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"How many women have you slept with?" she asked.
"In my life?" he replied.
"I don't know. Probably somewhere in the twenties, maybe low thirties."
"Oh, come on. You're the kind of guy who knows exactly how many. You probably have little detailed index cards on each conquest, filed neatly in both alphabetical and chronological order."
"How did you guess? Actually, I have a whole slide show presentation. You wanna see it sometime?"
"Hey, you got the reference. Great movie."
"It was okay. How come every guy loves that movie?"
"I don't know. Maybe it's because even though we all pretend to be sensitive like Art Garfunkel, we know inside we're really like Jack Nicholson."
"Most of the men I know do act like Jack Nicholson."
"I don't," he said. "At least I don't think I do. Well, I don't have a slide presentation anyway. In fact, you're wrong. I honestly don't know the exact number. I lost track somewhere in the twenties. Once, I tried to count everyone and got to 26. But I know I must have left a few out."
"The more forgettable ones?"
"No. Unfortunately, those are the ones I remember all too well," he said. "Maybe it's a subconscious effort on my part to forget a few. There's something very decadent about not being able to remember everyone. It's kind of like doing laundry in Paris."
"Double chocolate Mississippi mud cake smothered with raspberry rum sauce is decadent. I'm not sure a lapse in memory or reaching for the All-temperature Cheer does it for me."
"No, no, no. That's not what I meant. I spent a couple of weeks in Paris once. And near the end of the second week, I was actually getting bored. I was also running out of clean underwear. So, with one of the world's greatest cultural cities at my fingertips on a beautiful July day, I was sitting in a laundromat, separating lights and colors, reading a trashy novel. To have the luxury to be bored in Paris -- that's decadent!"
"I think I'd rather have sex in the Louvre. Now, that would be decadent," she replied. "So, when were you in Paris?"
"Exactly ten years ago this summer. I took the traditional summer after college backpacking trip around Europe. You know, the stereotypical trip that suburban white boys took in the eighties, under the pretense of finding one's self, but really to party hard one more time before entering the real world -- and to try to get laid in every country."
"I took the same trip, the one that was obligatory for suburban white girls. Only no pretenses. We were unashamedly and hopelessly careless, on a mission for passionate and chaotic romance. I wanted to find a dark and moody Frenchman. Someone to make love to under the Eiffel Tower. And before I moved on to the next country, I could whisper in his ear 'At least, we'll always have Paris.'"
"I guess I won't be the first guy to show you Casablanca."
"Not even close. I must have seen it a hundred times, but I could watch it a hundred more."
"So did you get the chance to say your line?"
"No," she replied. "As luck would have it, the only cute guy I met in Paris was Italian. I can speak French but not Italian."
"You can always speak the universal language."
"That sounds good in theory, but in reality it doesn't work. Twinkling brown eyes and a gorgeous smile only take you so far. We did smooch on the Champs Ellysees, though."
"What about the rest of the trip?" he asked.
"I did meet one other guy -- in London. But he doesn't count. He was an American."
"Did you make love to him under the London Bridge?" he asked.
"No. He was studying at the London School of Economics so we went back to his apartment," she answered. "Very conventional ... What about you? Did you get laid in every country?"
"Um ... huh ... no," he answered. "Only one -- Switzerland. Two if you count Amsterdam."
"Why wouldn't you count Amsterdam? Was she American?"
"Um ... no."
"Why didn't it count then?"
"I'd rather not say. I don't want to give you the wrong impression."
"Now you really have my curiosity up."
"I'm sorry, but I really can't tell you now. It's more like a fifth date kind of revelation."
"How do you know we're going to have a fifth date?" she asked.
"I don't. That's why I can't tell you."
"You're a real mystery man."
"I wish. My life's not nearly interesting enough to be a mystery. I'm just keeping my cards close to my vest."
"What is this, a date or a poker game?"
"Dating is a lot like a poker game," he said. "Both players sizing each other up, trying to figure out what cards the other holds. Each player wearing their poker face, careful not to show any signs of weakness. Trying to either fish the other in or bluff 'em out. You can try and guess what cards the other player holds by the way she plays them, but you're never sure until the final call when both players reveal their hand. The big question is how much are you willing to contribute to the pot to see the other's hand."
"Life's too short for that. I'd rather put all my cards on the table. If it doesn't work out, so what? You've had a good time and you move on to the next game."
"I'm all for moving from game to game, although the trick is to win a pot without having to show your hand."
"Anyone can be deceitful," she said. "All that is is thrill-seeking. I'm talking about trying to connect. I'd rather be with someone who's open and upfront. That's the only way you can learn and grow as a person. If all you're interested in is having a steady diet of thrills, sooner or later that's going to grow old."
"After about fifty years, maybe. But until then, it's Shangri-La."