This is an easy one. What’s better: the date you plan and dress for, for which you make and confirm and reconfirm dinner reservations; the meal at the restaurant you’ve never been to and aren’t sure you’ll like, or he’ll like, but which you’ve been assured by women who don’t know him but who know men like him is the right choice for the guy you’ve staked out; the show you think your date would choose, based on what little you’ve been able to glean from the few small facts at your command plus considerable conjecture? Or the accidental thrill of a chance encounter with a friendly face through a revolving door at the airport one moment before your plane takes off toward a place you know only too well. For the guy it’s the encounter; for the girl it’s the plan.

What’s better? The masterpiece on tour, impeccably curated and catalogued for art-historical significance, deconstructed, virtually invisible, available only by appointment? Or a bold curve drawn in the dirt with the point of a shovel by a landscaper with a certain facility.

The 6-piece playground kit, its corners sanded, planted in the park in its box of chips, its thick irresistible primary colors engineered by play scientists? Or a tree that’s fallen into the pond, whose trunk makes a bridge, whose roots still smell of lightning strike and anthills. For the kids it’s the treefall; for their dads it’s the treefall, too; the moms are still thinking about that date. Maybe we could take in a museum, they think, and not look at the art, just the frames. Or the window frames. Or out the windows. How is that different from staying home together and staring out the window? except that he won’t encounter anyone else at home.

Copyright ©1997 David Hodges

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