CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, USA – July 3, 1998 – My subconscious was trying to tell me something.

She sat at an information kiosk – one of those help-yourself, walk-up workstations – in the lower level of O’Hare. Short dress, long curly blonde hair clipped back, long legs crossed as she intently browsed the screen.

I had been sleeping, upstairs, on a bench near my gate, during an early-morning, three-hour layover from LA to DC. Groggy, I was wandering around trying to find a clock so I could set my watch to the correct time and timezone when I passed by her.

A stunning cross between Daryl Hannah and Denise Crosby, I don’t think she saw me as I approached. But I couldn’t avert my eyes, and I felt that old mix of excitement and tension as I walked past.

I went back to my bench and laid back down. I tossed and turned, trying to get comfortable, but couldn’t sleep. After a few minutes, I sat back up, and as I rubbed my eyes, I saw her sitting on a bench near mine. Nervous and excited, I got up to use the phone, and when I came back, the only open seat was near her.

Somehow, we began talking. I felt a little self-conscious about my slept-in blazer and night’s worth of scruffiness. Then we began flirting. Her face broke out into a beautiful smile. We talked, for what seemed like hours, and flirted the whole time. As we drew closer and closer together, I was overcome with an urge to kiss her, right there, in front of everyone at the gate.

So I did.

She kissed back and my heart jumped.

I wrapped my arms around her and we kept kissing there, oblivious to the world. “Eric,” she said, smiling and pulling away from a particularly long and enjoyable kiss, “we… we can’t do this.”

“Why not?” I smiled. I was intoxicated with her, her face, her faint perfume, her lips, her skin.

“Because… you already have a girlfriend.”

“I do not!” I retorted. I looked at her quizzically. “Who would that be?”

She smiled at me, head tilted.

“You know. Cindy.”

I was stunned. “What… how… how did you know about her? I haven’t mentioned her. She can’t be my girlfriend! She’s…. she’s… ”


The announcement jolted me awake on my bench by Gate 75B at Chicago O’Hare, and my dream girl vanished.

I got up to find a clock.

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