(This is part two of a story. If you haven't already, read part one.)
"How about that one, near the posters?" I say, pointing at a table by the far wall.
"Sure!" says Guy agreeably, "I love this place. Their muffins are awesome."
"And I like the atmosphere. The people talking. The posters for community events. The eclectic musical selections," I say.
"I like that too," he says, smiling shyly as we sit down.
"So, Guy," I say, peeling the wrapper off my muffin, "what do you do for a job?"
"I work with computers," he says.
"Really! That's a popular choice around here."
He laughs. "Yeah."
"Tell me more. I love hearing about people's jobs."
"Oh, it's not that exciting," he says.
If my coffee shop had running commentary like a football game, the color man would point out that there are two secret meanings to "Oh, my job's not that exciting":
a. If the speaker says that, smiles, and blushes, he means "Let's talk about nothing but my job for the next 30 minutes, because, frankly... I'm kind of a big deal."
b. If the speaker says the same phrase, but looks sad and wistful, he means "Even thinking of my job makes me want to die. For the love of god, can we talk about something else?"
"I understand," I say. "So, tell me, Guy. How do you really like to spend your time?" I broke off a piece of my muffin and got comfortable. If someone doesn't like to talk about his job, he usually wants to talk about his hobbies.
"Well…" says Guy, dithering.
I'm sitting there thinking, "Oh, hell." If he won't talk about his job and he won't talk about his hobbies, this is going to be a really dull conversation. I mean, I pride myself on being able to have a polite conversation with just about anyone, but I much prefer talking with someone who actually talks back.
I know: I'm so demanding. It's no wonder I'm still single.
I chew my muffin and do an impression of someone who is patient."Wait for it," I tell myself. "Wait for it."
"Well," says Guy. "I like to read."
Hallelujah! A response I can work with!
"I love to read!" I say. "What kind of stuff do you read?" I take a look at his long, wavy brown hair, falling over his shoulders. His goatee. His intellectual glasses. His Birkenstocks. "Science fiction? Fantasy?"
"I like those," says Guy. "But, my favorite is philosophy. I read a lot of philosophy."
"That's fascinating!," I say."That's a really uncommon choice."
"Yeah," says Guy, smiling and blushing.
"Is there a particular philosopher you read a lot. A favorite?"
"No," he says, proudly. "I read them all, but I don't agree with any of them completely."
"Ah. 'If two men are in complete agreement, one of them isn't thinking.'"
Guy smiles broadly and his face relaxes. He leans back in his chair and breathes a bit easier. He has the look of someone who has just decided that I am his kind of person. I relax as well: this whole conversation is going to be a lot less work now.
"There is actually one thing I like to do. Not so much a hobby... as a passion," says Guy.
"What's that?" I say, breaking off another piece of muffin.
"My friends and I like to have intellectual discussions."
"Oh, right! You mentioned that in your profile. I'm trying to remember the phrase you used…'intellectual and meaningful discussions on far-reaching topics'? Was that it?"
"I should have asked about that straight off. That phrase really caught my eye. I wasn't sure what you meant, though."
"Well, we talk about intellectual things. And debate philosophy."
"Uh-huh…" I say, doing my patient impression.
"And have discussions."
"Uh-huh." I take a sip of coffee.
"On far-reaching topics," says Guy.
"Ah." I sip more coffee and smile. What the hell is he talking about?
"Do you like to do that, too?" he asks.
"Do I...like to talk about intellectual things... and have discussions... on far-reaching topics?"
"Yes," he says, leaning forward to hear my answer better.
"You know, Guy, I'm still not sure what you mean by that."
"Because my friends and I, we have these discussions several nights a week. So I'm looking to date someone who wants to do that too."
"So, do you like to do that?"
"Well, I'm not sure." I break off another piece of muffin while I think. I feel like he's talking in code. What am I missing here? There has got to be some clue in what he's said so far. "You said that you like debating philosophy. Is it that you and your friends read a particular philosopher and then get together to discuss his work? Like a bookclub?"
"Not so much a bookclub. More like a compare and contrast of different philosophies."
"Oh, you mean you pick a question like "Is man's inherent nature good or bad?" and then you talk about what different philosophers say and decide who's right?"
"Yes!" says Guy. "Except, of course, they are usually all wrong."
"All of them? …Wow. ' All' is a lot of wrong philosophers."
"Well, that's why we are doing this," says Guy.
"We are debating the philosophy in order to come up with the right answer."
"The right answer?"
"Everything. We are coming up with a comprehensive guiding philosophy which is the one right way for all people to live their lives."
"Ohhh, I get it," I say.
And I do get it. I get that I am having coffee with a fruitcake, instead of a muffin.
"Your philosophy," I say, "could you also call it a religion?"
"Yes, you could."
"Is it a monotheistic, polytheistic, or non-theistic religion?"
"Monotheistic, of course."
"So, one god.” I say. He nods. “Is the God Jesus Christ ?"
"Oh, no," he says, "not him."
"Of course not," I say.
Guy chuckles softly. "That would be ridiculous.”
I decide that I should ask the next question gently. "So, the god of your monotheistic religion…is…who, then?"
Guy looks me straight in the eyes. "Well, me, of course!"
I blink a few times. "Of course! Ha ha! That was obvious! I don't know how I missed that!"
Guy laughs along as well, and then suddenly turns serious. "So would you like to join our group?"
"Uh, well, um, could you give me a few examples of your tenets, so I could know some of the founding principles your group has already decided?"
"Oh, no, I couldn't do that," he says.
"No? Why not?"
"I can't tell you anything until you join the group." He shrugs as if it were obvious. One has to protect one's cult.
"Ahhh. Yes." I start scoping the emergency exits.
"So, Jen, do you want to join?"
Crap. I have no low-quality chocolate and I'm fresh out of talking parrots. Plus, my nemesis apparently did watch enough Batman in the 70s to know that he shouldn't give away the details of his evil plans for world domination.
Luckily, I have a tool on my belt that Batman and Robin lacked.
I push back my chair and stand up. "Thank you very much for meeting with me, Guy. It was a fascinating conversation. Unfortunately, I don't think we're a good match. Good luck with your search."
"Wait, what?" says Guy. "You're leaving?"
"Well, Guy. That's just one of the mysteries of the universe."
He sat there with his mouth hanging open as I walked away.
Holy bad date, Batman! That was a close one.