Bright Lights, Big City

Once upon a time, you assumed you were likable. That you had an attractive wife and a fairly interesting job seemed only your due. You were a good guy. You deserved some of the good things in this world.

After you met Amanda and came to New York, you began to feel that you were no longer on the outside looking in. When you were growing up you suspected that everyone had been let in on some fundamental secret which was kept from you. Others seemed to know what they were doing. This conviction grew with each new school you attended. Not until you reached college, where everyone started fresh, did you begin to pick up the tricks of winning friends and influencing people. Althought you became experienced, you also felt that you were exercising an acquired skill, something that came naturally to others. You succeeded in faking everyone out, and never quite lost the fear that you would eventually be discovered an imposter in the social circle. Which is just about how you feel these days. Even now, as you puff yourself up with tales of high adventure in magazine publishing, you can see Elaine’s eyes wandering out over the room, leaving you behind.

A woman who looks vaguely famous glances up from her table and waves. Elaine waves back. Her smile goes sour when the woman turns away. It’s somewhere past midnight. Anything that starts now is not going to end at a reasonable hour. You think about slipping out and heading home.

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