for Mer, who knows the difference.


It never seemed fair to Gina. She had seen it happen again and again and never really understood it. She would find herself attracted to some guy--some odd, awkward guy--and he would either already have or be in the process of obtaining a cutesy girly girl. A Guess? sweatshirt, perfect complexion, Mom drives an Explorer type of girl. Examples? How about Mike, the odd poet she met on vacation in Wisconsin. He had that dorky half goatee and those dark brown eyes. His crew team girlfriend with fierce cheekbones showed up the day he was going to take her for a hike. Brad, the pottery guy she spent time talking to at art camp-he of the shaved head and the smell of dried clay-seemed dreamy until he ran off with the macrame princess in the Tommy girl tshirt. Jerk.

It went against Gina's basic sense of fairness. If geeky girls were going to be ignored by the preppy guys and the jock guys, etc. that was fine. She could live with that. It wasn't as if slightly overweight girls with acne and glasses were everyone's cup of tea. That was O.K. But the quirky, esoteric guys of the same food group shouldn't be allowed to go outside the circle to find peers. Where did that leave her and her friends? It seemed unatural somehow. WRONG.

Gina was having this sort of discussion with a couple of friends at the coffee house next door to the craft store she worked in after school. She didn't notice Phil, because she never noticed Phil. Phil played guitar in a small band, but didn't sing. M. sang lead (he went by just a letter-it gave him gravitas, he thought). M. was tall and aloof and had women wait after shows at the van. M. was it . Phil just sold overpriced coffee and played some acoustic.

But Phil noticed Gina. Noticed the heck out of her. He listened to every word of her angst and kept track of the coffee she ordered and the chips she picked out (Lays, and not that crappy low fat junk ). He knew she wore lily of the valley perfume and that she preferred heels to flats with jeans cause they made her look taller. He knew a lot.

Maybe he never would have said a word, being a shy sort, if she hadn't said these words:

Some day a guy, one of those guys is gonna come looking for me and he is SO going to be grateful. I tell you, he is going to be thanking his lucky charms.

Gina's friends laughed, but Phil didn't. He hung around the table and waited until all but one of the pack had left and then he asked for Gina's email address. She looked up, blinked twice and wrote it on one of the napkins from the Aluminum dispenser in the middle of the table.

This is what he sent:

It is much better to be the lightning bug, capricious and free than the jar holder-chasing.
But I chase you nonetheless. Did you know how you light up the night?

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