“Lyndon, a group of us are going out for drinks after work. Would you like to join us?” Jane asked him as he stopped by her desk to give her a brown envelope he wanted her to give to the mailman when he made his afternoon rounds.
“No thanks. I already have plans for this evening.”
“Oh, yes, The Nutcracker Suite.”
Leela walked up just then. “The Nutcracker Suite. Is that the name of one of those fancy hotel rooms? Is she anyone we know?”
Jane tried hard to keep a straight face while Lyndon’s face turned beet red. He gave Leela a withering look as he muttered, “It’s the name of a ballet.” Then he did an about turn and strode off, his back straight as s rod.
As soon as he was out of earshot, Jane doubled over with laughter. “Why do you let him think that you’re ignorant when it comes to the Arts and the finer things in life?” She asked when she stopped laughing.
Leela shrugged. “I enjoy getting a rise out of him.”
“You like him, don’t you?”
“A lot of good it does me. It’s obvious that he can’t stand me.”
“Well, what do you expect? You’re always teasing him. If you want him to like you, you have to try a different approach. You know what some of his interests are, talk to him about them.”
“All right. I’ll do that. I’ll pass on going for drinks. I think I will stay here at the office and do a little extra work.”
Jane gave her a knowing look. “Good for you.”
Leela smiled and went back to her cubicle. As soon as five o’clock arrived and everyone had left, she got up from her desk. She headed straight for Lyndon’s office. His door was opened so after a knock on the door to let him know that she was there, she walked over to his desk. He looked up from what he was doing and she could tell from the expression on his face that he wasn’t at all pleased to see her.
“I would like to finish this report before I leave,” he said.
“I won’t take up much of your time,” she said as she sat down opposite him. “I came to apologize.”
His eyebrows rose. “Apologize?”
“Yes, for my remark about The Nutcracker Suite. I was just pulling your leg. I know that it’s a ballet. I’ve seen it twice. It’s one of my favorite ballets. My other two favorites are Giselle and Swan Lake. Swan Lake was Tchaikovsky’s first ballet.”
She had his attention now. “You know your ballet,” he remarked.
“I’m not only a big fan of ballet but opera as well. I love La Traviata,La Bohème, Rigoletto, Tosca and The Marriage of Figaro.”
“That’s a very impressive list. What about Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute and the Barber of Seville?”
“I’ve always wanted to see those as well as Aida but never got the chance.”
“I hope you get the opportunity to see them. They are masterpieces. Tell me, what else do you enjoy?”
“Well, I enjoy good books such as Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, To Kill A Mockingbird, Lolita, Anna Karenina and Beloved by Toni Morrison. And as far as plays go, I love anything by Henrik Ibsen. I think he was a male feminist.”
Lydon smiled. “I suppose you’re right about that. In A Doll’s House, he was basically saying that Nora didn’t have to remain as her husband’s “doll,” but that she can be independent. What about other works from other playwrights like Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Eugene O’Neill?”
She shrugged. “I have read all of their plays but I’m more partial to William Shakespeare, Ibsen and Chekhov.”
“Are you familiar with August Strindberg?”
She shook her head. “No. Is he a playwright?”
“Yes. He has written several plays. I have a volume with five of his plays in it–The Father, Miss Julie, The Dance of Death, A Dream Play and The Ghost Sonata. I could lend the volume to you if you like.”
Leela smiled. “I would like that very much. Thanks, Lyndon.”
“Tell me something. Why do you give the impression that you’re not cultured? Why do you come across as if you don’t know the difference between Art and the Arts.”
“I’ve discovered that although men may like the idea of dating a smart woman, they don’t actually want to date one. I’ve been dumped by several men because I was too smart. I like to have intellectual and philosophical discussions but that was a big turn off for them. They wanted to talk about sports, music, money, fitness, television and movies, clothes, work, food, travel, cars and guy things. I don’t have a problem talking about these things but not all the time. The minute I bring up something that interests me, they either change the subject or signal for the check. And I don’t hear from them again. One guy even said to me that he wants to wake up in the morning next to beauty not brains. So, my solution to my dating problem was to pretend that I wasn’t all that smart and it worked. I had no trouble getting and keeping dates. Then, one night when I was lying in bed, I remembered what Polonius said to his son, Laertes before he left for Paris.”
“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
“Yes. That was very good advice and I decided to take it. So, at the moment, I’m not dating anyone.”
“Not all men are intimidated by smart women. I’m not. And I think it’s important that we don’t diminish ourselves to please others. Besides, it was God who blessed you with an intelligent mind.”
“Yes, He did. Lyndon, I should leave now. I don’t want to keep you from your date.”
“Actually, it isn’t a date. I’m taking my niece. It’s her birthday and she has always wanted to see The Nutcracker.”
“Oh. You’re taking your niece.” Leela was relieved. “What a great birthday present. She must be so excited. She will love the ballet and so will you.”
“Yes, I’m sure we will.”
Leela stood up. “Have a good evening and weekend. I’ll see you on Monday.”
He stood up too. “Leela, are you busy tomorrow evening?”
She shook her head. “No.”
“How-how would you like to have dinner with me at the Les Enfants de Boheme?”
“I’d like that very much.”
He smiled. “Good. I’ll pick you up at your place at seven.”
She wrote down her address and phone number on the notepad on his desk. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“See you tomorrow.” He watched as she walked out of his office before he went behind the desk again and sat down. He was looking forward to their date. Finally, he had found a woman right up his alley.
“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.”– Frederick Douglass