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By B.E.

When the above question is posed by some random dude on 125th street, you know they are asking for the 10-digit combination to your cell phone; the electronic leash to which we have all submitted.  This will, most likely result in a test-the-water text message, fraught with poor grammar and emoticons preceding an inevitably awkward phone conversation all in the hopes of some eventual booty. Ok, maybe I am cynical, but lets not pretend like we haven't all, at one point or another, taken part in this ridiculous dance.

This quantifiable question takes on a whole other connotation when asked by the man or woman with whom you are currently sleeping or soon plan to. When they ask, “Hey, What is your number?” You know what they mean. They are not asking for your phone number, or how many siblings you have, or how many times you have been to Disneyland. They are asking you how many sexual partners you have had. A question none of us really wants to answer but often times longs to ask.

A wise rapper once told me that men don’t keep track of such things, but women do, in a futile attempt not to feel like a slut. With my list firmly in hand, I believe him to be right. We all make choices we never thought we would as a kid, but must then deal with the consequences as an adult.

For those who know me, I am not terribly private. The cabbie bringing me home at night knows that I have worked a 15 hour day and the dude making my burrito at lunch quickly learns that I think myself to be Mexican, despite my pesky DNA being born elsewhere. My number, however, remains a mystery.

When I was much younger and much more judgmental, I was in disbelief that girlfriends of mine didn’t have the full names and blood workups on each of their partners before even allowing a man to place his tongue in their mouth. Then I grew up and learned, as we all do, that shit happens. We learn that life is a series choices, some of which land you in Egyptian cotton sheets with an ex lover and others that leave you in a tiled public restroom trying to keep quiet as the person in the next stall practically asks you if you can spare a square.

Maybe taking pen to paper is my way of holding on to my youthful ignorance, or maybe its just something all of us do, as a roster of those we have loved, those we have lusted after, and those we have stumbled upon in a moment of whiskey infused weakness.

Regardless of the circumstances of one’s encounters, the gender with whom we shared the moment or whether your account more closely resembles a grocery shopping list or a high school yearbook, perhaps it is just safer if you never ever ask, “Hey, What’s your number?”

B.E. is a photographer and aspiring freelance writer residing in New York City.

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