It was a bright blue beautiful day outside in the high season of Midwestern weather when he approached the morning. At sixty plus and a recently widowed bachelor to boot, there were very few days that gave a sense of promise beyond the usual cynicism of ‘all the better days for him having now gone by’. Where in the past he might have been up early to go for an extended walk for the sake of the rapidly ‘rusting’ aspects of his aged physicality, the recent cold snap had encouraged a more ‘cabin conscious’ lifestyle that as of late found him cemented into an old purloined office chair sitting for hours before his computer. Mostly out of ennui but equally out of his current sense of stunted masculinity he had taken the plunge into the world of online dating sites. There were an abundance and perhaps more so to choose from initially. But a friend had tipped him onto one in particular. And not well-versed in the ‘Patou’ of online conversation in these matters he felt confident that his friend was steering him to something reasonably navigable. Though he had heard some pretty compromising tales about the real efficacy of the online dating thing, he figured it must be essentially harmless as another form of diversion.
The first week with within its milieu had been a trial and error experience of expressing himself in text with the help of the site’s algorithmic ‘whizbang’ based matching system whose questions seemed to lock one into identities that were less than accurate to the intended fact. “How could anyone express one’s self in these glib cliches, much less at a party, or job interview in such a way to convey anything close to real sense of their existence anyhow?”, he thought. The more queries he was confronted with to respond to the more he plied his relatively efficient dexterity to the craft of expository writing. No Hemingway, he had in the past been given a positive nod by a boss or two for an ‘above the usual’ ability to express himself more precisely than some in routine business communications. Perhaps this talent had its lineage in the long wide room length bookshelf of volumes that he had refused to dispose of as an ‘on again off again’ avid reader?
In any case, by the second week of the back and forth ritual of verbal fencing with some the other more likely looking female candidates, he felt pretty confident that he was getting the right message across. Albeit in a standardized round about manner that structurally only a prisoner of an ‘oublee’ in a remote French prison could truly comprehend. No ‘Comte d’Monte Cristo’ in the sense of unbounded faith in the transliteration of the subtle niceties of old world face to face in-person dealings as converted digitally into that of virtual avatars, he assumed that based upon the increasing number of interested replies by any given ‘Cyber Maiden’ he must be doing something right? Though in time over the intervening hours and the nights, many of the discerning females would by their own eclectic tastes appear in the messages column and sometimes unexpectedly depart. By the conclusion of each of the extended sessions, many leading way beyond what might be considered as a usual time to retire, he had begun to find this exercise as being something more than simply ‘play’ for the sake to alleviate boredom. There were a couple who seemed genuinely interested in the repartee that he offered. And, slowly, he began to find himself coveting the idea that there might actually be the possibility of an uncanny somewhat unexpected romantic match between himself and one of these ever less mysterious strangers?
One of them in particular had caught his eye. An unconventional beauty seeming particularly attractive not only for her set of enchanting images but for the (virtual) paper account of the portrayal of the current state of her life. The messages seemed to go on and on and on between them. Most evidencing a waning sense of formality suggesting that each might be genuinely excited with the prospect of taking that tremulous next step of a cup of coffee or two in each other’s physical presence. Where his level of stamina had begun to peak in making the usual rounds of newer candidates, he found himself cutting these sojourns down to merely checking for her latest messages alone. And finding them or not quickly leaving the dating site to hyperlink off to some other contemporary topical site until it seemed likely that she might again resurface. This had gone on as of late until he had to confess on a couple of the ‘next mornings’ that the unrequited expectations of same were being to become exhausting. Still, like all closet cinema affected romantic’s, he felt deep within that in this case, “Love might find a way!”
The current morning had begun in the same corollary of ‘cloudless sans gray’ hopeful of a potential for something blissfully extraordinary. In the back of his mind was the expectation that he would soon be responding again to one of his mysterious partner’s teasing responses. Impatience somewhat getting the better of him he decided to ‘prime the pump’ by messaging he coming days events within a moderately humdrum tone in hopes of fostering a bit more interest on her part. Enough so that they might possibly make a date to meet in person. He wrote a brief somewhat playfully deprecating note about his status of being ‘spoiled’ as the only offspring and then added a notation about his geographic intentions for travel for that day. The weather overnight had been at the level of ‘pipe bursting’ status and he added a bit about going to his rented space further in the inner city. He referred somewhat irreverently to it as his “museum”, rarely using the location for more than simple storage. This despite it’s very public local reputation as a hangout for working artists. He figured to let her in a little more about himself that he too was an artist if not perhaps a little dormant. “I’ll be catching up on my stuff today watching the steam billow over the frozen horizon from my museum cum loft.”
Sometime later while assembling himself for his excursion into the cold, his computer chimed that there was a new message. With a couple of button clicks he logged into his portion of the dating site expecting with some well suppressed excitement that her reply from the night before had arrived. But to his shock he found another message with a completely unexpected tone. “Cum loft….I do not think that was necessary. …as it did not paint a pretty picture of the loft or you.” He stared on at her response not quite sure what was going on partly out of equivalent surprise and shock. Another loud ‘bing’ of his computer brought an equally jarring followup. “I’m not naive or prudish but. …I think this is goodbye.” He sat there incredulous as if it had not fully dawned on him what terrible infraction he had committed? “Cum loft?” “Cumloft?” “Museum cum loft?” “How did his words relate?”, he wondered. “Wasn’t it standard to use the word “Cum” in the sense of expressing a certain sense of class by referencing that remaining bit of Latin?” “Magne Cum Laude!”, for instance he quipped. He picked up a Webster Dictionary and hurriedly paged to the offending word, “A temporal clause beginning with ‘cum’ must contain an indicative verb.”, the wrinkled pages under his index fingers declared. He went back to the offending message that he had previously sent out and read and reread it, mentally conjugating the different possibilities of the phrases use. A pang of abject horror struck him! It was clear that in light of the present irreverent sense of the sex obsessed no hold’s barred media trampled society, this phrasing was just what one might expect from a equally disrespectful degenerate sex offending male poseur!
He felt stunned and immobile like some dessicated insect pushed upon cardboard by a pin through his abdomen. Was he so blind and stupid as to make such an unflattering combination of words? Was she so paranoid as many women were encouraged to be by the constant ceaseless media bombard of passive aggressive Feminism? Or, even worse, perhaps had something Freudian slipped out from under the covers? He immediately typed off an, “I’m sorry, but I respect your wishes and good luck!” to her out of ‘knee jerk’ accommodation. It was not his way to so quickly leave the field of battle. Especially when he felt that he was equally innocent of the offense as the resultant meaning taken was never in his conscious thoughts. “My Goddamn loft doesn’t even have a bed in it!”, he angrily quipped to himself. The more he thought of it, the more the whole situation seemed completely absurd. The “main hook” of the situation in some typically farcical Hollywood production. He paced back and forth considering all the angles and running the scenario again and again through his mind. “How dumb they both were! “, he exclaimed after many moments. He for not seeing the proverbial ‘forest for the trees’. She for being all to ready to quickly pull the plug before considering that there might be some reasonable explanation! How stupid all this was! “And who in the end was to blame?”, he looked up at the ceiling. The computer unexpectedly chimed again, its monitor inscrutably turned towards him with its screen leeringly announcing the arrival from the dating site of of yet another dubiously cynical female’s message.