A cup was filled with coffee. Jean-Michel Pinot added two teaspoons of sugar and a dash of soy milk, purchased of course at a small deli and made that morning by the owner of the deli. His therapist was a strong supporter of natural foods and not eating animal products whenever possible. He did not have such strong feelings about avoiding coffee, however, as she probably brewed about five or six pots over the course of the day. True, the majority of the coffee was given to clients, but Dr. Rosenbaum had her fair share.

Relationship Anxiety
As was the usual practice, Jean-Michel didn’t wait for an invitation to talk about the past week. Well, a little less than a week – Dr. Rosenbaum had to make the appointment for Monday instead of Tuesday because of some conference she had to attend to. It would have been even nicer for her, being that it was October, had the conference been somewhere warmer, like anywhere but Buffalo.

“So I met this girl last week. Her name is Kate.” Jean-Michel thought it best to start with the most significant thing that had happened to him. “It was rather unexpected. She just walked up to me the other day when I was sitting in the park and started talking to me. I thought she was a pretty interesting person, though she does smoke, so we ended up going to have some caffeinated beverages. I think we’re going to go see a movie tonight.”

“What movie?”

“I’m not sure. Maybe Pecker.

“You feel connected to the main character somehow?”

“Why, because he’s an artist of some sort? I think so. It reminds me a bit of my friend Klaus more than myself because he’s got so much potential.”

“Do you not feel as though you have any potential? Do you think that you’re living up to your potential?”

“Only about half the time. The other half the time I’m doing things that are a complete waste. Well, they seem like a waste after I’m done with them, anyhow.

Dr. Rosenbaum took a sip of her own coffee. “Do you think it’s possible that what you see as a waste of time could possibly be something that is ultimately useful in your life? I mean, a lot of books I read in grad school seemed pretty useless but I wouldn’t have been able to bring up this point without at least a couple of them.” She smiled. Her smile was disarming. It was sometimes hard to tell when Dr. Rosenbaum was making a joke and when she was being serious.

“So, Kate. After we went out the other day she went out with someone else. That was pretty awkward.” He down at his coffee for a moment. “I suppose that’s how dating works now. I shouldn’t really be upset that she went out with someone else after going out with me. We’re not engaged, or anything. We’re not even in an exclusive relationship. I think in the past I got too serious with people too quickly, and now not doing so seems curious to me.”

“So basically what you’re telling me is that you saw a girl you went out with once going out with someone entirely different and, being used to quickly getting into long term relationships, you were confused by what is actually a more normal approach to dating. Am I correct?”
“I’m afraid so.”

“I think that what you have to do now is to go out with her again and see how it feels. I think that you should go on a date and make an honest attempt to be serious about it, and not to think of it as anything other than what it is – a date. Do you suppose you can manage that for me, Jean-Michel?”

Jean-Michel swirled the coffee around in his cup. “I think I’ll be able to manage, somehow.” He smiled.

The T Section
Somewhere around the T section of fiction authors, Sandy stopped walking. She and Klaus were looking for a book to buy. It didn’t particularly matter which book it was, but they both were hoping to find something new to read. It took Klaus a few seconds to notice that Sandy had come to a dead stop. He turned around and asked her, “Did you see something you’re interested in?”

Sandy felt herself blush a little bit. “It’s just that… I don’t know, Klaus. I mean, I’m Jewish, right?”

“You’re asking me?”

“No, I mean, you know I’m Jewish. And you, well, you’re most definitely not Jewish. At least, you’ve indicated as much. You’re not secretly Jewish, are you?”

“No, Sandy, I’m not secretly Jewish. I don’t think that much of religion, really.”

Sandy picked up a book. Thompson, Hunter S. One of Sandy’s favorite authors. Why was she here? She wanted to see his poetry and to get to know him better, but why? What was the point of it all if he wasn’t even Jewish? Was it so horrible to go out on a couple of dates with someone if you thought that it had no future as a relationship?

“Is something bothering you?” How could she explain what was bothering her without sounding completely insane, or even worse, as though she was pushing for some sort of relationship? Perhaps he wasn’t even interested in any sort of relationship and just wanted to see her. Or maybe, recognizing the differences in their religious viewpoints, he had already decided that they were going to be only friends. Maybe she should say something so he wouldn’t be left thinking that she didn’t like talking to him.

“I’m sorry, I should have said something.”

“What’s wrong?”

“I probably shouldn’t be saying anything because no matter what I say, I’m probably going to be overstating things, but at the same time I don’t want to understate things in case you have feelings even remotely close to what I am thinking your feelings are.”

Klaus smiled. “I don’t think you have to worry about understating anything.” He paused. “I’m sorry, I’m trying to make you laugh a little bit. You seem so serious all of a sudden.” He, too, picked up a Hunter S. Thompson book. He thought of the often quoted phrase from the opening of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, which only just now was becoming more well known with people he knew because of the film. “He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.”

“Funny. Anyhow… I don’t know. Maybe I should have said something before but I might as well come out with it now. I don’t think we really have any future in dating, seeing as you’re not Jewish, and it’s true, I really do try to stick to dating Jewish men.”

“I’m sorry, what?”

“It’s just, I don’t know, I thought I should tell you that now. I’m sorry if that’s too much, or if I didn’t even have to tell you any of this because I have completely misjudged your feelings right now.”

“You don’t have to apologize, Sandy. I guess I hadn’t even thought of us in terms of dating.” Klaus hoped that it wasn’t entirely obvious that he was lying through his teeth. Obviously he had been interested in her – so much so that he had run off to tell Jean-Michel about it when he hadn’t even realized that there was some sort of interest on her part.

“I’m glad you feel that way, Klaus. I think we should commemorate our friendship by picking up a good book by Thompson. What do you think?”

He wanted to protest. He wanted to tell her that he was actually interested in her but now this was out of the question. “That sounds great.”

The book, as it turned out, was Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72.

Rita Mae Brown Wasn’t There
Being a Monday night, Felix decided to take in a film – perhaps something that might motivate him to do something with himself? He had heard a lot of good reviews for the film Pecker but was hesitant to see it for some reason. Looking at the various films that were playing that evening, he decided that it was just going to have to be his loss if he didn’t end up liking the film. He wasn’t sure if he should have asked Kate to go with him, being so soon since the last time he saw her. At least the weather was nice enough
that he didn’t feel the need to take a cab there.

He certainly wanted to see her again, that was a given. The question was, would she be at all interested in seeing him? What would they possibly do? He wanted to probably take her out for dinner, maybe to get to know her a little better. Maybe it was best that he didn’t think about it tonight. Perhaps he should just focus on seeing the film and think about the dating situation later.

Felix got in line for something to eat during the film. It seemed unnecessary, being that he had practically just eaten, but for some reason it was hard to attend a film without having popcorn or something else to eat. He suspected that there must have been some sort of subliminal advertising that would cause people to buy popcorn the way they did. The theaters made more money selling popcorn than selling tickets. It was either that, or just a matter of doing things the way one has always done them. When he went to the movies as a child with his parents, Felix always got some popcorn.

Felix was halfway into the line when he looked over and noticed that both Kate and the guy he had been with a few days ago were also standing in line for, presumably, popcorn. Standing in line, looking at them while trying not to be noticed, Felix suddenly felt completely out of place. They looked so happy together. What was he trying to do, get in the middle of a possibly good relationship? Felix didn’t want to be the person to get in between two people getting together. The best thing to do would really be to remove himself from possibly getting between them. At the very least, tonight he would enjoy a good film.

It was a curious turn of events, to say the least. Just this morning he had experienced quite possibly one of the best interviews one could hope for, and now he was seeing the woman he was interested in with another man. The same man he had seen her with before. Indeed, the last thing he wanted to do was to ruin this man’s happiness. What about his own happiness? It would come with time, of course, just as his job would – regardless of whether it would be with the firm he had interviewed with in the morning, or another firm.

Conclusion: Tea With Sandy
The same day, Felix met up with Sandy at her apartment to discuss life matters in the best way possible: over a cup of tea. Sandy stood in the kitchenette, trying to decide what sort of tea to make when Felix yelled out “Lapsong Souchong!” Good idea, she thought to herself.

Sandy sat down in the dining area. She had the table set up for tea – a lovely assortment of cups and the standard cream and sugar set. There was, of course, a small jug for soy milk. Felix asked, “Well, I have good news and bad news. Which would you rather hear first?” Sandy replied, “You might as well come out with the bad news first. I don’t have much of good news, myself.”

Felix sighed as he began to explain the situation with Kate – how he thought that Jean-Michel had been her brother to begin with, but realized they were on a date. He told her all about their own date, and how he thought perhaps it meant that she wasn’t interested in Jean-Michel any longer but how obviously wrong he was when he saw her at the movie theater with him. “I guess you could say that I’m just happy to be accepting it this early, and that I’m not going to drive myself crazy trying to win her over in some chivalrous manner. That would be an exercise in futility – and even if I did ‘win her over’ I would ultimately feel like a creep.”

“That’s pretty upsetting, I can imagine. It ties into my bad news, actually. I’m probably not going to be seeing Klaus anymore. Before you say it, yes, it’s entirely about the religion, and yes, I realize that I’m ‘restricting’ myself by choosing to date only people who are Jewish, but it’s what I choose to do because I think it’s right for me.” How she somehow managed to say all of this, quite firmly, while pouring boiling hot water into a teapot was beyond Felix.

Felix smiled. “I was just going to say that I’m proud of you for sticking to your convictions, but thanks for filling in for me anyway. Ready for the good news?” She nodded. “I got a job with an advertising firm! The pay’s just right for me, and it means that I can keep my apartment. Did I mention that I was worried I was going to be evicted? Somehow I think I may have failed to mention that.”

“That’s okay. It seems like you really were lucky in the end.” Felix laughed. “I thought you didn’t believe in luck?” Sandy shook her head and coyly replied, “I don’t, but you still do. Just because I can recognize divine intervention and you don’t acknowledge its existence doesn’t mean I should push it in your face.”

Perhaps Felix had just been lucky – perhaps it was a bit more than that. Things may have been different if Jean-Michel knew that the Sandy that Klaus knew was close to the Felix that had mysteriously appeared on Jean-Michel’s first date with Kate. Maybe not.

Sandy felt a sense of security, knowing that things would eventually go the way they were supposed to go, and that she would one day be with the person with whom she was supposed to be. Felix didn’t have such self-assurance – but he hoped that somehow in the end he would find someone right for him.