The Lunch Date

Dance Or Fight Michal Zacharzewski

‘The days are getting shorter,’ Walter said to Nora, as the waiter brought their drinks. ‘What do you think we should do for the holidays?’

Nora: [HALF HISSING, HALF CHOKING] The days are getting shorter!? What do I think we should do for the holidays!? Walter. Walter! [VOICE RISING] These are the holidays! July is over, but we’ve got all of August — ’

Walter: Now, Nora. Settle down. You know I’m kidding. Although, of course, the days are getting shorter, since the longest day of the year was June 21…. Which was the summer solstice. Let’s see, June 21…. That was a…. Got it right here…. That was a Saturday, and the sun reached its zenith, its northernmost point, at 11:51 a.m. — GMT — GMT daylight, actually — ’

Nora: [WITHERING STARE] Walter, [ICE IN HER VOICE — WINTER ICE] we have one year of school left. [ICE AND FROST] And there is no obligation that either you or I must fulfill before the fall term commences. [PRECISE SPEECH, FORMAL WORDING] So our time is our own. And where is your mind, Walter? [SUDDEN 80-DECIBEL VOLUME INCREASE] Where is your mind, Walter!? [AND THE PEOPLE SHOUTED WITH A GREAT SHOUT! —Old Testament, Joshua 6:20] Your mind is certainly not here, Walter. Your mind is most definitely not on us, and it is most definitely not on our summer together!

Walter: [PURRING NOW — PURRING WITH ALL HIS MIGHT — SLIGHT THOUGH THAT BE — ‘AWAY, SLIGHT MAN!’ —Julius Caesar, Act IV, Scene iii] For heaven’s sake, Nora. Settle down, Nora. I was just kidding. I was just being me, Nora. Goodness, Nora! [‘GOODNESS,’ WALTER!].

Nora: Walter, right now we have all the days and nights together we could ever want, and…and….

Walter: I know, Nora…. And we’re not doing a thing.

Nora: Do you realize, Walter, right now we’re meeting for lunch — but not because we’re in love. This luncheon date isn’t ‘about us.’ We’re here for lunch only because it’s lunch time.

Walter: ‘Man cannot live by love alone,’ Nora. And Nora, why do you keep italicizing ‘right now?’

Nora: Oh, Walter! [CHRINGES (WALTER, NOT NORA)] Because ‘right now’ is when life is! — What ‘was,’ is past. — What ‘will be,’ hasn’t happened yet. — There is ‘remembrance of things past’ —

Walter: Proust!

Nora: Oh, Walter! [DESPAIR] And there are hopes and dreams for the future — but people exist — people live, Walter — but only in the ‘right now.’

Oh, Walter, don’t you see? This will be our last summer together, and we’re not….

Walter: What are you talking about, Nora? This isn’t our ‘last summer.’ We have a lifetime of summers ahead of us!

Nora: [WAILING] But we’ll be married then, Walter!

Arrgh! ‘We have a lifetime of summers ahead of us,’ Walter says — and Nora wails, ‘But we’ll be married then.’ What do you think? — Despite the warmth and sparkle of this beautiful, endless summer… they suffer so!

So let us ask a ‘summer’ question: Should a couple who struggle and struggle, but can’t make contact in the ‘here and now’ of warm summer days and nights — should a couple so far apart even consider marriage?

It may be that when Nora thinks of her marriage to Walter, she sees not years of life and love with Walter, but the events and ceremonies of ‘married life’ — motherhood, perhaps — homemaking — school, graduation, then more school and more graduations — neighbors — community activities — milestones reached, some with joy, some with sorrow. All in all, the living, breathing, flesh-and-blood Walter may not figure into the future Nora sees when she thinks of the years ahead as a married woman.

There may, however, be another way of looking at this relationship.

Actually, since they seem to mirror one another in the distance they keep, Nora and Walter may be more ‘comfortable,’ and may even prefer, without realizing it, a marriage that is not close.

A few years into the marriage, however, through their own initiative or with help, they may focus more on one another, and less on the events of their married life. And they may be able to strike a balance, giving them a marriage that is at once to their liking and very stable.

And as to summer’s role in all this — would you be surprised if we learned years later that Nora had confided to her grandchildren this sentiment: ‘It was the warmth and fun of that delightful summer, our last before we were married, that coaxed a difficult courtship into a wonderful marriage, and gave us so many years together — and now such wonderful grandchildren.’

Right! And if summer is such a blessing, don’t forget the wedding. The June wedding! The June wedding, the following year! A “June wedding” — whatever else it may be — is first of all a summer wedding! — So cheers to Nora and Walter, and a very happy ‘ever after’!