“That’s so dumb. You’re such a dork!” Kim laughed.
“Hey, no, girl. This is legit. ‘What’s your love language?’ That’s my question,” insisted Deon.
“That sounds stupid. What’s a ‘love language’ anyway?”
“Well, here. Hang on. Here it is. Read this. ‘The five languages of love are receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and physical touch.'” Deon was reading off his screen.
“Pshht,” Kim exclaimed. “I don’t know, man. That’s not a real question. Those don’t even sound like languages to me. What do you want to order?”
“‘Examples are given from his counseling practice…'” Deon continued to quote.
“Hah! You know I don’t believe in counseling, don’t you?”
“Yeah, I don’t believe in it. It’s all bullshit. Like, I’ve gone two or three times, and it really doesn’t help. No help. Hang on.” Kim furrowed her brow at her phone screen. Completed, she looked up. “When you’re done, you still have the same dumb problems all over again. Just know yourself, that’s all I say. If you know yourself, then no amount of ‘counseling’ is going to help. I’m gonna order two coffees. Milk and sugar?”
“Yeah, that works. OK, my next question is this. ‘Can you tell the difference between a designer bag and a knock-off?'”
“That’s materialism, man! That’s not a love test. I mean, look at my dad’s watch, OK? If he were to buy a real one it would be, like, thousands of dollars. The fake ones are fine. Switch between ’em every season. Dad says that in Dongguan you can buy anything.”
“Somewhere in southern China. Near the border with Hong Kong. Dad goes up there for his factory trips. Anyway, your handbag question’s stupid. Who carries a handbag, anyway?”
Deon paused as a he swiped over to check his most recent alert. Hmm. He went back to the quiz. “You know, these guys are all dumb,” he said, referring to what was on-screen. “They’re stupid daters.”
“Why do you hate dating so much? Is that why you don’t have a real girlfriend?” Kim mocked.
“I don’t hate dating! It’s just that most of the girls in my class are boring. I wish I went to Lincoln or somewhere. I mean, not your friends, they’re cool, but I’d rather just hang out with friends, like Geoff or you. Or go for coffee, like this. Or to a show. Why all the stupid pressure? Do this. Do that. It’s like a test, and I hate tests. Ms. Jumar’s always testing us.”
The coffees arrived as Kim and Deon slid into the cushions on either side of their linoleum diner booth.
“Hey, check out the link I just sent you,” Deon said.
“Hmm?” Kim asked, looking up from the link.
They stared at each other. They kept staring at each other. And staring.
Kim broke first, bursting into laughter. “Hah,” she snorted, finally breaking the gaze. “Fine! You’re such a dork.”
“So that’s two from me. Yours?” proceeded Deon.
“Did you ever read ‘Cosmopolitan’? Like, as a student or as a teenager?” Deon asked.
“Oh, I don’t know. Perhaps now and then. I mean, my sister had copies lying about here and there, and it was always in the magazine basket at the beauty salon,” Kim pondered.
“So you know what I’m talking about then.”
“Yeah. Of course I do.”
“Then what would your first question be?”
“I don’t know. This is silly.”
“No, it’s great,” retorted Deon, stirring his Spanish coffee with the miniature spoon. He eyed her gleefully over the wireless rim of his glasses. He crossed his legs in the other direction.
“Are we allowed to ask about sex then?” Kim asked, smiling over her afternoon cocktail.
“All you need is sex,” quoted Deon, waving his index finger rabbinically in the air.
“That’s ‘love’. You mean ‘love’.”
“Are they not one and the same?”
Kim waited for a ponderous minute. Why do we feel it’s necessary to yak about bullshit in order to be comfortable, she asked herself. That’s when you know you’ve found somebody special: when you can just shut the fuck up for a minute and comfortably enjoy the silence.
Kim had her question. “What’s the ideal ratio between giving and receiving shoulder and foot massages — both! — when you bring home a New Potential Lover™ for the first time?” Kim stated assuredly.
“Woah! Did you just include foot massages?” Deon snortasked.
“That’s my question,” Kim defended.
“Wow,” Deon pondered. He took off his glasses, all of a sudden seeing a smudge that had to be wiped that instant. He didn’t know how to respond. Kim had just elevated the banter. She had added a note of tension to the airspace between them. What had previously been simply a warm and humid day had now turned sultry.
“Well, I suppose that would depend on who the NPL™ is, wouldn’t it? I mean, with a merely plebian person, I’d expect that I’d have to give more than take. It’s always better to give than to receive. I think it’s Cookie Monster or some other equally respected person who said that. However, if she were truly remarkable…” Deon trailed.
“If she were truly remarkable… What?” Kim asked, now half way through her afternoon cocktail.
“Well, truly remarkable NPLs™ call for higher standards — i.e., you’d have to give even more — but also, because they’re Superior Lovers, they know this, so they’ll automatically give you more massages, too, of both the foot and the shoulder variety. So with a truly remarkable NPL™, it would be an overflow of mutual massages, both shoulder and foot, from the first park bench kiss at sunset through to the passionate shower afterward at 2 a.m. as you leave to go home ’cause you have to work the next day.”
Kim waited. And waited.
“One to one, probably,” Deon concluded. He adjusted his glasses as he stirred his Spanish coffee.
“OK. Good answer,” Kim broke the tension. “What’s your question?”
“Union Square in New York,” Deon began.
“Leicester Square in London,” Kim countered.
“Our time at Al Habtoor City in Dubai was pretty nice,” Deon recalled. He popped open a bottle of red and poured it into the decanter.
“Not as good as that time at the West Beverly Hills joint,” Kim countered. She was slicing up the lamb steak for the two of them. She held up a particularly juicy slice for Deon and waved the fork ever so slightly at him. “But even better than West Beverly Hills,” she paused as she continued to serve dinner, “were those bathrobes they had at that spa in Bali.”
“Hah,” Deon recalled with a laugh, helping arrange the cutlery. “Those were luscious. You know, I really should have stolen one or two of those.”
“No you shouldn’t’ve! We can buy ’em at Amazon. ‘Hotel-quality bathrobe’ or something will get ’em for you.”
Deon held up the plates so that she could serve them with no drips. He gave himself an extra pour and topped up her glass, too.
“So what’s your answer, then?” Kim asked.
“Yup. I’ll go with Al Habtoor City. That’s the best sex we’ve ever had.”
“Not Kowloon?” Kim smiled at him, singing the final syllable.
“My love, Al Habtoor! It was just after the book reading. Remember that?”
“Oh, yes!” Kim nodded, rearranging the two placesettings side-by-side so that they could both enjoy the sunset from their 11th story balcony. “That’s why I asked the question. I wanted to see if my guesses about you were correct.”
“What? You’re not allowed to subject me to a Husband Test.” He sat up mockshocked in the balcony chair to better defend his husbandly position. “It clearly states in our Marriage Contract, version 5.0, that Wife People are only allowed to test their Husband Persons when new, for the first five years or so. After that, no more Husband Tests!” he stated declaratively as he sliced his hand horizontally in the air, holding both of their wine glasses in his left hand.
“You forgot the Ultimate Wife Clause,” Kim said, biting him ever so slightly on his upper arm. “Every version of every Marriage Contract has an Ultimate Wife Clause.”
“Hah!” Deon snorted.
“It states,” Kim continued, almost done with serving dinner, “that at any time, any place and for any reason, the Wife Person is allowed to alter any and all clauses herein, for no reason whatsoever.”
Deon adjusted the salad plates, grunting concomitantly. He continued.
“So the final question of our ‘Couple’s Cosmopolitan Quiz’ is, ‘Where was the best sex you ever had?’ right?”
“That’s seems to be about it,” answered Kim, sitting down next to him.
“So that’s it then. We’re done. Let’s eat.” Deon held up his glass to hers. “Here’s to you, Babe, just ’cause you’re wonderful.”
“Hey, husband,” she called. “I’ve only been able to do it because of you.”
They set aside the love quiz, clinked glasses, and enjoyed yet another dinner side-by-side.