62 comments

American Romance

[Ok.]

A text from you. 

You want to meet me. For coffee. Something quick—so when it doesn’t work out—we can both leave unscathed. 

Of course, I say. Why not?

I try not to—but I start imagining a cozy cottage for us by the Baltic sea, like the one my Polish grandparents lived in. A garden to sunbathe in. A kitchenette to boil pierogis and make cabbage rolls and fry potato pancakes. A view of the blue that stretches to Sweden. 

How nice it would be to meet and have coffee there, a place so far away from here.

I force myself to lower my expectations. Consciously, I add a minimum of thirty-five pounds to the image of what I think your body will look like. I scrutinize the angle and lighting of the picture you posted on your profile page. What double chin or baggy eyes are you hiding? I visualize your hairline a good inch or two farther north. You smile, but you don’t show your teeth. More troubling, the smile does not reach your eyes. On some level, what you posted looks like a Proof of Life photo. 

Send me a video, I say. 

[Ok.]

Wearing a baseball cap with an American flag and a sports jersey, you appear in the digital flesh, walking your big brown dog. You flash a dazzling smile towards the iPhone camera, your eyes hidden by dark sunglasses. It occurs to me that I should wonder who is taking this video. A roommate? An old girlfriend? A current wife? I watch your nine second video a dozen times in a row. I slow it down, frame by frame. I analyze it like the Zapruder film. 

I google the logo on your sports jersey because I don’t recognize it. It looks like the Gatorade logo—without the G. Come to find out, you are wearing a Tampa Bay Lightning jersey. This means two things: 

  1. You have a abruptly emigrated from Florida. This is concerning, as people generally move to Florida, not from it—a black swan event. My grandfather would say people do this type of thing na święty Nigdy—on St. Never's Day. So a red flag. This begs the question of why someone would leave Tampa for Baltimore. Gambling debts? Job loss? Women trouble? Child support complaints? Arrest warrants? I need answers.
  2. I also need to learn everything about the sport of hockey.

I wonder if you will tell me the truth. I text you, politely asking you to share your story of the mysterious hockey jersey with me. 

[Ok.]

And you do. You’ve loved hockey ever since you were a little boy, hiding from the Florida heat and humidity inside hockey rinks. You played hockey in high school, but not in college. You have moved to Maryland to take care of your elderly mother, who needs palliative care during the final stages of her terminal illness. You are the only one of her children in a position to do so. After renting your condo on Tampa Beach last year, you moved to be near her, working remotely until she passes. Then you will need to settle her estate. You can’t wait to return to the Sunshine State. Maryland is depressing this time of year. You ask me if this makes any sense.

Of course, I say. Why not?

You are a good son, I text you back. I look at my iPhone. What I don’t text you is that I find all of this wholly attractive, utterly charming. It gives me pause, causing me to think of you far too often, far too deeply. 

I scour your social media, as little as there is. Your big brown dog is named Thunder, possibly after ThunderBug, the official Mascot of the Tampa Bay Lightning—as I’ve recently come to learn. ThunderBug is a terrible name for a mascot, and I question the decision making of the Lightning management in the early 1990’s. But I think of us, walking Thunder together.

I try not to—but I start imagining a downtown New York City loft for the three of us to live in, like the one my first generation American parents always talked about. A short walk to restaurants, museums and theaters. A kitchen to toast freshly made bagels and serve smoked salmon and cream cheese and capers. A view of Central Park. 

How nice it would be to have coffee there, a place so far away from here.

I force myself to lower my expectations. Maybe you won’t like me? Sure, I am well versed in hockey (now) and know that the Lightning’s main defenseman is out for possibly weeks with an upper body injury, not to mention the Ducks’ general manager is under investigation for improper professional conduct. (Who knew following sports was so deliciously gossipy and fun?) I text you that I happen to have two tickets to the Washington Capitals game in a couple of weeks. I explain to you that a friend from work gave them to me. This is a lie, as I purchased the premium lower center seats myself, but I cannot think about anything else other than sitting next to you in the stands, shelling peanuts, and watching grown men (mainly Candians, surprisingly few Poles) skate on ice and occasionally punch one another. 

So, will you come with me? 

[Ok.]

Your reply thrills me. 

I try not to—but I start imagining a rustic cabin in the Pocono Mountains for us, like the one my ex-husband promised me we’d build one day. A short hike to pine needle-covered walking trails. A kitchen to cook up vats of white bean and kielbasa chili. A view of mountain ranges. 

How nice it would be to have coffee there, a place so far away from here.

But I am here, waiting in the coffee shop we decided on, wondering if you’ll bring Thunder since this coffee shop is dog-friendly. Instead, I look up every time the door opens, and it’s everyone but you. 

Fifteen minutes past the time we decided on, you text me that you aren’t coming. You’re sorry, but it’s complicated. You hope I understand. 

[Ok.] 

A text from me. But I don’t understand. 

I try not to—but I start imagining our cozy cottage by the Baltic swallowed up by the sea, our New York City loft gutted down to the studs, and our rustic cabin burned to the ground. 

You just wanted to meet me. For coffee. Something quick—so when it didn't work out—we could both leave unscathed. 

And it’s [Ok.] 

And I’m not [Ok.] 


November 11, 2021 18:26

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62 comments

Eric D.
03:59 Nov 13, 2021

I love this story so much for two reasons. 1 I love hockey and you've done your research 2. I'm meeting a girl from a dating app in a week and you've captured the emotions so well, the overthinking the overanalyzing the paranoia, the exaggerated infatuation, it's a concoction of emotions and it sort of makes you sick in your gut thinking about it all. I wish there was a way to save stories for later on this site. I love this.

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14:46 Nov 13, 2021

I'm relieved (!) I passed the hockey exam as I was totally winging it. (Red Winging it, ha?) HEY -- Good news! If you LIKE a story on Reedsy, it goes in your LIBRARY on your homepage. See? Now you have it forever. I have to say, Eric, I'm now totally invested in your semi-blind app date. PLEASE keep me posted, if only to tell me how it went on a scale of 1 (horror show) - 10 (Mrs. D potential). Note any red flags or even yellow ones or hopefully green ones?? I need to write the sequel . . .

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Bruce Friedman
16:12 Nov 13, 2021

Deidra, you say to Eric D. the following: If you LIKE a story on Reedsy, it goes in your LIBRARY on your homepage. I have been on Reedsy for five months and am still discovering new features and functions of the site such as the one you mention above that was new to me at the time but VERY useful. Is there some reference available about features and functions and navigating through the site. Another such feature that is useful is Home page>Stories>Activity feed to see all of the stories by authors that you follow.

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Eric D.
21:11 Nov 15, 2021

That's very punny Haha 🤣 yeah your story was one of those you run into and think they're about you because they're so relatable at the time ! Update update ! Actually was normal and went really well and I freaked out for an entire week not sleeping not eating much, exercising until my body hurt for no reason ! I know boring answer, but it was a very sweet date no flags, who would thunk! :]

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23:58 Nov 15, 2021

And the crowd goes wild (*cheering*) All the best as you move forward, slow and steady. Don't buy her anything. I'll never forget some guy showed up with a necklace on a 2nd date. Cringe... Pro Tip: if we girls really like you, it doesn't matter where you guys take us out. Picnic. Walk around the lake. Ice cream. Don't spend a lot of money trying to impress her. Look for red flags. If she hates her dad -- run. Above all, if you worry too much about if she liked you, you already know the answer: Nope! Move along. That's enough advice you do...

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Eric D.
23:05 Nov 17, 2021

🤣🤣🤣 damn deidra, didnt realize I was speaking with the love guru, your advice are so good !! Hahah. Oh No a necklace! Ah man. Thank you, thank you. Lots of wisdom on these tips. True gentlelady and a scholar.

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21:30 Nov 12, 2021

ah, the tinder hookups. they never work out. ten bucks she kills him- (or he kills her. or they kill somebody else. i don't judge-)

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22:41 Nov 12, 2021

Always the romantic ❤️

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17:19 Nov 13, 2021

ya know me too well-

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Bruce Friedman
22:11 Nov 11, 2021

As usual, this is wonderful Deidra. A stream of consciousness leading to an abrupt disappointment which definitely was a surprise for me as were all of the Polish references. You protagonist was treading very carefully throughout the story. I am also not exactly sure what [Ok.] means. I originally thought it was a reply to a text but now I am not so sure.

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23:31 Nov 11, 2021

Expectation ÷ Reality = Disappointment I mean, that's just mathematics. :) And I should have played around with brackets: {Ok.} and <Ok.> definitely mean something different from [Ok.] or (Ok.) I have no idea where the Polish references came from . . . oh wait. Yes I do. I must have channeled my old boyfriend from Towson, MD (his family was Polish). We dated in high school a millennium ago; he took me to my senior prom and my first Baltimore Orioles game at Memorial Stadium. Hah! The subconscious mind is hilarious.

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Bruce Friedman
12:42 Nov 12, 2021

You are right about the meanderings of the subconscious mind. I often say: Where is all of this stuff coming from? Oh, well. Let it roll.

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Dhwani Jain
12:34 Nov 15, 2021

Hello all! https://wp.me/pd3y1A-fD Please check out my latest post, THE VIRUS, YOU AND ME, a podcast. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did writing it! Dhwani Jain Dream DJ {https://djdhwanijain.wordpress.com/}

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