A conversation after some events.

“This is odd,” said Scott. “A new phase in our friendship. I don't know what to make of it.”

“I was not in a good state,” I said. “You know, I'd been single all of three days, just dumped, and my head was entirely fucked.”

He frowned. “Looking for validation.”

“I feel awful.”

“Mostly I'm amazed you didn't sleep with her,” he said.

“That didn't feel like the right choice.”

There was an uncomfortable pause. “So. Are you and she—”

“She would like to spend time, it's pretty clear. I don't know. I mean, if you feel—”

“That's on you. I don't have any claim on Jill Travich.“

“That's the truth? I asked her, and she just shrugged her shoulders and said 'very old news' But...”

“That's definitely, definitely the truth.” He sipped at his beer. “How did you get together? When was this?”

“On Tuesday.”


“Yes. I ran into her. On 9th Street. She was coming back from the post office. So we went and got dinner, and then ended up at Great Lakes, and she told me she thought I was funny, and....”

“Well, you are funny.”

“So basically—basically, she just sort of grabbed me. She can be direct.”

“Known for her directness. Did she drink much?”

“Like six beers.”

“Which is entirely sober.”

“But not for me. And we talked a lot.”


“Well, I felt weird knowing about you and her. And all I could think about was that thing you told me about her dressing up in that cat costume.”

“That was quite a thing.”

“But I didn't bring it up. Mostly about her job. So then we went for a walk, and you know.”

“But she didn't go back to your place?”

“I wasn't ready for that. We made out by the Gowanus, though.”

“A spot for young lovers. Did a dead opossum drift by, encased in shit and condoms?”

“So I found my hand on her inner thigh, and the Gowanus had that smell, and it was definitely time to go. Alarms ringing. And she was wondering if we could see each other soon, said she'd been thinking about that for a while. Which, you know. I liked that. I told her I'd talk to you about it.”

“What did she say to that?”

“She definitely was for it. She said you'd be fine with it. She wrote me a bunch of emails with poems. She's kind of serious.”

“And you?”

“I'm not anything right now.”

Scott sucked in his cheeks, and then pursed his lips, sizing me up. “Did she tell you that she and I slept together two nights before?”

I closed my eyes for a moment and took a breath. I put my head on my hand, and then I began to laugh. He also began to laugh.

“She left out that detail.”

“Did she? That seems like an important fact to have in the open.”

“I can agree with that,” I said.

“I think I need to stop seeing her,” Scott said.

“That's probably a good idea. For everyone.”

He smiled at me, and leaned back, folding his hands over his chest. My face was flushed and I was very tired. We were silent, the noise from the bar filling our ears.

Scott said, “Let me get you a beer,” and stood up.

Left alone, I ran my fingernail along a groove in the table, unable to think. He came back a few minutes later, and put a pint in front of me, and one for himself.

“That's a Magic Hat,” he said. “I want you to taste it and tell me what you think?”

I sipped it. “It's not bad,” I said. “I never had it before.”

“It has a good flavor?”

“It's fine.”

“It sort of rolls around on your tongue, right?”

I looked at him. “What?”

“I'm curious about the taste of that beer,” he said.

“You've never had it? I'm your guinea pig?”

“Me? I've had a lot of it. I just wanted to establish that you were enjoying it. See—” he looked around the bar, tapping his fingers on the table, nodding at the crowd, then looked back to me. “See, what I really want to know is, does that pint of Magic Hat wash the taste of my dick out of your mouth?”

Slowly, I dropped my eyes to the table.

“What I want to know is, does the taste of that beer that I just bought you, Mr. Paul Ford, noted author, information architect, and girlfriend-stealer, does that beer cleanse the rich, thick taste of my massive, thrusting cock from your mouth?”

“You know—” I said, then slunk down in my chair. “You know.”

His pleasure in my reaction was total, his face radiant. “An answer is all I want.”

“I'm fucked, right?”

“No, of course not. I don't want to torment you. To be truthful, I feel this sudden closeness. Knowing that, that you know that the same mouth you kissed, around 48 hours before, that mouth had been fully engaged around my glistening and veined member.” He shook his head, and whistled. “And Paul, you missed something there. You really did. That girl has talent. And creativity. It's like something you see in movies. You passed on one of life's great opportunities.”

“I understand the situation—”

“It's fantastic isn't it?”

“And I have absolutely no room to ask for anything—”


But we can put a limit on it. Something reasonable.”

“15 years? Which puts us safely in 2018. I might be done by then.”

“How about three weeks.”

“Nice and salty, isn't it, dribbling down your chin?”

“Five weeks.”

“Two years. Can you taste it, all bleachy?”

“18 months.”

“That's fair,” he said. “I'll go for that.” He puckered his lips, and began to make lemon-sucking sounds.

“18 months.” I put out my hand.

“I don't know where that's been. Or, hey, I do.”

I said “Yeah,” quietly.

“I mean, you know?”


“I am just so glad you're my friend.”




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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