submit or we will hog your bog!

She gives you a dossier, fifteen minutes into your first dinner date, clearly spelling out the possibilities available in this relationship. Hold me only around the rib cage.  Kiss me, but no tongue until the third date. Kill me with kindness. Thrill me by not having to ask how I'm feeling. The print is bold, dark blue Times New Roman, 14 Font, italicized and underlined wherever necessary. It is bound with a cover photo of her at a protest march, and a back cover medical chart of past lovers detailing who they've known, and so on, to verify her disease-free status.

"What do you think?" she asks. Her green eyes, puffy lips, and sharply pointed chin entice you. They distract you from her voice, which ends every sentence as if it's a question and drawls out in a flat monotone, dragging out the vowels in some words and biting off the ends of others earlier than necessary.  Her silky blonde hair meets at a severe widow's peak an inch above her thin, expertly arched eyebrows. She's silent. You ask if this is a joke.

"I don't have time for jokes," she says. "Let me show you my burn marks" She unzips her  jacket and reveals her T-shirt, a cranberry blood red background for a black Che Guevara portrait.  This picture hangs on the dorm walls, between Noam Chomsky and Bob Marley,  of every white suburban kid who comes to the city to learn about the revolution, to fight the power by selling copies of "The Revolutionary Worker" to passengers ascending from the depths of the Harvard Square T station, all the cultural anthropologists searching for where Bob Dylan played, Van Morrison lived, and Matt Damon danced non-threatening hip-hop for spare change. You met her there three days ago. She didn't offer you a magazine because she knew you'd been there and done that, but you approached her.  Now she was talking about burn marks. 

"Look, it's not like I can't get a man," she says. "I mean, I am still pretty well preserved for thirty-seven." She gestures down towards her ample bosom and wide hips like an auto convention spokesmodel.  Pause to soak in the silence, the artificial Italian ambience of "Bertucci's," where you're both eating dinner in a dimly lit backroom booth. "I need the best but I've been burned too much. You need to understand this before we start."

You nod, eat more pizza, and turn a page of her dossier. She will kill you if you get a drop of grease on it. 

"I've got no baggage," she says. "I'm like a Buddhist. I'm all about non-attachment.  My mother is a psychologist with a private practice in Brookline. My father runs a non-profit after-school program in Dorchester. I have been a dancer, a slam poet, an "American Idol" contestant,  and a milieu therapist at a school in Williamstown."

This is all detailed on pages fifteen through seventeen of her thirty-six paged presentation, with hyperlinks and in-text citations to other sources. She asks if these facts bother you, and you laugh it off.

"No," you tell her. "And I've got my share of skeletons, too."

You say that, but you really don't. You mention down times, depression, and try to elaborate. For every Elizabeth Wurtzel Prozac Nation moment she offers, you counter with an elaborate,  imaginary hard-scrapple poverty moment out of "Angela's Ashes" or the Bucket family in "Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory," a crusty childhood with four grandparents to a bed, sleeping feet to head.  You tell her you've been having flashes of repressed memory. Somebody somewhere has to have abused you. 

"But what's the point?" you ask. "One man's Purple heart is another man's broken fingernail. Rub a little Bacitracin on the wound and eventually anything will go away." 

She flips through the pages and stops at a graph detailing her worst year, 1999. She wipes some crumbs from a photo gallery of ex-boyfriends; the closeted gay dancer, the three hundred pound lead singer for a Bruce Springsteen tribute band, the married college ethics professor father of two who took the 96 Bus in from Medford every Saturday morning for three months of assignations in a musty studio apartment in Porter Square. This is the DVD of her life, with deleted scenes and director's commentary. 

"I don't feel like you're coming clean," she says. "What's wrong?"

You smile and then change the topic. "You're a hard one," you mumble. "I like that." She hears you, but it's doubtful she believes, or even is willing to give a sign of recognition.  It ends soon enough. She consents to another date, but only if you prepare a similar dossier. There's no telling why you asked to see her again. Boredom makes a reasonable man do desperate things. You both walk down to the Braintree train and enter different cars. Three months later, you see her in the distance, like a hazy vision of beautiful relief through a vapor of gas in the Nevada desert, collecting signatures for Hemp Legalization outside the "Border's" at Downtown Crossing. She gets you in her radar. What had been a cautious smile on her smooth face grows more wide and sincere as you pass within inches of her.

[Forever after at

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