Klaus, walking briskly along 41st Street heading towards Bryant Park, nearly tripped over one of his shoelaces. It simply wasn’t worth the rush if he was going to get there early but with a bruised face from having landed face first on the sidewalk.
A Date with Israeli Tea Biscuits
Klaus thought about the time that he had been spending going from place to place, trying to find tea biscuits made in Israel. There were quite a few, but in the end which would be the ones that Sandy would say were her favorites? That was fairly impossible to guess, given the fact that he knew nothing about her other than that she liked to peer over people’s shoulders and criticize poetry while it was being written. Perhaps “criticize” was not the right word to use, as she had not really so much spoken harshly as much as she had pointed out a simple grammatical flaw. In retrospect, she sounded more teasing than anything else when she had been telling him what had been wrong with the poem. Of course, it now all made sense. It was really a matter of playful fun, maybe even mild flirtation, not criticism. It seemed fairly reasonable in his head, anyhow.
The whole thing had been a bit peculiar, he thought, from the beginning. It had really all started when his friend Jean-Michelle had asked to see some of his poetry. To think, if Jean-Michelle hadn’t asked to see the poetry, he wouldn’t have felt nearly as comfortable writing it in public. If he hadn’t been writing the poetry at that particular time, Sandy wouldn’t have started to read it over his shoulder. If she hadn’t been there to read it over his shoulder, he wouldn’t be walking to Bryant Park nervously now, anticipating a date. This wasn’t necessarily a positive thing – though it didn’t seem to be a negative thing. What was the worst thing that could possibly happen? She wouldn’t be interested in him, or the date would go poorly and she would lose interest in him. If that were to be the case, so what? There were other women to date in Manhattan. There were even women that he could date that didn’t live in Manhattan. Plenty of people moved to New York to be with a loved one. On the other hand, plenty of people moved out of New York to be with a loved one. Klaus wondered if he was going to be the one to move out, or if someone else was going to be the one to move in. How nice, he thought. The date hadn’t even started and he was already planning what to do if it failed. This was surely not the power of positive thinking he had heard so much about from his mother.
As he entered Bryant Park, he started feeling a little better about it. What was really the worst thing that could possibly happen? No, he had already thought that through and it hadn’t done him any good. Maybe it wasn’t good to think about what the worst thing that could happen, but the absolute best case scenario. What was the best thing that could happen here? Well, she could be interested in him. That would be nice. Then what? They might start dating. That could be even nicer. Things could start getting serious. That would be fantastic. But then, what if she saw something in him that she hadn’t seen before? Maybe she would start losing interest, perhaps even wanting to see other men. Maybe at that point he would have wanted to have gotten really serious, maybe to the extent that he would want to get engaged. Here she would be, wanting to date other men when he would be really ready to get engaged to her. What a thing for her to do! How could he possibly ever trust her now that she wanted to see other men? Well, it should have been quite easy, particularly when considering the fact that they hadn’t even been on their first date! So much for trying to think positively.
The tables where they had agreed to meet were a good distance away, and Klaus wanted to stop and make sure that he was at least relatively decent looking. The weather was a bit on the brisk side, and he was dressed in a long sleeved light green shirt with red lines running horizontally and vertically. He also had on pleated black pants, a sure match with the shirt. Were pleated black pants acceptable on a first date? He hoped so. Scanning across the tables, he was hoping that she would not be there – which seemed odd, but he wanted to be the first one to get there. At one table he saw a couple – that couldn’t be her. There was a gentleman dressed in a grossly tacky suit (pinstripes would have been much more appropriate here – most suits would have been more appropriate than this bright green monstrosity this individual was wearing) blowing smoke rings for the enjoyment of an audience of approximately zero. Looking along, Klaus almost passed right by a relatively familiar blonde woman waving her hands at him.
Was that her? Perhaps it was a different woman that looked a bit like Sandy, waving at someone close to him. He felt slightly shy as he started walking towards her – what if it wasn’t her? He could pretend that he hadn’t intended on walking to her table but a table nearby, to sit by himself. As he approached the table the woman sitting there started to resemble Sandy more closely, until finally he was near enough to the table and she called out to him, “Klaus!” It was Sandy. How could he have confused her with anyone else? She was wearing a long sleeved light green shirt with a dark brown skirt, He didn’t get around to having a look to see if the shoes were of a coordinating color. “I was getting worried that you wouldn’t show up.” He sat down and pulled the tea biscuits out of the grocery bag he had been carrying them in. “I hope that these are the ones that you like,” he said, “it took a little while before I could find any tea biscuits from Israel at all, let alone decent ones.”
“That assumes that we have the same definition of what makes for a decent tea biscuit. Perhaps my favorite tea biscuit, in your opinion, is utterly inedible. Did you think about that one?” He hadn’t. How embarassing. “As it turns out,” she continued, “I do like these tea biscuits. As I mentioned before, I brought the tea. I hope you like a good vanilla tea.” He did. A relief. Sandy took what looked like a thermos out of a large backpack, along with a small sugar container and a second thermos, smaller than the first. Two mugs came out, larger than standard tea cups, more along the lines of that which one would see at an office, for use with coffee beverages. This was apparently quite well planned out!
Sandy set up the two mugs and started pouring the tea into the first mug, which was by Klaus. She was about to put some sugar in his tea when he suddenly said, “Wait! How do you know if I want sugar in my tea or not?” Hovering the teaspoon full of sugar above his mug, she smiled. “Let me take care of the details with the tea making, Klaus. You can sit back and enjoy it. Do you trust me to make a good cup of tea?”
“Trust you?” he was thinking to himself. Heck, I don’t even know you. I don’t even know your last name. I don’t really know a thing about you – what is going on in your mind, what you are feeling right now, why you felt the need to write in my poetry notebooks in the first place. What was it about me that made you stop to want to talk with me of all the people in the park? Weren’t there about a half of a thousand far better looking men? Sure, some of them were also on the lookout for other good looking men, but statistically there were more of the ones who wouldn’t mind the company of a lovely young woman such as yourself. Why me? Not that it’s a bad thing, that you should have wanted to be with me, at least for this date, but why? All this time, of course, Klaus wasn’t saying anything, and while he wasn’t saying anything and thinking through all of the positive and negative aspects of himself as an individual, Sandy had started to pour the sugar into the mug. She put in another teaspoon full of sugar, and then poured in something from the smaller
thermos. Milk? Sandy made herself a similar cup of tea, and then she raised her mug.
Making a L’Chaim
“Would you like to make a toast?” she asked. “It being our first date, I thought that might be nice.” He raised his mug, and said, “To the pleasure of drinking tea in Bryant Park!” “I’ll drink to that,” she said, and then did, but not before saying something else he didn’t quite hear. “What was that?” said Klaus after taking a sip of his tea. “Oh, that.” Sandy replied. “That was just me thanking the Almighty for having allowed me to partake of this delightful tea beverage. It’s a Jewish thing.”
“You’re Jewish?” “You sound like you didn’t want that to be the case, or something.” “Oh, no, it’s not that, it’s just… I mean, I thought you were supposed to only go out with other people who were Jewish. I’m not Jewish, you know.”
“I know,” she replied, “but I couldn’t resist, especially after I saw your poetry over your shoulder.”
The tea was of course excellent, but after about an hour Sandy excused herself. She told Klaus that she would call him later on during the week, something which Klaus found to be highly suspicious. Did she not enjoy spending the afternoon with him? Did she only pretend to be interested in him, but then realized that it wasn’t worth the effort? He could sit around waiting for the mysterious phone call. It wasn’t going to come, he decided.