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Incredibly Miserably
 

    The pathetic man knows the impossible woman.  He admits to himself the impossibility.  He believes, however, that her impossibleness directly correlates to his patheticness, i.e. the reason she is impossible to him, and he fails to acknowledge her non-existence.  Mistaking what he may consider any agreeable woman for an impossible and therefore inaccessible woman, the pathetic man condemns himself to loneliness.  The pathetic man, instead, settles into a worn saddle-brown cushioned barstool.  The pathetic man intently follows the vision of man-made beauty as she bounces around with her girlfriends, bumping, setting, and spiking the volleyball.

    Such is the scene commanding the attention of the few men huddled around the bar, already three or so pints into their day, though the sun shines brightly above their stooped backs.

    Phil sits up straighter, comfortably distant.  He pictures in his mind how he would look, sitting there, as if someone might suddenly choose to observe and study him, and he feels obligated to make himself more presentable.  He imagines the woman looking at him, neither approvingly nor disapprovingly- just seeing and acknowledging.  The thought makes him a bit fidgety.  He brushes his hair back with his hand, sniffles, and rubs his nostrils a few times with his thumb and forefinger.  He props both feet on the bottom rungs of the stool, thinks better of it, puts them both back flatly on the floor, until finally deciding to go with one foot on the stool and one on the floor.  He pushes the ashtray, half full with the butts of his Pall-Mall 100 unfiltered cigarettes, all smashed and bent into the ash, in front of the empty seat next to him.  Feeling somewhat more dignified, he allows himself to imagine himself returning her gaze, and smiles in different ways in an attempt to find the most appropriate gesture.  Too toothy seems dismissive and ineffectual, more of a greeting between two people passing on a narrow sidewalk.  Not to mention his teeth had browned and deadened from lack of care.  A smile with half of his mouth would come across as cocky and overconfident, when he would certainly want to show graciousness.  Probably best would be a slight smile, just noticeable, with a single nod of the head, which would serve both to convey his interest and to put the impetus on her to make the next move.  That way, she could only either amiably return the gesture and move on, thus ending the exchange without awkwardness, or beam back an inviting smile.  Phil looks up hopefully as he smiles and nods, and makes eye contact with a husky bearded fellow across the bar, who perplexedly nods in return.  Quickly gripping the handle of his mug, Phil looks down, and with his free hand pokes at the wet ring on the napkin beneath his Pabst.



 
 
___________ right