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Hard boiled (Cooper)

And then one day, he’s sitting across from you at the coffee shop. He asks if you’d like to share a piece of cake and you say yes. You sit there and you chat and everything comes very easily and he tells you later that he wanted to kiss you, but he didn’t. Very quickly, like you do, you are completely bananas for this guy. He is smart and funny and looks like a matinee idol with his brooding eyes and his dark brows and his half grin that quickly becomes a big, toothy grin and a guffaw that makes you laugh, too. And you do all the date things together, you go to the movies and bowling and miniature golf. You make dinner together, you talk about books and drink too much wine and stay up too late. At work the next day you are exhausted but day dreamy. You hope he calls, and he does! And you make more plans. You spend a weekend together out of town. He holds your hand. You shop for antiques and play Parcheesi and drink too much wine and you talk about everything, not just books now, and stay up too late. You can’t remember when you were this happy; were you ever this happy? It’s really hard to say, but sometimes you doubt it.

And then you get back from your weekend trip and he kisses you on the forehead and says “one last time,” and you don’t really know what that means, until later in the week. You go bowling again and you share a pitcher of beer and over the linoleum table he looks at you with his broody eyes and you catch your breath and look away because it’s almost too much. And he says, “I think we should just be friends.”

And it’s been a really long time since you had a cigarette. Probably years. But all of a sudden, with Axl Rose screaming “take me down to the Paradise City” in the echo-ey plastic room with the plastic booths you really want a cigarette. But, in lieu of that you want to know why? What happened, what did you do? Because you could have sworn that he was as happy as you. But, of course he wasn’t. And so, after some prodding he tells you. And it’s too late and you’ve had too much to drink and you’re dying a thousand deaths.

“You know, Joce, I could date for another 5-10 years and never meet someone that is as compatible with me, that I get along with so well, that is so similar to myself. But, the truth is, and I just can’t get over this fact: that your commitment to fitness is lacking.”

You can’t remember when you were this humiliated; were you ever this humiliated? It’s hard to say, but sometimes you doubt it.

And you don’t see each other for awhile. And then he calls and invites you to go see an art exhibit on a Sunday afternoon. And you think, “I miss him and even if he doesn’t want to be my boyfriend I want to be around him.” So you go. And you wear a really cute green dress that makes your eyes even greener. And after the exhibit he suggests a pitcher of beer and you sit outside and he says, “take your sunglasses off.” And when you do, he looks at you with his broody eyes and smiles his half smile and says, “it’s really good to see you.” And you believe him. Three beers later you get up to use the restroom and as you stand up and start to walk away your hand brushes the back of your dress. And you realize that your entire backside is soaking wet: the misters, the hundred-degree heat, the plastic chair. And that lovely green is now a much darker shade of green. And you realize as you walk away that he sees you for what you really are: a big, fat, sweaty cow.

You get together a couple more times but it’s always awkward. Mostly because of you. You’re just self-loathing and embarrassed and wounded and he looks at you, straight through you and sees all your flaws.

You don’t hear from him for awhile and then one morning you wake up and check your email and see his name and your heart jumps and you click:

“Sorry I've been incommunicado. I've been lying low.

Do you remember a conversation we had about cooking eggs? You had all these great suggestions for better poached eggs and better hard-boiled eggs. What were they? I recall you mentioning a very specific egg timer...did you detail a specific brand or model? And you had a quick and easy way to poach eggs as well.

Hope things are peachy, Cooper”