"So tell me about your work on a spy ship," I said, "or would you have to kill me?"
Troy appeared amused, yet suave. We perused the menus, took sips of ice water, and chatted.
"It's not that," he responded. "It's all confidential. I might be leaving in early May, but I don't know for sure, and I don't know where I'm going or what I'll be doing. On one project, we drilled at the bottom of the ocean. I'm sure we were looking for oil, but they didn't tell us."
I contorted my face, perplexed. "How can you look for something if you don't know what you're looking for?"
"Oh, I knew."
The waiter approached, pen in hand, and started with my date.
"I'll take the chicken curry soup with red curry," he said. "Really, really, spicy if you will."
After I ordered, Troy emphasized, "Don't skimp on the spice please. I like it really hot." You are, I thought.
"Okay, well,"--I began chewing my chicken-- "long story longer, I came to Chico for a writing job that fell through. Then I went back to social services. It's great, even though" --I sat taller-- "I got punched in the nose by a client last Monday."
"Wow!" Troy's eyebrows shot up.
"It's not that bad, really." I feigned modesty. "I didn't get hurt at all, even though the client's twice my size, because I'm pretty tough and quick to respond in crisis and--"
"Here, try this." Troy fed me a spoonful of soup, after which I quickly finished the rest of my water.
"Yeah, that's hot! Woo, very spicy," I confirmed, disappointed that his "wow" wasn't in response to my bravado.
"I like it this way," he said casually, pearls of sweat forming on his brow.
Troy continued to eat, sweat, and dab his forehead with a white cloth napkin. This cycle repeated itself. Meanwhile, I rambled as if I didn't notice.
The waiter rushed over. "Are you okay, sir?"
I couldn't help but laugh. "He's trying to tough it out. The man's gonna finish that soup, if it's that last thing he does. And it might just be the last thing he does."
With a chuckle, the waiter left to bring a pitcher of water.
"I'm fine," Troy assured me. "I like it really hot." You are, I thought, and so do I.
As he subtlety ran the back of his hand across his forehead, I said, "Anyway, I spend all my spare time, if there is such a thing as spare time, what a concept, huh? I spend all of it on writing projects like..."
I finished my meal a couple minutes before Troy proudly displayed his shiny, empty soup bowl.
"Give me a call," I said, as I scooted into the driver's seat.
"No, you call me. I asked you out, so you make the next call."
Interesting rule, Joe Cool. "Okay, I will." ...and so HE would...Stay tuned.