is that extra foam for me, or do you just really like your job?

“I think you just really like having a boyfriend.” That was one of the things c. said to me when he was breaking up with me.

at the time, i felt like he’d _gotten_ me. i was found out– my dirty secret. _yes, i just like having a boyfriend._ how awful of me.

i’ve had a couple of years to think on it, though, and i realize the correct answer to that statement is actually, “so what?” i mean, almost everyone wants to be coupled up by the time they hit their thirties. sure, there are exceptions, but in general, we’re pushed by forces greater than ourselves to pair up. as d. once pointed out to me, billions of years of evolution have bred the coupling instinct.

so yeah. i like having a boyfriend.

when i was in my twenties, i was aware that a game of musical chairs was being played. people my age were busily hooking up with everyone who would have them in an effort to locate someone compatible for coupling. of course, that wasn’t always the stated goal, but scratch the surface, ask a question or two about where someone saw themself in the future, and the couple thing was there.

the couple thing was there in my mind, too, but i wasn’t very adroit at the game of musical chairs. in retrospect, it’s easy to see that i could have done something about that, but i can also see that i made the choices i made for a reason. i think i was hiding.

i’m not hiding anymore, but i find i lack some skills that i really wish i’d developed at a previous time in my life. like the ability to guess whether a particular guy a) has noticed me or b) is actually gay and/or has no interest in me. and c) the ability to do something about it if a) is true.

so this morning i walk into our favorite local coffee shop and am happily surprised to see my favorite coffee shop guy working. not the cute manager that all the girls liked (who doesn’t seem to be around anymore), but the one who always wears a hat.

a few weeks ago, he walked into the store while i was standing at the bar, stopped as he walked past me and said, “cool shoes”. i was wearing my wacky orange Born bowling shoes. and then he said, “are they Borns?” as i answered him, i had three simultanous thoughts: “wow, i feel really complimented,” “he really knows his shoes!” and, of course, “he _must_ be totally gay. but i hope he’s metrosexual instead…”

more recently, sitting in the coffeeshop working on a web site for a couple of hours, i realized that he has fucking awesome taste in music. it’s rare that someone can consistently delight me with their muiscal taste, these days; even rarer that they can surprise me as well, and drive me to google to figure out what it is they’re playing. sadly this just never happens on the local college radio stations anymore. but this guy was kicking my ass musically for about two hours straight and every time i walk into the shop when he’s there, there’s some great thing playing that i have to think about for a moment before i can make an id. (the thing that drove me to google, if you’re curious, was bowie’s first album, which it turns out i’d never heard. color me totally freaking impressed, and it was a great album all the way through, which bowie’s albums _never_ are.)

so this morning, he says, “good morning” in a way that _could_ mean he recognizes me and is happy to see me, or it could just mean he’s in a good mood.

now, making a latte _is_ a somewhat detailed process, but this morning the dance occuring behind the counter seemed more intricate than usual. he was _working_ on my latte. when he set it down next to the one he’d made just before mine, mine had a perfect swirl of brown through the white milk foam, which was extra thick and formed into two careful peaks. the previous one was peak-less and swirl-less. i felt special. we smiled at each other shyly.

obviously, i need to start talking to this guy about music. it’s the natural place to begin. except that he’s on the quiet side, and when i see him, i’m usually on the caffiene-deprived side. sadly this seems to be a deadly combination and my hit-or-miss ability to make conversation with near strangers crumples every time. the last time i was in there, i tried to say, “you always play the best music!” and the words just never came out of my mouth. it’s a safe enough place to start, much safer than, “can i have your number? oh, you’re gay _and_ you have a boyfriend? oh, oops!”

next time, dammit, i’ll be ready. and if he gives me foam peaks, i’ll thank him. they were cute. like little foam nipples.