A scene from the first episode of Dark Angel

A working actress since the age of 12, Alba has no problem with excess attention. In fact, she's acutely aware of how to get it and what to do with it. "As a kid working with older women, I learned the power that we have over men, and I played with that intensely," she says. "But I tend to be very affectionate and people can take it the wrong way."

Oh, I see: I'm just another in a long list of men who have confused what Alba calls affection with wanton Lolita-esque sexuality. "Am I flirtatious? I don't know," she lies. "I'm just comfortable, you know what I mean? And I love to hug and hang on to people. As a little kid, I would hang on to any of my mom or dad's friends. I've always been like that. That kind of had to stop when I hit puberty."

Alba, who is currently single after a brief engagement to her Dark Angel co-star Michael Weatherly, has survived every awkward approach out there. "All lines are bad," she says. "There are just no good ones. A lot of times guys will do a line and they're like, 'So I just did a line, did it work?' That's the big new move: They give a really stupid line and then point it out. It doesn't work."

What does tend to work, she admits, is being unavailable, which could explain why we return to the subject of my wedding ring. "You'll have such anxiety about it," she warns, stretching her lean body across the booth. "You'll be like this"—she runs two fingers up and down several times over her long ring finger—"constantly putting it on and off, on and off. You'll lose it."

I stare back, mute. I have already lost it.