A question I'm sure asked by author's everywhere and likely more than a few readers.
Sometimes the answer come from the most commonplace occurrences.
While on vacation to our usual destination, my youngest son met up with a friend he "hangs" out with annually as her family typically attends the same location during the same time of year. We are such creatures of habit, aren't we?
They're getting a little older and in the in-between stage, wanting to be at times both grown up and child. This year, he decided he would like to take her to dinner "all on his own". And we're not talking the local fast-food joint or the mall. He means a serious, have to make a reservation, restaurant.
Without coaching, he awkwardly asks her father if this will be okay.
That out of the way, he picks a day and requests his father make the reservation as he doesn't think the people at the desk will take him seriously.
This kid has put a lot of thought into the evening. Now what started as a shrug and a lark has us interested. We're curious to see how it all plays out. Hubby arranges for us to have a table close by, but not too close.
My son will dress up, but needs to keep it casual. And not wanting to break the "friend" barrier, they arrange to meet at the restaurant.
Once seated, we watch from a distance as they laugh together, eat the various courses, having no idea they are the superstars of the establishment with every waitstaff member making an excuse to service their table. Oh, no, they have no notion of the celebrity status they gained that evening. Hands animated, faces flushed with enthusiasm for their topic, engaged with each other's opinions and conversation. While other's in the restaurant continuously look at their phones, stare at the ceiling, monitor the passing and going of people, eat the food with the vigour of boredom, these two were fully committed to their time together.
Was it that they knew they only got to see each other once a year? Or was it the removal of the stigma of "date"? Whatever the magic, from a spectator's point of view, they were ageless--not young or old--and they impressed on me the very heart of romance is not lust, or clothing, or music, nor the location, but the essence of being who you are with the person who makes you the most comfortable.
The comfort ended though when the bill came...still too young to understand, he had no idea what to do for a tip. A huge relief when we were there to take care of on the part of both my son ... and the waiter for my son had proposed a $1.60 tip!!