When I see you, I see the echo of every man that has come to this town. You’re a walking headshot, cocksure, full of product, properly manscaped. They put too much into you to be an actor. You walk like a man with something behind you, even if it’s just mommy’s money.

At a certain time, in a certain place, I’d have spread for you. You are fit and proud, and wouldn’t disappoint if I needed it a certain way. But I’ve left that behind. Those encounters have a collateral damage I am unwilling to bear any longer.

Whatever you want, it is going to be transactional. That’s the thing with you transplants, there’s never just casual shooting the breeze because you can’t allow yourself to just be bored and pass the time in conversation as idle adults having drinks.

I’m here to watch the sun go down, but I’m here to be hit on just a bit. Enough to know that I don’t need to lower my standards. You’ve got high standards, so yeah, I’m drawing you in just to buff myself up. A good flirt can carry me through the week, keep me from calling someone I know better than to drunk dial on a Tuesday.

I half wonder if you’ll walk by me and approach someone out of your league. There’s no band on your finger, and you’ve got to be thirty-five at least. I used to be better at guessing ages, before your type went all in on the metrosexuality. Always upgrading. That’s one thing I give you credit for, you stay current.

I’m stirring my drink, dangling my heel. I’d love to light up, but that would turn you around. There’s a whole list of things that would shut you down, starting with opinions. I’ve got thought bubbles that I’ll never share. You want to play Daddy, and that’s about control.

Am I a very good girl? Oh, I’ve played one before, would do it again for the right guy, but that’s not you. This is a deal in the making because that’s what brought you here. You’re at an agency or a studio, there’s a bunch of you online now too. I could see you at the Water Gardens, big office, no revenue, desperate to bring in that first contract.

I’m too deep in my head already and you haven’t even opened your mouth. That’s the problem with this town. Spend hours in the car having conversations with yourself. I came here to pretend I cared about the Lakers, to let some hunk mansplain me a game I played through college.

It’s my legs that you see in me. I’m not looking at you, but you keep stealing glances under the high top. I wonder if you are one of those weirdos that want to worship my toes. Too bad I don’t need the money or that sort of attention.

I’m going to get up, let those gazelles glide across the rooftop and see if you intercept me. This is your chance, deal maker, come up with an opener, see if you can cut me in on something. Otherwise, I’m going down to the Beanery to nurse a michelada where the old timers know how to idle away an afternoon.

You think you’re a player, but it’s an old game and I’ve seen it all. Every sidelong glance, every half-smile, every pick-up line that comes out of your mouth has been tried on me before. I’m not just some doe-eyed girl from a small town, a product of your slick Los Angeles charm. I’m the product of a thousand disappointments and a thousand triumphs, and I’m more than you bargained for.

I’m not a woman that you can win with a glass of champagne or a line about my eyes, though you’ll probably try. I’ve had men throw themselves at me, begging for a slice of my attention. But attention isn’t what I want. It’s more complicated than that.

A woman like me, I don’t need flattery or compliments. I don’t need promises of a life filled with luxury and ease. I’ve had all that, and it’s as empty as the look in your eyes when you see someone better walk into the room. What I need is a man who sees me, truly sees me. Not just as a pretty face or a body to be desired, but as a person. But you’re not that man, are you?

You’ll stand there, drink in hand, and you’ll watch as I walk away. You’ll let the opportunity slip through your fingers because you’re too busy looking for the next pretty thing to walk into your life. You’ll let me go because you can’t see past your own ego to realize what you’re losing.

And that’s alright. I don’t need your validation or your attention. I’ve learned to validate myself. I know who I am, what I bring to the table, and it’s not just my legs or my hair or my smile. It’s my strength, my resilience, my compassion, my intelligence. Those are things you can’t see in a pair of high heels or a low-cut dress.

I won’t walk away angry or disappointed. I won’t even feel sorry for you. Because you’re just one of many. Just another self-assured, self-involved pretty boy who thinks he can have whatever he wants. But not me. Not today. I’m not on the menu for you to order.

You’re just another chapter in my story, another example of what I don’t want. Every encounter with a man like you just reinforces what I’ve known all along: that I deserve more than your half-hearted advances and empty compliments. I deserve a man who sees me as a partner, an equal, not just another trophy to add to his collection.

So, I’ll finish my drink, slip on my heels, and I’ll walk away. And you’ll watch, perplexed, as I leave you behind. You’ll probably wonder what went wrong, why your usual tricks didn’t work. You might even feel a pang of regret. But it will pass, as it always does.

And me? I’ll walk out into the warm evening air, the city lights twinkling like distant stars. I’ll hail a cab, head to the Beanery, where the bartenders know my name and the patrons know better than to try their luck with me. I’ll sit at the bar, order my michelada, and I’ll lose myself in the murmur of idle conversation and the clink of glasses.

I won’t think about you or this rooftop or the way you looked at me. You’ll fade into the background, just another face in the crowd. And I’ll be alright, because I’ve always been alright. I don’t need a man to complete me, to make me happy. I’ve got myself, and that’s enough.

So, here’s to you, deal maker. May you find what you’re looking for, even if it’s not me. And here’s to me, knowing what I deserve and not settling for less. It’s an old game, but it’s one I’ve mastered.