Tina was a vegetarian, so the three of them headed to some fancy new ‘green’ restaurant, with uncomfortable chairs and a self service counter, where you could fill a plate and pay by the pound. A girl at the register weighed the plates. He paid more than 9 euro for what looked like a huge bowl of lettuce. He didn’t care, the last thing on his mind right now was food. For the first time in years he was also not thinking about how he was missing out on life.
They sat at an unusually high table with awkward chairs almost too heavy to lift, metal bar stools but a bit too low to really match the table.
Tina and Carol rambled on about courses, ideosyncratic behavior of teachers, fellow students and some poetry evening. Pieter kept oggling Carol’s thies, exposed and extra full now that she was sitting with her feet dangling in the air. Her shoes had slipped of at the heels, something he’d always found to be sexy for some reason.
As he heard them talking really fast about all sorts of topics, he wondered at what point exactly people lost this sort of untempered enthusiasm. Was it before or after graduation? Did it happen gradually or did it happen overnight? When had he lost it? When his best friend had died of cancer? When his dad had killed himself? When his mum had wilted and passed away after having her heart smashed to a milion little pieces? After he had repeatedly failed to land his dream job? After he had forgotten what his dream job was? When had depression become a way of life?
He realized he had started caressing Carol’s thigh. He realized because he felt Tina staring at his hand that was slowly moving up and down. He pulled away and smiled goofily at Tina, like a kid touching a cake before his mum had allowed him to.
‘Soooo’, she said, ‘when did you two, you know, …’
‘Yesterday’, said Carol.
‘This morning’, said Pieter.
They looked at each other and laughed.
‘Last night’, they said in unison.
‘Waw’, said Tina.
Pieter still wondered if Tina was a lesbian. She didn’t look like one, but he was hoping this whole thing wasn’t painful to her.
‘It was love at first sight, right?’
Pieter looked at Carol. In the company of women he found it better to shut up most of the time and let them do the talking.
‘Let’s say we have a vibe going on that I can’t quite put my finger on’, he heard Carol say.
Pieter read something in Tina’s eyes that either went: God, I want something like that with someone too OR God, I want that with Carol too. He wasn’t sure which one it was.
When Tina left, he simply asked.
‘Is she a lesbian?’
‘No, I don’t think so. She’s been having a crush on a guy for ages. Why do you ask? I said to pick me a guy, not a girl. And if you’re going to pick a girl a for me, then don’t pick any of my friends.’
He was getting tired of being passive, so he got up, determined to test her mettle.
‘Let’s get going. With all the uncharted territory we’ve got to cover we better get on with it’
‘Finally some intiative’, she said. ‘At last!’, she cried theatrically. ‘He’s alive, he’s alive!’
When they hopped off the bar stools, she stood on her toes next to him.
‘What are you doing?’, he asked, even though he knew the answer.
‘I’m checking if you would still be taller than me if I would be wearing high heels’
Girls always did that when they were starting to get serious about you.