Chris and I walk on a sidewalk made of skewed stone octagons. I am a little wobbly anyway in these shoes and he touches my elbow a few times, gently. I don't really need steadying but if I did, his hand is there.

Restaurant: heavy china, heavy cutlery. Velvet, crystal, wood. The bathroom is a deep blue dream. Every texture is smooth and polished, there to impress. The waiters swoop in and swoop out - maybe I don't even order, maybe they just know what's best for me to eat tonight. They are right. Bread crusty and fresh, you can smell it wafting up to the table. Mushrooms so perfect we both have to talk about them. Oh my, these mushrooms oh my. We feel sorry for everyone who did not order them. How is my chair so like a cloud? Are those diamonds at the bottom of your water glass? Why are you beaming like an angel?

Spumoni time, where is my spoon? No spoon. Chris's solutions are always quick and irrevocable, he gives me his spoon and he eats with his knife. I watch his jaw. He needs to shave; it's decorative.

The check slides up in a buttered leather case; I barely make a move toward my purse and he says, No. It is so unexpectedly firm and masculine that it works. Even on me. I laugh at him, but it works.

Heavy mahogany leaded-glass twinkling doors. Chris holds one open for me with the gesture and nod, the gentle thing men do when they want you to go ahead. Out into light rain. Back along the crooked and full-of-twisty-roots sidewalk, under dripping trees. There are puddles and I watch my feet, should not have worn these shoes, have to go slowly. Which is nice; it's warm out and Chris is content to walk with his hands in his pockets, they stay there until it is time to steady me again, he knows instinctively when I am about to teeter. Elbow, small of my back. He tells me more about his plane; we stroll.

We pass the tearoom on the corner where the lights are dimmed on the elderly black man in crisp white apron, pushing a broom among thin-legged tables. Wet tire swishes go past in the dark. Streetlamps. Yellow roses. Everything glows. We pass trellises whose vines reach out towards us and sweep us with ferny wet tendrils, leaving us a little bit kissed. It is all very very very picturesque.


Through this all I cannot stop thinking, Was I so easily swayed by an exuberant last name and a pilot's license? Well, I was. I'm a cheaper date than you realize, Chris. That would have been enough. If you hadn't gotten angrily, loudly drunk before we went to hear a gentle author read his stories to us. Or if I had never found out about your littering, or flinched at your temper. You were too loud to pick up that flinch.

Do I want to come in? No, Chris, I don't. I want to back away towards my car, with my box of leftovers held between us. You are a yawn that has cleared my ears. 'Night.

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