“There’s a difference between men and boys, Elaine. You’ll learn that with time, and that knowledge usually only comes from observation or personal experience with them hands on. Take it from me, either way, they’re frustrating.” She inhaled her cigarette, closing her eyes as she exhaled the smoke slowly before frantically putting it out and looking around, as though she had forgotten about the diner entirely. “There are some guys out there who make the frustration worth while though.”

“How many of them have you met?” I picked at the fries in front of me, taking in the small, old fashioned diner we currently sat in. With its light pink walls, and black booths.

“Three.”

I raised an eyebrow. “You’re thirty-three, and have only met three guys who make the frustration worth it?”

“Yes.” She replied, taking a bite out of her greasy burger, ketchup dripping out of the opposite side. “Men and boys are everywhere. Just like women and girls are everywhere. However, there is rare exception who walk this earth, far superior to the men, boys, women, and girls who roam around. These guys are a mixture of a child meets a man. The ones who talk openly with you about everything, and share your views about the subjects that matter most to you. The ones that make you sit up at night, anxiously awaiting the next time you get to be in their presence.”

Her eyes seemed glazed over with each word said, almost as though she was reliving each memory with the three boys who fit this description for her. I couldn’t relate to what she was saying, never having truly met a guy who could interest me for longer than a week, thanks to my low tolerance for high school behavior.

“Where are those guys now?” I implored, wondering why the attractive woman sitting in front of me was single without a ring on her finger or family of her own.

Her frown deepened, no longer on sunny memory lane, but perhaps down the path that leads to darker times. She quickly looked down, but I had already seen what my question had done to her. Pity erupted throughout my chest.

She had loved them.

And lost.

“Life is complicated, and these guys usually share the same trait of growing comfortable with their current situation. Not allowing anything or anyone to interrupt their everyday routine.” She shrugged. “I like to believe that everything we go through is for a purpose, and one day that purpose will be explained.”

I nodded, taking a sip of my drink out of the straw I kept poking my lip each time I tried to gulp down the sweet beverage in front of me. “You’re probably a terrible role model for me to learn life lessons from, you know that? My mom would want you to lie to me and tell me there was a guy out there for me. One that will make me believe in the beauty the world has to offer, blah blah blah. That sappy shit adults sell.”

Her frown slowly turned, her arms uncrossing to stretch out against our table. “You’re better than those lies kid because you and I are the same. I know very well that you don’t need to be bullshitted. I’m telling you my own life experiences, and my romances just so happened to not work out.”

“Did you want any of them too though? You don’t really seem like the settling down type.” The waitress came over to our table, unenthusiastically pouring more liquid into my cup before making her departure without another word.

“Not all of them. Two of the three were great to be around, but it never truly felt like… it. You know? The real thing. It just felt like being around amazing guys who viewed the world differently. But, that last guy really stuck. I wanted that to work out.” She took a deep breath, and I could almost feel her pain. She pulled her wallet out, throwing a twenty down on the table. “Like I said, life is complicated, and you don’t always end up with the guy who gives you butterflies and the utmost comfort, and every day forward is just acceptance and trying to better yourself for the next chance to meet an exception.”

I stood with her, following her outside. “Hey,” I called, catching up to her. “I think you should give that guy another try. I know I’m young and don’t know what I’m talking about, but if you really felt like he was it, then he’s worth the fight. Life is only as complicated as we make it, right?” I opened the passenger door, eagerly awaiting her response, so badly wanting her to find me to be brave and clever.

She only smiled with a closed mouth, looking checked out from our talk. “If only it were that simple.” She murmured, starting the car and pulling away.

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