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" A Light Of Some Kind | 2008 | Social Buffer "

01.12.08 7:12 p.m.

First keep the peace within yourself, then you can also bring peace to others.  

-Thomas Kempis



I wait outside Tanjore, an Indian restaurant in Fishkill, for my first date of this new portion of my life. As you've likely read, I was not terribly keen to be going on dates again, but wouldn't cancel on account of my present feelings. I am trying to remain in my gaseous state, not focusing too sharply on my current pain and therefore losing a chance at happiness. Sarah the Vet Tech, my date, gave me the option. She called me shortly after I discovered that Emily was cuddling with her friend Tim, when I was still very much processing how I felt. From that distress, she thought it politely or caring to tell me that I didn't have to go on a date with her. If just for that, for that kindly consideration of her feelings, I knew that I had to. At the very least, she deserved a nice date even if I was not totally sure I did.

I was surprised even to be asked on a date. It only came about because I was talking about how I thought I put off another girl on OkCupid by referring to myself as a basketcase and said that there was no one who would be going on a date with me. She typed that she was raising her hand to offer herself up. So cute was that gesture that I had to say yes.

I chose the restaurant because, owing to her animal sympathies, she is a vegetarian. This reduced our choices in my mind to Japanese or Indian - the only two cultures that have elevated vegetarian cuisine above the salad and Boca burger - and she was already familiar with the Japanese steakhouse.

We ended up chatting over samosas and rice, though it was initially mostly me rambling and her nodding as if to music I could not quite hear. Taking this as consent to prattle on, I did my best to keep Sarah entertained with charming or embarrassing stories. It was only after the waiter stopped refilling our water glasses, as the questionably fruity ice cream we shared melted into a pastel green soup between us, that the conversation turned to prior relationships. I had been concertedly trying not to mention Emily because, at the very least, it is rude on a first date. I kept a smile on my face for most of our discussion, my humorous coping mechanism that allows me to be utterly honest and vulnerable (but which the therapist found unnerving during our sole session), but I found myself serious in agreeing with her sadness at how her ex treated her. "I don't think you can really know someone and not totally love them," I sigh. I don't mention the corollary from Ender's Game, that at that moment you truly love someone, you can destroy them. I would never hurt Emily, but having loved her so much gives me the knowledge and capacity. And she doubtlessly has the same capacity and the same ethical compunctions.

Sarah tells me of her ex who said - but did not apparently mean - all the right things to win her over, then cut her off and didn't show her the dignity of a proper breakup, robbing her of the closure and honesty we dumped people need. Lying to someone you are dumping - omitting facts that will actually explain why you are hurting them, prolonging the rejection - is unnecessary, no matter how much one thinks he or she is sparing the other person's feelings. They should be allowed the respect and autonomy of honesty.

It is a nice first date, slowly getting to know someone a little bit more. She is shy, reminding me of a young Alyson Hannigan. She has already put up with a lot from me, in my opinion, having spoken to me of my pain with Emily and my vague interest in other girls. I don't know what is expected of me, what rights or protocols are due to her, but I think we are friends by the end of the meal, at least slightly better friends than when I saw her get out of her car at six. We part once the restaurant clears out a bit, three and a half hours of conversation and curry. There doesn't seem to be the silent question; we do not kiss, just hug. I hope my company has at least been a good use of her time.

Soon in Xenology: Coping. Dates.

last watched: Juno
reading: Portable Darkness
listening: A Light of Some Kind

" A Light Of Some Kind | 2008 | Social Buffer "

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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