Half way through dinner, after the grilled shrimp, but before the Crème Brulee, Cassie realized she wants to go on a second date with the painter. The painter’s name is Max, and he specializes in painting rabbits that are dressed like Englishmen from the 19th century, and these rabbits are usually eating Ethiopian food with their hands or using chopsticks to eat sushi. She had seen one of these paintings before, and at the time she had thought the artist was high on acid when he painted it.
“It’s a cultural statement,” Max is explaining to her. “We are so obsessed with preserving our own culture that we are hesitant to form relationships with people from other cultures. And I don’t just mean marriage, friendships too. My paintings are sending the message that assimilation can be fun, especially if food is involved.” Cassie does not agree with his statement, but she loves how he is passionate about his work. “You know I’ve been called a modern-day Salvador Dali,” Max says in between bites of his risotto. Cassie likes his cockiness too.
After dinner they go for a stroll, and Cassie becomes part of the conversation topic. “So what grade do you teach?” Max asks.
“7th,” she replies.
“What makes you enjoy teaching?”
“I view the students as empty vases. The knowledge they acquire, that’s like water being poured into them. I feel honored that part of that water comes from me, even if it’s only a few drops.”
“I think you just inspired my new painting.”
Cassie also likes his cockiness because at the end of the evening he takes the initiative and kisses her, and she does not have to lean in her head or give him any other subtle clues. “I have to see you again,” Max says, and Cassie simply nods her head and asks “when?” They make plans to see each other in two days.