“I don’t know,” you say, averting your eyes from her expectant and still-hopeful facial expression. You really don’t know. You don’t necessarily even want to be going to dinner. Flamenco would last for hours. It was a mental calisthenics routine just to appear happy enough to leave the comfort of your apartment in order to go into a public place and publicly force someone else to speak your language and have unseemly misunderstandings and probably order some sort of foul raw fish plato when all you really want is the freaking paella, the (i.e. the) definitive centerfold of Spain’s vibrant, “authentically European” fucking irresistible feast which up until this point, three weeks in, has continued to somehow elude the both of you due to a grip of embarrassing logistical errors which, unfortunately, always ended up in a sort of depressing bickering match that never failed to conclude in an irreconcilable split of opinion.
“I don’t know,” you say again. You look at her. “I thought we were going to the Catalan restaurant first and if we didn’t like it going to the Asian thing? Don’t you want to do that?”
“Well, I forgot that this place has flamenco on Fridays. Don’t you think that it would be fun to go see flamenco?” she says.
“Uh, well, I thought we were going to the Catalan restaurant. I don’t know,” you say.
“You have no opinion?” she says. You’re aware of how much eye contact you’re not making with her.
“I don’t know,” you say. “I don’t know, you said we would go to the Catalan place or the Asian place. Don’t you want to go there?”
“I do but I forgot about the flamenco place,” she says. “We’ve talked about going to the flamenco place before. It’s free tonight.”
“You didn’t say it was free tonight,” you say. “I didn’t know it was free.”
“Yes I did,” she says.
“Yes you did what?” you say.
“Yes I did say it was free,” she says. “I said it was free.”
“Well I didn’t hear you say it was free,” you say.
“Well I said it. I don’t know what your point is. It’s free, that information has now been established,” she says.
“Let’s just do the original plan,” you say. “Okay? I don’t feel like trying to find the flamenco place, it seems too hard right now. You should have just said something about the flamenco place before we left. You said you would decide and now you’re making me decide. We agreed that you would decide.” You begin walking.
“Fine,” she says, behind you. She catches up to you.
A half a block later she says, “It’s just that it would be so nice to go to the flamenco thing tonight.” You stop and turn to her.
“Are you trying to tell me something?” you say.
“What? No,” she says.
You take her arm and almost forcibly lead her to a bench and sit down. You feel afraid of people seeing you fight.
“You are saying things like ‘the flamenco restaurant is nice’ while at the same time having agreed to carry out the original plan. Are you trying to communicate something to me?” you say.
“Why can’t we just discuss this?” she says.
“I am discussing this. It sounds like you’re actually saying ‘I want to go to flamenco.’ This is my discussion. Do you want to go to flamenco? Why do you say ‘fine’ if you aren’t fine with the decision? Why do you point out another option after we’ve decided on the options and look at me as if I’m supposed to do something about you pointing at the map saying there’s a flamenco place we can go to?”
“I asked if we could–”
“You didn’t ask. You just said the option was available. After we had decided on the options.”
“Well I thought–”
“This is what I was talking about when I said you are like your mom. When you want me to do something you don’t tell me to do it, you just ask if I know that I can do it, or you say something like ‘do you want to do it?’ or whatever. Just say you want to go to flamenco. If you want something just say that you want it directly. We can go to flamenco, I don’t care where we go really. It’s more important to you than to me where we go, you’re more concerned with food than I am. It’s logical that you should pick restaurants.”
“Why are you so upset? I just want to have a nice night out,” she says. “I was just saying that the flamenco place seems nice. Why can’t we just talk about this?”
“I understand that the flamenco place seems nice. I know that you think that. Do you prefer the flamenco place to the Catalan and the Asian place? You keep saying that the flamenco place seems nice but never answering when I ask if you want to go. Can you answer that question?”
“What the fuck is your problem?” she says.
“Answer me if you want to go to flamenco,” you say.
“Yes. I want to go to flamenco,” she says loudly, but it’s uncomfortably obvious that it’s not even worth going anymore, and you say so, you say it isn’t worth the money now, that both of you feel sour and upset and that it would be a waste of money to sit in a restaurant and buy a meal that you could just make at home for a sixteenth of the price, that there’s no way to feel charmed by any amount of “European authenticity” at this point, and both of you sit on this bench for over ten minutes of excruciating silence, watching younger, happier couples pass arm-in-arm, until you stand, turn and say that you’re going home and that she can come with you if she wants. She follows. Walking ahead of her the entire way home, you wonder why you did all that, how you, the reasonable and intelligent person you think you are, could have been so incredibly retarded.