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a guy doesn't help a woman when she's climbing out of a bus with a box, it's just another indication about how self-involved men are, and a sure sign that humans have lost all connection to each other and that we're all screwed, all that neo-hippie Burning Man bullshit

A vaporous cloud of smoke billows from Allen's nose and mouth. He takes a long breath and finishes his glass in a single gulp. Hell, works me up just talking about it

Yep,
C.J. says, not unkindly. He raises his glass and the two of them clink. In a timely bit of coincidence, the lazy string opening of "Georgia on My Mind" wells up in the next room.

But women from around here, it's different. They know the world's fucked up. They can handle it. They



deal with
it without getting you involved. They understand compromises, lower expectations. Don't let my Charles Atlas physique fool you, I'm pretty much like any other goober out there. But they don't care. Give 'em a few laughs, have a good time in and out of bed, everything else falls as it may. How long you plan to be here in Taiwan?

I don't

Well, you can't go back to the U.S. for a while, I assume. Three years, maybe? Four?

Maybe.

That's about the edge. The point of no return.

How's that?