Step one:
Go to the cafe on Pacific and Van Ness. It’s around the corner, more on Pacific. Go there at least once a week for a few weeks, at 10 or 11am and order a large almond milk latte, but with only one shot. You’re trying to cut back on caffeine. Get the quiche, too, most days. Be friendly to everyone working there.

Step two:
After three weeks of this, the blonde barista will remember your order, but don’t get so cocky as to request “the usual.” Ask about where the glorious-looking desserts come from. You’ll learn that they are made elsewhere and are brought in. Tell her it’s the best almond latte you’ve found in the city. She will take it in stride. She’s heard it before, no doubt.

Step three:
The next week, she’ll remember your order but act like she should know your name, even though it’s never come up before. She tells you her name — Goldie. You tell her yours, and she’ll write it down on your order, left-handed. It doesn’t matter if she misspells it. Pay attention to her hand.

Step four:
Compliment the ring you haven’t noticed before on her ring finger. It isn’t obviously an engagement ring. Ask if she’s engaged.

Step five:
When she confirms, tell her, “Oh wow! That must be a pretty cool dude to pick out an unusual ring like that.”

Step six:
When you are corrected and told that she is a pretty cool lady, apologize and pay close attention to what happens inside you.

Step seven:
Notice, as you look at her again, you suddenly think about her differently. You are now much more interested in her. Ask her whether Goldie is a nickname. No, it’s her full name, after her Great Grandma. You suddenly wonder if you look attractive yourself, right now, and you touch your hair. You wonder what woman is the pick for this blonde lovely. Your mind imagines suggestions of their affection, hot and cool. You wonder what it would be like to kiss her, what it would be like to be allowed to touch her in a shadowy evening light.

Step eight:
As she hands you your latte, apologize for making assumptions as you hang your should-have-known-better-after-all-this-is-San-Francisco tail between your legs. Don’t worry, she isn’t really offended. She seems amused by the misinterpretation. Try not to ruminate about that strained, awkward giggle you chirped out.

Step nine:
Go to your table with your drink, and contemplate how quickly you seemed to wonder whether she thought you were hitting on her, with your short hair. Notice that you think about overtly flirting with her now, giving her a coy smile on the way out. Contemplate whether you have been restraining yourself for years, missing the truth.

Step ten:
Continue to think about her all day. Her long hair, her long skinny body with its beautiful terrible posture. Consider what it might have been like to come home to her at night, to ask her about her day. Reflect on the masculine aspects of yourself — that you hate high heels, that you basically have a men’s haircut at the moment, that you almost never wear skirts unless trying to get attention from a man. Think about an alternative life path that might exist, and how you might test it out. Contemplate whether you want to share your ponderings with your husband.