she told me i have the most beautiful hands
she has ever seen. so elegant and graceful
with long fingers and perfect fingernails
always polished and beautiful, she said
and i smiled at her and said, thank you
with gratitude because that is what we do
when we receive a compliment, isn’t it?
compliments evoke in us a certain sense
of… yes… gratitude… isn’t it?

but she read in my smile another meaning
a meaning that she wanted to read
a meaning intended to confirm to her that
i am accepting your true intention
and i saw in her eyes
i have been wanting
but not seeking
and now i have sought
and i have found

and my smile crumbled from around my teeth
like aged cheese beneath the strike of a mallet
and this was not a crumbling evoked
by shock at her presumptuousness
but by horror at my own naïveté