You sit in a booth by the window, waiting for your date with a mix of anticipation and dread. Internet dating has not been kind to you in the past—that one night at the bowling alley will likely haunt your dreams forever—but hope springs eternal. Also, desperation. But you try not to think of it that way.

This particular match seemed promising when the two of you were exchanging e-mails, but experience has taught you to keep expectations low. Photos tend to be a few years old (or self-portraits taken from just the right angle to mask an extra chin), and the wit and charm of a carefully crafted e-mail doesn’t necessarily translate to in-person social skills. Granted, it’s possible that you haven’t been one hundred percent forthcoming yourself. Throughout the week-long back and forth with your prospective date, you may not have gotten around to mentioning that you’re a stuffed bunny.

The fact that you’re a stuffed bunny hasn’t actually come up.

Of course, your last match was fine with the bunny thing, but couldn’t believe you didn’t mention that you smoke. That much you fixed; you’ve been a non-smoker for almost 72 hours now. And lord, you need a cigarette.

You check the time (still two minutes before seven, though it feels like you’ve been sitting here for hours) and then start absentmindedly reviewing the appetizers listed on the plastic table display. Sweetbread? Ew—isn’t that cow brains or something? The restaurant is a spaghetti house, and you never knew that dish was Italian. But then, the “deep-fried ravioli blasters” don’t sound terribly authentic, either.

Suddenly you feel a hard bump against the table, which knocks two glasses of water square into your lap. Yiiiee! You jump to your feet, grabbing your napkin in a vain attempt to mop up your clothes, and risk a glance at your assailant.

Sure enough, your date has arrived.

(continue to the next page)

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