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Suggestions "Oh yeah, it's nice to be out like this every once in a while," said Jennifer.

It was freezing and past one in the morning. Paul and Aaron thought this was the worst time to be out anywhere. However, Chris, their brilliant companion, saw it as the perfect time to be sitting outside a café, drinking coffee tainted with caramel. As far as Chris knew, this was what twenty-year-old intellectual college students, like themselves, did on weekends. He could always find a small group of them at a café's outside seating, no matter the weather. They were that small group this time, sharing a circular metal-grated table. They would continue being that group for about another hour. Jennifer drank more of her coffee. It overflowed with white mist, the same that escaped their mouths every time they talked. Paul and Aaron, who sat on Chris‟s left, stared at him who likewise stared at Jennifer. As his two friends focused on him, they seemed to intensify his gaze, as if they were encouraging him to study her. She took notice of the strong attention she was getting and sparked another subject. "So, who's up for leaving?" "We're gone!" yelled Aaron as he and Paul leaped out of their seats. They picked up their coffee and walked away. Chris followed suit. He could barely handle the styrofoam cup in his grey knitted mittens. The cup nearly slipped out of his hands until he firmly grasped it in his fingertips, causing steaming hot brown water to soak through the wool and burn him. Jennifer laughed. "I was just kidding! Come back here!"

Williams / Suggestions / 2 Chris fumbled with the cup a few more times and the boys returned to the table. Paul and Aaron had already reached the street before they turned around, hopes ruined. "So, um..." Chris said to Jennifer while plopping back down, "I never knew cafés were open this late." She nodded. "Plenty of them are around here.” "And... where exactly are we again?" "Hell," said Paul. "Friggin'... Purgatory," added Aaron. "This is Boulder," said Jennifer. She motioned her head towards a sign behind Chris on the other side of the street that had a cardboard cutout of President Bush with a talk-bubble saying "Leave No Orange Behind". The sign was behind a row of empty troughs that Chris assumed contained fruit during the day. Though it was night, the glossy placard was clearly visible under the lamps that shined through a light blue awning. "Of course," said Chris, "Only in Boulder." "That's right," confirmed Jennifer. A minute of silence passed. Paul could no longer contain himself. He pushed Chris in his chair and cried, "You‟re losing! I don't think that's what you're going for! Attack, goddammit!" Chris latched his hands onto the bottom of his chair to keep balance. Jennifer crumpled up a napkin and threw it in Chris‟s direction. “I‟ll give you something to flinch about,” she said while the little brown ball zipped between him and Aaron. It made it into the trash can behind them.

Williams / Suggestions / 3 "This lady," said Paul, shaking an index finger at her, "is a winner." He went into the trash can, retrieved the napkin, and started to write something on it. Chris now apologized to Jennifer: "Listen, I'm sorry if this is awkward. I'm terrible when it comes to choosing a place to go but I don't really want to go back home quite yet, you see?" "No, it's fine," said Jennifer. Her tone was assuring. "It's absolutely fine. You give me great company." They both laughed. Chris felt at home with her serious and sarcastic mixture. He believed that she did want to stay but that she probably wasn‟t as comfortable as she sounded. He wanted to take that information about how he thought she felt and use it to fuel something more tangible and readily understandable for both of them, but he couldn‟t seem to do that. Aaron saw how productive Paul was being and started writing on his own paper. This was the last evening Chris would leave the house accompanied by these two nutcases. They constantly reminded him of the one big reason he was out tonight with them—to witness them at the peak of their insanity in order wean himself off of their assistance, if their contribution could even be called “assistance”. He was out in the first place in order to spend what he hoped would be quality time with Jennifer. She intrigued him and he was compelled to be with her. That idea seemed simple enough. He couldn‟t entirely comprehend why she didn‟t mind going places with him. They had all been out together a few nights before, but this was by far their most bizarre outing. Aaron, who sat beside Chris, kept bumping him with his elbow while scribbling. His friends kept away from Jennifer‟s personal space.

Williams / Suggestions / 4 "Oh no, they‟re writing again," Chris mumbled under his breath. It had been a while since Paul and Aaron actually wrote messages for him. "Perfect, perfect." "What's that?" Jennifer asked. Chris just shook his head and stood up. "You know what you need?" Jennifer shivered. "Some warm clothing?" "That, as well as some more coffee. I'll be right back." "Well... okay. I‟m done with this one, so just get the kind that doesn't taste like crap." "It all tastes like crap," he said to himself. Paul and Aaron remained at the table. Chris knew they were preparing to hand him advice on paper. A long time ago, they used to be very helpful. It wasn't until he met Jennifer that things started to get noticeably out of hand. Their messages to him were once much more subtle and sensible, but recently they had insisted on convincing him of methods of action by tossing things at him or frightening him in the middle of a sentence while he talked with his potential new companion, causing great confusion. The more out of hand they became, the more it irritated him. Chris reentered the café. "What are we trying to accomplish here?" Paul asked his friend. Aaron pointed to the coffee shop‟s back entrance and then to the young lady next to him as he answered, "We are trying to get this crazy bastard and this legitimately born lady into each other's arms." "A difficult task, it is." "Not as difficult as ruining everything would be."

Williams / Suggestions / 5 Paul looked appalled as he played inside of Aaron‟s conceit. "How could you possibly... how could you even suggest something like that? Crash the relationship? It has yet to even really become one. These people, together, could move mountains, govern nations, change worlds!" "Uh..." Aaron glared at his friend. "Yeah, they could!” he suddenly responded, “Of course they could..." Aaron hooted, rocking back and forth in a fit of laughter, as Paul hopped over to the black metal trash can and stood on it shouting, "Don't you see? The power to create universes rests in each of our hands! The power to move the mind of one lady and one man into one is just a few keywords away! How could we possibly abandon such a beautiful opportunity?" Jennifer continued to stare at the other side of the street. She tossed the last of her coffee onto the ground and threw the empty cup at the metal basket Paul stood on. Aaron thought he looked like a deranged Southern Baptist preacher, with his eyes scrunched closed and hands open, shaking at the heavens with every inflection. Aaron blinked. "I think we're frightening her.” Paul got off the trash can and sat back down. "It would seem so, yes... Now let's get back to work.” He choked his pencil and drummed his fingers on the freezing metal table. “Keywords. Think... think." Chris returned with a single grasshopper latte. He set it down in front of his date and continued drinking his. "This better not be more crap," she said, slanting the cup towards her and peering down into the mouth-opening with one almond-shaped eye open.

Williams / Suggestions / 6 Chris chuckled. "It's the absolute best they offer. I bribed the barista, I swear to God." "Fair enough," she conceded. Chris loved her sense of humor. It mainly consisted of nothing but her making fun of him and him just taking it. Even when it didn‟t really sound like he was being made fun of, he could swear that her speech was dedicated to belittling him. He saw this relationship between them as a mirror to every other dating relationship he had been in, or so he told himself. Surely, his experiences weren‟t always so diminishing, but it was difficult to recall more empowering ones. "Here," said Paul, sliding Chris the napkin he had written on across the table with a swift hand. "This is sure-fire." He frowned at receiving it. This was the one thing Paul and Aaron did that he wanted nothing more to do with. They weren‟t going to just stop overnight. Even though she was a few feet away, he hoped that Jennifer didn‟t take too much notice of his now saddened complexion, or the fact that he was about to read from a slip of paper. If she did, she made no mention of it. Chris, knowing that he himself didn‟t have too much to say, decided that reading his friends‟ suggestions would probably be the only way to continue the evening. Chris recited, "„I'm in love with your stockings.‟" Jennifer glanced down at her wool peppermint-stripped stockings, nodded her head and looked away. Honestly, Chris thought, what on earth do you say to something like that? I’m in love with your stockings? Excellent work, Paul. How did you manage to

Williams / Suggestions / 7 put so much meaning and imagery into a single sentence? You, my friend, are this nation‟s true poet laureate. "Screw that," said Aaron, slipping a folded sheet of paper into his hand, "This is solid gold." Jennifer was now gazing directly into her cup with the lid removed. "„Hey. Ho. Let's go,” read Chris. That one caused Jennifer to look up and give him one of her frequent peculiar glances, making him feel as if he had no business being in charge of any one's vocals, let alone his own. He suddenly noticed that he couldn‟t really feel his lips anymore. "Okay," she said with a giggle. "It's the Ramones, I believe." "Right, right. I've heard of them." "Yeah. It's a shame. We've lost two of them." "We lost what?" "Two. Of the Ramones. They passed away." "Oh, yeah. Right. That's terrible." More silence. "Aaron," said Paul, "Paper me." "Paul," he answered, "Go screw yourself." "I can't pass this man brilliant knowledge without being able to write it down!" Aaron smacked his palm against his forehead. "Of course? How could I have forgotten? Remember the last time you wrote something down and how lucid it was?" He tore a sheet from his own personal pad and stuffed it into Paul‟s hand. Chris shook his head. These guys were pathetic.

Williams / Suggestions / 8 "What's the matter?" asked Jennifer. "Nothing," said Chris. "It is a little cold out here, though. Maybe this wasn‟t the best spot for the evening. Then again, this was my idea, wasn't it?" "It was," she answered. "So I guess I'll have to put up with it." "Damn straight.” She laughed her comment off and then said, "No, no. We can go somewhere else if you want." "Really?" Chris regretted not attempting to change their location earlier. All timid people suffer. His ears, as he covered them with his soft mittens were two foreign flaps of skin. He knew they would still be attached tomorrow, but at that moment he could have been convinced otherwise. "Well, then surely there's some other place to waste a few more hours,” said Chris. "Uh..." began Paul, getting up from the table in order to stand behind Chris. He slapped his hands down onto his pal‟s shoulders, "Big negativo on that one, my man. This place is chock full of magic. We‟ve got a lot more for you to say, you know?" "Actually, I am getting kind of sleepy," said Jennifer, followed by a yawn. The evening was ending. "We should head back home, shouldn't we?" said Chris. "Yeah. That's not a bad idea." "Dude," said Paul, scribbling furiously, "Wait." He finished writing and handed the sheet to Chris. He read: "„Daybreak. I don't like it.‟"

Williams / Suggestions / 9 He gasped and his eyes lit up with fire. It warmed him instantly and he looked at Jennifer. His face could hardly hold his gigantic smile of snow-white teeth. The look was so infectious that Jennifer started to grin. "What?" she asked. "Do you know what that's from?" he said, stabbing his index finger at the paper. "Do you know who said that?" "Who said what?" She looked where he was pointing to. "„Daybreak. I don't like it,‟" he sang. He bent towards Jennifer, inches away from her face. He said to her in a slow, soft and intense voice, "I am in love with Kim Deal." Jennifer leaned back. She nodded, obviously nervous and uncomfortable. As she nodded, she reminded him of one of those head bobbing figures people put on their dashboards. "Okay. Sounds great. I really think we should head home." "Wait," said Aaron, "One more. This will get you in and out of her pants tonight for certain.” He passed the paper to Chris. Aaron had written something so perverted and out of place that he decided not to say it. He held the sheet down below his waist at his crotch. What he viewed repulsed him and he stared at it for some time. "See something you like down there?" asked Jennifer. Hoping to share the joke, Chris laughed. "No, sorry. I've just got a lot on my mind this evening." She showed no expression of displeasure, but he heard humor in her voice. Just a little while longer and the night would end. "Maybe you should rest, too," she suggested. “I know I need to.” "Absolutely," Chris agreed. "Let's go then."

Williams / Suggestions / 10 They abandoned their drinks and headed back to the car. His frustration was far past boiled-over. It was a volcanic eruption. He could not believe what Aaron had suggested him to say and Aaron knew how much he would find it upsetting. That was the type of comment a crass man might say to a hooker or that he himself might say to a girl as a joke if he had known her for a couple of years, but not to someone with whom he had virtually no connection and wanted to create one. Chris now knew that nothing had been accomplished this evening. "Did you have fun?" Chris asked. "Yeah," said Jennifer, "I did. I've never done anything like this before." "I bet you fifty bucks she has," said Paul to Aaron. Chris waved his hand at them, motioning for them to be silent. Jennifer saw this and waved back, once again eyeing him oddly. "You're a crazy kid, Chris. Really though, thanks for bringing me out here." Paul, with his last remaining sheet of paper, wrote down the words "any time" and handed it to Chris. "Any time," he said. He gave Paul the thumbs up, congratulating him on temporarily returning to sanity. He immediately regretted doing so because he was sure that he just questioned his own sanity. "What's with the hand thing?" she asked. "I mean, I've got a thick pair of gloves if that's what's bothering you." "No," said Chris, "It's not. We're good. No worries." “I‟d think that those huge mittens are warm enough,” she said.

Williams / Suggestions / 11 “Yeah, they are,” he said. He considered sharing with her their origin or how the liquid on his hand killed their effectiveness, but decided not to. "Well, we're at the car," announced Aaron. "It was one spectacular night," said Paul. He hugged his friend‟s shoulders with one arm. Chris didn‟t respond to his affection and Paul frowned. "I'm sure we'll be a world of help in the car," said Aaron. Once they entered, Chris found it harder to keep composure. He was pleased with Paul trying to redeem himself, but Aaron just pushed him off the edge. They had spoken enough tonight and if he let them continue, they would just become harder to deal with. He opened the glove box over Jennifer's knees and grabbed a black marker and notepad he kept in there for random spurts of inspiration. She quickly went back in her seat and held up her hands as if to show him she was unarmed. "Just remembered something?" She sounded surprised by how suddenly he darted for marker and paper. He didn't answer. He wrote in big thick letters that bled straight through the pad: "ENOUGH!!!" He showed it plainly to both Paul and Aaron who sat in the back. She looked worried now, maybe even insulted. Chris, as he cooled down, gently wrapped his grey lobster-like hands around Jennifer‟s wrists and looked straight at her. Her eyes were a calming dark brown and deeply set within her face. Her long hair flowed a shiny jet black from under her green and white-striped bobble hat. He spoke to her while keeping his friends in his peripheral vision.

Williams / Suggestions / 12 "I'm not used to being out this late and the sleep deprivation thing is catching up with me. I need to go back home and so do you." "Okay." She slowly nodded. Paul and Aaron were silent all the way back. As soon as they arrived, she jumped out of the car and shut the door. Chris had a slight hankering to walk her to the front door. He had just silenced his sources of crucial decision-making and so he just sat there instead and made sure she got into the house all right. When she disappeared forever into the bright yellow-white rectangle of her house‟s entrance, his buddies found opportunity to talk. "What the hell was that?" asked Aaron. Chris backed out of the driveway and smiled. "There's not a damn productive thing that ever comes out of any of your minds." "Look who's talking," said Paul. Chris was suddenly in a good mood. It had been a while since he last just sat and talked to his good friends. "I come to you guys for advice. I don't even come to you. You bombard me with it and it's all worthless." "Well, actually... it is you that is worthless," said Aaron, scribbling future oneliners and song quotes on whatever remaining scrap paper he had. They continued to bash each other all the way back.