Finally Love said, “This song is awesome!”
“I figured,” I said. “You’ve mouthed every word, each time it plays.”
“Don’t you like Madonna? I’m a big fan.”
My date’s sex appeal instantly dropped.
“I’m not fussed either way,” I said. “But I’m surprised she’s still popular.”
“I think she’s going to be huge.”
“It’s hard to keep the weight off as you get older.”

We fell silent again. The noise around us emphasized this and made me feel that if I said something it should be important. Naturally everything I’d wanted to say felt important, because it would be about us and might lead to a kiss. At this point I didn’t give a fuck about full-on sex. I just wanted Love to want me to kiss him. It was such a simple desire, but so complicated to orchestrate.

I shifted in my seat, leaned on one elbow then the other, then sat back so he could see my crotch, all the while looking for a pose that might make the kiss happen. I knew one thing for sure: Madonna wasn’t going to get in the way. Luckily my vodka had begun to affect me, and my confidence expanded.

“Apparently Madonna thinks you’re hot shit,” I said.
“Stop it!” he said, softening.
“Love, Love, Love, Love,” I said. “You’re definitely as advertised.”
I paused. “No, you’re much more.”
“You’re full of compliments,” he said, clearly not minding. It was distracting talking to him, because he was so good to look at. I found myself trying to work out what exactly made his face so appealing, in the same way others have done with Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. Was it the proportions? I stopped being pretentious and marked it down to pheromones.

“But don’t you think she’s got a great voice?” Love said.
“I think she sounds like a teenage pig.”
“That’s crazy,” he said. “Can I quote you on that?”
“I can’t imagine anybody ever being interested in anything I have to say, but go ahead.”
“Did you read that somewhere?”
“In a book,” I said.
“What was it called?”
“What page?” He seemed slightly irritated, but at least we were interacting.
“One thousand nine hundred and eighty-nine.”
“Nineteen eighty-nine,” he said, suppressing a smile. “That was almost funny. Was it a good book?” So he liked our conversation enough to go on talking.

“I’m still reading it. In fact I can’t put it down. I read it every day.”
“Is it easy to follow?”
“Mostly, although it can be unpredictable. Amazing characters turn up out of nowhere, and occasionally they’re too beautiful to be true.”
“Oh, yeah,” said Love, disarmed. “I’m reading one like that too. I don’t want it to end.”
“It’s okay with this one, because it’s actually a prequel. So there’s already another that follows.”
I watched his lovely Adam’s apple rise and fall on his stubbly neck as he drank his diet cola.
“Yeah, but sequels are never as good as the first one.”
“Ordinarily that’s true,” I said, having fun with the metaphor.
“But allegedly this one is great.”
Love leaned forward as though he was keenly interested in a serious debate.
“Really?” he said.
“Well, no, not really. Actually it’s a bit sad.”
“What a sweet thing to say.”

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