A boy and a girl went to a café together. They weren’t on a date. If it had to be said, it was probably something more the opposite. But still, they were very good friends, and they were at the café together, and besides, most of the people who saw them there assumed they were on a date, so maybe they really were on a date after all.
“Would you call this a date?” the boy asked the girl as they sat down at a table.
“It could be,” the girl replied. “I wouldn’t date you, but this could probably be called a date.”
“Probably,” the boy agreed.
The two of them paused to look over their menus.
“Come to think of it,” the boy said, “we had a lot of playdates when we were little.”
The girl seemed surprised, as though she’d only just remembered that. “You’re right.” She tapped her chin and thought for a moment. “In that case, you could say that we’ve already been on plenty of dates.”
“So what’s one more?”
“Not much, I guess.”
A waitress came by and asked if they were ready to order. The boy asked for a turkey sandwich, the girl a berry cheesecake. The waitress wrote down their orders and left.
“While we’re at it,” the girl mentioned, “have you ever seen a date?”
The boy blinked.
“The ones that grow on trees. Or so they say.” The girl shrugged. “I wouldn’t know if they actually do.”
“I’m sure they do.”
“Have you ever seen one?”
The boy admitted that he had not. “But,” he added, “if enough people say they do, they probably do.”
“And I guess if enough people say it’s a date, it’s a date?”
“If enough people say anything, there’s probably some truth to it.”
“That just sounds like peer pressure.”
“Then again,” the boy went on, “it’s not as though things like vampires or werewolves exist, even though a lot of people talk about them.”
The girl hummed. “I would like to see a vampire.”
“I’m not sure you could.”
“Yeah, they can probably turn invisible.”
“No, I mean, I just don’t think they’re real.”
“Seeing is believing?”
“Something like that.”
“By that logic,” the girl pointed out, “dates aren’t real, either.”
“In the first place, aren’t dates just a social construct set up by society and glamorized by the media?”
“I heard they’re from Iraq.”
The boy took out his phone and Googled it. The first link took him to a Wikipedia article. He skimmed through it. “Probably from Iraq,” he corrected.
“And vampires are probably from Transylvania.”
The waitress returned with their food. She gave the boy his turkey sandwich and the girl her berry cheesecake. She asked if there was anything else they needed at the moment, and they both said no. She left them to their meal.
The boy was still browsing Wikipedia as he ate his sandwich. “Dracula’s from Transylvania, at least.”
“You can always count on Dracula.”
“Hey, he has the same birthday as you.” The boy tilted his head. “Granted, he’s over a century older.”
“Why do you know Dracula’s birthday?”
“I’m going off the book’s publication date.”
“Huh.” The girl considered this. “What year?”
“Exactly one hundred years before I was born. Maybe I’m Dracula reincarnated.”
The boy arched an eyebrow. “Since when was Dracula dead?”
“Does he not die in the book?”
“Oh.” The boy checked his phone again. “I guess he does,” he amended.
“For someone who’s been dead for so long, people sure keep making a big fuss about him.”
“Isn’t it touching?”
The girl furrowed her brow. “Is it?”
“Well, they say that you’re not really dead until everyone in the world has forgotten about you.”
“Is that the same ‘they’ who says dates grow on trees?”
The boy continued, “You know, the thing about how you die once when your heart stops beating, and then again when someone says your name for the last time.”
“That’s pretty deep.”
“So in some cases, people could actually become immortal.”
“Dracula was immortal from the start.”
“In a way.”
“Since the publication date, at least.”
“Would you date Dracula?”
“I wouldn’t date anyone,” the girl stated. “But I would definitely go on a date with Dracula.”
“A date like this one?”
“They say it’s dangerous to be too idealistic.”
“They say a lot of things, apparently.”
“Kind of like how everything you eat can give you cancer.”
The girl nodded. “That’s true.” She pointed with her fork at the remains of the boy’s sandwich. “Cancer.” She scooped up the last piece of her cake and popped it into her mouth. “Cancer.”
“Coincidentally,” the boy said, “I’m a Cancer.”
“You shouldn’t say that about yourself.”
“I mean on the zodiac. You know, star signs.”
“Oh. The goat?”
The girl took out her phone and searched Google Images. She made a face when the results loaded. “It looks like a stick figure without a head. Or arms.” She showed it to the boy, who leaned forward to get a better look.
“Huh,” he said. “What do you know.”
“Would you look at this and think of a crab?”
“It can kind of look like a crab claw, maybe.”
The girl looked at the images again. “Maybe,” she allowed. “By the way, are they crab claws or crab pincers?”
“I’ve always said claws,” the boy answered, “but it can probably go either way.”
“And is it pincer or pincher?”
“Is there that much of a difference?”
“I wouldn’t know.”
The waitress came by and picked up their plates. She asked if there was anything else she could help with. The boy requested the check. The waitress agreed and carried their plates away.
The girl asked, “How do you find out what your star sign is?”
“It’s according to birth date,” the boy told her.
“So what am I?”
The boy looked it up on his phone. “May twenty-sixth… So you’re a Gemini.”
“That fits. Then Dracula and I are twins.”
“I guess you could put it that way.”
“Or, really,” the girl backtracked, “his book and I are twins.”
“That’s probably more accurate,” the boy said. “Except not really.”
“I bet Dracula would be a great brother, though.”
“What makes you say that?”
“If he’s a Gemini, he can’t be a bad guy.”
“Is that so.”
The girl paused for a moment. “Or maybe that’s just my idealism talking,” she offered.
“Could be,” the boy acknowledged.
The waitress returned with their check and placed it on the table with a smile. The girl thanked her. The waitress wished them a lovely day and left.
“A lovely day,” the girl mused. “That sounds kind of dated in these modern times, don’t you think?”
“It’s proper,” the boy replied. “Just because something’s out of place doesn’t mean it’s dated.”
“Conversely, have you ever felt out of place on a date?”
“I’m not sure that’s exactly the converse.”
“I wonder how compatible Geminis and Cancers are.”
The boy said sweetly, “I could never feel out of place when I’m with you.”
“Something that corny definitely feels out of place here,” the girl told him.
The boy shrugged it off. The two of them finally decided to look at the check, and the boy took out his wallet. The girl pulled a crumpled twenty-dollar bill out of her pocket. She waved it airily.
“I’ll cover you,” she said. “It’s easier this way.”
“Usually it’s the guy who pays for the girl.”
“Now that’s a dated concept.” The girl looked unimpressed. “You shouldn’t object when someone’s offering to treat you,” she said.
The boy held his hands up in surrender. “Hey, no objections here,” he assured her. “Just my boundless gratitude.”
“One could say that gratitude in and of itself is binding.”
“I’m probably more inclined to listen to a ‘one’ than a ‘they’ anyway.”
The girl smiled. “Probably,” she agreed.
She put the twenty dollars on the table, and the boy tossed in a handful of ones to cover the tip. They stood up from their seats, thanked the waitress again as they passed by her, and headed to the door.
As they walked out of the café, the waitress thought to herself that the two of them made a good pair. Not necessarily a couple, though, she made sure to note — after all, she didn’t want to be presumptuous enough to assume that they’d been on a date just now.
She collected her tip and left.