FACE TO FACE
By Scott Warner


After the string of failed relationships he had been through, he was thoroughly dispirited. He didn?t think he was such a difficult person to get along with. At first, his relationships would go well but in the back of his mind, he always suspected that something would arise that would come between them. Sometimes it was an aspect of his personality or lifestyle that the woman objected to. Other times it was something about her that blighted his attraction. The acrimonious breakup of his last affair was particularly bad: thunderous rage and screaming recriminations which he later realized were immaterial compared to the accord they had shared. Why would he let such trivial matters interfere? He was beginning to think he might never find a lifelong love.

Despairing of the loneliness, he turned to the Internet even though he abhorred that process. He preferred meeting a woman personally for the first time, he liked to get to know her without the influence of text messaging. He felt the filter of a keyboard had a Heisenberg effect sometimes. But he was repulsed by the very thought of going to yet another bar hoping to meet another woman. Considering his current depression, he couldn?t stand the idea of making the attempt again, much less give a good first impression of himself. With no other options, he started surfing several dating web sites looking for a woman that seemed to have compatible attitudes but he didn?t find a single posting that seemed promising. He exchanged pleasantries with a few females but that was the total extent of his efforts: they were as uninterested in him as he was in them.

For six weeks he cruised the Net in vain. Then one evening, he discovered a notice by a woman who seemed soft-spoken yet cheerful and ironic. His heart definitely perked up. He typed a reply to her post saying that he was intrigued by what she had written. He tried to describe himself as honestly and openly as he could. He hesitated, considering what he was about to do; gave up in perplexity, then clicked submit. He knew he shouldn?t get his hopes up but nonetheless, he couldn?t stop himself from checking the site every day to see if she had responded. After a week his spirits began to wane, just another dead end. Then he found her reply saying that she liked his openness about his measured, reflective viewpoint on life.

They continued messaging each other on the web site for a month, becoming more familiar with each other. They both agreed that the faddish idiosyncrasies of modern relationships left much to be desired. They talked about childhood events that had exerted an important influence in their lives and about their long term dreams for the future. Gradually they both felt the deepening of their mutual attraction and both looked forward to their next conversation. He admitted the reasons for his failed relationships, she revealed the hazards she encountered when starting a romance with a strange man she hadn?t known very long. When they exchanged photos, he was impressed by her quiet loveliness. He began to suspect that he had underestimated the efficacy of computer dating, it eliminated many of the presumptions and conjectures of chance encounters.

Eventually they agreed to meet at a restaurant for dinner. He was very excited and nervous, hoping that the evening would go well. He dressed more tastefully than usual, hoping she would appreciate his gallantry. In his nervous haste, he arrived a tad too early at the quaint bistro they had selected as a suitable place. He explained to the waitress that he would be meeting someone shortly and she courteously ushered him to a quiet booth away from the bar. To forestall the waitress, he ordered a cup of coffee even though he was already wound up as tight as a drum. His fingers were trembling ever so slightly and he tried to calm down. What if she didn?t show up? His mind swirled away in preoccupied ruminations.

So he was caught by surprise when he belatedly realized that she was standing beside him, waiting. He hastily stood up to greet her and shake her hand. . . and his thigh thumped against the edge of the table hard. His glass of water toppled over, flooding the tabletop and dripping onto the opposite bench seat. He was mortified, his face frozen in acute embarrassment. He looked up, frozen. She laughed merrily and asked ?A little too anxious?? He smiled ruefully and wondered what to say.


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