I am standing in a bar in Newtown. L's birthday.
"Yeah. It's not that fascinating, though. What do you--"
L introduced me to her friends as a writer.
"But you get books published!"
It's taking a while to move beyond that.
"Seriously, it's not that cool. There's no money, no beautiful people--it's just egotistical authors."
The girl in front of me laughs.
"And I say that--I say that 'cause I'm a fucking egotistical author. I'm the fucking worse. I can't even be friends with an author. You're not an author are you?"
"No," she says. "I'm just, y'know--"
She laughs, places a hand on my arm. "You're pretty funny."
"I have my moments."
It's going well now. Not talking about being an author and the down and out reality of that (and the inevitable, "What do you write?" kind of questions, which lately I explain with, "Weird things."). Anyhow, I'm able to relax a little, and I do, trying to ignore the shit music playing in the background, and I note that there's no smoking inside the bar. All the smokers are going outside. When did that begin to happen? I haven't been locked up for that long. In fact, when was the last time I saw someone smoking inside a bar?
"So, are you seeing anyone?"
Fuck the smokers.
"Me? No. You?"
She holds up her hand and, yes, sure enough, there's a ring. It looks like most rings to me.
"Who you married to?"
"Over there." She points to the guy talking to L. "Five years now."
"So, how come you're asking if I'm single then?"
"I work at a dating agency."
This is really not going in any direction I thought it would.
"I help people find people, y'know? What do you look for in a girl?"
"I like them to be nice to me."
She laughs. "No, I mean, do you like tall girls, short girls? Asian? Indian? White? Tell me what you look for. I'll help you out. For free. No cost. You can meet a nice girl, you know?"
"What's so funny?" she asks.
"I've never had a girl try to pick me up for her dating agency before."