The Graceful People

"Sometimes you walk along the street and you see someone coming, somebody you know. He hasn't seen you yet, but you know he'll wave and smile and say something as soon as he sees you. And all at once, in the moment before he sees you, you think, I'm going to foul this up. I don't quite know how, but I'm going to. I can hardly wait to see how I do it. Will I stop and stick out my hand when he expects me to wave and pass by, and will we stand there, a little island of embarrassment in the middle of the street, with people jostling us and our hands sticky? Will I let go of his hand before he is ready to let go of mine, or will it be the other way around? What will I say when he calls, 'How's it going?' Will I just grunt like an idiot, or will I stop and tell him? Am I brave enough to walk on and pretend I don't see him? What terrible thing is going to happen in the next five seconds? ... So you wait five seconds and find out."

-Peter S. Beagle, A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE