January 18th, 2011


The lunch date

It was meant to be one of those casual lunch dates, where you laugh over soup and salad, split the bill, and go your separate ways stifling the little voice deep down somewhere, which rebelliously dares to wish for something more. Just friends. The cautious flirting never dares to bubble over the edge. The accident of hands brushing carelessly en route to the bread bowl is allowed to remain just that, an accident, as eyes are trained on the lettuce leaves, trying to estimate their questionable freshness. Conversation is kept light: no religion or politics; toeing the line of that pre-relationship questionnaire, but vague enough to ignore the fire alarms of sexual tension thick in the air.

Casual lunch date. At a graveyard. There is something very symbolic about contemplating life as you choose to evade the blatant yet unacceptable reality of a "purely platonic" lunch date at a graveyard. Or maybe what tickles you more is the sight of lovers united for an eternity thirty years after one’s untimely departure: love cast in headstones. Either way, it was just a casual lunch date at one of those beautiful old cemeteries that are shaded by thick foliage and are chilly even in the blazing heat of summer, that are good for reflections on life and death, though maybe not so good for lunch dates.

He showed up on his Triumph: Johnny Cash hair, black leather jacket, Motörhead belt buckle. A slightly heavy slightly bowlegged walk, stamping the heels of his motorcycle boots into the spongy spring earth. Like a man from a cigarette commercial, which attempts to portray smoking as something irresistibly macho. I handed him the second cup of coffee: black, no sugar, and put myt left arm through his right: my heels were getting stuck in the mud, so I needed the support of the cigarette-commercial man. Heady from the perfume of the wet grass and moss, and the fumes of his bad boy image, I let my arm relax in his and leaned in with my shoulder. The motorcycle jacked shuddered.

We walked slowly, pensively through the graveyard, looking at lifetimes engraved in stone in the shape of names and dates: stories of love, loss, hope and despair within the parenthesis of two dates. Our inability to address the lives of our own gave us the inspiration to create them for these people, the memories of whom were in full decay. We weaved our own secrets into these fictional biographies, pulling each other in even further into the uncharted territories of something more than a casual lunch date. Words intertwined, as did the steam from the coffee cups, as did the outlawed but persistent thoughts.

We talked, disrobing our deepest darkest secrets, having found someone neither of us needed to impress. With the mating ritual, known to be futile ahead of time, out of the way we were free to be honest. We opened up blushingly, coyly, like virgin brides, laughing nervously at the fact that mistakes were easier to commit than to admit. I was the receptacle for his honesty, for his apologies to all the women of his past. I was a short giggly blonde, a firey redhead, a mysterious brunette; I was all his women at once granting him the absolution he so desperately sought amidst the mossy graves. It was a defiant explicit intimacy in the soggy grass with no future other than right here surrounded by misters and misses, born and dead, looking on indifferently. It was a bright flash of something impossible coming very close to being true crammed into the span of a lunch hour.

The goodbyes were awkward. They often are when you find yourself emotionally naked with someone unexpected. But after all it was just a no-big-deal lunch date. At a graveyard.