He met her at a sidewalk café, where they drank coffee and ateblueberry scones under a large green umbrella. It was just like Parisexcept that they were in New Jersey and no one spoke French. On theirfirst date he decided to fall in love with her and be devastated when sherejected him. He planned to stay in bed for days, drinking Scotch, staringat her photograph.

"Comedy or tragedy?" he asked her.

"If it happens to someone else, it's comedy," she said. "If ithappens to me, it's tragedy."

He agreed with her. It was part of being in love. He was charmed bythe way she held her fork and broke off bits of the scone and brought themto her mouth. She was so precise, creating very few crumbs. He feltjealous of the scone and its intimate proximity to her lips.

He told her funny stories about his cat and his trip to Patagonia; shelaughed, sipped her coffee, and smiled with her eyes.

"A scientist in Rome discovered the gene for romantic love," he toldher. "I read about it in Science magazine. They can now do genetictesting to determine if someone is in love with another person. All theyneed is a single drop of blood or a strand of hair from each person. Theyisolate the genes and then splice them together. If there's chemistry,they can prove it genetically."

"Cool," she said.

"My HMO doesn't cover it yet, but maybe next year."

Beneath the table their feet played teasing games with each other. Itwas a warm April afternoon, not that it mattered. The weather was purelyperipheral; they had created their own climate.

"This is perfect," she said. "We should break up right now." "Definitely," he agreed. "Just cut to the chase: we'll save eachother a lot of pain."

"Exactly. We'll walk away with happy memories, instead ofremembering a fight or how you cheated on me with that bitch waitress."

"I would never cheat on you," he told her. He made a mental note toget the waitress's phone number just in case. "You mean so much to me, Idon't even notice other women. Remember that woman in the short skirt andhigh heels that walked by five minutes ago? I didn't see her at all!"

"Well, you'll grow tired of my idiosyncrasies," she said. "I spendtoo much money. I speak Latin in my sleep. I clean the bathroomcompulsively. I can't make love unless I'm wearing white socks. I'mstrange."

"We're all strange," he said. "I created an imaginary basketballleague, and when I'm walking my dog I do the play-by-play in my head. Ieven keep stats."

"Imagination is sexy," she said. "But I'm too possessive. I'dsmother you."

"I want to be smothered," he told her. "There's too much air in mylife anyway."

"My mother is a nightmare," she said. "She complains abouteverything, and we'll have to drive five hours to see her on holidays.Even for the stupid holidays, like Flag Day."

"I don't mind driving," he told her, "when you're in the passengerseat."

"I'll change," she said. "I'll grow chubby and lumpy and my hair willlose its sheen. I'm prone to calluses on my left foot. I'll become staidand only dance at weddings. You'll want no part of it."

"That's okay," he said. "We'll go to a lot of weddings."

"Why are you being so difficult?" she asked him. "At this rate, we'llnever break up."

She sipped her coffee and watched a black pigeon hunting for foodalong the sidewalk. She tossed a few bits of the scone toward the pigeon,who scurried toward the crumbs and pecked at them with its beak.Coincidentally, on her inner thigh she had a tattoo of a black pigeon.This was something he didn't know about. Yet.

He studied her neck while she swallowed her coffee. It was abeautiful neck; her skin was as smooth as peanut butter but not at allsticky. It would kill him when she finally dumped him, the inevitableconclusion to every relationship he'd ever had.

She was right, of course; they should never see each other again andsave themselves the misery of a long, painful breakup.

"Okay," he said. "It's over."

"Finished," she said.


The final piece of scone passed through her lips.

He sighed. It was hell being single again.

"Since you're not seeing anyone, how about a movie?" he asked.

"I'd love to," she said.

He fell in love with her again after the first reel. They kissed, andwaited for their next unhappy ending.

About the author:

Chuck Augello is a full-time vegetarian and part-time Socialist living in Hillsborough, New Jersey with his dog Azul and his two cats, Homer and Chloe. His fiction and poetry have appeared in Rattle, NEBO, The Twelfth Street Review, Dicey Brown, and New Jersey Pets. His novel in progress, Why Won't You Love Me, Damn it?, should be finished by July 2005. Please love him.