Though not a man known for aesthetic discernment, still he surprised her the first time he opened the door. Looking past him, she beheld a proudly framed print of Klimt’s “The Kiss.” She had hoped for more. Maybe she wouldn’t have been so disappointed if the poster had been displayed à la college dormitory: tacked to the wall, an edge or two torn, with visible creases. But someone—Him? Former girlfriend? Hippy earth goddess at the flea market?—had paid for an equally gaudy frame, all gold and kitschy. He heard her gasp and smiled.
For the next hour, they drank Chablis and ate chunks of cheddar on Triscuits. He tried to engage her in small talk, politely avoiding workplace chit-chat. His witty stories made her smile. The one about a nosy neighbor made her giggle. Yet she found herself stealing glimpses of the print. Is this how he imagined romance? The woman on her knees, her head twisted in his grasp?
More small talk. An amusing tale of over-ripened peaches. Another glimpse. What’s wrong with that woman’s right hand? Is she pushing him away? Is she even alive?
Enough small talk. Before the bottle was empty, she called it a night. He took her extended hand and shook it, suggesting dinner in a week or two. At his place downstairs. The repairs from the burst pipes should be completed by then.
A final glimpse.
“Do you play backgammon?”