Excuse me, but do I have a spare cigarette?  No, I don’t.  Well, then, do I have a match so she can light the cigarette she already has in her mouth?  No, I don’t have that, either.  She walks down the stairs anyway, a little uneasily, and strolls along beside me. Do I want some company then?  What kind of company does she mean?  The friendly kind, she says, and I feel her hand touch my wrist.  The question she asked and the answer she gave float through my head.  Doesn’t everyone want company? I think to myself, especially the friendly kind?  But I don’t think that that’s what she wants to hear.  I’m not a wise guy, and I don’t want to be rude. Instead, I smile dumbly.  Finally, she explained her interested more clearly. I was thinking of a photograph by Brassai, and Parisian women with thick calves who stood under lamplights smoking cigarettes in the 1930’s when she asks me if I want to have sex? And I don’t know how to answer.  It’s really a very loaded question.


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