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Lucky Penny
Because love comes from the strangest places

July 24, 2000
London, England

I believe in wishes.

More specifically, I believe in letting the hopes generated by common superstitions compensate for areas in which I have not yet succeeded. Why go on a self-improvement kick when I can place false hope in magic, especially when my fortune cookie tells me, "A romantic encounter will be at hand soon?"

So I'm looking forward to the next penny I find.

I pick up pennies (face up, of course) off the ground. "Find a penny, pick it up, and all day you'll have good luck." Once found, I opt out of the good-luck-all-day component to make a wish, like I may and might on the first star I see at night, if I ever spent a night where I could see some stars instead of incadescence-saturated New York City (and London).

Clutching the newfound cent tightly in my hand I formulate my wish. I give my wish a time frame, much the way I used to tell my friends my Magic 8 Ball would give a foolproof answer only if you gave your question an expiration date. Therefore, "I wish my Chinese food leftovers would stay fresh until after I get home late Thursday night," or some such. And I say the wish out loud; that way the higher power that may be keeping an eye on my life (no, and that's another essay entirely) knows that I did find a penny, and by golly, I could use the help.

Almost all my penny wishes revolve around sex. Never mind the Chinese food; I wind up posing things like, "I wish A----- would kiss me back next time." I figure, the way my sex life has been meandering for the last year or so, I could use all the help I can get.

So my next wish will be to fall in love.

I'm straying from my normal wish pattern with this one. No real time frame -- well, maybe I'll say "this fall" -- and no specifics on who I'm falling in love with. But I do know that the wish will have two parts, and the second one will request reciprocation. After all, my desire is to love and be loved. Unrequited love just drains the soul.

Deep down, this is what I want, and I'm not afraid to admit it, or wish for it. When my most recent relationship fizzled out a few days back, I figured, Hey, maybe I'll just pick up loose women while I'm in London or something. Feh. I haven't even attempted to meet anyone. So much for cheap love.

But staying out late while on a business trip in the hopes of finding some sad British gal with cigarette stains on her bad teeth is not my real goal anyway. What I really want is the exhilaration of love. That rush I get when I see her, hear her, talk to her, feel her. The way she awakens my mind, my heart, the obscure nerve endings that tingle when she brushes against my arm or shoulder or knee. The swell of emotion when I wake up in the morning and look to my side and there she is, curled into a ball or nestled into the soft part between my shoulder and chest, with just a hint of an upward turn on her lips, silently conveying that when she wakes up, she'll look at me and smile, as if our waking up together makes the day complete. Which it does.

I want to sweep her off her feet. I want to buy flowers. I want to open doors and order both our meals. I want to make a joyous fuss. I want to try and cook dinner for two. I want to rent bad "date" movies under true and false pretenses. I want to discuss the minutiae of my day and listen intently to hers and absorb without just -- as it was so eloquently stated in "Fight Club" -- waiting for my turn to talk. I want to snuggle.

So I look forward to my next penny, clinging to the notion that spare change is going to make the difference. I'm sure that I will meet someone through more conventional means -- another friend of a friend, a connection through a coworker, a blind date from who knows where, or maybe I'll drop my carton of milk on my future wife's foot in the Food Emporium after all -- but in the interim, pennies it is. Somehow, in the back of my mind, I like to think that it might help.

Nothing like resting one's hopes on a yet-to-be-found piece of copper-tinted zinc. Maybe I should just order more Chinese food.


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