“Gout is something you get if you’re a character in a Dickens novel!” A passing stranger exclaimed. I wondered, who would say something like that. Trying to brush off the weird saying, I continued on my way down the sidewalk. I was ten minutes away from the coffee shop to meet my tinder date. Online dating is foreign to me, but ever since my husband left me I was hoping for a fresh start. Plus, he said in his bio that he liked dogs; which is perfect because I love dogs. Maybe, even though the chance is slim, it will work out.

Thinking about my impossible future with my tinder date only distracted me for a couple steps from the mention of gout a few moments ago. I found the saying take over my brain, as if I could not comprehend it.

That is the weirdest thing I have ever heard anyone say. What did the person say before to prompt that phrase? Who is this person? Do they frequently talk about gout?

As ridiculous as my rumination on the silly phrase may be, it caused me possibly to lose the love of my life.

I got to the coffee shop, and saw my handsome date already at one of the tables. I found that I was not even nervous anymore because I was so focused on someone mentioning gout and a Dickens novel in the same sentence. I introduced myself formally to him, but could not pay attention to his. The thoughts just kept pouring in; I couldn’t help but mention it.

“Hey, Brendon. I’m sorry, I’m just so distracted because of the weirdest thing I heard on the street on my way here.”

Brendon looked genuinely concerned, but in an endearing way: “What was it?”

“Well,” I started, “this person walked by me and I heard them say ‘gout is something you get if you’re a character in a Dickens novel!’ Like, what? Who would say that? I think that is the stupidest thing I have ever heard, if I’m being honest. Gout is not even a thing anymore, and Charles Dickens? Didn’t he write like Christmas Carol, or something like that? Ugh, I hated that movie. I think it is my least favorite movie of all time. But, anyways. . .”

I looked up to Brendon to see his cold and disappointed face. He opened his mouth to speak: “My dad suffers with chronic grout. So yes, it is still a thing. I’m also an aspiring writer who is heavily influenced by Charles Dickens. And personally, I think Christmas Carol was a brilliant book. It was nice to meet you, but I don’t think this is going to work.”

I froze and could not say anything as he gathered his coat and walked out of the coffee shop.

I shouted out loud: “What the heck just happened?”