"The fog is wonderful," he said from the passenger seat of my Jeep as we sped through a town on our way back home. "I read an article on how hard it can be to recreate that visual effect - how the light diffuses, how the shadows are long and soft. The physics is actually pretty straightforward but to recreate an entire scene is computationally intensive. So there are some tricks applied to speed the process." And I glanced from the road to my colleague, an expat currently living in southeast Asia, and found him comfortably interesting, attractive and accessible.
"My sister is pretty sick," she noted when he finally let her speak. "So I wanted to go home and spend some time with my family. She has cancer and it's spread everywhere so I need to talk to her after this latest operation. Help my parents cope a little."
"Yeah," he replied, sounding mostly bored. "So you want to get a drink after we land?"
"My dad is coming to pick me up," she said. "Otherwise, maybe. Thanks."
"So you'd go if he wasn't coming to get you?" he confirmed. "Call him and tell him I'll bring you home later."
"I get frustrated," I told him. "There's just so much work and it genuinely is hard and he doesn't seem to be trying!"
"My impression," he said thoughtfully, "is that he has a good heart. He cares a lot and is probably trying in some sense but he's not very effective. So he gets frustrated and complains."
"But that does no good," I pouted and he nodded.
"I guess I'd rather see someone ineffective because he cares too much rather than because he doesn't care at all."
"Yes," I agreed. "But I'd rather see that passion translate into something productive and helpful."
"Fair enough." He smiled, shifted in his seat so his shoulders were angled toward me and asked another question to start a different conversational exchange.
"While we're waiting," she said, standing very close to him in the back of the plane as we waited for the forward cabin to get out of our way, "why don't we exchange numbers."
"Give it here," he murmured. "I don't want just anyone here trying to call me."
I blinked at them in shock. Hearing any more of his ridiculous chatter was just under 'eat a bug' on my list of unpleasant things to do and I was beyond surprised that she would willingly listen to another word this idiot said. He'd interrupted and ignored her problems! Prattled on about how he was too good for his girlfriend and how she should forget about her boyfriend! And she wanted to see him again?
"So I'll see you tomorrow," I said, sighing with sleepiness as I pulled in front of his hotel. We'd spent 14 hours together and he'd not irritated me once - I found him pleasant and smart, easy and amusing.
"Yes," he smiled and paused for a moment before saying good night and placing the strap of his bag over his shoulder. I pulled out of the parking lot and made a U turn to head toward home while wondering why I'd not asked him for a drink. Made some flirtatious overture. He was lovely. And I'd been longing for bed, but didn't particularly want him in my way when I tried to sleep.
It doesn't make sense, I decided. In general, I don't want to be alone. Specifically, I found this man utterly unobjectionable. Yet if I never saw him again, that'd be fine. So have I given up? Can one go for so long without sex that it becomes a negligible concern? Am I just too tired to devote energy toward romantic fantasy rather than dreaming of how it might feel to finish some of my professional projects?