The bulk of my book Love on the Rocks with a Twist features short stories, each followed by study notes on the characters’ interactional skills–what they did well and how they could have done better.

There are two exceptions. The introductory essay, “What’s the Twist,” and the poem “Dinner Date.” As my holiday gift to you my readers, I offer “Dinner Date” and it’s study notes in their entirety here:

Dinner Date

He wants to know me better, hear my stories, read my writing.

“I could learn so much from you.”

Will I join him?


We meet, eat, talk.

He tells of his life

daring feats

famous friends

dangerous enemies.

Eight o’clock.

“I’ve been treated for PTSD,” he confides.

“I probably should have been,” I offer.

“But I’m not just talking hurt feelings,” he explains,

“I had broken bones.”


He tells me what he knows about the city

the country





What he wants in a woman,

and not.


He confesses trouble with relationships.

He wants to learn.

I venture to suggest a favorite book,

begin to sketch its theory

on the back of my unread manuscript.

He argues against what he knows I would have said.

“Every woman I’ve known gave me some book like that.

I’ve got a stack of ‘em.”

Eight forty-five.

Soon my friend will call to check on me.

“So, how can I get to know you better?”

I hint, “Ask me some questions.”

His lips shut, eyes bemused.

I try again. “What would you like to know?”

Silent, he considers.

“Can I see you again?

I could learn so much from you.”

Study Notes for “Dinner Date”

I asked myself whether I really needed to identify the lack of communication skill here. But a number of people have told me, “I’ve been on that date.” In fact, so have I. So I’d better spell it all out.

How Not to Get a Second Date

  • Focus on yourself.
  • Plan ahead what you can say about yourself to impress your date.
  • Also say things you think your date would like to hear, such as, “I could learn so much from you.”
  • Then prove you didn’t mean them by your behavior. For example, when your date tries to tell you something, squelch her. Show her you already know what she was going to say and it won’t work for you. Or better yet, try to top her story.

Seriously gents, and ladies, the way to negotiate—a second date, or a beneficial business relationship—is to focus on the other person’s interests. Plan ways to ask about those interests. Then listen. Listen to understand, not to respond. Then, prove you were listening by paraphrasing.

Show you wish to fully understand the other person by asking follow up questions. Notice I said “show” you wish to understand, not “pretend” you do. If you’re not sincere, the other person will eventually see through the pretense.

Often, after you’ve done all this, you won’t need to work at making the other person understand you. They will reciprocate by asking about your interests. And if they don’t, you might not want that second date, or that business relationship, anyway.

Did you enjoy this gift? Maybe you know people who’d like to receive the entire book this holiday season. Maybe one of them is you!

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