The combination of lemon juice and chili oil tasted remarkably like muted ginger. It’s an interesting choice for chicken sandwiches, tasty yes but it makes me regret bringing the lemonade. As a woman in her fifties I’m supposed drink wine, always wine. I just don’t know anything about viticulture and I didn’t want to look stupid. This is worse. I thought it would make things more casual, less intense, and now I look like a child.

I wish my father had turned into one of those jovial, chubby bald men like so many fathers did, but he had to be one of those dignified types with a silver beard and a resemblance to Ernest Hemmingway. Now, whenever I go on a date it is at least a little creepy, since I am not into chubby bald men. How are you supposed to respond to a strange man that looks straight at you and completely serious says, “I think you should have lunch with me.”

You say no, Camilla. Or you meet him at a restaurant, you don’t agree to let him cook for you and eat in his garden. It is a nice garden though, talk about that.
“Those are nice tulips. I didn’t know that you could grow them here.”
“Oh,” he says, “you’re not supposed to be able to, but I have a secret.”
“And what’s that?” I ask.
“Well, tulips usually only grow in places where the ground freezes, so I dig them up and put them in the freezer and then replant them. This is my favorite time of year, when the tulips really start to grow.”
“I’ve always been more of a fall type.”
“Really? But fall is always so gray and boring here. Did you grow up somewhere else?”
“When I was in school for some reason I thought you had to capitalize the seasons like you do the days of the week, you know? So I would always be writing Sspring, Ssummer, Ffall, and Wwinter. Eventually I even started to say them that way! People would tease me, asking what I did for sspring break or ssummer vacation.”
“What about winter?”
“Wwinter made it sound like I had a stutter, but ffall nobody really noticed, the f just sounds a little drawn out.”
“I see,” he says.

A huge, fuzzy bee lands on the palm of his hand. He looks down and slowly closes his fingers around it. When he opens them the bee flies away apparently without having stung him. I look at the clean white spot on his palm that should be swollen and red. This man—this is a very lonely man