Listen, contrary to popular belief, I am not desperate. Okay? That is just not the case. I mean, have you seen the picture? Granted it’s not part of People ‘s 50 Most Beautiful People In the World list, but still. Not desperate. Unfortunately, it seems as if some people -- some I know and some I’ve only met briefly -- have gotten the impression from these columns that my sole goal in life is to snag a man, but that’s just not true. You have to understand. I’m trying to write a weekly column, hopefully one people will read. And people are interested in things like action, romance, and mystery (which is why they make such good film genres). Let me back up for a minute. I used to write these e-mail updates to all my friends where I would just babble on and on about the every day details of my life. For instance, once I wrote about how this video store clerk (female) started telling me about all the porn the store carried, and then when I was like, ‘hmmm, really?’ -- just to be polite, you understand -- she suddenly narrowed her eyes suspiciously, and said, “Are you even 18?” as if I was some sort of juvenile delinquent trying to scam porn. And really, that was totally not was I was doing. I didn’t even care about the porn. I just wanted to rent Practical Magic, which, I know, is almost as shameful. But my friends pretty much had to read my nonsensical, pointless yet entertaining ramblings -- I would throw little tests out in conversation just to make sure they did. The general public ... not so much. So I try to pick subjects that I think will be interesting, like I said before. Only there are some limitations. Like I spend about 43 hours of my life every week at work, but I can’t write about that. It’d be unprofessional, not to mention, well, boring (Once my family asked me why I spent so much time practicing my typing, you know, because typing and writing look identical to the naked eye). And then there are other limitations, too, like how there is no mystery in my life. I know who my father is, I’ve never stumbled onto any dead bodies (I leave that to Nancy Drew), and I’m not an international spy (as you well know if you read this space two weeks ago). What I write about is basically a compartmentalized view of my life, edited to fit a neatly bound package, all for your entertainment. I just happen to have a long history of romantic mishaps that people find entertaining. Hence the slight emphasis on my dating life. That all said, I am going to share something with you. I thought what I wrote really wouldn’t matter, because (I thought) very few people read this space. Not because it isn’t great, but because it’s fledgling. Cute, even. I figured I could pretty much say whatever I wanted -- mold together a voice and whatnot -- and it would be fine because no one would read it anyway. Turns out, as is often the case, I was wrong. Like the other day, there we are, me and my little dog Grover, doing our laps around the building when suddenly, there’s cute apartment guy. Maybe you remember cute apartment guy, I wrote about him a couple of weeks ago? How I’m not stalking him? How I call him cute apartment guy? How I had some difficulty speaking once when I was around him? Yes, well, at the time of that writing, someone asked me if I was worried that he would read it. My attitude was basically, tra-la-la, it’s on the web site, it’s up for a day, what are the chances? Then that column ran in the paper. I did think about the possibility that he might read it, but I had changed some identifying details and I was busy and that was that. Tra-la-la. So when I saw him after that, I didn’t run away, but I didn’t say anything, either. He, however, did. “I read your column.” Shit. Maybe he didn’t realize I was talking about him. Then he said something about how I thought he was cute. Double shit. He definitely knows. Instead of lying or denying the whole thing -- I’ll be honest, I was so floored I didn’t even think about it -- I said, “How did you know?” “It wasn’t hard to figure out ... did you think I was illiterate?” He was smiling, but it was a tad awkward. “Uh, no,” I said, “Um, I just thought that I was anonymous.” Because in the paper, I was. Sort of. And then he goes, “I saw your picture.” Ah, yes, the picture on the web site. (My sister, on hearing this, asked how I could even consider the possibility that he wouldn’t find out. I told her I’d changed some identifying details, and she pointed out that really, the only details I’d changed were about ... my dog. Very clever). But surprisingly, he didn’t seem all that freaked out. I was way more freaked out than he was; he actually seemed pretty cool about the whole thing. Like, best-case-scenario cool about it. Regardless, I’ve learned my lesson. People do read this, and sometimes might recognize themselves. Not that it’s going to change anything. I’m still going to write about whomever I want, even boys (and, by the way, that does not make me desperate); from now on, though, I’ll just disguise them better. ( Mary Cashiola writes about life every Friday @ memphisflyer.com. You’re invited to come along.)

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