I have this very odd habit that I thought I should tell you about: I show up at people’s houses, wander around, and take their pens. I have a collection of about fourty of them now, all rattling around in the back hatch of my car. I take the pen (the one that I boosted that night), scrounge up some blank paper, sit out in their backyards (or their porches, if the backyard is full of people) and write.

Sometimes it’s very beautiful; sometime’s it’s crap. But, at the very least, it’s all me; or, at least, me at that time. And then I go and leave whatever I’ve written at that place, like an offering, and rejoin the crowds.

Only one time have I gotten a reaction from the owner of the house I wrote at, and I promptly fell in love with her for it.

It was late spring, and the first strawberries of the year were out. Rebecca, the owner of the house in question, was having a small party at her place, and I was sitting in the kitchen, shooting the shit with some friends, when Rebecca produced three baskets of strawberries from one of those roadside stands on the edge of a field in Pomona. She left a basket on the kitchen table, practically inviting me to eat the berries, which I did. The first strawberries of the year, so sweet, so delicious…

My friends floated back to the rest of the party, leaving me with the basket, which I prompty devoured, juice dribbling down my hand and orgasmic shudders moving through my taste buds (these were some damn good strawberries). I was in heaven, and I was so moved that I dug up a pen and an old recipt from the table and wrote a poem.

I left the poem on the table and rejoined the party. Fifteen minutes later, Rebecca walked up to me with the recipt in her hand. “Did you write this?” she asked.

“Yep,” I replied, embarassed and shocked that someone had noticed.

And then she smiled and exclaimed, “Thank you; this is wonderful! It goes on the fridge!”

And, like I said, I immediately fell in love with her, ’cause she got the point.

Writers, I once wrote in a letter to a girl I was wooing (and, yes, I woo. I get smitten, too.), are exhibitionists, and poets are exhibitionists of the worst kind. We open ourselves up like cupboards that hold our souls, hoping for someone to approve of the contents. We want to feel appreciated, hear people say they like what they see.

Nothing ever happened between me and Rebecca, but I still think she’s the greatest thing since spice racks.

And I still pinch pens and write on porches, leaving my work behind, waiting for someone else to get it. And sometimes I visit my cyber-dork friends, and click over to the Window and leave the room, hoping to fall in love.

My collection of pens still grows, too.