I get a couple more entered and start feeling optimistic about getting some work done today — a different kind of dorky pleasure, considering I want out of here in the most desperate way. But then I drop everything when I see Christine’s reply come in:

“how’s it HANGING, holly?

yeah, this week was over before it began. just horrible. i feel like i’m in some dumb ass sandra bullock movie where everything keeps going wrong in these stupid, easily ironic ways. i’ll tell you the work details later.

no, i haven’t heard from neil and i even wrote him again like tuesday. he’s over. so hell yes we should really do it up tonight. how about we just go to secretary of states and see who we see? we’re having brunch again at donogan’s at one tomorrow — you should definitely come. there’s something called the ‘neo-traditionalists’ at the city museum we should see. and there’s that new mike leigh movie we both wanted to see. there’s so much — we need to get out more and start seeing things, like we always talk about.

ciao,

christine”

Good — plans. All I have to do is wait the work day out. These Mike Leigh movies always sound so good — dialogue and intimacy and small moments — but they could end up vague as hell for all I know. But — yes — there are plans for tonight, then brunch Saturday if we can get up in time. I look up some show times and see it’s playing at 8:35 and then at 11:05 tonight and not playing at all Saturday or Sunday. I try to think how to make this work with all the other plans, but the logistics seem tangled together in my head and I remember that post I placed.

When I log back into Hotmail, I get a sudden flutter when I see fourteen bold rows, fourteen unread messages, all from unfamiliar addresses, most with the subject “Re: bright, warm, over educated, well read …”. Yes, yes, yes

I open the first one and go straight to the picture — nice looking guy, dressed well though a little right out of Banana Republic, certainly not “Indie-fluent” but attractive. He’s twenty-eight, does something in marketing, says he’s “into films,” but only lists utter standards like The Godfather and Stanley Kubrick.

Something seems nice about his e-mail, so I hold onto it but go to the next one. There’s no picture in this one but he mentions a list of good bands so I already want to meet him. He works at the pastry and coffee shop near Farnsworth Park. I picture waiting on a swing for him to get off work across from his job and getting warm heart-tingles as I see him crossing the street in a stained apron bringing coffee and éclairs for our first post-sex date.

Oh, I want to meet him. And I wouldn’t mind meeting the first guy and God knows how many more. This is dorky ecstasy. I want umpteen more responses, even ones I don’t respond to. All that bold, all those unread messages to go through!

I open the next one and it barely says anything, no picture, just says liked your ad and want to see you this weekend. The one after that, a forty-year old man, says he’s separated, kids, dating for the first time in — , ready for something — , into James Michener, Eric Clapton and — and I hit “next”.

The next one carefully responds point for point to everything I said in my ad saying how we’re such a match and ought to go out. Tries to show how he’s into Indie music by listing Good Charlotte and Jimmy Eat World. Delete.

One responds with a thousand-dozen roses of flattery: “your so fuckin beautiful and HOT do you know that? i’d run my hands through your beutiful hair hold you tight in my arms every day you want even tonight.” I smile, inexplicably; some deep little-girl part of me likes it. That saying I read somewhere: about compliments being “merely borne out when received and only enjoyed in retrospect”. But I find myself enjoying these compliments as I receive them here because I’m receiving them from a distance, already safely in retrospect. I know I won’t respond to this guy who thinks I’m “fucking HOT,” though, and hit “next” without reading further. I didn’t post my picture, after all.