“Is this a date?” she said. And I wasn’t prepared for this question. I’ve got no lies in the chamber, ready to fire. So I told her the truth.
“Yes—” And I should have stopped there, but I didn’t. “Yes,” I said, “at least it is for me.”
“Okay,” she— the Angel— said. That’s all she said: Okay. She looked at her wasabi as if it would have given her another talking point or at least some sort of out.
I decided to break the silence. “Have you ever smoked crack before?” I asked.
“What?” she said.
“Crack-cocaine. Have you ever smoked it?”
“No. God no.”
That was a lie, but it made me comfortable having told a lie; I smoked crack cocaine out of an apple once. It was a one time thing— the apple part, I mean. I used to have a crack pipe. Stilldo, actually.
My thoughts of crack-smoking filled the silence currently enveloping our little table. The Angel must have gotten over it when she asked me what I was thinking about.
“Did you think this was a date?” I responded.
“Well I thought it was clear that I’m a lesbian.”
“I’m a lesbian, Charlie,” she reiterated.
Good Christ. What have I gotten myself into. I had no idea.
“I had no idea,” I said.
“I’ve only dated women the past three years,” she said.
“Yeah but…that still means you had 15 years of men before that. The statistics are still in my favor.”
“Statistically: yes, they are.
“What, do you want me to give men another chance?”
“No. I want you to give me my first chance.” Back to silence and wasabi-staring. Great. After about a minute, the Angel started again.
“I’m going to go now.” She stood up from the table and grabbed her purse.
“Aren’t you going to pay?” I said.
“This— you said it was a date. It’s on you.”
“But it’s clearly not a date. You should pay your share.”
“You said this was a date.”
“For me. But it isn’t— wasn’t— for you. So I think you should pay.”
The Angel sat back down and gave me a hard look. “Here’s the deal,” she said, “you tell me my name and I’ll pay for my half. Hell, I’ll pay for the whole meal.”
“That’s ridiculous,” I said
“What’s ridiculous is the fact you don’t know my name yet here I am on a date with you.”
“So now it’s a date?”
“Tell me my name.”
“I know your name,” I said.
“Then what is it?” she asked.
She really got me there. Would she think it’s cute if I called her “the Angel”— like how you got to know her? I wracked my brain for the most popular female names I knew. All I could remember from the list I found on the internet in 2009 were the numbers 863 and 997— Keith and Robert, respectively.
“Robert,” I said. Best to just fail this one out the gate, I thought.
“Robert?” she raised her voice. People were now staring. “You don’t actually think my name is Robert, come on Charlie.” Okay, time to think fast: You’ve got this, Charlie.
“Roberta. Your name is Roberta.”
“No fucking way,” she said. “You actually don’t know my name?” She got back up and headed for the door, but not without stopping to look back at me and say one more thing.
“One more thing,” she called out, “You’ve got some serious self-esteem issues. I wouldn’t doubt for a second that you are gay, Charlie Brown.”
“I’m not gay!” I yelled back.
“I think you are, and honestly, I think that’s the only thing we have in common.” And with that final stab, she left the sushi place. People were clapping and cheering. Somebody was waving a foam finger that said “Number 1”.
I paid the bill and left and now I don’t eat sushi anymore.