After The Wink

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It starts out so harmlessly.

I don't really mean anything by it, I'm just in one of those moods. I mean, when you're 42 years old and have 3 kids and a husband and responsibilities, who figures on finding excitement, too? Other than bad excitement, like when you have to hit the brakes hard and all your blood vessels get a quick yee-ha.

It's true, I've been noticing men a lot lately. Their arms, particularly. Don't ask me why, but I've suddenly become fascinated with men's arms. Forearms, lightly furred, with those lines of tendons and the swell of muscle below the elbow that women just don't have. And men's hands, square and capable. I see them everywhere. In restaurants, at gas stations, in the middle of the aisle at the freakin' K-Mart, for god's sake. It's embarrassing to know I'm lusting in Lawn & Garden.

It's not just the young men either, mind you. I've been noticing older men, too. Men in their 40's and 50's, men who maybe think no woman is looking at them that way any more. Mostly I like the ones who still have plenty of hair and rugged looking faces, who look like they still get some, you know? Ponytails too, on older men, catch my attention. Here's a guy who thinks young, I figure. I could be wrong. Maybe he's just a guy who hates going to the barber.

Anyway, I'm sitting there at the coffee shop, I'm reading a book by Robin Hemley and it makes me laugh out loud. I look around to see if anyone notices and there's a man smiling at me. He's good-looking too. He's sitting at one of the tables, reading a magazine, and it's not just any magazine, not about motorcycles or computers or entertainers, it's the New Yorker. The guy's literate, for crying in the sink.

I give him a little smile. Going back to my reading, I shift in my seat, cross my legs, straighten my back a little. Knockers up, my aunt used to say. I rest my chin on my hand, arching my neck a little. That's body language for "I'm interested". Or something like that. A customer near the front makes a huge mess by dropping her coffee, the tray clattering to the floor. I take a quick glance at Mr. Attractive and he's looking at me. So I smile. And then, God help me, I wink.

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Now it's just a little wink, just an acknowledgement that he's there and I'm there and we both see the humor of the situation and that, perhaps, we're somehow both a little more in the know than the average joker and already have this little connection, but that's all it is. I swear.

But it's enough.

Because next thing I know, he's picking up his coffee and his New Yorker and he's coming over to me, doing that little raised eyebrow thing to ask if he can join me and I'm nodding, nodding, thinking I don't quite believe this. He asks me about my book and I ask him about his magazine and I mention, modestly, that I'm a writer and he mentions, modestly, that he's a musician, and even though we're really a bookkeeper and a systems analyst, we understand that we're not defined by our paying jobs. I tell him my name and he tells me his and it's one of those names I always admired. He has a little bit of curly black/grey/white hair coming out of the collar of his shirt. His eyes crinkle at the corners and his forearms flex as he leans forward on his elbows to talk to me in low tones that require that I lean forward too. I smile to show my dimples and hope that I don't have coffee breath and we keep talking. About books and music and the theatre. About the way that parking is getting impossible in this town and how traffic is ridiculous. He mentions that he lives near South Park and I mention that I'm over by the university and pretty soon our coffee is cold and it's somehow gotten to be an hour later.

It's really time for me to leave and he walks me to my car, which thank heavens is decently clean, with no McDonald's Happy Meal figures on the front seat. He mentions that he's going to the poetry slam next Friday because his friend is playing flute for some poet and I mention that I've never been to a poetry slam and he says I should try it. So I say maybe I will and I drive away with my hands perspiring on the steering wheel.

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