Monday, May 11, 2015
"Watch this," I said. "This is my summer lip."
We were sitting on a patio at noon, drinking wine (me) and beer (him). Fresh from a Mother's Day brunch with my children -- which was a lot of fun, don't get me wrong -- I'd felt the sudden need to talk to an adult: someone whose food I didn't have to cut up. And yes, to drink a glass of wine.
From my Peruvian-print purse, I now extracted a small tube and applied its contents to my lips. It was not lipstick, but tinted lip balm in the color Petal Soft. (This was on par with my other makeup: tinted moisturizer and, simply, tint.)
"That's great," said Dave, with seemingly genuine appreciation for the Petal Soft summer lip.
It was a beautiful day. What did we do next?
Oh yes: Banter.
No one says "banter" anymore, but for me it is an indispensable term. It means "lightly arguing about nothing, while walking the fine line between amusing and annoying the other person." It is the lifeblood of any relationship (at least in my experience) (which may not be representative). You know: Banter.
Looking back, I realize that this may be a minority taste. While other men woo women with jewelry and surprise trips to wine country, mine do it by quibbling with me about movies, books, the mind/body duality, politics, string theory, what restaurant we should go to for dinner (and what's with this "restaurant" thing, anyway?), the precise placement of a spice rack, and every other blessed thing on Earth.
This is known as "holding my interest."
The trick is not to overdo it, otherwise it becomes exhausting. Yet if your significant other cannot banter, I believe you are better off watching good TV. The dialogue is written by professionals, and there is a person on set whose only job is to create a mood through lighting. This beats a bland, go-nowhere chat under a CFL bulb any day.
On our third date, wrapping up two hours of conversation, I made a few teasing remarks about -- of all things -- his backpack. I will not describe the backpack, except to say it was unusual. (It used to be his daughter's.)
He looked at me quizzically and did not make any effort to defend the backpack. He merely looked like he was thinking one or two things to himself.
"It's just banter," I said. "We're bantering."
Were we indeed?
We both went home.
Twenty-four hours later, at around midnight, I was lying awake when it occurred to me: He truly does not care what I think of his backpack. He will bring a weird backpack on a date because he likes it, and that's that. Hell will freeze over before he swaps it for a presentable messenger bag.
This was promising. This was someone who -- despite being an extremely nice person -- could hit the ball back over the net, with some spin.
Hey it's Maya, I texted him the next morning.
That was two summers ago. I wonder what we'll banter about this summer?
(Image by Jorge Barrios (public domain) via Wikimedia Commons)