"Have you no thought, O dreamer, that it may be all maya, illusion?"

Last night I was hanging out in a bar by myself, I was reading a copy of "S/Z" by Roland Barthes ( who, if what I've told told is correct, died while crossing the street)when a young couple walked in. The young guy, a kind of Bryan Seacrest-y type, sat down next to me and said, "Do you believe we just met two hours ago?" I looked from one to the other. The girl reminded me of Reese Witherspoon in that terrible high school version of Dangerous liaisons. She had red hair, and she was dressed ultra prep-coral LaCoste sweater over a kind of lighter coral LaCoste shirt. Jeans cuffed and well pedicured feet in flat black sandals.

They both had the large "I've been drinking" pupils.

"Yes, I believe it." I didn't know what they had invested in telling me. They sat next to me, and Seacrest-y simply had to involve me in the conversation. He was an attractive guy. He was reading the Stand. He took it out to show me. She liked more "intellectual books", although she declined to name one. They both loved the DaVinci Code. "You have to read it," they both exclaimed.

Seacrest-y was quite taken with his find. When she went to the ladies room, I asked him how they had met. He was a little concerned about how things were developing. "She's young. And I'm 27. I've been around. I mean, I'm no slut. But she's a good girl. One of those been with the same guy since 16 girls."

When he went to the bathroom, she revealed that he had been right. She HAD been with the same guy since 16, in fact, she had been living with him right up until they broke up 2 weeks ago.

Seacrest-y put some song on the jukebox for Reese. He came back and grabbed her by the shoulders, "I love this girl."

I, on the other hand, had been running ex-boyfriend gauntlet the whole evening. I happened to quickly stumble by Farm Fresh, then I was called by the Beast, and finally I saw one of the young Irish boys who abducted me last Friday hitting on two rather pedestrian bar chicks. (He did come out and try to pick me up-at which point I was quite cruel to him-not intentionally, but I was-he went and continued hitting on the bar chicks.) Here I was, no romantic possibilities in sight, and young love sitting right in front of me.

"Tell me what book I should read," demand Seacrest-y. I thought about it, "Damn, she's really thinking about it," he commented. What exactly was he expecting me to do? Write a sonata? I asked him a few questions. Frustrated by the procedure. He said, "OK name the one book that you think everyone should read." I couldn't come up with that either, but he said, "Just answer without thinking." "The Tin Drum by Gunter Grasse." He asked me to write it down. He shook the paper in my face, "You think I'm not going to read it. But I promise you. I will."

Then he went onto Shakespeare. "Do you know any Shakespeare because he's really deep." I began to recite a monologue from Titus Andronicus at which point he hugged me. I don't know why Seacreast-y needed me there, but he did. He made sure I wasn't leaving and went to play more music. If I was the girl, I would have been displeased, as she told me later-having just come out of a major relationship "I'm not really in the right place to meet someone right now." I looked faced Reese, "Listen, Destiny has its own schedule. Do you know how hard it is to find someone you can tolerate for more than 20 minutes in NYC? You do not say no to this. You just wait and see. I'm not saying marry the guy, just hang out with him again on another night." She smiled, so drunken her pupils almost eclipsed her irises.

Reese went to the ladies again. At which point Seacrest-y told me, "I really like this girl. I'm just afraid of fucking up. I mean I just really hope I don't fuck this up." I put my hand on his sleeve and looked him in the eye, "I'm going to give you the best advice in the world right now." He stared at me silently. "Don't think. You're thinking too much. Just sit here and enjoy having a nice evening with her."

"You're so right," he replied. He hugged me. When Reese returned he pointed at me, "She's such a cool chick."

By this time, both of them are seriously toasted.

And there I sit, with Barthes analysis of Balzas's Sarrasine in my hand. The story is all about how love is based on illusion, the revelation of the truth kills love.

And here was young love, in a bar with half light, the two of them half conscious-the bar thick with shadows and smoke (coming in from the street through the open windows)-two people, younger, more attractive, better dressed than I can ever hope to be bonded over alcohol and bad music.

And I was trying to help. As much as I believe in Balzac's view, as much as when I see a happy well dressed couple I grumble at them "That's right, keep walking," as much as I resent the fact that these idiots will be and are more successful than I ever will, I did actually try to help them.

She gave him her number and staggered home. He gave me one last hug "I'll see you around. It was great meeting you." He wandered out into the street. Leaving me, finally, alone with my book.

"Have you no thought, O dreamer, that it may be all maya, illusion?"

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