It was a Saturday. Instead of going to my yoga class and doing all the other things I had planned, I spent the afternoon as if I was getting ready for a date. The greatest date ever. I took a long bath, doing all the extras. I thought about the man I was going on a date with while I carefully applied my makeup, imagining every aspect of him. I took my time picking out my jewelry and clothes, trying out lots of combinations before finally deciding on a skirt, a V-neck sweater I was usually too shy to wear, and heels. I’m normally a rather conservative dresser, so even heels are a big deal for me. I also put on my sexiest black bra.

It was late afternoon when I left the house. My ego needed a boost. Maybe it was pathetic, but at least I wasn’t deceiving myself. I needed to be looked at. I wanted to feel lusted after.

I went to the mall. It was packed. Lots of back to school sales had drawn the weekend masses. As soon as I went in and walked toward the Nordstrom’s, I could feel people looking at me—guys doing the slow over-the-shoulder look as I passed, and women giving me the quick up and down assessment. It was working. As I strolled past store windows, I caught glances of myself and could see I looked taller and more confident. And damn, I really did look pretty good.

I went to the stores that were the most crowded, brushing past people, collecting bits of incidental contact. I went into the Apple store and flirted with an older guy across the table as I pretended I didn’t understand how the latest iPad worked, even though I work as a computer programmer. He came around and stood next to me, showing me how to use it. “Don’t listen to the people that work here,” he whispered to me. “They don’t know anything. Especially the Genius Bar idiots. Here, I’ll show you.” I leaned over slightly as he tried to dazzle me, my shoulder brushing him. I could see him steal glances down my sweater in the screens reflection. When he casually put a hand on my lower back, I pretended to get a phone call and slipped away, mouthing him an apology.

After a couple of hours, I was tired of walking and my feet hurt. I wasn’t used to heels. But I was feeling pretty good. A bit foolish maybe, but I consoled myself that at least I didn’t just stay home and feel sorry for myself. I did something, desperate and needy as it was. I figured now I could go home and make myself a nice dinner. And maybe watch some TV. And eat some ice cream. Shit.

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