Then, for some reason, they spent a bunch of time talking about what she thought of as all kinds of irrelevant shit. Calisto regretted telling him about her dream to become a couples therapist almost immediately, as he saw it as an opportunity to lecture about the ins and outs of marriage and family.
"The whole idea behind marriage is predicated on that fact that you have no idea what it's actually going to be like. You think you do, but it's impossible. And if anyone did, they would never do it," he said.
"What about people who get remarried? If it's so awful, why do it again?"
"You're assuming people have decent memories, or sound judgement to begin with. If they did, they wouldn't have got married in the first place. The thing is, love fucks you up. It makes it seem like a good idea. That's because love has about as much to do with marriage as a toaster has to do with time travel."
"You think people don't marry for love?"
"They might think they do, but for the most part they marry for stability and security. That's the reason it exists. Love is free, but it's fleeting. Marriage is expensive AND it's final. Even divorce doesn't set you free from it, trust me. So they're polar opposites, and people still get them mixed up."
"I disagree. Nobody would get married if they weren't in love. There is no reason to otherwise anymore, not in the modern world. It gets such a bad rap these days, why else would you do it?"
"True, it hasn't gone totally obsolete yet. It takes a long time for an institution this ingrained to die out. But don't worry, it'll happen. We might even see it in our lifetimes."
"How can you be so cynical about relationships yet still want to start a dating site with me?"
"The reason I want to start this site is because I AM cynical about relationships. It's a racket. Just like your marriage counselor dream. There will always be unhappy couples, because sooner or later that's what every couple becomes, so there will always be business for that line of work. The only difference between this and that is we'll be facilitating the beginning of the cycle, instead of the ending."
"There will always be lonely people," Calisto echoed his logic. She had wanted to project the idea that she still disagreed, but in truth she was feeling more sympathetic to his point of view than to her own, not because his rhetoric was in any way convincing (he seemed to think speaking in generalities made him sound wise), but because her own experience had been leading her to the same conclusions.
"Let me ask you this," he said, a little while after conversation had trailed off and they had been sitting in silence, staring past each other. "You remember the Hair Club For Men?"
"That commercial with the guy who was like, 'I'm the president, and I'm also a member?' The point of it was supposed to be that you know it works cause the guy who runs it uses it too."
"Would you ever use this thing that we're making? Do you believe in it that much?"
"I have to say no, but that's only because I'm trying not to meet anybody right now."
"What if you were trying to meet anybody?"
"Yeah, then I would. Why not."
"Then I'm sorry, I thought this was a racket for you too. I didn't know you believed in it so much."
"I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't believe in it. What about you?"
"What, would I use it? I might. That was the reason we came up with the idea, right?"
"What if it wasn't your idea?"
"Then I don't know. If it's not my idea, or your idea, I'd probably think it sounded pretty dumb. You know, I was wrong about you. I thought the whole reason you came up with this thing was because you wanted to use it for yourself."
"There is no whole reason. It just sounded good at the time." She had not taken kindly to him calling their idea dumb. Even if it was silly and poorly-thought-out in some respects, she had wanted him to at least consider it objectively a good idea, or at least objectively an idea that could potentially create some kind of foundation for something successful.
"Why are you doing this, then?" he asked.
"Why does it matter?"
"I have to know that this isn't just a whim for you. We can't get all deep into this, and then you just decide to pull the plug. I mean you're assuming all the risk, right? It's your money we're using to start up. So you're the one who has to be dedicated to this."
She felt a little insulted, with him questioning her dedication and accusing her of whimsy when he was the one who seemed to decide from one moment to the next how important it was to him. But she decided to answer honestly, bypassing any number of sarcastic responses she could have used instead. "You know how my mom died? Before she did I told her I would only work for myself."
Monte seemed chastised for that moment, but his attitude remained glib. "But that's not the whole reason, right?"
"No, there's also the fact that my roommate is on the verge of kicking me out of our place, and I have somewhere I want to move, but I can't afford it." She had never thought of this before as the catalyst for anything, but it seemed to dovetail with her ambition to "work for herself".
"Is there anything else?"
"I don't know, maybe I will want to meet somebody someday. Is that good enough for you?"
"I'm sorry. It's just that it might get hard, and we might want to quit before we give it a real chance."
"I am all in with this thing. And we are doing it. You're gonna have to decide when it's time to quit, because I won't."
He finally stopped belaboring the point with her. Calisto ended up feeling like he had been unconvinced of the idea up until that point, and that she had had to talk him into it. He seemed to want her to supply the confidence for the both of them, and the burden of it hadn't seemed fair. If he wanted to work with her in the first place, he should have been willing to take her at her word.
At one point they realized they had no idea what to call their little project. This part of the night turned out to be, to her mind, the only constructive part of their abortive brainstorming session.
"I like 'Restaurant Rendevous,'" Monte said. "It's got all the important information in there.
"Yeah, it's also too long," said Calisto. "We should find something simpler."
"It's also alliterative, if you were wondering."
"It's also a fucking mouthful. Try saying it out loud, 'Res-Tau-Rant-Ren-Dez-Vous.' The average person will lost interest before you get halfway through."
"What do you think it should be called?" He seemingly would not ask for her opinion until after she had shot his down, and she felt like she had just caught on to this.
"Oh, I don't know. It could just be called 'Meetups'."
"Meet ups? Why not not call it anything? Or, how about spell it like 'Meatups', so that way it's still about food?"
"Gross. I know it's vague, I just haven't thought of anything better yet."
"Name is important, branding and all that shit. You mean you haven't put any thought into what to call it?"
"No, of course I've put any thought into it. Just don't feel like I found it yet."
"Okay, let's look at the popular sites out there. eHarmony, OKCupid, plentyoffish... What do they all have in common?"
"Nothing. I guess they're all pretty dumb though."
"Exactly. It doesn't have to be super clever, just clever enough to catch."
"You know, I met with my mom's benefactor today, the lady with the money? She called our idea 'Impromptu lunch dates.'"
"So let's drop 'impromptu' since you don't want any vocabulary words, and call it Lunch Dates."
"It's misleading. It makes it sound like it only works at lunchtime."
"It's perfect. It gets across the idea that this is the quicker, more efficient way of dating. Lunch is the one meal of the day nobody gives a shit about. Breakfast is this big important thing, dinner is an after-hours ritual where you get to take your time, unwind. Lunch, you take it on the run. The idea will be that you can find love just *that* quick." And he executed a little finger snap on the penultimate word.
"We can target office drones, business professionals," Calisto said. "Seafood Square people who don't think they have time for dating. Now you can meet someone in the middle of your work day!" Her voice took on a cheesy, bassy commercial announcer's timbre on this latter statement. They both started laughing.
"You remember when I said your idea wasn't different enough, that it was missing a little something extra? I think we just found it." He reached out to her and they shook each other's hands. As if they had done all the work they were going to do that night, they proceeded to relax and spend the rest of the evening chatting amiably. She would remember finding it strange that he hadn't taken the opportunity to spit more bile in Eric's direction when she had mentioned earlier that he was essentially the reason she would have to move out sooner than later. Maybe even hate takes a day off. Or it's just not worth it.