When in Rome 1: Accounting for Taste — 19 of 31

Emily Short

Release 3

Chapter 4 - The Cafe

The Cafe at 72nd Street is a room.

[Now it remains only to provide them both with something to say:]

The conversation of Esther is the table of Esther's Chatter.

Table of Esther's Chatter

topicreplysummaryturn stamp
"animal/creature/dog/critter/beast""'I wish I knew what that was back there,' you remark.

'I thought we were working on forgetting all about that,' Esther reproves you."
"that you should forget about the animal"a number
"Mars/aliens/planets/planet/alien/extraterrestrial/venus/mercury/jupiter/moon/luna/saturn/uranus/neptune/pluto""'Do you believe in life on other planets?'

'Not at all,' she says firmly. 'I also do not believe in Bigfoot, the yeti, or the Jersey Devil. I think we have already agreed on this, a martini and a half ago.'

'Yes, quite.'"
"(a little too bravely) that she doesn't believe in any unusual types of life form at all"--
"jersey devil""'What's a Jersey Devil?'

'I'm not sure,' she says. 'My roommate a few months back was from New Jersey and she had stories, but I didn't pay attention. She was kind of weird and superstitious.'"
"that her former roommate told her about the Jersey Devil"
"bigfoot/yeti" or "loch ness monster" or "loch ness""'The Loch Ness monster is real,' you say. 'But that's the only one. All those other legendary creatures are made up.'

'I see,' she replies gravely."
"that she understands the Loch Ness monster is real"--
"marriage/love/husband/spouse/wife""'What's your opinion on marriage?' you ask.

She is silent for a long time, and you realize that it is a pretty odd thing to ask of a woman you've just met, even in the abstract. 'It sounds like a good institution, in small doses,' she answers.

'Good answer,' you say, making a mock toast sort of gesture. 'That was my mother's opinion as well. I'm not quite sure she didn't--' You stop yourself before the rest of the sentence comes out. There's no proof, of course, and your mother is a very good sort of woman in general, and it's unlikely, completely unlikely, that she would have killed your father. As you have told yourself many many times."
"that marriage sounds like a good institution in small doses"--
"job/employment/work/clipping" or "clipping service""'So this job in clipping services,' you say, returning to an earlier topic. 'Does it have any drawbacks aside from the boss with the wandering eyes?'

'It's the wandering hands that bother me,' she says. 'And yes, I have to work Saturdays sometimes, as well. Tomorrow morning, for instance.'

'That doesn't seem right.'

'I agree with you entirely. Nonetheless, the papers come out on Saturdays and so, therefore, must we work.'"
"that she has to work Saturdays, sometimes"--
"my mother" or "her mother" or "mother/mothers/parents/childhood""You consider bringing conversation back around to some of your mothers' odder traits, but realize that you've covered that ground adequately already.""that her mother has an assortment of quirks"--
"phone/telephone number" or "telephone/address/contact/date" or "another date/evening/meeting""You find yourself actually forming the beginning of a question, and stop yourself in horror.""nothing, because you know better than to ask someone out"--
"war/soldier/soldiers/nurse""'You remind me a little of a nurse I knew in Italy,' you say. 'Same nose.'

She raises an eyebrow.

'You weren't over there, were you?'

'I was too young,' she says.

'Of course.' You are feeling more and more woozy and disoriented, as though you've lost the thread."
"that she was too young to be a nurse during the war"--

Rule for writing a paragraph about the round table:

say "You and [Esther] are seated at a [small round table][if something is on the round table], which supports [a list of things on the small round table]";

if the Cafe is unvisited, say ". You have covered a range of harmless topics -- the quirks of your respective mothers (who could, it seems, have been separated at birth); the prospects of the Yanks; her job at a clipping service, which has given her a wide knowledge of useless trivia.

Gradually the alcohol and the company have done their job. With a few more hours you may convince yourself that that animal back there was something perfectly ordinary and unthreatening.

And so you have now arrived at that difficult moment when it is necessary to extract yourself without hurting her feelings or, on the other hand, suggesting that you are ever going to see one another again. When she is not being exasperated, she is not so bad really, and she does have a pretty laugh. However. You have long-established rules. Time to say goodbye.";

otherwise say ". It is becoming increasingly necessary that you leave."

Instead of taking inventory when Drinks is happening:

say "You pat down your pockets, then realize half-way through that you've no idea what you're looking for. The drinks are paid for, the evening is over; all that remains is to thank Esther and depart."

Instead of asking Esther to try drinking a martini glass when Drinks is happening:

if a martini glass is on the table, say "She holds up one of her glasses as though to show that she has done her duty by it.";

otherwise say "'Oh, no, I really couldn't drink another.'"

Understand "kiss [something]" as kissing. [1]

Before kissing a body part which is part of someone (called the recipient):

try kissing the recipient instead. [2]

Instead of kissing Esther when Drinks is happening:

say "On impulse, you lean across and kiss Esther on the cheek. She does not pull away, but there is one of those moments of nervous expectation that reminds you why you do not toy with women.

She clears her throat. 'Thank you for the drinks. I had the best evening that's ever followed on being attacked by a freakish dog-creature.'";

now Esther is dismissed.

Before kissing Esther's mouth when Drinks is happening:

say "You sway toward her; she sways, just as delicately, away from you, putting a steadying hand on your shoulder. 'I think you may be a little tipsy,' she says, with unexpected gentleness.

'Sorry,' you say, feeling like an ass.

She tips her head. 'A girl doesn't like to take undue advantage, that's all.'";

now Esther is dismissed instead.

Instead of singing when Drinks is happening:

say "You start a song without really thinking about it, but Esther stops you with a gesture."

Understand "goodbye" or "bye" or "farewell" or "ciao" or "adios" as "[goodbye]".

Instead of asking Esther about "[goodbye]" when Drinks is happening:

say "Yes, no point in dawdling. 'I should go,' you say abruptly, extending a hand.";

now Esther is dismissed.

After exiting:

say "You get to your feet. 'I'd better call it a night,' you say, smiling a practiced smile.

'Yes, indeed,' she says, standing also.";

move Esther to the location.

The small round table is in the Cafe. A martini glass is a kind of thing. The small round table supports four martini glasses. Instead of examining a martini glass, say "Empty, like the others." Instead of examining a martini glass for the first time: say "Empty, even of its olive."

Instead of tasting or drinking a martini glass:

say "You tip the most recent martini glass up hopefully, but there really is nothing more to be gotten. Esther smirks at you."

Instead of buying a martini glass:

say "Just in time, you remember that you planned to go home now."

Instead of smelling a martini glass:

say "It smells a little more vermouthy than you mix them yourself. Everyone always uses too much vermouth."

Instead of waiting during Drinks:

say "You're silent for a moment, regarding your empty martini glass. Esther is silent too, which is oddly comforting. Then she gathers herself together. 'I really should go.'";

now Esther is dismissed.

The Sidewalk is south of the Cafe. "Cool, anonymous night, now; you could almost be anywhere in New York." Instead of going nowhere from the Cafe: say "You spin uncertainly but then manage to fix on south as the direction of the door. (Usually two drinks don't have this effect. Bizarre.)";

try going south.

Instead of exiting in the Cafe, try going south.

After going to the Sidewalk:

move Esther to the location;

say "'Well. I'd best be off, then,' you say.

She walks out beside you, and you have a flash of déjà vu; or perhaps a sense that this is supposed to occur again in the future. You find yourself a little vexed by this sensation.";

now Esther is dismissed.

A person can be dismissed or engaged. A person is usually engaged.

Understand "lie to [someone]" or "deceive [someone]" as a mistake ("You do try to avoid the outright falsehoods as much as possible.")


[1]. Otherwise we will get the default 'you can only do that to something animate' response.

[2]. In general this should work; however...