Tonight is Nick's birthday and I have to make 100 cups of jello and 50 cupcakes.

Despite the implied connection of these two facts, my tasks have nothing to do with Nick's birthday, (other than it almost prevented me from buying him a beer at Teddy's bar on 65th and Roosevelt).

My cups of jello and cake are for my jr. high kids, which is another story all together. Stay tuned.

Teddy's belongs in a Coen brother's film. The wooden walls hold three televisions, pool sticks, coat hangers, and a vintage portrait of the beloved president. The spotted ceiling makes you want to throw pencils at it to see if they stick. The jute box seems to be stuck on a modest mouse and a johnny cash album. I imagine a male character opening the door, kicking the snow from his boots as he makes eye contact with the bartender whose been pouring his drinks for eighteen years. He grabs a beer, remains alone, and thinks. The scene is depressing, inviting, and humorous all at the same time.

Nick, Erin, Stephen, Jeremy, and I drank beer. We played pool. I failed miserably. But I did make a very important discovery. Apparently I've been playing pool left-handed the whole time and I had no idea.

Throughout our conversations of flying kites, med school interviews, Broadway shows, and why I was fiddling with four types of jello boxes in my hands, we paid our tabs and walked to the door.

I looked over to a table near the front window and found my character.

He was sitting in a corner by a window, pen and paper at his hand, eyes fixed on me. He was old and dirty. He smelled like a pack of cigarettes. His two front teeth were rotten and his hands were soiled. He had the most beautiful blue eyes.

"Whatcha doin?" I asked.

"I'm writing a poem. I've been writing for 25 years now." His wayward response made it clear he assumed I was drunk.

He wasn't quite sure what to make of me. I cannot blame him for assuming as much. Typically a girl like me would not approach a guy like him. I wasn't bothered by this reaction. It made sense in a way. He on the other hand, was drunk. His words flowed together gently and slothfully. To my delight his suspicion of me suddenly drowned in his whiskey or curiosity (or both) and did not keep him from continuing the conversation.

"I like this girl you see. I've had a crush on her for a long time. Her name is Crystal. I am writing a poem about her. This first half is before I kiss her, and then after I kiss her, and I will kiss her some day, I'll finish the rest here." He brushes the paper with the dirt of his hands. Four long, scribbled, and reworded stanzas consume the pre-kiss page. For some reason he already started the first stanza of the "post-kiss" section of the poem. I decided not to bring this to his attention. I was preoccupied with the shock of his response. I felt like I was talking to my jr. high kids again.

"It looks real great!" I said in my little kid voice that I use when I don't know what to say.

"You don't know that. You haven't read it."

"Oh, yes. I guess that's true." I was embarrassed. That was a very silly thing of me to say.

"I have a hard time picking women. I fall in love with the potential of the girl and who she could be, and I forget to see what is real, what is right in front of me." His eyes light up. He takes another sip of his whiskey and coke and is comforted. "I can never see what is real, you know?"

"Yes. Are you going to read the letter to her?"

"Not until I kiss her. I am going to kiss her."

I smile and wave goodbye. He had the most beautiful eyes.

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