And so to continue with my thirtieth date: although I’d be much fonder of brunch if it was socially acceptable to drink raspberry chocolate martinis at 11:00am, the menu at Honey’s proved to be more than tolerable. After some deliberation, we both selected the whole wheat berry granola pancakes and, in accordance with acceptable Saturday morning beverage conventions, two cups of coffee.
Secretly, I’d hoped he’d order the pumpkin and maple syrup pancakes, thereby giving me an excuse to sample the less-than-healthy fare without compromising my complex-carbohydrate loyalties. His chivalry in this regard, however, was most lacking.
As the waitress poured our coffees, we talked of literature and religion, managing to skirt around the more controversial disputes of our age, but finding ourselves in actual agreement on several key issues. And despite my unfortunate preference for hair products over Harper’s Magazine and the rest of the high brow publications meant to improve one’s chances of making intelligent conversation, I found myself able to keep up, and, more importantly, actually enjoying myself.
When our pancakes arrived, in their steaming, strawberry-infused glory, my date confessed, “I have to admit, I was hoping you’d order the pumpkin and maple syrup pancakes, this way I could have tried them while still appearing to be a healthy eater.”
I’ll spare you the subsequent “Really? No way! Me too! We should probably just call a priest right now!” (I wouldn’t want to make your hurl in breakfast cereal.) Suffice it to say, I blushed. And giggled. And confessed that I’d been thinking exactly the same thing.
But back to the pancakes, and the man seated across from me.
“I’ve never read any Jane Austen,” he suddenly announced. “But I’ve just downloaded Pride and Prejudice on my Kindle e-reader.”
“Really?” I asked, rather bemused. Believe it or not, he wasn’t the first man to inform me that he’d downloaded Pride and Prejudice. Date #9 was also cutting his teeth on Austen during our short-lived courtship but he claimed that he preferred to read his Regency romance in disguise (“It’s so unmanly to be caught reading Jane Austen. She’s good, but I’d rather keep it on the down low”).
My current companion, however, had no qualms about reading Austen in public. He whipped out his Kindle e-reader (aka cell phone; evidently there’s a Kindle e-reader app) and pulled up a passage he’d highlighted.
“There’s this great bit about marriage,” he said. And there, seated in Honey’s, huddled over his cell phone, we read:
Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.
I was 13 when I first read Pride and Prejudice; this would explain why I’ve since “blossomed” into a rather maladjusted adult with impossible romantic expectations based solely upon a teenaged conceptualization of a depressingly fictional character. This would also explain why I found myself practically snorting with laughter as we finished the passage. I guess I missed Austen’s subtle humor the first time around (perhaps because I had to look up every third word in the dictionary).
“She’s hysterical.” I asserted.
“I know!” he agreed. “And I’m only a few chapters in but I think this Darcy character is going to… I don’t know, actually. But I have a good feeling about him. Everyone hates him right now, but I think he’s going to come along.”
“Really?” I asked, trying to repress the urge to A) swoon in ecstasy, thereby upsetting the syrup and ruining both my outfit and my pancakes, B) grin like an idiot, thereby exposing myself for the hopeless romantic that I really am and C) all of the above (B first obviously; it’s hard to smile when you’re passed out on top of your pancakes from an Austen-induced romantic overload).
I the end, I managed to gain control of myself, but only just barely. It’s not every day that one finds herself discussing Austen over whole wheat pancakes with an eligible bachelor of the handsome and enlightened variety. Nor is it every day that said bachelor says, “What’s your schedule like for the rest of the afternoon? Shall we stroll? There’s a farmer’s market just around the corner.”
I agreed, being rather partial to farmers’ markets, Saturday afternoon strolls and sunlit street corners. And thus we made our way to the Piazza, where I was pleasantly surprised by my date’s ability to keep the baseball talk to a minimum, despite that the Phillies were due to play the Giants in just a few hours.
We all know how well Game Six ended (not very well for Philadelphia), but as for the remainder of my thirtieth date (and the identity of its other Austen-reading half), you’ll have to wait until tomorrow because I’ve finally arrived at work and must therefore prepare for the onslaught of freshly-minted knock-knock jokes from my pre-schoolers.
(“Knock knock!” Who’s there? “Miss Kat!” Miss Kat who? “Miss Kat chocolate-wocolate-choka-woka-choka-woka-mama! Hahah haHA he Ha haHAHHH!” Despite her erudite observations on the likelihood of happiness in marriage, Austen’s got nothing on my pre-schoolers.)