Nursing a hangover with cheese is never a good idea because you’ll end up drinking glasses of sauvignon blanc instead of water. Sitting at a table, I looked across at Keith, 25, a merger and acquisitions analyst who was trying to convince me that being a cheese aficionado was a cool hobby, and all I could do was nod. We talked about books that we’ve read recently, parties that he attended in Hong Kong, and fate. What about fate?
“You know why single women are single? They read all these Paulo Coelho books and believe in fate,” he said.
“I know just the person,” I added, jokingly. “She doesn’t wear makeup because love’s supposedly written on her palms.”
“Believe me. That’s not the worst I’ve seen,” he replied, raising his eyebrows. He began talking about a 35-year-old lady he always meets in the elevator.
“I saw her a lot since we worked on the same floor, so I decided to be friendly and talk to her. We even went to a couple of lunches,” he said. “Before I knew it, she started confessing that she wanted to get married and settle down.”
Keith had thought of himself merely as a friendly confidant at those lunches. But unfortunately for him, the elevator lady started giving him a romantic, longing gaze over her salad.
“Two weeks into knowing me, she called at midnight and asked if I wanted to come over,” he said, taking a gulp of his drink. “As tempting as this booty call might sound, she scared the hell out of me with those I-want-to-get-married talks.”
I replied: “Maybe it wasn’t the fate part that you disliked. It was the obsession. Or maybe the age difference.”
“True,” he said, “but I’m pretty sure she still believes in things like love at first sight and those magical moments of true love. You know what I mean? When time just stops as you glance at a person, and there are bluebirds singing, and you live happily ever after because you two are meant for each other forever.” He sliced a chunk of blue cheese and put it on my plate.
It was clear now that she was the type of woman who just reads too much into things. To her, repeatedly meeting a person (who practically works a few meters away) in a common elevator must clearly mean something. For all she knew, Keith was a divine answer to her prayers. So instead of taking it one step at a time, her mind leapt into the future that they were “meant” to share together.
I stopped chewing for a moment to think: Is there really no room for fairy-tale romantics in Jakarta? It was hard to believe there are still women like the elevator lady these days, especially because as we grow older, we’re more exposed to heartbreaks, people who cheat on us and disagreeing parents. Sometimes we can’t help but feel numb to romance. Some of my female friends can’t even stand the “ick” factor of candlelight dinners and heart-shaped cookies.
A waiter came to our table and refilled my glass. I then asked Keith if he would have considered dating the elevator lady had she not been too obsessed with getting married. All he did was smile.
“I’m not that fussy about age,” he said. “I’m only looking for that connection, you see — someone pleasant to talk to and travel with.”
He paused a moment and continued. “But it was too bad, eh? She was such a smart and attractive lady, otherwise.” He winked and finished his cheese.
Anahita helps decipher the intricacy of relationships by keeping it real.