anywhen but here 

"don't take my picture."

she shielded her face with her hand. from the tone of her voice, he understood that it wasn't playful modesty that made her weary of having a camera in her face.

"oh, come on. i don't have any pictures of you."

he winced. what did he just say? why was he pushing the issue? it was as if the doctor hammered his knee and he kicked his leg up. he couldn't help it. he needed to double check and make sure that she really was serious about not having her picture taken.

"are you a web geek, or something? do you get a thrill from posting your girlfriend's visage on the web for all your geek buddies to see?"

he lowered the camera from his face. aside from the "geek" reference and her slight accusation, he was quietly beaming inside. "she said 'visage,'" he thought. he quickly tried to zip through the memories starting from his adolescent years through to his adult years to figure out the last time he had heard that word used in daily conversation.

"nine years," he silently realized. he again thumbed through the filing cabinets of his past memories to find some other idea or thought about which he had not thought for nine years. the number of possible ideas and thoughts forgotten for over a decade overwhelmed him. how could his mind retain and suppress all that information? what else had he not thought about in many years? considering his twenty-five years of living, he found that there was a great chance that he could uncover something that he had not thought about for fifteen years.

"wow," he thought, "i'm getting older."

"earth to paparazzi. earth to paparazzi."

she had saved him from his obsessive fixation on the black hole of miscellany in his mind. he was momentarily embarrassed that he had allowed himself to drift so far from the present.

"focus... focus... focus," he chanted mentally to himself. he looked behind her at her dad's small convenient store. above her head, he noticed the store's painted sign above the front entrance:

A & Sons

"who's 'a'? i thought your dad's name was 'cesar.'"

"there is no 'a.' my dad just wanted to show up first in the phone book. the guy who used to own the store was nicknamed, 'LA.' we just painted over the 'l.'"

"do your brothers really help with the store?"

"what brothers? we just kept the 'and sons.' who the hell would shop at a store just called, 'a?'"

the store's name made him think about root beer. why wouldn't anyone shop at a store named, 'a'? people drank root beer with only two letters for a name. he wondered if the letters in "A & W" stood for real names, or did someone just want to be listed first in alphabetical order in some soft drink directory? when was the last time he drank root beer?

"it's just a store name. nobody cares if they buy their forties in a store named 'cesar & only child' or 'a & third cousin, thrice removed.'"

his heart momentarily sank. nobody cares? what would she think if she knew that he actually cared--that he actually thought about these things? was he abnormal? was he too weird for her? he panicked. this wasn't going to last long, was it? he didn't know how much longer he could hide these mental journeys of distraction from her.

as he contemplated the impending doom of their budding relationship, he glanced down at her shoes and noticed the chipped nail polish on her toes. he suddenly became fascinated that--aside from her big toe--all the other toes on her feet were the same length. did she have a preference for square-toed shoes? just then, a light bulb flashed on in his mind--

"did she just refer to herself as my girlfriend?"