“I have never understood,” he said, every word punctuated by a gesture with his fork, “why romance novels always have adultery.”
Mel peered at him over the rim of her wineglass. “Huh?”
“It’s like a fucking requirement. If you want a romantic story, there has to be an unsatisfying relationship which is—“ and here he swept his arms out dramatically. “—rent asunder by the awesome power of true love and great sex.”
Mel watched the fork. A tiny granule of veal, shaken free by the endless jerks and weaves, dropped interminably towards the tablecloth.
“Why is that?” He asked, the fork’s prongs jabbing the air in front of her.
“You’re a writer, right?”
“Well, I, uh, try—“ she started.
“So why is that? I mean, hasn’t anyone heard of convention? What’s wrong with normalcy?”
“It’s boring,” she said, eyes on her wine.
“Boring.” He repeated. “How d’you mean?”
“We-ell…housewives read romance novels. Lonely girls read them. People who are—who think they are way too…normal read them. So, they want something unconventional. Convention is boring.”
“I like it,” he replied. The fork had not moved.
“And you’re boring,” she mumbled—to her horror—loudly enough to be heard.
The silence was agonizing. Mel watched the fork, misshapen and yellowed through the wine, slowly lower to the tabletop. She downed the rest of her glass in one gulp.
She tried an apologetic smile, but it probably wasn’t very sincere.