Monday, April 25, 2011

50. Reality

We hadn’t had much good weather recently so, during one of the rare pleasant interludes I walked to my favorite spot in the park. It was spring and threatening to rain again, so I kept a weather-eye out for clouds. That’s why I didn’t notice someone sitting beside me until I smelled a mixture of body odor and cheap cigar smoke that snapped my head around.

There beside me was a figure as sad as I had seen beyond the movies. He was balding and badly in need of a shave. He was dressed in work pants and a sleeveless undershirt with a large mop of gray-black hair protruding from the top of it. His stomach spilled over his waist like dough overflowing in an oven.

I didn’t have to guess.

“C.W.,” I said. “What the hell are you up to?”

“What business is it of yours?” he said.

“None,” I said. “You are absolutely right. None at all.” I turned to watch the river, now at flood crest.

“If you must know,” he said. “I am waiting for a date.”

“A date?”

“A date. Is that so unbelievable?”

“Well,” I struggled for politeness and chose honesty instead. “Who would date you looking like that?”

“You would be surprised,” he said. “Some women look at the ‘inner-man’ and beyond superficial appearances.”

I nodded and turned back to the river as my lunch began to roil.

“I just may have found a soul-mate,” he said, brushing some cigar ashes off his stomach.’

“A soul-mate.”

“Yes, a soul-mate.”

And how did you happen to find this soul-mate?”

“On the internet,” he said. “They have sites where you can find a date.”

“You matched a date on the internet?”

“You have a problem with that?”

“No,” I said. “But didn’t you have to submit a photo?”

“The Falloonian Elders don’t allow me to publicize my own photo,” he said. “So I used one of yours.”

Now he had my attention. “You used my photo?”

“Yep,” he said. “And it took a long time, as you could imagine, but I finally got a hit.”

“And what was the attraction?”

As close as I could get to reality
“This, he said reaching into a pants pocket and retrieving a soiled paper containing print. He handed it to me and I read.

“Attractive SWF wants man who is comfortable within himself, loves casual dress and good food, and isn’t hung up on physical appearances—who loves to share a smoke and then take long, romantic walks in the spring rain.”

“Don’t I look the part?” he asked.

I was already up and moving away.

“Don’t you want to see her happy face when she meets me?”

He yelled something else but I was already out of hearing range.

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