"Bob Levey speaking."

"Listen to how he says that. So smooth. So sure. You ever think of becoming a door-to-door salesman?"

"Why, if it isn't Marvelous Mike, world's greatest lawyer! My number one college buddy. The answer to the American woman's dreams. How ya doin', sweetheart?"

"You ask the world's greatest lawyer a question like that? I get $100 an hour for answering tougher questions than that. Presidents call me for my advice and you ask me dippy questions like that?"

"Get off it, Mikey baby. I happen to know that you analyze legal grants and fellowships for the Department of Justice and all you do all day is type on a computer terminal."

"So what do you think you do, Mr. Smart Guy?"

"The day I get $100 an hour, I'll answer that question."

"Nice line, old man. Nice line. Listen, I need your help."

"For the left fielder on our old dorm softball team, anything."

"Bob, I'm lonely. I'm ladyless. Again. You know any unattached women who can't live without me?"

"I can't believe I'm hearing this. From a guy with as many moves and fancy clothes as you. Mikey, this town is crawling with unattached women. You walk through Farragut Square some lunch hour, you won't believe your eyes. You walk across Capitol Hill and you'll think they must have sent the best-looking women from every town in America, every one of them, right here. You've never been blind, Mikey. And you've never been shy."

"Yeah, but I think I'm getting a little older, Bob. I don't just want someone who's beautiful. I want a relationship-with-a-capital-R, someone I can talk to, someone I can think about marrying. But it's as if the tables have turned. The women I meet these days are all afraid of making a commitment. They're saying all the things I used to say ten years ago -- 'Give me a little room to breathe,' 'I need to be a little surer of myself,' all that stuff."

"What happened with Amy? That had all the earmarks."

"I thought so, too. Last summer, down at the Outer Banks, it couldn't have been better. We would walk for hours. Talked about having kids. I never got bored around her the way I did around all the others."

"But?"

"She got bored around me. Said I was obsessed with my career, I was emotionally dead and I wasn't interested in her as a person."

"Any truth to any of that?"

"If there was, I don't think I could admit it to myself. But seriously, I don't think so. I think it was just another romance that didn't work, just another match that wasn't made in heaven. But, hey, I look in the mirror some days and I say, 'Mikey, you're 38 years old. It's time to get on the stick. If you're going to get married, you'd better do it.' "

"Mikey, promise me, swear to me, that you won't put another classified in The Washingtonian."

"You think I haven't learned my lesson from that? Remember that woman who sent me her resume in the mail? Not a picture -- just a resume. Wasn't that a perfect Washington story? Use your credentials to find a man the way you'd use them to get a consulting contract. No, I won't do that again, Flash, believe me. Besides, what would I put in the ad this time? 'Single White Male, emotionally dead, seeks mate for life?' "

"OK, fair enough. But listen to your Uncle Bob a minute. Love can sprout where you least expect it. Isn't there some lawyer down there at Justice who turns your motor?"

"Not really. I even did what I used to do when I first came to Washington -- get the booklet of summer interns and flip through it to see if anything caught my eye. Nothing did."

"Mikey, I don't know what to tell you that won't sound like something out of a magazine in the checkout line at the grocery store. But are you maximizing your options, as the saying goes? Are you getting out and around? Going to the swim club? To church? To the meetings of the executive committee at the condo?"

"I haven't been. But I'll start. Chin up, right?"

"You got it, boss." "Thanks, old man."

"For the greatest lawyer in the world, it's the least I can do."