Thursday, September 12, 2002

Doppio Zero, Greenside

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Service: * * * * *
Food: * * * *1/2
Ambience: * * *1/2
Babe Count: * * * *

My cellphone clock tells me it's 6:16pm. I rush inside the restaurant. The babe with streaky hair sitting at the corner table must be Stefania. We wave delicately at each other, and smile. "Hi, I'm Roy." I sit.

"Stefania. At least you sounded like you'd genuinely forgotten," she says. She's a poet I've been corresponding with via email.

"Oh geez," I say. "For some reason I had it fixed in my brain that we were meeting on Saturday morning at 10 o'clock. I'm so sorry to have kept you waiting."

I'm frazzled. A long day at the office, and I've just finished doing some content-editing for the SASWA website.

She says, "That's okay. At least I phoned. I could have just sat here for another forty-five minutes and assumed you'd just dumped me."

Well. That's taken care of, and we're free to enjoy each other's company. It's very easy to make small talk. We seem to have known each other for ages, even though it's really just been email commentary. She sends me her poems, and I give my opinion.

We eat. I choose the ravioli, stuffed -- if my memory serves me correctly -- with haloumi and feta, doused in a creamy Napolitana sauce. Patricia (pronounced the Italian way -- Pa-trit-si-ah) recommends that sauce. Stefania orders the gnocchi with pesto. Hers looks and smells delicious, but it's a first date, so I decline her offer for me to taste it. Mine looks and smells delicious, and is in fact more than delicious. It's beautifully textured, perfectly cooked, lovely to look at.

A bit like Stefania, actually. And Pa-trit-si-ah. And the lesbian couple who pulled up in the Merc convertible, sitting two tables away, holding hands under the table. And Catherine who I had coffee with earlier at SABC Radiopark Canteen. She wanted to know if all my writing has sex in it. Then she wanted to watch me write. Hmmm.

"You know," Stefania says after we've become comfortable with the fact that we're sitting here across from each other without keyboards intervening, "I have to confess something. But you're not allowed to put it on your website!"

I look at her, smile, shake my head. "But Stefania, I'm an ex-student-lefty. I don't believe in censorship. So I can't agree to that condition. Tell me."

She smiles. She's very pretty. Especially when she smiles. "Well, I've never, ever, ever been to a movie on my own."

She's approaching the one-year anniversary of a senseless breakup, and she's in growth mode. The world is teaching her things. But this??

"Phshew," I say, after shutting my gaping mouth. "Never? Not once? Ever?"

"Not to my knowledge," she says.

"Wow." This has utterly gobsmacked me. In my movie-going life, I prefer to see films alone. In fact, I'd say I see about ten movies on my own for every one I see with other people. This is a paradigm-shifter to me.

But it's amazing that she's able to tell me such a thing. It means that she's trusting men again. And it means that she's willing to confront her old habits.

We'll see each other again. Maybe at the movies?

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