Pull into the gas station on 93 miles left, see a thick blonde in summer shorts and a cotton tank park and get out. Pull up to the pump and fumble for a twenty and get out, fart around for a second, I am in my own universe again at this point remembering the pump number and dealing with the morning. She’s coming out from paying for her whatevers. Give her a smirk. Hi. Hey. She holds the door for me and I go in and check out what new beer they’ve got in the cooler and prepay the gas and go pump.

I’m disheveled. Gary and I have had a weird morning, we’ve actually managed to get out and about before 7am and rejoined into the great big flood of people that is … well … outside. Whoever said “people are hell” was onto something. We’ve been dealing with people and mechanics and car repairs and vocally bitching to each other, even in public. I’m dressed in an oversized Price Is Right thrift shop and the dirtiest pair of shorts I used to wear to a very dirty job, lovely scars everywhere, hair unkempt, beard undid. I’m not a prize, more a burrito.

But as I watched the blonde walk up the stairs to pay her dues, I noticed those thighs, the small bruises and maybe bug bites along the back, the way they fit just slightly eversotoomuch in her summer shorts. And immediately she was funneled into Snack category. And I deemed, k, enough of that, wheresmymoney, and then she flitted out of mind and I returned to my base little world where only I mattered. So by when I get to the top of the stairs and the door and she’s coming out, she jogs the memory enough just to put me back into that place where I’m a little bit above and she’s a little bit below, and I can act accordingly without thought. And that’s where the smirk came out, and I think that was that.

I pay for the fuel and come back out and start to pump. A few cars have pulled in so to get out of the parking lot, she has to do a bit of k-turning and drive around a few pumps and detour around the far side of the lot. As I sit there waiting for the pump to hit my pay, I watch, since what else. She gets around the cars, drives around the far pumps, and then—

She’s staring at me. From the point where she could see me from when I emerged from behind the pump, she’s raised-butt forward-leaning sideways-head staring at me as she drives away. It wasn’t subtle.

I’ve never had that happen before. And it felt gooood. Right down in that validation pit that I didn’t know was as empty as it was. I felt warm from the bottom of my spine.

I want more.