We arrange to meet after just two e-mails. As I stand outside the cafe, not knowing who to look out for, I wonder whether we’ll get on. I don’t care if he’s attractive. I don’t even mind if he’s married. I just hope I don’t say his name wrong, or make things tense by commenting on his irregular past.
This is not a date, but a foreign language exchange. Our hour of small talk over coffee will be roughly split in half between English and my exchange partner’s mother tongue, which I am learning. We correct each other as we go along, offering idiomatic vocabulary or pronunciation tips when needed, like a free private lesson. […]