1988. New-girlfriend season? Not sure. I'm just grateful Kayla doesn't see me as "that bass player" - being in a band or having a CD in the stores doesn't automatically make your dick (or bank account) bigger. Mine anyway. I just want to be seen as me. To Kayla, I'm just "that weird-looking guy who's too cheap to shell out five bucks for a copy of I, Etcetera". That's me.

She works part-time at my favorite used-book store; she's a freshman, her dad is a professor - shades of Amanda, when I really don't need her shadow lurking. Kayla is the Petite Eurasian Goth Flower whom I would see, in the distance, standing disinterestedly with her clique (as I was with mine) at some all-ages shows over the previous couple of years. So we already have disinterested in common. We remain at the hang-out stage, stuck on one minor point...

"Smoking makes your mouth taste like an ashtray."

That one.

I get the whole spiel: Do you know what a smoker's lungs look like? (Yes.) Do you know what it's like to kiss a smoker? (Yes.)

Finally, it's the "it's-me-or-the-cancer-sticks" part, I'm already tuning this out. But then the final word resonates and shakes me back to the here-and-now.



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