“I’d like to meet a man who can write. Hopeless romantic, starving artist type, you know.”, the girl with the hair dyed blonde said.
“What, like a, Shakespeare In Love kind of thing?” asked her friend. She was digging into her plate of fish and capers.
“Yes, I suppose.”
“Men like that need muses, you know.”
“What?” Blondie has finished her meager salad, and is now trying to light a thin cigarette with her Zippo lighter, but it must almost be out of lighter fluid. It takes her five clicks before a small tongue of flame, bright and hot, comes dancing out. She takes her first short drag. “A what?”
“A muse. Not amuse ha-ha. A muse.” says her friend, who is now eyeing the lit cigarette with apprehension. She has asthma. “You have to inspire the hell out of a guy. Be, like, his fuel and his finish line.”
“Ha! You ought to be a writer.”
“Seriously, if you want a guy like that, you’ve gotta be inspiring as hell. Same goes with painters, musicians—“ she stops and puts her finger on her chin. Thoughtful. Deciding. “And architects.”
Blondie considers this piece of information with her elbow propped up on the table, a long thin cigarette held at the end of a long thin hand. “But weren’t they already born like this, you know, like, don’t these guys have talent already. To begin with and all.”
A heartbeat. Two. “No, they’ve gotta have muses. Every great writer had a muse. Every great painter.”
“I’m sure some of them just had a lot of ideas. Wasn’t Leonardo gay?” Blondie chuckles.
“I had a boyfriend in college who used to write me poems.”
“No kidding?” Blondie said. She turns her head only slightly to the left, keeping her eyes on her friend.
“Yeah. No. Yeah no kidding. We’d make out in an empty lecture hall and the next day he’d have a sonnet or something. I don’t think he even broke a sweat over them or anything. He was a natural.” Blondie’s friend smiles at her glass of sweet tea and shrugs. “He was a natural.” She finishes what’s left of her fish, and she stabs the last caper.
“But you needed to make out first.” Blondie says.
“Yeah, whatever, I still have those poems somewhere if my dad didn’t already throw them out. He hated that guy.”
Blondie finishes her cigarette with a sigh and drops the stub into a yellow porcelain ash tray. “Where is he now?” asks Blondie.
“No, William Shakespeare.”
“Oh. He works for Nestle now.”
“Advertising? Creative writing?”
“No, he’s an accountant.”
“Oh,” Blondie says. “Men don’t have a flair for anything like that anymore.” She takes a sip of her coffee, taking in as little as possible. She does not want to leave yet. “You know, they’re all about just getting your number and Facebook adding and Twitter following and picking you up at 8 o’clock sharp—“ she takes a breath “—and knowing what series you watch and if you’ve ever been to Boracay or Singapore.”
“We call that dating.”
“Eh.” Blondie shrugs. Unconvinced. Unmoved.
“It’s called dating. It’s how you get to know someone and confirm he’s not a psycho killer loser.”
“Doesn’t cut it for me.”
“So you want to be wooed. You don’t wanna date, you wanna be wooed.”
“Wooed. Not knock on wood. Wooed.”
“What the hell is that?”
“It’s when a guy chases you. No, wait, chase is too aggressive. Sort of like, he dances after you. He sweeps you off your feet.“ To this, Blondie rolls her eyes. Her friend laughs and throws a balled-up paper napkin at her.
“Come on, I don’t want the cheesy stuff,” Blondie rolls her eyes again. Her watch, leather and steel, says it’s 12:34pm. They should be getting back by now. Not yet.
Blondie continues. “I just don’t want to be looked at like some kind of—I dunno—list.” She sighs a deep, tired sigh. Her friend nods gravely, then furrows her brow.
Blondie sees this and explains further. “Like, you know. When a man asks you if you like Anthony Bourdain. He’s not asking you that because he wants to know if you actually like Anthony Bourdain. He’s asking because he wants you to know that he likes Anthony Bourdain and he’s checking if you’re a girl he can watch No Reservations with next Thursday night. He wants to know if his requirement—being interested in food—is met.”
“That’s a very stupid assumption.”
“Just listen to me a second, yeah?”
Blondie’s friend nods, waves at the passing waitress and asks for a glass of cold water. No ice. And with a straw, please. “Go on, Casanova.”
“The movies you watch on your second date? He’s judging you. Every side comment you made, every punchline you didn’t get, every yawn. Hell, maybe even the flavor of popcorn you bought. He has a list in his head of the things he hopes you to be.” Blondie is saying all of this with gusto now, with no regard for the time (12:45pm) or for her friend’s mood (somewhat interested but itching to go back to work).
“To be fair, we have our lists too.” she tells Blondie defensively. Or perhaps accusingly.
“Then we’re just as bad as they are. Can’t we just like someone for the way her fingers twitch in the air when she’s hailing a cab, or how her hair wafts around her head when a train zooms by, or how her lipstick is sort of just smudged in one corner, or how she bites her nails to the quick when she’s nervous. You know, throw away the list. Then write about how wonderful she is.”
“Wow. And you said I should be a writer. Jeez. Hey, it’s almost 1pm. We really have to go.” she tells Blondie with a frown.
“Yeah, okay. I’ll get the bill.”
“We already paid when we ordered.”
“Oh. Alright. Let’s go get a cab.” Blondie says.