had me sit down next to you so we could decide and so I told you my preference and you just said okay. It seemed decided. But now you keep saying things like ‘But the Catalan restaurant seems nice’ but you won’t say you want to go there. You just keep implying that you want to go there. Do you want to go to the Catalan restaurant or not?”
“I don’t know… I just want to have a discussion about where we’re going. Why are you so upset? Why is it always so hard for us to try and decide where to go out–”
“I tried to have a discussion about where we were going. I said ‘I prefer the Asian’ and then asked you where you wanted to go and then you just said okay and so I got up and started to get ready–”
“Why can’t we just have a discussion about where we are going?”
“I began to discuss this with you and you just said okay to my preference! How else do people discuss things than by saying their preference and then hearing another preference and then talking about those two preferences until both agree that one preference should take precedence over the other, or whatever?? I said that I prefer Asian and you said okay! Why are you blaming me for not being able to have a discussion with you about this? Do you want to go to the Catalan restaurant?”
“Well, it just seems so nice there…”
“Right I understand that but I’m asking if you want to go. It seems like you’re incapable of saying ‘I want to go to the Catalan restaurant.'” You pause and look at her. You breathe. She just wants to have a good time, you tell yourself. She’s not doing anything malicious, she isn’t intentionally trying to frustrate you. She just wants this night to be good, and that’s why she’s acting this way. This is just her style of doing it, you tell yourself. She only want things to be good. She is innocent.
“This is what we will do,” you say. “We’ll go look at the Catalan restaurant and if it looks nice, we’ll eat there. If it doesn’t look that nice we’ll go down to the Asian place. Okay?”