x number of times

His eyes are the first thing you notice. Bright and alert. Thinking. Mischievous and happy. A rich, syrupy brown that, when coupled with his little boy lashes, can cause mild devastation. If he knows that, though, he hides it - or at least unleashes it only in small, restrained flashes.

He's too smart for his own good. A recovering newspaper addict, overly self-educated about the ugly realities of the current world. Cynical, but not jaded. Suspicious. Opinionated. Not angry, though. Not anymore. Now he's just amused. Bemused. When politics come up, he'll go a mile a minute and be way, way down the road ahead of you before you realize what it is he's even talking about. And then he'll laugh. And it's genuine mirth, not bitterness. He's identified and parsed out The Machinations of The System, and since there's really nothing he can do about it, he just laughs.

And he's funny. He's clever and quick, and he challenges me to be clever and quick back, because getting a laugh out of him feels like an accomplishment. He'll glance at me in acknowledgment when I score one, and it makes me grin with pleasure. He used to perform comedy. He was quite successful at it.

He demurs when I compliment him. When we talked about women and sex - and women's sexuality - my jaw nearly hit the floor. I've dated some feminists, but he's on a completely different level. And it's particularly surprising and impressive considering his conservative upbringing. But when I pointed out how evolved he is, he shook his head. "No I'm not," he said. "I'm just an animal like every other man."

He's empathetic. He listens keenly, his eyes on mine as I speak. He engages and shares, and becomes self-conscious when he fears he's shared too much. He's scared of sharing too much, because he knows familiarity breeds contempt.

To that end - I don't know how old he is.

To that end - I didn't know his last name until just a few days ago.

These were two arbitrary rules we gave ourselves in a not so arbitrary game, the object of which has been to prolong the stage of mystery and intrigue, which we both know heighten the initial attraction. We're calling a spade a spade and enjoying doing so.

It's extremely casual.

He looks a bit like Jason Lee.

The chemistry is, how you say, top notch.

He's been hurt recently, and very badly. He's grieving some massive, fresh losses. But he's a happy person with a healthy sense of self-love and self-respect. He knows who he is, and he's well aware of his values and boundaries, even if his empathetic nature leads him to occasionally let them be violated.

He has, I think, a big heart.

I like walking next to him. I really, really like putting my arms around him, even though I've only done it a few times. Mystery and intrigue and casual, etc. do not mix well with prolonged hugging.

He's a self-proclaimed hick. He does yoga. He's a championship archer. He plays guitar and sings, and I was genuinely impressed when I heard his music. He loves classic rock and metal and The Beatles, and on Sunday night he gave me a crash course in Rock History that left me marveling at just how much Muse is inspired by Iron Maiden. I'd had no idea.

It started as a conversation at a restaurant, at a friend's birthday party about a month ago. The conversation lasted through two additional locations and far into the evening. I've seen him X number of times since then, where X is enough for me to determine that I enjoy his company, but not enough to say much beyond that. It's casual and fun and that's all either of us knows or cares to know.

So that is a thing that is going on with me. And this being a place where I Reveal Personal Things from time to time, consider this the latest (presumably interesting) revelation about my personal life.

Oh yeah, and I invited him to come with me to Bonnaroo.

He's thinking about it.