Tuesday, January 31, 2006

george “mr. lonelyhearts” bush

I didn’t listen to too much of the State of the Union address for a variety of reasons: I was on my way to class, I cringe at the sound of Bush’s voice and I have one of those MTV-generation attention spans you hear so much about. But I was lucky enough to catch the part where Bush said we need to do something about young people who “need direction in love.”

I’m pretty sure he was alluding to how God hates fags, but I like to think that he’s turning over a new leaf and will personally provide relationship advice to the nation’s youth, a la KROQ’s LoveLine. (And really, Bush is not significantly more conservative than Dr. Drew, who, sure, advocates the morning-after pill, but also thinks that anyone who ever twirled a pair of handcuffs during sex must have been molested and should seek therapy immediately.)

I like to picture a grandfatherly Bush telling wide-eyed, lovelorn youngsters, “You know, there was a time when I too thought they were writing songs of love but not for me. I thought that partly because I was all coked up. But also because I just hadn’t met a certain lovely young librarian yet. Laura. Laura was that librarian. So get out there, join some clubs—I’m fond of the Good Ol’ Boys Network myself—and meet new people. But most of all, be yourself. Do you really want to date someone who doesn’t love you for who you are? That’s what I thought.”

When I arrived at class, he was just getting to the part about how we should foster scientific development, but we shouldn’t genetically engineer crazy half-man, half-beast clones. I’m so glad he’s on the case. The Goat Boys in this country are really getting out of control. And I have this bizarre urge to date one. I sure could use some direction in love.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

“i always wanted to be part of a flash mob”

Meehan was quoting her sister, who’d lived in London for a while. She added, “But she was really busy, and she never found out about them in time.”

We’d just sat down on folding chairs at Highways to see my friend Claudia and her fellow Butchlalis de Panochtitlan in Teenage Papi: The Remix. A pink slip of paper on our chairs invited us to, “Butchlalis Saturday after-party/queer flash mob to Saints & Sinners,” a West LA bar.

“That’s the story of my life,” I said, thinking of my favorite quote from The Last Days of Disco. I’m paraphrasing, but one of the central characters, a sweet and painfully preppy white boy, says, “I consider myself part of the disco generation. It’s always been really important to me. I love the idea of a place where people can gather and let loose and be themselves. Of course, I was in grad school most of that time, so I didn’t actually get to go to any disco clubs, really.”

We settled in for the show, a fun, funny, NC-17-rated set of sketches about being butch, Latina, kinky and scholarly, and sometimes all of the above. (Think candle wax dripping over naked bodies as a throaty voice coos about “paradigms” and “re-appropriated masculinities.”) This was the remix of an earlier show and promised “more anal play,” which it certainly delivered on.

All of which sounds kind of goofy, but the Butchlalis, in addition to being a sexy bunch of butchas, have re-appropriated masculinity, giving it a sense of humor and a warmth that reveals, for lack of a better word, a really amazing and enviable sisterhood.

After the Butchlalis put their pants back on and took their bows, I turned to Meehan. “Wanna go be part of a flash mob?”

Saints & Sinners was already pretty mobbed with Westside semi-hipsters. Both the female DJ and bartender were well tattooed. I didn’t really think a bunch of lesbians would stand out here.

“Maybe we’re past the queer flash mob era,” I worried. “I think we might have to go to a different city.”

“Yeah, I don’t think there’s a flash mob happening right now,” Meehan agreed, looking around at the mellow 20- and 30-somethings lounging by the bar’s iridescent fireplace.

As it turned out, we never reached the critical mass required to call ourselves a mob. In fact, in the just-over-an-hour that we were there, I didn’t see anyone I recognized from Highways. Not even a single Butchlali. But Meehan and I had a nice chat about writing and dating and moving and spiders and Westwood restaurants, and I’m happy to say that that is also the story of my life.

Monday, January 23, 2006

back in my day

It’s a completely different world north of the 101.

Exhibit A: Friday night I went to Universal CityWalk. The last time I was there, I was wearing a green-and-gold cheerleading uniform, and my hair was in pink foam curlers. And while my fellow cheer competitors and I groaned about how embarrassed we were, I was actually really proud to be in such a big, neon place as something other than a civilian.

But on Friday, I was a civilian. Stephanie was the pro, having choreographed several dance numbers for the Anime Fusion Tour starring Japanese former-teen-actress-turned-singer Yoko Ishida. Yoko is apparently now known for singing anime theme songs and some of the songs used in Para Para, a video game that is like Dance Dance Revolution, but with arms.

I know so little about all of this that I don’t even know if I’m using correct syntax by saying “songs used in Para Para.” To folks in the know, that might be like saying, “I just love going surfing on the World Wide Spider Web!”

And there’s nothing like a brief glimpse into a really intense subculture to make you realize how much there is to not be in the know about: Big TV screens blasted rapid-fire anime clips, Yoko sang in a sweet, clear voice (I bet Jessica Simpson didn’t sound half as good when she was doing the mall circuit), girls in short skirts and pastel wigs busted Steph’s moves—and the kids went wild.

I fixated on a quintet of high school students who knew all the Para Para moves and danced with Muppets-meet-Pussycat Dolls passion to every song. The group consisted of two painfully dorky white boys (one with a T-shirt that read, “You are so off my buddy list”), a Latino boy with blue and silver patches on his jeans and a hot, bare-bellied Filipina girl.

Maybe she used to be a dork too, I decided, and got a makeover during Christmas break. She doesn’t know it yet, but this will be the last night she’ll hang out with her dorky friends. Soon some jock will ask her out, and even though she’ll only date him for a little while, it will be long enough to effortlessly meld into his circle of popular friends. She will still say hi to her dorky entourage, but she’ll find herself sheepishly deleting “Para Para” from her list of interests on MySpace.

As for her boys, they’ll maintain their Para Para fanaticism until freshman or sophomore year of college. In another time and place, they would have been drama geeks, rocking out to Jesus Christ Superstar instead of J-pop. But that too would have faded once they realized it wasn’t showbiz they loved so much as dancing, and boys. Once they get fake IDs, they’ll tear themselves from their computers and hit Santa Monica Boulevard, where the music is louder and the stakes are higher.

And once in a while, they’ll all remember that January night on CityWalk, where they danced so hard they didn’t need jackets, and so intensely that they didn’t notice who watched, but hoped everyone would.

Exhibit B: Saturday, I accompanied Sara to her coworker’s Tupperware party in North Hills. Actually, it was a Pampered Chef party, which is the same thing but without the camp value or reseal-able containers.

I think she took me along to prove to herself that, even though she bought a cherry pitter and an ice cream sandwich maker, she was attending this thing ironically. And even though I bought a batter bowl and a 10” stainless steel whisk, I assured her this was totally ironic.

Our “consultant,” Jody, demonstrated how to make a chicken-salad-in-blanket dish that seemed to have been designed specifically to require as many Pampered Chef products as possible. As she explained the ingeniousness of each product, I began to sense a theme:

“Now, if you use a regular plastic pan scraper, you know that the top part often falls off. Do you know how many germs get stuck between the two parts? Our plastic pan scraper is a single unit….”

“With a regular can opener, all the germs that are on top the can lid fall into your food when you open the can. Our can opener unglues the entire top of the can and lifts it right off….”

“With a regular wooden cutting board, you are slicing wood right into your food. Do you want to eat wood? Our bamboo cutting board just dents rather than splinters….”

And that’s when I realized I wasn’t an ironic hipster at all. I was, in fact, an 80-year-old man, grumbling under my breath, “Back in my day, we ate germs and wood all the time, and we turned out just fine, dagnabbit.”

Jody went on to explain why the stoneware pans, despite general Pampered Chef germ-phobia, only needed to be scraped with their special scraper and washed with warm water.

“That way, whatever you’ve cooked before seasons your food,” she said.

“So will my cookies taste like fish?” someone asked.

“No,” Jody said, “it won’t taste like anything you’ve cooked in that pan before, it will just be better.”

After the demo was over, we barbequed burgers and hot dogs on the backyard grill without the help of any Pampered Chef products, as far as I could tell. Someone turned on the TV, and we watched the second half of Goodfellas, which I’d never seen, but which made me crave Italian food. Fresh pasta, cheese from a corner deli, a little olive oil. No need for irony, a Reversible Bamboo Cutting Board or even clean hands.

Friday, January 20, 2006

freedom isn't free, it's $100

College students will do a lot for a few extra bucks. When I was at UCLA, I knew multiple people who signed up to be guinea pigs in medical and psych experiments (though the one Cathy did involved drinking a delicious chocolate milkshake, so we’re not talking Stanford-prison-experiment stuff here).

Still, I’m hoping none of my Bruin brethren take this whacko alumni group up on their offer of $100 for lecture notes and tape recordings of “radical professors,” meaning, in this case, profs who are critical of Bush. Supposedly, their beef is with teachers who bring up any “ideological issue that has nothing to do with the class subject matter.” I never had an astronomy professor who had much to say about Monica Lewinsky, but literature and history are all about politics, and to advocate for some lukewarm middle ground is more dangerous and disingenuous than just holding a big Republican pep rally.

I’m a fight-speech-with-more-speech kind of girl. As my friend Annette, who brought the story to my attention, said, “If you can’t be ideological in college, when can you be?”

The right wing, which is still making jokes about political correctness a decade after the left has moved on (hello, PC jokes are so ’98!), is acting suspiciously like the easily wounded, can’t-hack-a-little-healthy-debate entity that they’ve always accused the left of being. In case dominating politics, business, much of the mainstream media and the aisles of Wal-Mart isn’t enough, now they need to take over college classrooms too.

I won’t pretend that many of my UCLA profs weren’t left-leaning. And I won’t pretend that, had I gone to Bob Jones University, my politics would have been the same as they are now. So yeah, they were biased and they influenced me. And somehow I got a good education and knew what the other side (or other sides, which is how we should really look at things) felt anyway. Good old Bruin Republican Daniel B. Rego had a solid and annoying presence in the Opinion section of the Daily Bruin, which, I might add, was edited by an African-American, Green Party-voting, Muslim dude.

So suck it up, whacko alumni group: You’re already being heard loud and clear, and your frat parties are well attended.

It’s just hard to buy that the group with the most power and money is a downtrodden minority. Whining should be the exclusive right of the actually downtrodden, but being downtrodden is all about having your stuff taken away, so why not complaining rights too?

Monday, January 16, 2006

please pass the non-sequitur

Yesterday a small contingent of my extended family celebrated a belated Christmas. Here’s an excerpt from one of our stirring dinner-table discussions.

Me: …First the colonists and then American corporations destroyed the land and local economies of a lot of South American countries, so now people who live there have no choice but to work in the crappy factory jobs provided by American manufacturers.

Relative: But America saved Europe during World War II!

And the sad thing is, everyone was sober.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

we met again

Of all the seven deadly sins, envy is the one I practice most frequently (though gluttony is a very close second). When, at age eight, I was in beginning gymnastics, the last few minutes of class were always painful because the advanced-class kids would start arriving: I watched them trickle in with their sporty leotards and I-can-do-a-back-handspring-without-a-spot posture, and nearly melted with jealousy.

So it was no easy task for me to go to Friday night’s reading of We Should Never Meet by Aimee Phan at the Beverly Hills Public Library. Aimee and I used to work together at the UCLA Daily Bruin. She’s really smart. She could probably do a great back-handspring if she wanted to. And now she has an MFA from Iowa and a book from a major press.

But sometimes we are rewarded for triumphing over temptation (the temptation in this case being to stay home, eat gluttonous snacks and pretend like my peer was not wildly successful; “wildly successful” in the literary world meaning that she’s still less famous than that guy from my high school who was on TNBC’s City Guys).

We Should Never Meet, a collection of connected stories about the children of Operation Babylift in Vietnam, is the kind of book that can make you forget about your own dumb non-problems: it features intense situations, sharp but un-flashy prose and characters that are familiar enough to make you think, “Oh, I know exactly what type of person she’s talking about,” yet are still distinctly individual.

Her characters include gang members, shoplifters, over-achievers and aid workers. As a fiction writer, I should know that not all writing is autobiographical (at the same time that all writing is autobiographical), but I nevertheless found myself thinking, “Wow, I wonder if Aimee hung out with a gang in high school.” Her writing is that convincing.

And it’s good to be reminded that fiction is fiction. Also that I don’t know her all that well, and she could be a gang member, really. But probably not.

This series features actors reading authors’ stories, which is an interesting twist on the typical reading format, but despite four different voices and a couple of good performances, the thing ran almost three hours long. Which is about two hours longer than the human ear’s capacity for listening to out-loud narrative. The fact that I was still into it by story number four is a testament to Aimee’s writing.

She signed my book at intermission, saying, “Oh, I want to write something really cool.”

“You don’t need to,” I assured her. “I know it’s impossible to come up with something on the spot.”

I know good writing takes time, and now I’ve got 243 pages of Aimee’s to look forward to. I may have to wait until I’m in a particularly non-envious mood to read it (and till I’m done with my current around-the-block queue), but I’m looking forward to both the book and the mood.

Friday, January 13, 2006

quiet revolutions

The tagline for Queen Latifah’s new movie is, “She always thought she was somebody…and she was.” Which seems to place it in the Person Who Dared To Dream Big school of movies, along with everything from Field of Dreams to Selena to all those quirky English films about frumpy old men who swim the Channel or float across the country on helium balloons tied to a lawn chair.

The big dream in Brokeback Mountain, which Heather and I saw last night, is to live on a ranch with your gay lover, and in the world the characters reside in, that’s just as crazy as (and far more dangerous than) riding around on an airborne lawn chair. Rodeo cowboy Jack Twist dreams the dream in spite of its potential consequences; his lover Ennis Del Mar wants to stay close to home and as close to traditional family life as he can bear.

Besides the film’s obvious revolutionary-ness (big budget movie with a gay love story at its center), I was impressed by the its guts in saying, basically, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. Jack is punished for taking chances, and Ennis is punished for not taking chances.

Hollywood loves to depict people triumphing over adversity rather than suffering under it, and amid the gorgeous landscapes and slow, tender scenes of Brokeback Mountain, it’s almost possible to forget how many traditions are being bucked, which is often the best way to buck them. (Pardon the rodeo pun—it’s a holdover from my days as an Entertainment Weekly intern.)

The beginning of the film features several scenes of Ennis and Jack sitting by the campfire—cooking, eating, pitching the tent, peeing in the dirt. It’s not homoerotic so much as homo-domestic. As Susan Faludi suggests in her book Stiffed, a lot of straight men treasure environments—such as military school—where they’re allowed to be nurturing toward and be nurtured by other men. But these environments are fiercely guarded because outsiders might see this behavior as gay. And while a certain amount of progress has been made in the “being sensitive doesn’t mean you’re gay” arena, not a lot has been made in the “so what if you are gay?” realm.

And so Brokeback takes a medium-sized but very significant step toward the “so what?” that so many of us have been trying to say for so long.

As Heather and I left the theater, she wondered, “Is this movie being protested somewhere? I haven’t heard anything, but I feel like it would be. I would be really happy if it’s not. I’d like to think everyone is open-minded enough to deal with this stuff now.”

“I don’t know,” I admitted. “I’m sure some rural people must be pretty shocked by it. They’re shocked to learn, ‘Oh, wow, people like us can be gay.’ But it’s also kind of groundbreaking in cities too. Gay people in LA are like, ‘Oh, wow, people like us can live in trailers and own only one jacket.’”

Good work, Brokeback.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

bread and shoes

I always liked Phranc’s music, and I was very excited when she did a performance/ Tupperware show at CalArts, but I just found out that she makes bread and shoes out of cardboard. Now it’s true love.

Monday, January 09, 2006

half-hearted hearts deceived

I’ve never read any of JT LeRoy’s books, but I always came away vaguely envious and annoyed by articles I read about him. Envious because he was a successful young novelist, annoyed because his over-the-top persona seemed to contribute to his success. B once reprimanded me—would I trade my happy childhood for literary success? Give a fucked-up kid a break already, okay?

There are plenty of fucked-up kids out there. Some of them are really talented. But JT LeRoy is apparently not one of them. What is most likely is that JT is the product of a San Francisco writer, her husband and her husband’s sister (who made a lot of public appearances as the allegedly shy JT).

Hoaxes attempt to make their victims look inward: Why are we so gullible? What is it that we want to believe? In this case, we—or more specifically, dozens of celebrity authors, actors and musicians—wanted to believe that a kid could have a terrible life and produce amazing art in spite (or even because) of it. They wanted to believe that the kid had done so in part because of their help. That way they could own a little bit of the ensuing success, and they could also believe that terrible things don’t destroy people.

I suspect that your average HIV+ teenage junkie prostitute is either on the streets, in a shelter or dead. There may be a few who’ve gone onto bigger and better things, but who wants to read a story about the teenage junkie prostitute who got off the streets and got a job at Quizno’s, now has a tiny studio apartment in North Hollywood and only smokes pot?

In America, we love rags-to-riches stories, but we’re not very interested in rags-to-slightly-less-ragged-rags stories. Stephen Beachy says this, and includes some impressive fact-checking, in his New York Magazine article.

I wonder whether Courtney Love, Shirley Manson, Billy Corgan or any of the other celebrities who befriended JT spend time at shelters and drop-in centers on Hollywood Boulevard. If they were so interested in the artistic impulses of abused youngsters, they’d know that getting a homeless teenager to write six lines of poetry is a huge undertaking. Sometimes that poetry is really beautiful, but it’s hard to write a whole novel when you’re being kicked out of your squat, you’re pregnant for the fourth time and all of your energy is focused on getting high so that you don’t have to think about those problems.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

sometimes you want to go where nobody knows your name

Today I went jogging in my new ‘hood. I jogged almost all the way to my ‘hood-before-last. There is something about not having a windshield between you and your world that makes your world more yours.

My other neighborhood-related goal for the day was to go to the market across the street from me. It has a real name, but in my head it’s named “Aceptamos Estampillas.” I’d been focusing on the bad parts of having a market across the street (it’s a hangout for folks in need of a quick beer), but it’s actually really convenient. And whenever I walk to a grocery store and buy just one bag of food, I feel very European. I discovered that it’s not just beer and Doritos—there’s a little deli and all sorts of spices, and paint rollers if I need one. And there’s a gorgeous mural on the side of the building.

After strolling the aisles and taking inventory, I took my four-pack of toilet paper to the cash register, and the clerk said, “Are you new? You were walking around like you were new.” I said that I’d just moved in across the street and wanted to see what the store had.

“Because this other guy came in this morning and he was new,” said the clerk.

“Oh,” I said. “Um, yeah, I don’t know him. Maybe I’ll meet him,” I added brightly in an attempt to show how enthusiastic I was about my new neighborhood.

Secretly, I was a little disturbed that customers’ comings and goings were so carefully noted. As much as I love the idea of the corner-store-where-everyone-knows-everyone, I treasure my anonymity. When the guy at Starbucks started guessing my order before I’d placed it (“Let’s see…tall soy hot chocolate?”), I quickly switched to a different “usual.”

So I did what any self-respecting Angeleno would do: I got in my car, turned on the air-conditioning and drove several miles to a giant chain grocery store.

Actually, it was Trader Joe’s, and, sorry, but you just can’t get Nature’s Path Organic Flax Plus cereal for $2.49 anywhere else. I felt a surge of SoCal pride when I overheard a recent transplant hold up a box and say to his wife/girlfriend, “This would be $6 in New York!”

West Siiiide!

(If you enjoy posts about the likes of grocery shopping, check out the first installment of Carnival of the Mundane

Thursday, January 05, 2006

my favorite kids!

I find people who go on about the innocent wonder of children really annoying as a rule (weren’t they ever kids? Or didn’t they at least see Me and You and Everyone We Know?). But, I’ve got to admit, today I found the innocent wonder of children pretty fucking healing.

The organization I work for sponsored a writing workshop at a school five minutes from my apartment, and maybe five minutes more ghetto. I parked across the street from the big, tan, fenced-in building, next to a row of trash cans and a broken TV with gang-style graffiti scrawled on it. But when I got close, I realized that the graffiti said, “Ariel is my favorite niece!”

I decided the day was looking up.

At the workshop, Luis wrote a funny piece about farting to make flies go away. Oscar let me help him put together a puzzle of Dalmatians in a bathtub. Shantevya and Sophia shot their hands up in the air and made that breathless pick-me-pick-me face that disappears from kids’ catalogue of expressions around age 13. Breana showed me her sticker collection, and I felt really honored to be the kind of person someone wants to show her sticker collection to.

After being afraid of my community, and then feeling shitty for being afraid, it was nice to feel like a part of it. The really, really good part.

i’m okay, you’re okay, but that guy might be in jail

I’ve been such a jumping bean lately. Not in a good, tons-of-energy, burn-a-lot-of-calories way. I’m more like my cat, OC, who will sometimes walk cautiously up to an innocuous item like a binder clip, take a tiny sniff, then jump three feet in the air.

Blame my mood (I don’t know if free-floating anxiety is one of the 12 stages of grief, but it seems to be one of my stages). Blame living with a nervous little guy like OC, blame the disturbing prevalence of police cars in my neighborhood. (Note to Dad, if you’re reading this: I am sure they’re just, um, filming a movie about cops and robbers. A very, very realistic movie.)

And so I was determined to go to yoga this week, to zen the twitchiness right out of me. Attempt #1 involved a roundabout route to the gym, since Adams Boulevard was occupied by two cops chasing some dude on foot, gun drawn, squad car parked diagonally across the wide street.

Once I got to Bally’s, I learned that Monday’s class had been canceled. It would have been nice if they’d informed the chick at the shake shop who sold me a pass anyway, but that’s not how Bally’s does things. There is a reason it only costs $18 a month to be a member.

After putting in 30 not-very-enlightening minutes on the elliptical machine and purchasing a Dirt Devil and two CDs (
Dar Williams and Spoon) at Best Buy next door, I drove home. It was a couple of hours later, and I took Washington rather than Adams, but police blockades were apparently my destiny that day.

More U-turns, no guns this time.

By the time I got to La Brea and Venice and saw flares peppering the intersection, I was starting to wonder if I was crazy (which sounds kind of self-deprecating, but really, how egotistical is it to assume that all of
Mid-City’s crime problems originate in my brain?). I was relieved to discover that Intersection Interruption #3 was just the result of a malfunctioning traffic light.

I went to bed that night—or maybe it was a different night, it’s hard to keep track—watching my room turn dark, then light, then dark in tempo with the spinning light on a police car outside. When the room lit up, I looked at the framed shred of blue-and-erstwhile-white blanket framed on my wall.

My mom conveniently wrote a cheat sheet on the back: “This is a piece of the quilt that came west to California with Margaret Evangaline Paine [a great-great something of mine]. She came with her father and her new stepmother, who was younger than she was. They were attacked by Indians once and survived by hiding under the wagon.”

I thought about being a pioneer, about being in danger in a land you didn’t really need to go to in the first place. About interrupting the people who were already there. And yet, we all do need—in some form of the word—to do everything that we do, otherwise we wouldn’t do it. Margaret needed to come to California, and I needed to move to this part of LA, and the guy running from the cops needed to run.

I finally made it to yoga last night. Once, when I was upside down in downward-facing dog, I saw a guy running up the stairs and thought, “Shit! Something’s going down!” Then I remembered that running is what people do at the gym.

I breathed and I thought and I relaxed. I felt sad, which was a nice alternative to feeling anxious. I realized—in the midst of some sort of chest-to-the-floor pose—that what I really want is for someone to tell me it’s okay. That I didn’t do anything stupid, and that I won’t deserve whatever I get if something bad happens, and that nothing bad is going to happen. Even if things aren’t okay, it’s nice to hear.

Monday, January 02, 2006

silicone, saline

Yesterday I attended Terry’s Kundalini yoga/creative writing workshop for the second New Year’s in a row. Like last year, it was a wonderful way to clear my head and do some writing without obsessing over plot arcs and character development. One of the prompts involved coming up with a word or phrase and passing it to the person on our right. That person then wrote something—anything—on my word/phrase, and I wrote something based on the word/phrase from the person on my left. Cara handed me “silicone, saline.” Here’s the short, strange story that came out of it:

She was looking for solutions, so she started in the saline aisle. She felt safe among the pink pacifiers and folded dishcloths. The fluorescent light bulbs buzzed as unflatteringly as ever, but she could almost ignore them. The small plastic bottles of saline seemed to have dipped into a vat of prehistory that would now save her from this silicone world. A salty, still past.

It hadn’t treated her badly, per se—the world—but there was a nagging sense that it wasn’t her world at all, like she’d woken up in someone else’s living room, like Robert Downey Jr. had.

They all smiled from the tabloids, daring her to recognize them, or not to.

What if she just told the clerk, “I believe in time travel”? What if he said, “Yes, I do too”? There would be pressure to start something romantic and fated together, but what if they found out that she was half brontosaurus and he was all cosmonaut? The possibilities and the possibility of disappointment overwhelmed her.

She put a pack of spearmint gum on the counter and said, “Does the one-hour photo processing really only take an hour?”

“Yes,” he said, and what else was he going to say.