She wore a patterned blue dress that made her feel confident. He wore a trendy hat, which showed he put in some effort despite his otherwise casual attire and made a bold statement, though what it was she didn’t quite know. As they sat across from each other in the cozy corner booth for two, Elizabeth was keenly aware of the clichéd scene they made: two young professionals participating in the mating ritual of a date. Obviously in the early stages by the lack of bodily contact, but interested enough to smile and nod at each other, engaged in each other’s words. Even the topics they covered adhered to the script. Since this was the third meeting, they moved on to the more personal topics of family, general life history, and one or two important life milestones. They fit the profile of the typical rom-com film, sitcom, or chicklit novel.
She would readily admit her inexperience with this scene as a newly minted young professional in a major city. As a matter of fact, Elizabeth prodigiously and publicly announced her lack of intention to settle down. And she meant it. It was the typical story of increasing your knowledge just enough to realise how little you in fact know. In this case, the idea of finding a perfect life partner—for life! no less—grew more unlikely and intimidating as the magnitude of the task settled upon her. Marriage was far off in the distance, and committing to a relationship was not her intention. But it didn’t make the nights less lonely, or stop the running critique in her head.
He’s shockingly honest. That’s good. But is he so transparent with anyone? Would that make him a player? Or is it a sign he’s interested? Hmm, he almost talks too much. And takes an annoying amount of time to come out with the right word. Is he aware that he pauses so often? Plus, WHAT is with closing his eyes all the time while talking? It looks pretentious, and plain weird! I guess that goes on the list of deal breakers. Or is that shallow? Wait, since when do I have a list?
She felt hypocritical, especially as Joel never explicitly called it a date or stated his interest. Maybe guys simply didn’t do that these days. And she wasn’t looking for a relationship, so why this ongoing internal monologue? Perhaps he was bored working from home and just wanted to get out with some company. Make a new friend after moving here. Reading signals was too difficult, Elizabeth decided. Anyway, she was almost completely decided he wasn’t her type, or even someone to have fun with. There were too many marks in his disfavour: slow speech, eye quirk, serious outlook on life (x to any fling), that small smile and laugh that already annoyed her. It made Elizabeth feel belittled, somehow. And also guilty. Very much so, since he was a thorough gentleman. If it was true that nice guys finish last, what did that say about the girls who spurned them? In any case, Elizabeth appeased herself, she wasn’t looking for a relationship.