"So you are basically a selfish person then," she said carrying a smirked face.
I wasn't certain if it was the sheer surprise at the barbed comment or the sledgehammer effect it had on me, but I was instantly uncomfortable.
"Selfish?" I asked. "For not wanting a dog, I am now self-centred?"
"Yes," she replied even more confidently.
In that moment, I thought of all the Emotional Intelligence books I had devoured for one of my management modules. Deep down, I knew what the books told me to do in this type of scenario, but it was also so clear I would not be able to deliver on this occasion.
She had succeeded in making me see red in record time, and a level-headed response and temperate retorts would not cut it.
"So you believe owning a dog makes you a selfless person? Where is the selflessness of all the owners of abandoned and neglected dogs across the length and breadth of this country? Did their generosity take flight once they discovered their pooches were going to engage in rapid and wanton defecation?"
Secretly, I knew my argument was weak, but it still felt good to have something to say. Unfortunately for me though, she hit back in a flash.
"You clearly do not understand dog ownership and anything I say would be lost on you!"
Her more aggressive tone confirmed I had succeeded in making her equally irritated. It was infantile of course, but there was something so satisfying in making her taste her brand of vile medicine. Or was it just my hyperbolic brand of assessment at work?
Undeterred, I began to delight in her subsequent screwed facial contortions. And when I say delight, I mean the type felt by a constipation patient, who, after a week of chronic discomfort, finally manages to do Number Two.
I felt it was time to let it all out.
"Dogs are basically like all animals, needy. The only reason you are drawn to them is their unique ability to display that trait better than any other beasts. Besides, they cannot be trusted. One wrong move and your child's leg is Pedigree Chum!"
The delibrate manner in which she unwrapped her long scarf, whilst also switching off her ubiquitous iPhone, told me I did ask for and will get a very long session of abuse.
I took a deep breath for false stamina, as she began to speak.
"First things first, dogs are not beasts. Wild dogs are a product of wild owners. Dogs are lovely animals and have been man's best friend for God knows how many decades...."
I decided to interrupt.
"Do you have a specific number of years for that friendship or are we just plucking information from the Canine Cloud?
She continued as if I had spoken a silent language.
"A beast has no loyalties to you and would kill you the first chance it gets. Dogs are reliable and loyal. They help the blind, the disabled, the Police, the Armed Forces and contribute more to aid the welfare of man, than a billion of you would ever do. So, when you manage to garner up a coherent or even logical opinion about dogs, please let me know. In the meantime, can we move on? This topic is dead."
I had been completely savaged. My tormentor was noticeably rejuvenated and somewhat pleased with herself. Smirk back on, she switiched on her phone and began to wrap her loose scarf.
As I had no props to play with, I decided prematurely to reply. To say my retort was puerile at best, would be to flatter myself. I had lost this contest and my feeble attempt to call dogs dirty and smelly (yes, that was the totality of my reply), fell on well-deserved damp and squiggy ground.
A few inconvenient minutes passed and I could hear her tapping her shoes on the wooden floors. That action coupled with the scarf-wrapping, appeared to be a valedictory ritual.
Luckily for me, her phone rang.
"Hello Mum, she answered quietly. " The date? Well, it just ended. I have just wasted twenty of my limited dating minutes speaking to the devil's spawn."
It took me a few seconds of looking around, for it to dawn on me this heavenly woman had just labelled me as Hell's own.
Call me thin-skinned, but I do believe cues do not come more definitive.
I raised my hand (with credit card flickering in between my fingers) to catch the waiter's attention. My utter discomfort, evident in my unnecessary card flickering, was compounded by the feckless waiter pretending not to see me. This is the same guy who had been eavesdropping on our conversation all evening.
Is this the type of turn I deserved from tipping this guy pre-service?
Noticing my dilemma, my 'date's' parting shot was well aimed and delivered with crushing precision.
"You look upset. How much did you tip him again? I bet a labrador would have treated you with more loyalty."