My friend James doesn't come to town often so when he does I try to make sure that he has a good time. People who know both of us are consistently surprised when they find out how close we've become. I suspect that this is because James tends to be on the quiet side while I am undeniably extroverted. No one knows why our friendship works, maybe we're not even sure ourselves, but until the other night we were good friends who could talk about almost anything.

Saturday night, which was when James was scheduled to arrive, I had a wedding to go to. The music was nice, the weather held through the ceremony but I didn't know anyone I was sitting with. After determining that the dance floor was empty I decided to drop in on James. On the way there I tried fixing my hair. James thinks I should pay more attention to my appearance; dismissive of all things feminine is how he described me to his sister. That bothered me more than his suggesting I let my hair grow but I know he means well so usually I let his comments slide.

Rain made the inside of my taxi cozy, at the corner across from the park I made my cab driver pull over when I recognized a familiar face coming out of Walgreens. James gave me a long cool look as he tipped the driver and paid my fare. Typically I pay for one thing out of five when we're together, James argues that this is fair since I earn twenty percent of what he does but I don't like to feel like I'm mooching off of people even when I am. From the way James gripped my upper arm I could tell that he was more than slightly annoyed with me.

Starting off the evening with an apology is a sign that the night will not go well so I mentioned that I'd be on my way after I finished my tea. Resentment gathered inside of me as I listened to James explain that he could easily keep pieces of me in his freezer since he was the only person who knew where I actually was that night. Half of me wanted to leave but the couch was warm, it was late and I thought I could talk him into a better mood.

After a couple of drinks James settled down. The remainder of our conversation went well right up to the minute where James announced that he was dating someone new. One of the things I have never understood about James is how such an insightful perceptive person ends up choosing the women he does. Maybe I shouldn't have told him what I thought of his latest pick but he did ask and I used to think that tactless honesty was the best policy.

Normally when I get together with James we sleep in the same bed. I'm sure some would like to make something out of that but after James throws his arm around me I snuggle into him before drifting off. Personally I think we both sleep better whenever we're together. That night I stayed awake long enough to make sure he was sleeping before I left. I thought I'd catch hell for leaving in the middle of the night but all James said was he would have made breakfast for me had I been willing to wait for it.

Leaving James at the airport always makes me a little weepy. Monday morning I thought about calling in sick to work after I opened an e-mail from James telling me he was safe at home. I did my best to match his impersonal tone, getting that e-mail was almost worse than not receiving one at all. I was sure I had lost his friendship for good when more than a month went by without hearing from him so I wasn't sure what to think when James sent me an e-card. The card was unlike anything he had sent before which made me wonder. If I'm honest with myself I know that one of the reasons I keep James in my life is because I want the words he's used to describe me to be true.

For a long time I've liked a guy that James does not approve of. He's told me straight to my face that this guy is an asshole. The last time James was in town we had a pretty heated argument about my taste in men, it was part of the reason I left his place early. James doesn't buy my theories about the women he sees until after they've taken him for an expensive emotional ride. I told him he was the last person who should be giving me relationship advice, not all of my relationships have ended well which was another point James used to try and convince me that the guy I wanted to start seeing was headed for trouble.

The guy I like is a friend of a friend of a guy my brother knows. I work in the same town my brother does so when he invited me over to a friend's house warming party I thought I could do worse than scoring some free booze. At the time of the invite I did not know the guy I liked was going to be there. His arrival coincided with my announcement that I was going catch a cab and head home for the night. Awkwardly I stood at the door trying to decide whether or not I should stay at the party.

Outside the bonfire was keeping people warm. I made the rounds saying goodbye to the people I did know. Whether by accident or design the guy I was interested in lingered near the edge of the deck. Everything that James had said echoed in my mind as I accepted another glass of wine. Sitting down by the lake talking to people late at night could very well be one of my favorite ways to pass the time. During our conversation we walked while we talked. We ended up holding hands when he helped me across a fallen log. Together we covered most of the trails along the nature preserve laughing hysterically when we found that I had stuck my wine glass in my purse.

When we got back to the housewarming party I hung back. My brother's car was still parked at the end of the road. I knew I could catch a ride with him but I didn't want the night to end. What happened next is something I don't like to think about. James sent me a text message asking what my plans for the next day were. The guy I was currently with asked what was going on - two hours later he knew all about James and my relationship with him.

Having male friends is difficult for me. My natural self wants to be open, unreserved and affectionate however I've been told that I am hard to read which I think is men not being sure about what I'm offering. The problem with being me is I can kiss and hug someone without being attracted to them. I want to be friends with everyone but there are people out there who want to use me just as there are people who can't handle my use of the L word. Since I am a person of extremes I tend to love or loathe the people I know. Rarely people I love switch from one side to the other. That hurts but it is a part of life and eventually I have to move on.

I love great conversations with people who have insight I lack. It was the main thing that attracted me to the man I was sharing a couch with. That and he had a wicked sense of humor. Men who kiss well are also high on my list of preferred companions. To me a kiss can be anything from an invitation to join them in bed to an expression of affection. Kissing doesn't have to lead places I'm not ready to go which is something I've tried to explain to James. The last time James saw me kiss a married man we got into a fight about it because he thought that wasn't appropriate.

Kissing is one of life's great simple pleasures or at least that's how I view it. Throughout my life I've learned a lot about how different people kiss. For no good reason the thought of kissing James goodnight popped into my head when I was kissing someone else. Noticing my hesitation he stopped and asked me what was wrong. The truth is that nothing was really wrong but nothing was going the way I had thought it would. Sure, the guy I liked was kissing me but his apartment was kind of a mess, that bothered me almost as much as not knowing what James was up to and what was on his agenda for tomorrow.

When I was defending the man of my dreams to James I told him that I knew a side of him other people didn't. On several occasions he had revealed things to me that he said he hadn't shared with anyone else. I knew a softer side of him existed, it was evident in his kiss although I wasn't going to tell James that. We were hanging out on the couch together when my friend for the evening asked me what the plan was. That's an expression I use so it was strange to hear it coming from someone else. I'm not sure who was surprised the most that evening; James, myself, or the man who insisted on giving me money for cab fare.

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