Call the writer “quirky”: It comes as no surprise to her. We know what we are; organisms just enough like our peers to pass as normal, but separate. Apart. In full knowledge of the fact that our seeming-normalcy is a pretense and a disguise.

In the pursuit if character, I am capable of feats of mental stalking that, exercised in the world, would put me in jail. I possess the infinite capacity to fall in love with strangers. I carry photos gleaned off the internet as points of reference. I can extrapolate a person’s entire nature from a few moments’ exposure. Mine is a joy that dances on the head of a pin.

A confession, this….

There is, in my current acquaintance, a man who is truly one of the most beautiful male beings of my experience, past or present. His is a charm magnified by a seeming refusal to acknowledge how extraordinarily beautiful he is.  Well-mannered, well-humored, even-tempered, an exemplary husband and father (at least by reputation), he has become the physical model for my title character. I do not know him, but I think the world of him. And adoration will avail me nothing.

Understand, I don’t expect it to. I do not—not even in wild, private fantasy—expect anything more than passing courtesy from a person who will never be a friend; who will never sit and talk and share with me. And that’s where the writer disconnects from reality.

The conversations I want—need—to have are simply unavailable to me. The emotional pickpocketing that would let me capture a reaction, a thought, a feeling are not within my right to request. In a perfect, nonjudgmental life, I would sit this lovely man down and question him about his regard of himself; his understanding about his place in the world, his thoughts about what happens around him. In my rarefied neighborhood, this is not an unreasonable curiosity…but in the “normal” world it would get me branded as a dangerous eccentric and harasser, not the innocent and well-meaning eccentric I am.

One does not approach another person saying “I want to pick your brain.” One does not spend time collecting secret glances in order to fix a mental image of how an eye crinkles just so, or a smile takes over, or a concern passes in a momentary cloud…or what makes that person weep or laugh. Well-socialized humans simply do not act this way. The honesty of our emotions—even innocent ones—is not acceptable public coin.

I don’t want to got all creepy over you, I want to say; I just want to borrow your brain for a few minutes. Not a nasty want, like a foot fetish or the want of someone who climbs the wall into a celebrity’s garden, or the acts of a teenage boy holding up a pinup poster with one hand. This is an odd thing, but an easy one to excuse. And the fact that it cannot, will not, come to fruition is my loss. And my regret.

As a writer, engaged in the perpetual collection of souls, I wish this one thing for myself: the courage to be truly insane. And the bail money to get me out of stir should I dare to exercise my curiosity.

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