by George Beckerman
Marc and Daphne have agreed to go on a blind date. But it may never come about because in the restaurant’s parking lot, both wait in their respective cars, not wanting to make it seem that they arrived first. Why is this, you may ask? Because Marc and Daphne are narcissists. Once they notice each other waiting, they have no choice but to exit their cars, approach and pretend that what happened did not.
Inside, Marc and Daphne simultaneously notice a mirror. There is subtle positional jostling, as each tries to take command of the reflector. With two vanity-driven wills of iron going head-to-head, let’s also call this round a draw.
Daphne is clearly annoyed that a pretty young woman at the next table listening to a waiter’s specials spiel has usurped attention she thinks always belongs to her. Daphne “oops” drops a fork, diverting the waiter. When he bends to retrieve it, she throws him a flirty smile and even flirtier “Thank you”, then glances childishly at the pretty young woman who is deep in conversation and couldn’t care less. Feeling disrespected, Marc bounces back by complimenting the sommelier on her “illuminating hazel eyes” and orders a bottle of pricey Pinot Noir. Daphne interjects that she was disappointed by that very wine brought by a guest at a dinner party at a house she rents in Easthampton. Marc miniaturizes Daphne’s Hamptons-drop by declaring that he just sold his house out there just last month, complaining that the area has gotten riff-raffy. He prefers Water Mill. Advantage Marc.
While Daphne is in the powder room, the sommelier brings a bottle of Cabernet. Marc is annoyed. He ordered the Pinot. She mentions that his date changed the wine order on her way to the ladies room. Marc instructs the sommelier to take it back and bring the Pinot. When Daphne returns, she pushes the conversation toward her new Rolex. Daphne jolts him by pointing out that his watch is a fake. It doesn’t have the laser-etched crown at six o’clock. Marc is humiliated. The sommelier comes back with the bottle of Cabernet again. Marc is livid. The somm tells him that Daphne changed it again on her way back from the ladies room. Touchdown Daphne.
The evening, heading south, takes an unexpected turn when a somewhat homely-looking couple is seated adjacently by the maître d. Marc and Daphne make coinciding derogatory asides about the couple. Their eyes meet and smiles glow in pleasant surprise. For the first time both consider that a relationship could be very possible.
When the waiter brings Marc’s sixteen ounce steak, he examines it, then sends it back. Not well-done enough. His power play gets a nod of approval from Daphne. When her twelve-ouncer arrives, she rejects it before the waiter can even place it in front of her. Not rare-enough. As the server scurries away, our couple exchange looks of “Well-played”. The relationship possibility quotient is on the rise.
But what seals the deal is when a busboy trips and falls, sending dishes flying. While everyone else in the place is sympathetic to the poor guy, and help him up. Our two beauties cannot contain their laughter. And when they’re stared at from all angles, they just shrug and reach their hands to each other across the table.
The check comes, but we won’t even get into who reaches for it first, if anyone. Stunning is their perverse pleasure in demanding the amount be reduced because of unhappiness over the wine and the steak or the chocolate grand marnier dessert, which by the way was on the house because of the complaining about the wine and the steak. And as you can imagine, narcissists are not great tippers. The wait staff can be heard cursing under their collective breath as the two leave the establishment.
Marc and Daphne stand in the parking lot, each waiting for the other to make the kiss move because neither’s pride, thirst for control or just plain insecurity will allow them to initiate. As the Legends In Their Own Minds standoff continues, the parking lot empties of diners, then eventually employees and finally parking lot attendants, leaving our subjects alone and stalemated outside the darkened venue even as the sun begins to rise.