It starts innocently enough. Your roommate's cousin visits. She's staying at your place for a week. No big deal, even if you did sense some chemistry when she arrived. And even if she's beautiful, or she's smart, or witty. None of that matters because she has a boyfriend. Or you have a girlfriend. Or a boyfriend. Or you're a pussy.

"Whatever," you sigh. "There's time."

And there is time, but of the 'passing quickly' variety. You hang out each night, but nothing comes of it""least of all you. Naturally you play it down when the week is up and she says goodbye, leaving you with a hug and an O.C. season's worth of sexual tension.

"Whatever," you tell yourself. "There are other fish in the sea."

And there are. But none have that enchanting smile. Those sexy laugh. An ass from which all future asses should be molded. You can't shake it. Sitting around playing cards with the guys, the question gets asked:

"If you could bang any chick, who would it be?" The answers are predictable: Angelina Jolie. Jennifer Connelly. Shakira. It gets back to you.

"Her," you say, prompting groans. Someone calls you a fag. You crumple into the corner. Like a suppressed gestalt (psych majors) or a debilitating case of blue balls (everyone else), that missed connection lingers, haunting you.

Days, weeks, months later, someone suggests a road trip. You pile into a car to drive to some random city to stay with distant buddies. Secretly, you know she lives there, too. You know this because you've spent every morning since the visit tracking her on MySpace. Or Facebook. Or Friendster. All of them. You keep this a secret. That night, you go to the busiest, hippest part of town""the part of town that a stunning, trendy girl would be wont to frequent. Just in case.

It pays off. You grab a Bud at the bar, turn around and nearly run into her. In one of those 'rearing up' moments, you stand on your toes, hold your beer awkwardly out to the side and try not to fall forward. Because if you did fall forward, you'd fall onto her. Maybe you should fall forward. You can feel all that pent up sexual frustration rising to the surface. Instinctively, you take a few steps back so that she can't feel all that pent up sexual frustration rising to the surface, as well.

You start talking and the conversation quickly meanders over to relationships. She's not in one. Hey, no kidding, neither are you. You buy her a drink, and some shots, and some more shots, but they're just a formality. After countless months, having just bumped into each other in a random city, it doesn't matter that you're both half-drunk. You could both be half dead and it wouldn't temper that passion. Then she starts nibbling on your neck in the corner of the bar and you think, ok, the shots were worth it.

You don't know if your friends jeer when you tell them you're leaving the bar with her because you're out of earshot before you finish the sentence. The cab ride takes longer than necessary because you're too busy making out in the back to give directions, and the next morning you'll check your wallet and realize you threw the guy 20s when you meant to give him 5s. You'll be fine with that.

The rest of the evening is a blur. You note that she has a nice foyer, but the moment she opens the door you're making out against the wall, against her doorway, on her desk, in her bed. Things escalate without reservation, because you've both been simulating this event every night since you met. You know exactly what to do. Repeatedly.

You wake up the next morning with vague recollections of the evening's events. Initially you blame yourself for getting too drunk, but then you realize that it wasn't drunkenness that caused the fog, but rather the passion; the intensity. Like street luge or human cannonballing, everything happened so quickly that you were unable to process the minutia. What remains is a composite of the night""a mental highlight reel that you skim through as she gets out of bed and walks around in tiny boy shorts. At that moment, everything is really fucking awesome.

After some pleasantries and an onion bagel, you leave. Rather, you float. You float leaving her apartment, you float during the cab ride back to your buddies and you float on the drive home. The fellas notice you floating and ask why.

"Her," you say, prompting groans. Someone calls you a fag. You don't talk to the guys again for the rest of the ride home. You don't need to. You've got your own personal in-drive video, a greatest-hits collection, to keep you occupied.

* * * *

Weeks later, you wake up in the middle of the night. Something isn't right. Instinctively, you think back to her""just as you have every night for a week, since the highlight reel doesn't cut it anymore. The knowledge that you've exorcised your demon""that you've had the one girl who got away""no longer provides you with pleasure. The satisfaction of that one night on the road is gone.

In its place is another specter, but one that you can't seem to identify. Is it the lingering wraith of a disappointing over-anticipated hook-up? Or are you haunted by the spirit of the unexpectedly-incredible-though-never-to-be-relived love-makin' session? As you quiver alone in the night, trying to capture whatever it is that lurks, you absent-mindedly scratch your junk""just as you have every night for a week. And then it hits you. You're possessed by something, all right. You sigh and continue to rub your nards, letting your head fall back against the headboard as a final thought of her flashes:

Man, what a bitch.