"I don't want to watch the penguins!"
"I'm sorry, what?"
"I just don't, OK?"
No! Not OK! What sort of human being doesn't want to watch penguins?
"Don't you like them?"
"They're alright," he shrugs casually and turns away from me.
Behind me I can hear a sea of people clapping as they watch some amazing penguin display. I immediately feel like a child cast away from a birthday party.
"Why don't you want to see them?"
"I just don't want to,"
He starts to walk away and I stand there frozen in motion watching him in annoyance. Another round of claps echoes through from the penguin enclosure.
I know I sound ridiculous, but this entire day has been a nightmare. I haven't seen anything! Not a single animal. Not a single insect. Not a single bird. Well, apart from those fluffy chickens that seem to run around by the cafes.
Lots and lots of walking.
It hasn't even been the interesting kind with funny stories and romantic embraces. It has been dull and boring. Actually, no. Wrong words to use. Dull and boring should be describing someone who says things you have no interest in. Steve says nothing.
"The butterflies?" I ask hopefully. "There's always one eating a banana,"
Thank you. No, thank you! Whatever happened to manners?
Imagine if I introduced this guy to my family! My mum would think I've lost my mind. I'm a talker. I need to meet my conversational equal. This man is clearly the opposite of me. The anti-Ella, if you will.
I follow on two steps behind him as he walks around pointlessly. I attempt to ask him something else, but it seems futile. I'm only going to get a brief 'no' in return and carry on walking.
I dig out my phone from my handbag to quickly glace at the time. It's three in the afternoon. Four whole hours gone - just like that. I could have done so much in those four hours.
He seems so glum, as if something terribly bad has happened but he isn't willing to share. I have an overwhelmed urge to pry, but I refrain. It's none of my business, after all. After this dreadful day is done I'm hoping to never see him again.
I don't remember him being like this at the party last week. When my friend, Lisa, introduced us he seemed perfectly lively. And now, he's an empty shell. He greeted me at the tube with a casual 'hi' and has made no conversation since.
I have to do it. I have to pry. I have to ask.
"Is something wrong?" I run a couple of steps so I'm side by side.
"Not really," he says - the same sombre tone he's adopted for the day.
"Surely there's something. You've been like this all day," I smile at him, trying my hardest to make him feel alright to open up.
"Look, you're very nice and all that, but let's face it, not my type. So, let's just get this day out of they way and move on with our lives!" He moves away from me again and marches ahead. I'm left there standing like a moron, unsure of what to say.
"You asked for my number. You called me, remember?" I run after him, not wanting to walk away without having the last word. "If you knew immediately I wasn't your type, why even bother?" but he pretends not to listen to me. I can see he's trying to figure out the exit among the mazes of paths, but is failing miserably.
I mean, what the heck is wrong with men??? So temperamental and unsure of what they actually want. Once minute you think they're in love with you, the next you have no idea what went wrong.
I follow him a bit further down another (wrong) path as he furiously tries to get away, but I'm persistent. It's my best and worst trait.
"Am I not allowed an explanation?" I ask after him. We've found ourselves near the monkeys. Their loud screechings and mating calls surround us as Steve and I stare each other out. He's finally managed to turn around, probably having figured out that I'm his only saving grace if he wants to get out of here.
He takes in a couple of deep breaths before starting, "Look," he pauses again and turns to face the monkeys. One of them hissses at him and I almost feel like Steve will hiss back. "I'm just a bit overwhelmed with stuff, that's all,"
"But if you didn't want to be here, why bother?"
He shrugs his shoulders and turns away again. That's it. That's all the explanation I get.
The monkeys have all gathered around our corner, clinging on to the cage tightly as they watch our tragic date. I feel like I'm the one in a zoo, not them.
"The exit is that way," I tell Steve and watch on as he moves away briskly.