Priorities determine who we are, for better, or for worse

The music was a bit too contemporary for this type of bar. Looking around at the red leather and burled dark wood, one would have expected dinner jazz or Frank Sinatra. Instead it was modern pop, vulgarities included.

But it didn’t bother the couple sitting at the bar — at least the music didn’t.

“Two glasses of champagne,” said the man.

“No, just one,” the woman said.

“Not even one glass? Not much of a date night.”

One look at her and he should have known better. Her hair was done, her nails were done, she was dressed in cocktail wear chic. Everything about her screamed “date night.” Something was definitely in the air, and that was the smell of Chanel No. 5. Sure, there are more numbered Chanels now, but No. 5 still hits the hardest.

“Let’s get oysters,” she said.

Now, I have read something about oysters somewhere. I can’t remember where or when, but I certainly can remember the what. And apparently so could he.

“Now that’s more like it,” he said.

We hear a lot about “date nights” with all their pomp and circumstance, but sometimes we forget about the most important part — the attitude. If married folks remember correctly, “dates” weren’t guarantees of anything. They were about learning about each other and about being the best version of yourself. A date in and of itself wasn’t a sure thing. It was an unsure thing, and that is what made them magical.

“Can you stop looking at your phone?” he asked.

“I’m sorry, but I am on call, you know that,” she replied.

“Don’t worry about work, you should be worried about us.”

“That’s not fair.”

The fastest way to ruin a date night is to bring in some “relationship stuff.” Dates weren’t about relationship stuff, they were about finding a way to have fun together. Dates were a time to find things that brought you together, not to dwell on things that drove you apart.

At least that is how I remember them. And it seemed that is how she wanted to remember them, too. But group think can be difficult to achieve, even in groups of two.

“Do you want to do some martinis?” he asked, just eight minutes later.

“I can’t,” she said.

“You’re no fun.”

“That’s not fair.”

And it wasn’t. Because outside of the drinking she was amenable to everything he asked.

Oysters? Check. Chicken wings? Check. There were no sides of spinach or sauces on the side. It was whatever he wanted. If anyone was making an effort, she was. And all of that went unnoticed — at least by him.

The third time he asked her if she wanted a drink, she finally uttered a weak “OK.” The drink sat there untouched, the cool condensation on the side of the stemmed glass serving as a prism, reflecting the soft lights of the overhead lamps until there was no condensation anymore, and consequently no prism.

I have heard it said that life is a prism and what you see depends on the angle that you choose to look at it from.

“This date sucks,” he said.

Clearly his angle was chosen.

Just then her phone lit up.

“I have to take this,” she said.

“Of course you do,” he replied.

“Seriously?” she asked.

“Go,” he said. “Clearly that is more important than this.”

She just looked at him and shook her head.

“Her work always comes first,” he said out loud. It took me a moment to realize he was talking to me.

“What does she do?” I asked.

“What does that matter?” he replied.

Some people don’t want their view of their prism questioned.

She returned for just a brief second. She collected her coat and purse and tried to kiss him. He pulled away.

“Don’t be like that,” she said. “This is important.”

“Sure,” he replied. “Whatever you say. I guess we know what your priorities are.”

About 20 minutes after she had left, he finally answered my question about what she did for a living. She was a transplant surgeon and one of her patients had finally received the organ needed to save their life.

Leaving me with these thoughts:

• Some prisms have a narrower focus than others.

• There are definitely some things that are more important than date night.

• Failing to consider another person is bad, but failing to consider all other people is atrocious.

• “This meal was unmemorable” read the online review. “It wasn’t to the halibut” replied the chef.

• “Physics isn’t the most important thing. Love is,” said physicist Richard Feynman. Thank goodness Feynman didn’t become a transplant surgeon.

• Priorities determine who we are, for better or for worse.