Stan wished he’d ordered his second drink earlier. How could he make a relationship work with a woman who talked about sharing a common language of the heart? 

“I’m a modern woman, with modern sensibilities,” Gwen continued. “And now is our moment to grow, to wrestle demons from failed relationships in our past.” 

She could wrestle demons all day but it didn’t make him want to stop staring at the waitress’ lucky colored ass any less. 

“What I’m proposing may shock you.” 

“You’re already scaring me, Gwen.” 

“Scare you? I want to change you, not into someone you aren’t but into the man you could be.” 

Stan blinked, “You lost me at change you.” 

A vodka tonic with a damp napkin stuck to the bottom of the glass appeared in front of Stan. He knew better than to look the waitress in the eye, but a Mandarin character tattooed to her wrist got him imagining where else she might have tattoos. 

Gwen flashed Stan a coy smile. 

“I propose doing something to save our relationship that neither of us have done—unless you lied to me.” 

Stan was suddenly more intrigued than he had been when he thought the conversation was veering toward engagement, marriage or some other prison. 

“Wait, you aren’t talking about the M word?” 

Gwen crinkled her forehead in confusion. 

“Which M word?” 

“Marriage?” 

“How ironic you’d think I’d want to join that patriarchal institution.” 

“If you weren’t talking about that M word...” 

Stan leaned forward. This was thrilling, totally unexpected. It wasn’t the type of thing he was confident he’d have the ability to go through with, but it was shocking, just as she promised. 

Stan felt the forbidden words escape his lips: “Ménage a trois?” 

The moment he said it, Stan knew he’d guessed wrong. 

Gwen froze, mouth half-open, hoping this was another one of his sarcastic jokes but something inside of her knew he was serious. 

“Moving in together,” Gwen stated. “That’s the M word I meant.” 

“That’s an M phrase.” 

“So is ménage a trois!” 

“Why would moving in together shock me?” 

“You look shocked to me.” 

“I am. Shockingly disappointed.” 

Gwen drained the rest of her pink Cosmo and stood up, a bit wobbly. 

Stan knew it was over. It was just a question of how bad his public humiliation would be. Their dinner plates had been cleared and Gwen never ate dessert, which ruled out cold fish dumped on his head or a banana crème pie smashed comically in his face. There was just his vodka tonic, which he was really looking forward to drinking. A public restaurant break up seemed so ordinary and predictable, which to some extent described their past seven months together. 

Stan discreetly slid the glass out of her reach as Gwen intentionally raised her voice bellowing, “I will not have sex with you and another woman, you... selfish monster!” 

Gwen stormed off, leaving many of the disgruntled patrons to assume her exit was due to bad service. Which, in a sense, it was. 

At least Stan’s drink hadn’t gone to waste. 

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