In the first year after college I was so poor I existed on macaroni and cheese (made without milk) generic soda and happy hour food. At one point my car died (the starter) and I didn't have enough cash to fix it. So for three months I was without wheels. I was lucky I had Sheryl to drive me to work and I took the bus home. Sheryl, who loved me enough to spend weekends with me, but didn't love me enough to share an apartment.

We both need the space and I'm the only one who knows that.

Sheryl came over early every morning, usually before 6, waiting for me to race out of the house with coat half on and a plastic Washington Capitals cup full of cheap instant coffee. One cold February morning it was about 12 degrees and her windshield was still half frozen-wipers scraping against the patchy ice. As I slid in next to her I saw her holding a little red light between cupped hands. A small red light in the dark frigid air. It was the car's cigarette lighter.

"You ok? I mean, you're not trying to burn yourself are you?"

No, you idiot, I'm just cold. The heater takes a while to get going, that's why I can't see out either.

It was true. She had driven over to my place with only minimal vision- a scraped circle about the size of a small pizza. It was dangerous and I knew it was more than generous, this thing she was doing.

"I appreciate you doing this, I really do." I sat, shivering, watching her pull the knob out of the dashboard a second time, warming herself again. Her nose not close enough to get burned, but a little Rudolph-like, nonetheless. She didn't look up, but she said this- I know you do. I am a sucker for helpless guys. What can I tell you. .

No, she never shared the lighter.

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