Our Remotest Reader

Radioactive Beagles Here? Sure!

• The date goes a little too well from his perspective. He is dazzled by you. You tell him you just want him for a friend. All he can hear is you just want him. Now, every night at midnight, he is outside your window shouting, "Rebecca, I know you love me! Forget that restraining order and follow your heart!" That can't happen with me. The commute would be too brutal.

• The date goes badly from his perspective. "All I said was, 'Ralphs has grapes on sale,' and she goes off! She's nuts. And I'm pretty sure she's a lesbian." It could happen. The next thing you know, he's wandering the length and breadth of Orange County telling horror stories, and they become more elaborate with each telling. No danger of that with me. First, I've already contributed to a UFW fund-raiser this year. Second, I'll be two time zones away. Who am I going to tell?

• The date dies a slow and painful death. You know what I mean. Now you are haunted by the specter of an awkward, unexpected meeting. You two could bump into each other any time, any place. If you want to avoid me, all you have to do is skip Bayou Bonfuca if you decide to spend your next vacation touring EPA Superfund sites.

On a positive note, my disappearing on the morning of Aug. 26 doesn't just guard against bad-date fallout, but it can also improve an already good date. If the recovered-memory movement has taught us anything (besides how easy it is to send innocent people to prison), it's that the mind can do strange and wonderful things with only the slightest coaxing. Absence not only makes the heart grow fonder, but it also can open the door for your memory to transform me into a twin of the mountie from Due South. I believe the actor who played him and I share the same first name. It's not much, but its something to start the confabulation.

By way of concluding, let me say that until now, I have always believed that Dashiell Hammett was probably right when he advised against meeting writers whose work you enjoy. He said they always disappoint, and that just taints your reading. This case, I'm certain, is an exception. After all, the great exception to the rule in Hammett's own life was a commie girl. (Okay, okay . . . that last line was a bit much, but it's been a long time since I've had a date who would get a Lillian Hellman reference. Have a heart, and don't count it against me.)

And even if you don't choose me, thanks for all the help you didn't know you've given me.

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