Short Story- Internet Love Story

* This was published in eFiction magazine April 2012 *

Rejected by NoAtypicalTypes.com, which supposedly weeds out “crazy” people, and fed up with SweetMates.com, which should be re-named MeatMarket.com, Sandy decides to give CherryToMyCola.com a whirl. She’s a cute, up-beat girl, so who really cares if she’s twenty-eight,  and lives alone with two cats in a garage apartment in a hick town far, far, away from Washington D.C.?

Sandy plops down on her twin bed with the faded peach comforter, which she’s had for like ever because she’s a history teacher with lots of student loan debt. Being a teacher certainly has its pros (June, July and August) and cons (crappy pay and a lack of eligible male co-workers).

She turns on her bulky laptop, googles CherryToMyCola.com and stares at the screen. After agonizing over a username, Sandy2.0 signs in for a free trial on CherryToMyCola.com. She adds the 2.0 because she’s new and improved now that she’s lost 175 lbs. of cheating ex-boyfriend.

Ooh, a personality test! What fun! But after the first few questions, she starts to worry about her responses. What does it mean if her pointer finger is longer than her ring finger? Does that make her a freak? And she often “doodles repetitively” when she’s in boring faculty meetings. Does that mean she lacks imagination? And if she answers “maybe” to the question about wanting children with her future partner, does that make her appear wishy-washy?

And the personality test results are in…Sandy2.0 is an explorer! With 10 matches!  She makes sure to broaden her horizons by picking “any” in regards to body type, age, religion, political views, etc. but as she views her matches she has second thoughts about being so open-minded. Sandy2.0 is not about to explore Napoleon-sized men with anime or shoe fetishes, therefore she clicks “not really” where it asks if she’s interested. Ten matches, ten not-really responses. She closes the lid of the laptop with a sigh.

Since CherryToMyCola.com is blocked from her work computer, and she has to squint to read anything on her cell phone, Sandy races home each day to her beat up laptop to check her new matches.

One tag line in particular catches her interest. In fact, it makes her laugh so hard that she snorts. “Trombone Anyone?” Sandy clicks on his profile to find a twenty-six year old man with blonde hair and wire-rimmed glasses. Ugh, a starving, trombone-playing musician. But as she’s about to click “not really,” Sandy decides to give this guy named Bill a shot for the following reasons:

  1. He’s not Catholic. Sandy is a “fallen” Catholic and she refuses to get back up.
  2.  He’s not a Scorpio. Sandy has found that Scorpions are quite evil. And her sign, the Gemini, is not compatible with Scorpios anyway.
  3. He does not have an anime or shoe obsession. At least he doesn’t mention having either. And from the pictures, he’s clearly not short.

In order to communicate with him, she’ll have to subscribe. Reluctantly, she goes for the 3-month plan for $33.33. “You best be worth it, tromboner,” she mutters.

For the next two weeks, Sandy and Bill send each other winks and instant messages. Then Bill suggests that they friend each other on Picturebook.com. Sandy views pictures of Bill’s wiener dogs and he sees photos of her cats.

Sandy also goes out with several guys from the CherryToMyCoke.com site. Ted is a chef.  He’s also a metro sexual match-aholic. For example, his gloves must match his scarf or he throws a hissy fit. He makes her scrambled eggs with orange wedges for dinner.

Andy is obsessed with his custom gold painted Lexus SUV. He may even make love to it. At the bar, he touches and squeezes her like he’s Pepe Le Pew, the amorous French skunk in the old cartoons she used to watch. And he waves a few Hamiltons in the bartender’s face. Sandy contemplates running away from him while he’s in the bathroom but they’re both parked in the car garage and she’s afraid of breaking a heel.

Frank tries to kiss her but his beard freaks her out. She tells him this. On the second date, he’s hairless and she realizes he has a turkey neck. He should have kept the beard.

In the mean time, Sandy and Bill chat on the phone for like four hours one night. They also text non-stop. Sandy suggests that they never meet in person because she’s afraid that Bill could be a combination of her three past dates- a turkey-necked, egg-beating, Hamilton- tossing jerk. She fears this because she has bad luck. And plus she isn’t really attracted to four-eyed blonde band geeks. All of her past boyfriends have been dark-haired jocks. But then again they’ve all cheated on her and she’s willing to bet a few Hamiltons that band geeks don’t get nearly as many opportunities. And she and Bill have such online chemistry.

They decide to meet at Bar Manassas, a local dive.  He texts her earlier that day. “I have a gig so I’ll be wearing a tux. Wear a dress.” She responds with “R u serious?” And he texts back, “Way serious.”

That night she panics while getting ready. It’s November but she hates wearing tights. She ends up wearing a DKNY jean dress with no tights.

She’s the first to arrive at Bar Manassas so she sits awkwardly at a table for two. Even though she’s allergic to cigarette smoke, she misses it. There’s just something not as cool about a smokeless bar.

A waitress comes over and asks if Sandy needs anything. Sandy starts to ramble on about how she’s waiting for a CherryToMyCola.com date. The waitress brings over two Washington Apple shots, on the house. Sandy decides to shoot them both. She hasn’t eaten much that day so it’s not long before she starts to feel warm and relaxed.

OMG! Who is this six-foot-one blonde beefcake? “Hi, I’m Bill,” he says with a grin as he straddles a stool.  He must have played at least soccer in high school!

“I’m Sandy2.0,” she replies. Sober Sandy would have cringed after saying something cheesy like that but Tipsy Sandy smiles.

“You look really nice,” he says.

“Thanks, you don’t look half bad yourself. But where’s your tux?’

“I had to change. The stage lighting was so hot that I felt like an overgrown, boiling penguin.” This makes Sandy crack up which makes Bill laugh too.

Wow, Sandy thinks, he’s cute and funny. Jackpot!

When the waitress arrives, they each order Guinness.

“I’m part Irish,” Bill mentions.

“Me, too!” Sandy exclaims. They have a lot of other things in common, too. They both like Lucky Charms cereal without milk, wooden roller coasters and water sports.

“If you liked milk with your cereal, that would have been a deal breaker,” Sandy jokes.

“And if you were afraid of wiener dogs, that would be the end of you,” Bill replies but he really isn’t joking.

At one point as Bill and Sandy are gazing into each other’s eyes, Bill brushes Sandy’s knee.

“Did you forget to shave?” He asks.

Sandy feels her face grow red. “I did so shave.” She feels her knee. “I must have missed a spot.”

“I’m just joking, Sandy2.0,” he smiles.

Their conversation continues to flow along with the Guinness. Sandy begins to see a future with Bill. Is it the dry stout influencing her or is it truly love at first sight?

At the end of the night, as Sandy and Bill are leaning against his ghetto Dodge Neon, Bill says, “I’m really glad that I joined CherryToMyCola.com.”

“Me, too,” Sandy says.

(Years later when they recount that night, Bill says that it was Sandy that pulled him close and kissed him. Sandy argues the opposite. Regardless, after that night Sandy doesn’t have to visit any other dating website. Not AbundanceOfAlgae.com or FindYourHalf.com, etc. Sandy decides that nothing compares to CherryToMyCola.com).

In fact, she’s so damn happy that she encourages a slew of her female co-workers to join. Even Miranda, who is the grumpiest little wench, becomes tolerable to work with after she signs up for the 3 month $33.33 membership.

Representatives from CherryToMyCola.com are so thrilled with their increase in memberships that they offer Sandy a full-time position paying beaucoup bucks. Part of her job requirement is to spy on client dates. Sandy hearts her new job but sometimes the weekend hours can be a pain. She’s especially bummed that her one-year-since-they-met-anniversary falls on a Saturday night. In the dating world a Saturday night is like a filet mignon whereas Monday is comparable to a chop steak.

She’s even more dejected when she discovers that tonight’s date is at the same dive bar where she met Bill. And to make matters worse, it’s the night of Bill’s buddy’s bachelor’s party, so she won’t get to spend any time with him that night.

Sandy doesn’t shave her legs, allows her hair to air dry which frizzes, and throws on a Redskins sweatshirt and jeans. When she rolls up at Bar Manassas, its 9:00 pm and crowded. Fortunately there’s one stool open but unfortunately it’s between a man whose butt cheeks press against hers and a woman who laughs like a hyena.

“What’ll it be, cupcake?” A middle aged man with a goatee asks.

Sandy isn’t supposed to drink on the job. “A cola with ice, please.” Hyena woman shrieks. “On second thought, add rum.”

She spins in her stool as best as she can with a manatee beside her. She’s supposed to look for a man in his late twenties, with sandy blonde hair and a black jacket. She glances around the bar which isn’t very big and sighs. She could be home with her honey bunny dipping Oreo cookies in chocolate fondue and drinking an expensive Cabernet Sauvignon but instead she’s parked at Bar Manassas.

Finally, she spots a man wearing a leather coat and his hair appears blonde in the dim overhead light. His date, who is facing Sandy, is pretty and resembles Tinker Bell, the flying sprite in the film Peter Pan. Come to think of it, she looks a little bit like one of Bill’s ex-girlfriends. Sandy catches her gaze and the little elf-woman points at her. Ugh. Sandy is supposed to remain inconspicuous. So much for that. Tinker Bell’s date turns around and looks at Sandy. OMG! It’s Bill!

Sandy struggles to turn her stool around. She guzzles the rest of her rum and cola and flags down the bartender.

“Check please!” She exclaims.

“On the house, sugar,” he replies.

The big man beside her belches loudly.

“Thanks,” she mutters, throwing a Hamilton on the counter. Tears pool at the corners of her eyes. Somehow, she makes it out the door and onto the sidewalk without:

  1. Vomiting
  2. Bawling
  3. Tripping

“Sandy!” she hears Bill’s voice and it’s as if one of her former students is running their fingers down a chalkboard.

She feels as if she’s in slow motion, like a zombie swimming in Lemon JELLO, the flavor she hates the most. Not surprisingly, he catches up to her quickly, and grips her shoulder firmly.

“Sandy, it was meant to be a surprise!”

She spins like a broken ballerina, facing him but saying nothing.

“That girl is a waitress there. She was trying to give me a pep talk because I was so nervous.”

With that line, Sandy breaks free of the gelatin and sprints down the street. By the time she collapses on a wooden bench, her hair is tangled and she’s sweating, even though it’s like 32 degrees outside. He’s lying!

“Sandy,” Bill appears like an apparition. “I meant this to be a surprise.”

“Are you crazy?!”

It’s only then that she realizes that he’s wearing a tux.

Bill drops to one knee. He pulls out a square box and flips it open, “Will you be the cherry to my cola?”

“What?” Sandy squints at the tiny solitaire.

“Will you marry me?”

It takes a minute for his question to register. “So you’re not cheating on me with Tinker Bell?”

“The waitress? Of course not!’

“Then yes. I’ll be the cherry to your cola, Bill!”

She’d kiss him but her nose is running, so she embraces him instead.

“I came prepared,” Bill pulls a few tissues from his pocket. “I love you,” he says.

“I love you but I didn’t shave.”

“How do you think you won me over in the first place?” Bill grins.

And once Bill and Sandy are married, they never use DateLikeDolphins.com, where it’s kosher to “have an affair.” Who knew dolphins were such swingers in the animal world?

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