"Do you have a punch card with us?"
"I should get one, shouldn't I?"
"You definitely should." And the next thing I knew, he was making confetti from holes in a business card as if he were the train engineer on The Polar Express.
"Here's one for Monday, and one for Tuesday, and here's one for being adorable, and here's one because I'm awesome, and here's one for you to wish on. Look at this: your card is almost full already!"
"That's a lot of hole punching," I said. I might have giggled. But he had already said I was adorable, so there it is.
He brought me my white rice, teriyaki, and edamame. And he said, "What do you do with all these books everyday?"
"I'm a writer."
"I knew there was a reason I liked you! What do you write?"
It is a gift from the fairies of writing kharma when I know how to answer this question in a way that doesn't sound at best made-up and at worst needy and emotional.
"Mostly books and blogs. Creative nonfiction. Slice-of-life stuff. Just my thoughts on things."
He pulled the green Pilot G-2 pen out of his shirt pocket and set it next to mine on the table. "We use the same pens."
"Because we are brilliant and those pens are the best ever."
(Sidenote: grab yourself a Pilot G-2 pen soon. You will want to sing while you doodle on everything around you that resembles parchment, because this pen begs to dance.)
"I'm a writer, too, " he said. "I have 137 pages of short stories I've been writing since I was seventeen, and I have a novel I've written for a few years and I have maybe three pages."
"You should definitely not give up on those."
"I think you're my new favorite customer."
"Oh, you just like my pens."
He returned a few minutes later with a marbled composition notebook that's very clearly well loved. He carries it with him everywhere, which is obvious since he had it with him right then even though he was at work in a fast food joint but couldn't even consider leaving it in the car. This is the mark of a writer, and we talked about the inherent neuroses.
I gave him a copy of And Life Comes Back.
"I can't take this, Tricia."
"You have to. I already wrote your name in it."
He hugged it. Which is what anyone should do when you give them something that holds your very soul, even if it is now produced en masse.
Because he writes science fiction love stories and our genres are perhaps slightly difference, and because I felt he deserved a warning before he opened the book on his lunch break, I said, "Hey, just so you know it's pretty sad at the begining, but it gets better. I promise."
He smiled. "All the best things go that way."