I asked my optometrist out for coffee, which isn’t an invitation I usually extend to my service providers; however, said health professional was small, slim, neat and pretty. Her hair was polished jarrah gleaming with early morning sunlight. Her apparel exhibited shades of brown, showing her cognisance of sartorial issues.

Even though I say so, my wit was in top form: if it were running in the Melbourne Cup with three legs lame, enough opiates to tranquilise a Jack Russell the size of Mt Everest, and Comic-book Guy as jockey, punters would still get odds of 1.5:1. So I thought I’d drop the question. When she said, “Is there anything you’d like to ask?”, Nothing pertinent to my eyes, was my immediate thought. I hesitated before replying with pedestrian words of woo, “If you don’t have a partner, would you like to have coffee with me?” I released the first part with no problem but I stammered over the second. I stopped, untoungled my tang, and pronounced again. There; it was out. Now, her reply:

“I’m already spoken for” (no surprise, but it was worth asking) “but you seem like an interesting man.”

“‘Interesting.’ That’s the kiss of death.” (The only kiss I seem likely to get.) To do her justice, we’d only met less than an hour before and she didn’t have much time to coalesce what she knew of me to give me a more specific, gentle let-down. And it could have been worse: “interesting” isn’t as mortal a word-wound as “nice”. “Interesting” kills the hope of romance as effectively as a Communist oligarchy kills the hope of free speech; not as strong a deterrent as “nice”, whose kill rate is comparable to that of the ebola virus (98%).

Sigh. Oh well: courage, a sip of port and cast the line again.