She reclined on his bed. He sat on the couch. Their dishes lay on the coffee table between them. He had made a nice Mexican food dinner for them; fajitas, yellow rice, and black beans. She leaned back on her elbows and fidgeted with a loose thread of wool on her sweater. He assumed a posture he had been practicing for weeks. His legs were crossed, his arms behind his head, and he stared at her, trying to look intense and laid back at the same time.

"How was the food?" he said.

"Great, great," she said.

"Yeah, Mexican food's great. It's quick and easy, and it tastes good."


"So...." he trailed off.


They both fell silent. He began to feel a bit self-conscious about the way he was sitting, thinking that she thought he looked ridiculous. He put his arms down and looked at his hands. "How are you feeling tonight?"

Her posture stiffened. "Fine. Why?"

"I don't know," he said, trying to maintain his cool. "I just thought, maybe, you know...tonight might be the night."

She sat up. "Jesus, Mike! Is that what this dinner was all about?"

"What? God, don't get so upset."

"Just trying to get me in the mood, huh?"

"No!" he exclaimed. "Well, yes. But, Jesus Christ, we've been dating for nearly three months now. What's the problem?"

"What's the problem? You sound like you're stuck in traffic and yelling at someone."

"No, it's...I just...God...I mean, I love you, you love me, or so you've said, and it''s just natural, you know?"

"I've told you, I'm not sure if it's the right time." She stood up and walked over to the window. She fumbled with the venetian blinds and looked across the alley. Dozens of other apartment windows were lit up, just like his. She caught a glimpse of an old Korean man kissing his wife on the forehead as she sat at the dinner table.

She jumped a little when she felt his arms wind around her waist.

"Baby, I love you. I don't want to pressure you. If you don't want to, you don't have to. But just give me one good reason."

"It'll change things."

"No, it won't."

"See, you say it won't, but it will. It's like making someone promise not to get mad right before you tell them that you burned their house down. Of course they're going to get mad. No matter how much you want to believe that you won't see me differently afterwards, I know you will. You'll think I'm gross."

"Gross? What are you talking about? It's totally normal." He swayed back and forth with her in his arms. "Come on, cut loose. Forget about that Protestant upbringing for a little while. Let me loosen that stiff upper lip." He leaned over and kissed her on the mouth.

"I don't know...." She turned to face him.

"Yes, you do. I love you. You love me. I won't think you're gross. I'll think you're human, and beautiful, and natural. There's nothing to worry about."

She found herself swimming in his big brown eyes. She had heard these things from other guys, and had never weakened her resolve. But for some reason, she felt herself believing him, letting go. He was definitely the sweetest man she had ever dated. Whenever he said "I love you," she believed it. Christ, she didn't even have to pry the words from his mouth, like she did with all the others. He had blurted them out as he dropped her off from their second date.

She leaned in and hugged him. He thought he heard her say something as she buried her face in his shirt.

"Sugar? Did you say something?" he said. She pulled her face away. She was crying.

She smiled. "I said 'okay.'"

"'Okay?' As in 'Okay, I'll do it?'"

She nodded. He hugged her tight. "You won't regret this. It'll be beautiful."

"I'm ready now."

"Right now?" He was surprised. "Okay, let 'er rip!"

She gave a little laugh, sniffled, and wiped her eyes dry. He watched her with anticipation. She took a step back, and let loose a terrific fart.

Her face immediately turned bright red. He smiled and crushed her to his chest.

"I love you," she said.

"He reached through the blinds and opened the window. "I love you, too," he said.