A Forced and Inauthentic Smile
And beyond that, a sharp intake of breath before responding. The sharp intake of breath always signaled anxiety. It might be anxiety about anything. Perhaps she was making a professional sales pitch and someone raised a challenging question for which there was no non-awkward, non-self-serving answer.
In my case, the anxiety was almost always a signal that I was coming dangerously close to the line that separates mundane friendship from intimacy. It was like the old Lord Buckley sketch, where the protagonist comes upon a desirable woman by the side of the road. "Hey baby, it's YOU and ME, BEHIND THE TREE!!" The young lady replies "But that would be GOIN' AGAINST NATURE!!!!"
Except, of course, that if Tom Brady were making the proposition, nature would find a way to accommodate it.
I don't cast blame on her. She was waiting on a Prince Charming. An imposter appeared and ruined everything. She had to go back to rock bottom, and crawl her way out of it. This she did courageously. But there was no place for me, alas, in this, except as a sympathetic bystander and a chronicler of the train wreck. In the end she got tired of me even in this reduced and forgettable role.