Ted’s Bulletin is a classic American diner. Perhaps that’s where he got the idea to ask his date, “What kind of 50s housewife would you be?”
Wait, back up.
Allen and I, after eating dinner, decide to indulge the nostalgia that inevitably comes out between two old friends. With Kentucky and Monday Midnight Milkshakes (a grad school tradition, it’s exactly what it sounds like) in mind we set out to Ted’s for a grown-up version: Friday 9:30 Milkshakes. At Ted’s you can get breakfast all day (and during a blizzard!) and boozy milkshakes.
We took our seats at the bar (I can call them our seats because we sat in the same two when we wandered in during the blizzard and the same Sam was at the bar). We ordered our shakes. I ordered a grasshopper–Kahlua and creme de menthe–and Allen got bananas foster. As our shakes arrived, they walked in.
Allen and I were occupying the main bar real estate so the pair settled at the end next to Allen. They weren’t that old, early 30s at most, and ordered something with ginger beer. They’d come from the restaurant next door and the guy placed takeout boxes on the counter. So at some point, this date was going well enough that she agreed to an after-dinner drink.
Allen heard the majority of their small talk and decided they were on their first or second date. I heard, at first, only the murmuring sounds of a somewhat awkward and stilted conversation–all tone and body language.
That’s when he said it, “What kind of 50s housewife would you be?”
We exchanged looks with Keith and Sam the bartenders and muttered something about “barefoot and pregnant” to each other. I don’t recall her answer and could not see her face. He looked amused with himself.
As anyone of the mid-20s to early 30s cohort knows, there is never a bad time for a Harry Potter reference. I regret I did not hear where this started but next thing I know they’re talking about Harry Potter. Well, she’s talking about how unbelievable it is that he hasn’t read the Harry Potter books and he’s trying his hardest to insult her for liking them.
He doesn’t know what a Snape is and thinks there’s something called a Hogwart. He mentions a broom and a dragon, mugglars (muggrats?) and then simply concludes, “I’m not emotionally ready for Harry Potter.”
Sam and Keith exchange looks with us again, this is getting good. Our conversation has died, all our attention focused on what will happen next. This can’t be real.
She pushes, saying how good the books are, how they define our generation, and reaches out for help, asking bartender Keith if he’s read them. He read a few, saw the movies. Not his thing, really, but he knows what they are. (Note, gentlemen, this is an appropriate response to a question regarding a generation-defining piece of pop culture. You don’t have to love it, but respect that she does).
Now the whole bar has been invited into the date. Keith, Allen and Sam do everything but say to her, “run screaming from this man and never look back.”
The guy tries another tactic. “Well, have you shot a high caliber rifle?” he asks, as if this is a universal experience. “No? Oooooohhh!”
It was the kind of mocking “ooooooohhh” that bullies in TV shows use after they’ve made a good Yo Momma joke.
His defense shifts from knowledgeable ignorance (he knew the words but not how they fit together or why they mattered) to that fact he was too busy being a soldier to read Harry Potter.
Thinking of my reading-writing military friends it struck me as total bullshit. There’s a lot of time at war spent waiting with nowhere to go but into a book. I know a great many avaricious readers in uniform. That said, no one in hearing distance was buying his defense.
I suppose at some point, after having dug himself into a hole so big he could hardly see out of it, the guy figured it was time to leave. But, of course, he even bungled the exit.
“You have any plastic bags?”
“No, but we have paper bags.”
“I guess that’ll work. Though I’m not sure she can carry anything that isn’t a grocery bag.”
They leave. Allen, Keith, Sam and I laugh for a few minutes. The two bartenders look at each other and then say, “can we buy you two a shot?”
Stay classy, DC.