Mark took the napkin from his lap and dabbed his lips. “Oh?” His mind stumbled for a response. It was as empty as his stomach. Brunch had just begun.
“I don’t want to be rude.” She had swallowed another bite. “But, I don’t understand why you write it.”
He sat up a bit straighter in his seat. “Well, I’m a writer. I enjoy the process of composition.”
“Sure.” She leaned into his space with a slight lunge with her head. She rested the weight on her forearms. “But, why a blog?”
“Well, I enjoy the freedom of ownership. I can write what I want in the manner that suits my style.” Mark took a new bite and gave her a few moments to chew on his thoughts. “I choose the content. I choose the context. I choose the perspective and the proportion.”
Shannon raised her glass from the table and brought the juice to her lips. She swallowed, replaced the glass near her plate, and resumed. “But it’s so personal. The format I understand, I guess. It seems trivial though. Well maybe not trivial ... but trendy.” She had a habit of pausing before the suffix of each sentence. As she spoke, he counted the beats. Her fist picked up a fork and its companion picked up a knife. “But it seems ... so intimate.” She cut her food. “Well intimate isn’t the right word either, but ... it’ll do.” She sat her knife on the periphery of the plate, speared the bite, raised the chunk to her lips, chomped, and chewed. She swallowed.
Mark swallowed his pride. They were honest observations. He reminded himself that just because a reader mistakenly assessed his motives, that didn’t mean she was an ass. “Well, I don’t see the point of writing from a dispassionate point of view.” He raised his cup to his lips and held it in front of his mouth as a muzzle. He didn’t know her well enough to offer further exposition.
“Well, I’ll tell you Mark,” she raised her juice to her lips as he waited for the denouement of her judgment, “I have to be honest with you. You read a little ... too desperate.” She replaced her glass near her plate. “No, that‘s not the right word. You seem a little ... too emotional. I read you and thought, Mark you’ve made everything ... about you!” She put her back against her chair and put her arms to rest on the tabletop.
“It’s a blog about me,” he offered without passion. “If it was about someone else it would be a tribute site.”
“Well I just think you should make the blog about other things besides ... yourself. I found myself reading it and really feeling ... embarrassed!” She picked up her knife and applied jelly to her toast.
He stopped eating. “You felt embarrassed reading my blog?”
“Yeah. Well ... no. I’m not embarrassed I read it!” She took a bite and then swallowed. “I felt embarrassed ... for you!”
“Hey what are you saying? You think I should be embarrassed that I’ve written it?” He put his forearms on the table and leaned in. “You feel I should be embarrassed by the writing? What exactly are you saying?”
“Oh no Mark!” She negated her words with horizontal nods of her head. “You write well! You do! But I think you embarrass yourself when you write about yourself. You seem like kind of ... a loser!” She picked up her piece of toast and took a bite.
He mentally tried to piece back the pieces of his shattered pride. “You think I’m a loser? I don’t get it. Why did you go out with me then?”
“Oh no Mark!” Shannon almost laughed. He gave her the benefit of his doubt. She nervously continued, “I don’t think you’re a loser! No! I just think it’s not ... in your best interests to keep writing about yourself. You just seem sort of like ... a,” she struggled for the correct criticism, “you seem sort of ... pathetic.” He watched her raise her blood-red tomato juice to her lips, sip, and swallow. He was speechless. “Of course, I’m just telling you my opinion.”
“Why?” He sat back into his chair.
“Why what? Why do I think you’re pathetic? I told you ... I don’t! I just think writing about yourself like you do seems a little ... weird. I read what you wrote and I had to turn my face away from the screen. Do you know what I mean? I don’t understand why you're getting ... upset. Maybe I‘m not explaining this well.” She took another sip.
“No.” He took his hands and adjusted the cutlery near his plates. He had lost his appetite. He bedded them beside his uneaten eggs Benedict. He released his breath once he had recaptured it. “Why are you telling me this?”
She glared, “I’m just sharing my opinion!”
“Why?” he almost whispered.
“Well, I’m just telling you my ... reaction!” She revolved into a near huff. “Don’t you want my opinion?”
“I don’t even know you,” Mark spoke with such reserve that the meal seemed funereal. “Why would I want to hear your criticism of me?”
“I’m entitled to an opinion!” Shannon refused to conserve her anger.
“It’s not even good manners.” He sat up in his chair. “I don’t want to know you. I really don’t.” He stood up. He pulled out his wallet and took cash out of it and sat the money beside his plate. “Here, that should cover our breakfast.”
“I don’t understand!” she said. “Why are you acting like this?”
“There’s too many words. My mouth can’t move fast enough.” He turned around and walked out of the restaurant. It was the first time in twenty-five years he didn’t accept the obligation of enlightenment.