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Sally Houtman
Blind Date With Nostradamus

And so I'm there just, like, trying to make polite conversation, 'cause Lauren hooked us up and I'm all, "so Lauren tells me you're a doctor," and he's all in that booming 'I'm-such-a-genius' voice about how he's not just a doctor he's an "Astronomer and Astrologer," like he's all that and I'm there pretending to be so into him and I say, "is that like horoscopes and stuff?" and he gets all pissed off and I'm just trying to make an effort here even though there's this humungous age difference and I'm thinking, like, wow, it must be four hundred years.

And . . .

By now, my stomach is growling something fierce and I just want to get on with it and he's going on blah-blah about how a person needs to "empty the soul, brain and heart to achieve some sort of tranquillity," and I'm just trying to achieve some sort of menu here, and he's waving a chopstick in the air like it's some kind of magic wand and he's like,"from the pit of flames will emerge a man to seduce us with enticing words," and just then the kitchen doors fling open and the waiter appears and tells us about the specials and I'm now thinking Lauren owes me big time.

So . . .

I tell the waiter just bring us any kind of wine and bugger off and the old man, he's all, "the one with empty hands will not return from the great furnace and there will come a sorcerer who will appear to turn the waters red," and right then a different waiter comes with a bottle of wine and ohmigod it's red and I'm all, "nice guess, granddad," and I'm just hiding behind my menu and wishing I was dead.

So . . .

By now I'm thinking this geezer's a real head case and I want to screw with him and so I give him one of my slutty looks, y'know, the one that gives the old men at the rest home a thrill and I flash him some tit and say, "so Mr. Know-it-all, tell me do you think we have a future here?" and I'm just meaning the two of us but, man-oh-man, was that the wrong thing to say.

Because . . .

This sets him off in a big way and he's on a righteous roll, flailing his arms around and the sleeves of his robe all getting in the sweet 'n sour sauce and he's spouting off about how we're all doomed. We're talking disasters on a grand scale, I mean famines, floods, wars, pillaging, pestilence, and I don't know much but this pestilence sounds like some serious shit, and I'm texting Lauren and saying how she's so dead to me and it must've been taking too long 'cause he throws a wobbly about "why I don't just use predictive."

So . . .

We settle on the Teriyaki steaks and when the waiter leaves, the old man, he's all uptight and going off about how "the flesh of the beast will be seared and the sword plunged into the bloody wound," and I'm all, "well, you could've just asked for it well done," and he goes all Mr. Doom-and-Gloom about how the future can't be altered and then he starts warning me, something about the old lion overpowering the youthful one and some gnarly shit about gates opening and a great serpent being unleashed and I'm all ,"ew, yuck — that's a bit forward for a first date, don't ya think?" which was totally the wrong thing to say because he throws a major hissy-fit.

Then . . .

We're there eating our steaks and since things were a bit tense I try to lighten the mood by going into one of my people-pleasing, can't-we-all-get-along routines like when my parents used to fight and stuff and so I make some lame-ass joke about "idol chit-chat" and I ask if he likes Kelly Clarkson and how about that Simon Cowell, what a wag, and I guess I didn't explain it right because he really blows a gasket about worshipping false idols and smiting of pagans (I mean, who knew he'd have such a boner about religious persecution?) and instead of apologising, now all I want to do is really fuck with him by saying something really vile like, "and how 'bout those crusades, eh don't they just get funnier every time ya hear about 'em?" but before I can get it out he goes all Taxi Driver on me and he's looking over his shoulders and whispering about heretics and the earth shifting on its axis and the planet plunging into eternal darkness and all I want to do is get the cheque and get the hades out of here.

Then . . .

To make things worse, the waiter (big mistake) comes up behind him and musta scared him because he nearly jumps out of his beard and so when I say, "chill out, grandpa, it's just the waiter — what were you expecting, the Spanish Inquisition?" — it's then he really freaks out.

I mean, really freaks out.

Now . . .

He's all on his feet and he's poking the waiter with the chopstick and his robe catches on the candle and I grab some lady's water and chuck it over him and the lady, she's all annoyed (I mean, do you blame her)? 'cause she's there all choking on her dim sum and the waiter's all dragging the old man towards the door and I'm like, "hey! who's gonna pay for this?" and I run up and, man-oh-man, if looks could kill when I hand the old man the cheque.

Like he didn't see that coming.