The conversation was polite--she's Canadian after all--but surface. Her interest seemed genuine when I mentioned I wanted to be a writer, the way a mother is interested in her five-year-old's finger painting. I needed to flaunt my understanding, to let her know that I get it, and hated to think I was being patronized. She tolerated my high school English critiques with all the grace that you'd expect, but as the food dwindled, my desperation grew. I felt like I was missing my chance, that somehow if I won her approval, everything would be okay. I would matter.