That same evening after my fatuous flirting on the terrasse, I met with Abe for the second time. Most of the night we commiserated over not understanding people from the south, or people in general.
We went to The End, a place near my apartment, to see some live music. When we arrived a heavy metal band was playing. The lead singer did that thing where he puts his hand over his mouth and makes guttural, growling noises. He thrashed about the stage, flailing his arms (or arm, when he was using one of them to cover his mouth). Periodically he lay down on the stage, still flailing of course, as if he were a child having a temper tantrum. It was entertaining.
Afterwards Abe drove me to one of the only restaurants open 24 hours in Nashville, Cafe Coco. He warned me that the place was strange. In the front there was a counter where you place your order and take a little flag thing to put on your table so the server knows where to go. This half table service thing is a common feature of places in Nashville, I’ve noticed. I wonder how they decide that half is better than whole, of full, I should say. The place was divided into a number of rooms, all totally separate from each other, so it was a little like being in a big house rather than a restaurant. A big house with an inordinately high number of tables, of course. I took note of the patrons, a few hip-looking, southern chic types, some more or less normal looking people, and an obese couple. There was no music playing in the background, which added to the strange ambiance. When we were about to take our seats Abe saw one of his friends, a man sitting alone with his lap top, looking a bit strung out.
They were fellow grad students. Are you in the thinking business too? he asked. In a sense, I said. The Intimate Thinking business, I might have said, had I known what I know now. If only! He started to complain about his students and how they obsessively emailed him to find out exactly when their papers were due. He spoke with fervor. He was most certainly sleep deprived. He also was irritated with some of his logic students. “They bring up good logical points, but they don’t understand that some points are better than others,” he said.
In retrospect, I wish I had asked him to elaborate. It would have made a great little passage here. But instead we retired to our own table and after eating Abe drove me home. The evening, it seemed to me, had felt charged with the possibility of some excitement, but ultimately had proved uneventful.