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Today in the cafe a very handsome man sat one table over from me. I mean very handsome. Worse than that, he looked like a face you could talk to, the type who wouldn’t be automatically wary of strangers or think me odd for walking over. I listened to him talking to his much less interesting friend, each pausing to blow on coffee. I tried to decide whether I was more attracted to his face or the fact that his stripey shirt matched my underwear.

I wished Gullet were there with me. He would have seen my attraction; there’s no hiding those things from him. He might have pestered me into going over to the handsome man, if only to compliment his shirt. Here’s how:   I’m a little shy, but not awkward. I grin and he has no choice but to grin back. He thanks me, maybe says I’ve made his day, and laughs at how dumb it sounds. We smile again at each other and pause, the words are finished, that’s all there is. I go back to my table.

Or this:   He says I’ve made his day, and laughs at how dumb it sounds. We smile again at each other and pause, he apologizes for his lack of manners and asks me to sit down. Can I buy you a coffee? It goes well, we lose track of time. Hours later, though, the spell wears off, we are no longer able to pretend we’re not strangers, we fall back into our boring selves. I am tired of trying to be good conversation, we go home and don’t call.

Or:   It goes well, we lose track of time. Neither of us asks directly, but we end up having dinner. It feels appropriate to be with him. Easy. We launch into something that might last a few months, before I realize I’ve done it again, led myself astray for the sake of attention, and he really isn’t as interesting as I’d thought.

The details are different but it’s always the same. He’s disappointed that I don’t drink coffee, or I turn out to be sterile, or after twenty years he starts insulting my ass in front of other people and I realize he never really liked me. What does it say that my fantasy always ends badly? The only real information I have is the image of a handsome man drinking coffee out of a paper cup, dropping his napkin, doing the famous and lovely eye-crinkle thing when he smiles. I have no proof that he would ever want to kiss or destroy me, but I have made up my mind.

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