by Dorothyanne Brown
Mavis smiles at herself in the mirror, licks a smudge of lipstick on her tooth.
“Damn stuff,” she says, “Fifteen dollars and it’s supposed to stay put!” She notices then that it is staying put. On her tooth. She brushes her teeth, leans in suddenly to the mirror, grasps her tweezers, attacks her chin hairs.
It’s her first date since George left her three years ago. Since he left she’s enclosed herself, encapsulated herself.
Her friend Peg finally drags her to the computer and forces her to do one of those online personals for people over 40. “It’s the only way to meet anyone at our age,” she says. “I mean, you’re not going to hang out in bars are you?”
“What do you like to do?” asks Peg, typing.
“Knit, crosstitch, and play cards…”
“Oh come on. You sound 105.”
“I feel 105.”
“Bad attitude. Let’s put – yes, likes long walks in the country, dining out, holding hands by candlelight…”
“Oh no!” Mavis covers her eyes. “I hate the country – too many bugs! I can’t eat out because of my allergies, and if I was to hold someone’s hand by candlelight I’d have no idea who it was with my eyes. What if they expect me to do some of these things?”
“There’ll be all sorts of time for explanations later. Now, the kind of man you are looking for –other than George,” Peg says, then grins wickedly, “How about: “Wanted: warm funny man who picks up his own underwear, especially after I’ve torn them off him.”
“Peg! I can’t!” She is squirming, laughing. Peg clicks “ok” and “save”.
Something makes Mavis keep her profile as it is. She checks the site three times a day, four times. No one appears.
Until “Intellectual 204” smiles at her. He likes what she “likes” – walks in the country, dining out, holding hands.
Something makes her smile back. They write small notes to each other, tentative. From his picture, he looks tall, fit. Mavis starts exercising, toning up her tummy. They write more, longer. They risk a phone call. He likes her voice. She likes his – deep, but not smoker-deep.
By Friday, they decide to meet, just for coffee. He offers to pick her up. She goes mad, shaving everything, buying new underwear, trying on too many outfits.
She is waiting now, stretched tight. The doorbell finally rings and she leaps to her feet. Barely able to breathe, holding her stomach in, she walks to the door.
Outside, a short balding older man waits, holding an absurdly large bouquet of flowers.
“Mavis?” His voice cracks.
“Ted?” He nods.
“I think we need to do this,” he says, and reaches forward and pulls her into a hug, awkwardly, but firmly. She can feel him shaking, feel it gradually lessen. She realizes with shock he is more nervous than she.
She pulls him tight to her and they hug again.