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“Well, there’s no student scene,” says Rose. “First step in urban renewal. You need kids with free time, no money and a strong social network.”

“Reading your textbooks again?” asks Holly, scanning the grass. A moment later, she stoops, coming up with a four-leaf clover.

“No, my Hipster Handbook.”

“That’s worse.” Holly hands the sprig to Rose, who tries to slip it into her buttonhole and is vaguely surprised to find it occupied by another one.

“Hipsters decry gentrification,” she murmurs, “while simultaneously causing it.”

“You’re a born anthropologist,” says Holly, and picks her seventh four-leaf to place in Rose’s hair.






“Um. Clean?”






“What?” asks Rose, startled.

“Girls smell like MSG,” Diego repeats. “That’s the question, right? What’s the most popular response so far?”

“Just ‘good,'” says Rose. “Nine of twenty-eight couldn’t come up with anything else.”

“Right,” says Diego, “like if you asked them how Chinese food tastes. Only they’d say ‘MSG’ instead of ‘good’ because they’ve been told that’s what it is.”

“Girls smell like Chinese food.”

“No,” he shakes his head, “but it does the same thing. Bypasses your discernment, your categories, all of that. Just hits the pleasure center straight on.”


The street’s washed out with dead snow, sick and tired of asphalt, salted and dirtied into sullen drifts. They clump down the melting sidewalk with hats on and coats flapping open. All three of them steam like dragons.

“You have no argument!” snaps Diane.

“And you see everything in black and white,” says Rose, affecting Zen.

“That’s still not an argument. Anyway, shades of gray aren’t any better.”

“I know, Diane. That’s why I try to see things in full color.”

“Rose,” says Diane, “that doesn’t even mean anything.”

“You’re both cigarettes,” mutters Holly, and kicks an offending chunk of ice.