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2005-04-23 - 7:41 p.m.

I sort of had a date last night. I met this girl and a mutual school friend at a bar for beers. This place was a bar's bar, mirrors and Miller Lite banners with football team logos and chicken wing specials and there was even a fight, and early, around 10 in the evening. The waitresses wore black tank tops, sort of poor man's Hooters-style. So we sat at a booth and another couple showed up (they're trying to conceive and this is a big topic of conversation--they're very candid about it and it's funny because they're pretty reticent about most things except this months-long effort) and we all had beer and something called a Jagerbomb, which I found out is Jagermeister and Red Bull and tastes like cough syrup. The soon-to-be mother, however, had only cherry cokes and it's true she kicked me under the table as I was refilling her husband's glass (he only had a half beer the first time). I like her; she's the warmest person I've met in a while, pale but with these red lips. Anyway, we walked up the street to a Tex Mex bar (how do bar owners figure out how to theme these things when Mexico's a three-day drive away, an abstraction, not even real for all I know?) and had another few drinks. The other guy went home and the girl and I hung out at the bar, talking and laughing. I leaned my elbows on the bar and she did the same.

This couple next to us, about 35 and warmly drunk and chatty, and after about five minutes of us leaning on the bar there, the guy compliments my sideburns. We learn he's gay. He almost touched one of my sideburns and asked, "How do you get them so straight?" Then the woman, she told the girl I was with that she had "Susan Sarandon's smile." The girl, I could tell, took this a little personally, and later she told me she did this because she thinks of Susan Sarandon as old and she's 25 and doesn't want to remind anyone of a 50-year-old woman. But I knew they meant it as a compliment and I later told her the smile was the first thing I noticed about her. But in the bar, the other woman said, "This may sound sort of weird, but are those your real teeth?" And the girl said they were and when they asked us how long we'd been going out (which at that time, was approximately four hours), I told them eight months. So this went on for a while, the acting out eight months of invented dating and it was fun and giggly. She got a little drunker than I think she wanted to and so I asked if she'd like to come over to my place and she said yes without hesitation. And I was a gentleman and all that and in the morning I drove her to her car and we had not slept though we both tried and I took two naps today. And she caught me looking at her three times when we were both supposed to be trying to sleep and so I smiled and then she smiled and then each time we both closed our eyes again.

And at 10, going on ten minutes of faked sleep, I met this guy at Starbucks who is a retired psychologist who wants to write essays about things like the criminal justice system and religion and politics. These are the things that get him all fired up. I'd arranged the meeting the day before, after he'd called the director of my program at school and the director had recommended me. So he has this fire and I can tell he's pretty worked up about the president and he's angry and he wants to really nail someone but he also, deep down, wants to write not abstractly but his own story but he doesn't know how to do all this in one piece of writing. So I told him to go home and write about his memories about the criminal justice system (turns out he made a side-living as an expert witness) and he really lit up at this notion. He didn't know he could write about himself and I told him that's how you turn ideas like "criminal justice" into an actual narrative with guts and blood and all those manly things I'm always telling my students about which I suspect I stole from some Hemingway interview or another. I think he actually said, "I'm glad you're giving me this homework," and I said I was glad he was so excited because it made me excited too. So, as I mentioned, I came back home and took two separate naps and we got our first real thunderstorm today and goddamn did it turn the sky dark. I think it hailed. Fucking wow, this time of year is fun.

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