Mariana was a student at university. She was approached by a young man whom she had never met before. He asked if they might have a conversation in private and with the greatest confidence. Mariana agreed and said maybe they could go to the café for a coffee. At least other people would be about and she would feel more comfortable.
The young man was very pleasant; in fact quite charming. He was quite good-looking too Mariana thought. He agreed to the coffee and off they went. He said he worked as an undercover agent within the university. He only pretended to be studying myrmecology. He had no intention of becoming a myrmecologist. He needed someone, a complete stranger, to do a small task. Would Mariana be prepared to help?
Mariana said she would, depending of course on what the task might be and how time consuming. After all, she had her exams in edaphology coming up in a month.
The task, said Max (for that was his name), is simply to go to a particular student party, casually approach a specified person, and say a pre-set phrase. They would hand you an envelope. She was to bring it to this same café at eleven the next morning and give it to him.
That was simple! The secret phrase was “Do you wear pyjamas in bed or nothing at all?” and the specific person was a man. He would be wearing a white shirt with rolled sleeves, light blue jeans with patches, and have one of those old-fashion windup watches on his wrist. The party was this evening.
The room at the party was quite crowded. Mariana wandered around the party-goers for quite some time looking for her man. It was quite difficult because there were a lot of students at the party that she knew of course, and they all wanted her to stop and talk about nothing. The trouble was that there seemed to be two men in the room with white shirts and rolled up sleeves, patched jeans, and a wrist watch. Mariana approached the one she thought looked the most like a spy.
“Hi,” she said.
“Hi”, he said.
“Do you wear pyjamas in bed or nothing at all?”
“WTF?” said the young man but not in abbreviated form. And then he repeated in a louder and cynical voice, “Do I wear pyjamas in bed or nothing at all?”
“Shhh! Sorry,” said Mariana. Clearly she had picked the wrong one of the two. It was rather embarrassing. She approached the second guy.
“Hi,” she said.
“Hi”, he said.
“Do you wear pyjamas in bed or nothing at all?” whispered Mariana.
They guy pulled a small envelope from his back pocket and handed it to her. It wasn’t sealed. “Make sure you read what’s inside,” he said.
Mariana took out the slip of paper inside the envelope and read it:
“Happy 21st Birthday, Mariana!”
The whole room burst into “Happy Birthday dear Mariana”.
“We knew if we told you,” said Mariana’s friend Angelina stepping forward from nowhere, “we knew if you heard we were having your 21st birthday party that you’d say you had your edaphology exams coming up in a month. So we planned this.”
Then Max, the fellow who had initiated the whole scheme, announced that he didn’t wear pyjamas but would she like to meet in the café tomorrow at eleven anyway?
And that is how the myrmecologist and the edaphologist met and lived happily ever after.