Dirk the Wonder Male had it all thought out. A cozy dinner in a cozy restaurant -- soft lights, sweet music -- the better to win the love of his one and only, Nadine the Magnificent. It would be their first Valentine's Day together -- the first of many, if things went the way he planned.
Dirk couldn't remember when he'd been so excited. The restaurant was everything he'd heard it would be; he even talked the maitre d' into a table near the fireplace. And now here was Nadine, fresh from her evening class at the college and right on time.
''Hello, Nadine,'' said Dirk the Wonder Male.
''Hello, Dirk,'' said Nadine the Magnificent.
They ordered a bottle of wine; Dirk toasted ''the future,'' Nadine toasted ''higher wages for migrant grape-workers.'' The wine went down easy, and a chill of anticipation followed it right down Dirk's spine. This would be the night.
The waiter returned to take their order. ''I'll have the veal,'' Dirk declared, until Nadine reminded him where veal came from. ''In that case,'' Dirk declared, ''I'll have the tuna.'' Nadine winced. ''What about the dolphins, Dirk?'' They ordered the house salad -- two plates.
The waiter left, and Dirk the Wonder Male gazed across the table. In the firelight, Nadine the Magnificent looked -- well, magnificent.
''You look magnificent, Nadine.''
''I'm sorry, Dirk, but isn't that a terribly lookist thing to say?''
''Lookist. You know -- lookism? When you judge somebody just based on their appearance? I mean, who's to say who's 'magnificent' and who's not?''
Dirk was shocked. He told Nadine she looked magnificent every time he saw her. He meant it, and she certainly seemed to like hearing it. Not tonight, though. Dirk tried to recover.
''I'm not judging you on your appearance, Nadine -- I think you've got a great mind, too.''
''We were just discussing it in class -- that's when you judge
people who are differently mentalized.''
Dirk the Wonder Male had never heard such language. He wondered if Nadine had changed somehow. He willed his fondest smile and tried again.
''Do you know what I like best about you, Nadine? It's not your looks. It's not even your mind. It's your heart -- you've got a great heart, Nadine.''
Nadine looked into his eyes.
''Dirk, you're such an organist.''
Things were getting out of hand. Dirk had played the trombone, but that was back in high school. He'd never even been near an organ.
''All you can think about is me,'' Nadine went on. ''You like this about me and you like that and you like some other thing.''
''And what's wrong with that?''
''It's just not e.c., Dirk -- not even a little.''
''Emotionally correct. You're not demonstrating the appropriate emotional values -- you're discriminating against everyone who isn't me.''
''But I love you, Nadine! I want to grow old with you!''
''You mean 'more extensively existent,' don't you?''
''I mean 'old'! Isn't that good enough?''
''Not according to my professor. He says being politically correct is only half the battle -- you have to be emotionally correct, too. 'No p.c. without e.c.' -- that's what he says.''
''So that's what you say?''
''Of course -- that's the p.c. position on e.c. See?''
The waiter appeared with the salad and filled the plates. ''Will there be anything else?''
Dirk the Wonder Male looked at Nadine the Magnificent, at the fireplace, at the wine.
''One check, and two doggie bags.''
Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist.