Whatever it was doing in the rest of the world, the sun was shining radiantly down upon Toronto all through this never-ending April afternoon.  Having impatiently filled the day as constructively as he could—mostly by reading in coffee shops—Michael set off, finally, at five-thirty, to make his way back to Books at Large.
     May had tried, during the past few hours—without much success—to keep her mind on the business of selling books, putting them back in their proper places on the shelves, dusting them.  She still had the boxed two-volume set of Wolf Solent by John Cowper Powys that Michael had purchased in the morning and which he was going to pick up when he came for her at closing time. 
     She pulled the first volume from the slipcase.  Beautiful binding, beautiful creamy paper, a beautiful typeface, a perfect, holdable size—the size of your hand.  The book smelled good too.  She looked at the title page.  It had been published in New York by Simon and Shuster in 1929.  Before or after Black Friday, she wondered.
     She opened it and read the first paragraph.  “From Waterloo Station to the small country town of Ramsgard in Dorset is a journey of not more than three or four hours, but having by good luck found a compartment to himself, Wolf Solent was able to indulge in such an orgy of concentrated thought, that these three or four hours lengthened themselves out into something beyond all human measurement.”
     May was enchanted.  And she remained so, musing upon the promised delights of a book she hadn’t yet read, when the bells over the front door jangled and Michael stepped into the store, trying to keep the joy he felt at suddenly seeing her again within the bounds of bookstore decorum.  He strode towards her, grinning broadly. 
     “I see you’ve already begun an acquaintance with the lordly John Cowper Powys,” he said gaily. 
     May smiled.  “I’m happy to hear you pronounce his name out loud,” she told him. “I wasn’t sure how to.”
     “Yes, it’s different from the way it looks.  The ‘Cowper’ is just pronounced ‘Cooper,’ and the ‘Powys’ is pronounced ‘POW-iss’.”  Easy!”
     “Easy maybe if you’re Welsh,” May smiled at him.
     “And I don’t think you are,” he grinned, thinking how exquisite she was.  “So,” he asked her, rallying momentarily from her beauty, “are you almost ready to close up?”
     “It will take me five minutes.”
     They wandered south on Spadina Avenue, through the early evening chill, the darkness settling down around them as if winter were still reluctant to give way to spring.  They talked about the architecture courses May was taking at the University of Toronto, about the books they liked, about the films they liked, about Michael’s writing—and, he confessed to her, about how he had to settle down and do a lot more of it—and about her growing up in Hong Kong, where her parents still lived.
     By now they were at the intersection of Spadina and College Street—on the cusp of Chinatown.  They stood there through a light change, the brisk wind lifting their coats and blowing May’s long black hair hither and thither.  
     “This must be one of the coldest intersections in the city,” said Michael. “Maybe in the world.”
     “Yes, I’m here all the time.  The School of Architecture is just over there,” she told him, pointing east through the rude, rough-shouldering wind.
     “I’m almost reluctant to bring this up,” said Michael, “but the fact is, there’s a restaurant I really like, just a block down Spadina on the east side.  It’s right over there,” he told her, pointing down the street.  “It’s called New Sky.”
     “If you like it, I’m sure I’d enjoy it too,” she replied.  “Our tastes seem to be remarkably similar.”
     Michael grinned.
     “Remarkably,” he agreed.  Then, for reasons May couldn’t yet fathom, he suddenly seemed just a little bit abashed, uncharacteristically unsure of himself.
     “What is it?” she asked him. “Is something the matter?”
     “Well, it’s really stupid, I guess,” he replied, “and maybe even a bit racist or something, in the subtlest possible way, but I just now realized that I’ve invited a Chinese girl to a Chinese restaurant….”
     “Yes?” said May, trying to mask her amusement.
     “And it suddenly seemed as if it might be somehow inappropriate….”
     “How?” May laughed. “You mean it would be a ‘coals to Newcastle’ sort of thing?”
     “I know it sounds silly,” said Michael, “but it did suddenly strike me there might be a certain indelicacy to it…as if I just took it for granted that Chinese food would be the kind of food you’d like.”
     May smiled and took his arm.
     “But I do like that ‘kind of food,’ she assured him.  That kind of food and a lot of other kinds of food—just as l’m sure you do!”
     Michael gave her a quick hug.
     “For example, you wouldn’t think it indelicate of me, would you, if I said to you, a Canadian man, ‘Michael, let’s go out and get some Canadian food’!”
     “I wouldn’t think it indelicate,” he laughed, “because I wouldn’t know what you meant,” he told her.  What would we go out for?”
     “Hamburgers and fries?” she suggested.
     “American” said Michael.
     “Also American, after a long circuitous journey from Italy.”
     “So, what would we be eating if we ate Canadian?” May asked him.
     “Maybe pancakes and maple syrup,” he laughed.  “Or,” he added, “if we were in Quebec, maybe a beef tortiere!”
     By this time they were at New Sky.  It was bright and warm and fragrant as they stepped inside, and they were happy to leave the chilly evening behind them.
     The waiter led them to a table, and it was odd, Michael felt, to hear May speaking to him in Chinese.  Odd and, he thought, sort of thrilling.  He’d never heard May speak Chinese before.  He mentioned it to her.
     She smiled. “Well, given that our friendship is less than ten hours old,” she noted, “the opportunity to hear me speak Chinese has never really come up until now!”
     The waiter brought menus, soup bowls, plates, teacups and a pot of jasmine tea.  He also brought them chopsticks.
     “See, here’s another thing,” said Michael, picking one up.  I guess I shouldn’t be going on about this stuff, but I actually think the word ‘chopsticks’ is sort of racist too.  You know, ‘chop chop!’ as an exploitive slang phrase for ‘quick!’ or ‘right away!’….  I bet the Chinese have another word for them!”
     “Yes,” she said.  She smiled a gentle, beatific smile, and at precisely that moment, she fell in love with him.