Daniel sat in the dark, his thighs hot from the laptop, his face bathed in a glowing blue wash. The light from the screen shone out into the room, the plants stretched into indigo-hued shadows, the vases looked rimmed with a shiny sapphire lining. Lucy retired to her guest room; Helena turned in right after dinner. Even Baroness, after spending an hour curled up on the floor, went to sleep with her mother, where she stretched out on the end of her bed.
Danny was left with the elaborate witticisms found in Internet personal ads, bloated with the enormous crush of irony and the horrors of modernity pushed to their extreme: disconnect, desperation, isolation. Everybody competing for companionship, buried in word games, completely devoid of the flesh and the elegant exchange of molecules. Daniel imagined thousands of people across the globe, hundreds of thousands maybe, all clicking away, listing preferences and statistics, uploading doctored photos. Fudge a little here and there, they’re never know. Invent the person someone wants to date. Yuck.
Nevertheless. Here he was.
Scrolling through the promises.
He filled out his own ad months earlier. What do you look for in a partner? A fair amount of distance. List some of your hobbies or interests: Watching billiards on television. Using too much conditioner. What is your idea of the perfect date? Not a lot of talking and a couple of magazines.
He wasn’t that courageous.
Instead, Daniel filled the spaces with answers that seemed (to him, at least) to be sufficiently vague. A few general cultural benchmarks, which would help readers fit him into their own structure: he wrote that he read D.H. Lawrence, which was somewhat true (he had read D.H. Lawrence, but didn’t necessarily consider himself a reader of D.H. Lawrence;) he wrote that he listened to “all kinds of music,” because people are too sensitive about music, and a list of specific bands or singers, even vague genres, could raise acres of red flags; and, finally, that he liked “independent movies with solid scripts” and occasionally enjoyed a “summertime blockbuster about saving the world while blowing things up.” He also included some random obscurity, which he suspected could be read as interesting and original: he liked ping-pong and Strawberry Charleston Chews. It was a precarious balance. So much engineering.