I went to my gym this evening to cancel my membership

It was time for "Let's be honest, Joanna, you haven't been in months and you aren't going back anytime soon." The woman at the desk literally tried to pull the "You have to give a month's notice and you owe for November," but I gave her my best "Are you joking?" one-eyebrow-raised glare and she dropped it.

On my way out I noticed they were having a blood drive (my (now-ex-) gym is a YMCA). Why not? I had some time to kill, and this would be my final gesture to the institution to which I had donated so much sweat. I haven't given blood in a while (since high school maybe) and was surprised at how elaborate it was. Blood pressure, pulse, hemoglobin level, have you ever been to Africa, have you left the country for more than six months at a time, did you eat today, have you ever had sex for money, have you ever paid for sex, have you ever had sex with a man who might have had sex with a man, do you have a cold. But I passed and they agreed to stick me. The male nurse glared at my tiny veins. "Make a fist!" He said. "Tighter!"

"I know," I said, "I'd make a terrible junkie." He didn't smile, and eventually stuck me somewhere I'm imagining he thought might be a vein.

"Blood is coming out, right?"

"Yes," he said, and minutes later told me what a good bleeder I was. I beamed with pride.

Meanwhile, an attractive middle-aged woman (whose name I'd later learn to be Linda) arrived, asking if her sister could sit by her for "company." I averted my eyes to her own sticking (her veins were so much easier than mine!), and joked to the nurse that I hoped I'd get a nice "I gave blood sticker" to show off to my date in a little while.

"You have a date?" The nice woman asked. "I was wondering why you're so dressed up!" This is an oddly intimate comment to hear from a stranger. I was wearing a cotton short-sleeved dress, not particularly fancy, so I'm not sure how she was measuring the formality of my attire. "Where are you going?"

"This restaurant on Prince Street, Savoy?" I said it as a question, a little snobbishly assuming that people in the Y on Fourteenth Street giving blood might not know of a fancy Soho eatery. But I was totally wrong about Linda.

"Oh, that's right around the corner from where I live. I love that place. Upstairs or downstairs?"

"Up." He had actually made a point of telling me the reservation was for "upstairs."

Linda approved. New Yorkers really are hilarious. Then the sister asked, "Is this a first date?"

"No, it's a do-over." Linda, sister, and nurse all looked confused, so I said, "A re-do." More blank stares. The blood loss was making me coy. "We dated a long time ago and know we're trying again."

"What happened last time?" asked Linda.

"I-got-married-to-someone-else-and-now-I'm-divorced." In truth, I just filed the first of eighty-seven divorce papers earlier this week, but details in these situations are totally out of place.

This got the nurse's attention. "You're divorced? Any kids?"

"No," I said, "no kids."

He nodded in approval. Then muttered, "Lucky guy." Let's assume he meant the date rather than the ex-husband.

Then one of the other nurses, who'd been on her cell phone the whole time, shouted something about the cars back to Brooklyn/Queens being disorganized and it seemed as though my nurse was going to get screwed out of a ride. I suddenly felt so sad for him, with his bad mood, lonely eyes, and now this, the likelihood of a three-transfer subway trip. He started getting very angry, and I looked over at the huge needle sticking out of my arm. Linda had a similar concern, saying "Don't get too excited, sir!" Sir. Linda is classy.

He calmed down enough to gently take the needle out of my arm, told me I was finished and that I should go sit down and drink some juice. "What about my proof?" I asked/whined.

He frowned seriously, went into a large plastic file box, and pulled out a roll of stickers. "Is this what you're wearing later, on your date?" he asked. I nodded. He then peeled off a sticker that said "I just gave the gift of life," and planted it square on my left breast. "In case you change, here are a few more," he said, handing me three more stickers. Then, out of nowhere, he pulled out a small plastic pin the shape of a drop of blood, eyeing my other breast. I knew exactly what was coming. He slowly leaned in toward the fabric of my dress. There were at least ten long seconds during which I could have stopped him, said, "I'll put it on myself," but didn't. He reached in, literally put half his hand inside my bra, and pinned the blood drop not only to my dress, but through the fabric of my bra and my slip. Three layers. I just watched, amazed, then nodded at him as he shyly handed me six more blood-drop pins, for another day, or, perhaps, for poseur friends anxious to impress.