In a fucked-up way, this was the closest I'd had to a real girlfriend in years.And the more we got to know each other, the more the sex improved. She started calling me every day, a half hour before my reading, when she knew I'd be out in the van getting my notes ready.Nicole would be talking dirty, telling me how she wanted to squeeze my dick with her pussy, and I'd just start riffing on some goofy shit: There was NASCAR-themed pillow talk ("Straddle my throttle, Nicole. "), and then sometimes I'd do it up in a stiff, upper-crust British accent ("Oh, God save the queen.
Then, one day, her number was no longer in service. A few months ago, my van broke down on the freeway near my house, and as I waited for a tow and the bitter cold edged in, I started playing that game I play when I'm feeling lonely, the one where I review all of my prior relationships, marveling that so many sweet, smart, pretty girls have come into my life and that I've found a way to fuck things up with every one of them.
This game usually ends with me calling two or three of my es and leaving miserable voicemails on their cell phones or their machines at home.
"Hey, Davy," she'd breathe, "how 'bout a quickie?
"In December the book tour ended, and I resumed a more regular kind of life—staying put in Michigan, playing basketball twice a week at the rec center, sleeping in my own bed.
I just wanted to call and make sure you were doing all right."That night, on the shoulder of I-94, big rigs howling past, I thought of Nicole. We should meet up." There was a long pause, the kind of silence you hear when the TV's showing footage of a plane crash or a natural disaster and the anchorman's at a loss for words. It's fucking freezing here, anyway."Ten days later, I was in Austin. This was the kind of girl I'd move to Texas for. I turned away and headed out of the restaurant, almost bumping into a guy on his way in.