"How could you not know?"

As airport-restaurant dinners go, it should have been one of the best. I was sharing a table with three friends, two of whom were former Playboy centerfold models. Good people. Reasonable food. Interesting conversation.

Then the topic turned to astrology.

The two women had been chatting about a mutual friend whose relationship had recently ended. After dismissing several quite plausible reasons for a breakup, one of them suggested an incompatibility between their sun signs. This was taken quite seriously by the other, and the guy joined in as well, making for a merry three-way debate on the astrological logistics of dating.

I maintained a polite silence for about ten minutes, until the younger of the two women suddenly turned and asked me my sign, a question I hadn’t heard since the 1970s.

I claimed that I didn’t know. Falsely, of course, since it was basically impossible not to learn that sort of thing in the ’70s. I just didn’t feel like ruining a pleasant evening by telling her that I thought her silly-ass beliefs were silly-ass beliefs.

“How could you not know?!?”, she replied, amazed that I could get through life without this crucial piece of data.

Hoping she’d take the hint, I said something along the lines of “I don’t see any value in knowing it.”

No luck. Her amazement grew. She asked my birth date, insisted that it revealed I was a good match for both women (always good news!), and seemed prepared to spend the next hour remedying this remarkable lapse in my education.

It was a real dilemma. Should I allow one of the most beautiful women in the world to lecture me at length on a subject that we disagree violently about, hoping I can keep my mouth shut until she loses interest, or just burst her bubble and tell her there’s no Santa Claus?

Fortunately, our other two friends had caught on, and jumped in to steer the conversation back into safer waters. We were able to stay friends, although every time I see her, I get the feeling that that question is bubbling through her mind: “How could he not know?”