Sunday, August 23, 2009

Oh, Vanity

A woman walks into a bar to meet a man. She is, predictably, late. He is, predictably, peeved. She slots in beside him as he leans against the counter, squeezes in tightly next to him amidst the breezy Friday crowd.

'Hi,' she says.

He looks at her. He wants to say why did you keep me waiting? or you look so beautiful tonight, but she makes him nervous. She wants to kiss him, but she can never tell what he's thinking.

So instead -

'You've been eating garlic,' he says.

The bar inflicts close talking as a necessity. And so, it is safe to say that, no matter what happens next for these two, the evening has effectively ended, the wave of possibility which was open wide only seconds ago crashes in on itself like a giant hand closing.

Such a small thing.

But she is the sort who shuts down at the first sign of criticism like a night blooming cereus at dawn. She must be coaxed open, gently. And he is the sort who, met with resistance, will amp up the provocation to elicit a response, any response at all.

They might be perfect for each other but it has started all wrong and the downward spiral is inevitable and quick, the kiss on the cheek at the end of the night perfunctory like the powdery stale kiss of a distant great-aunt.

What might have been will never be.

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