THE HEART OF CONVERSATION

Communication was a lost art.

There was distance between them.

Steve was a sales manager in Michigan. A lost heart, he had surrendered himself to the idea of not being someone’s someone special. He was an affable guy, not un-handsome by any stretch. Sure, he was shorter, with a bit of a paunch. His hairline, although creeping toward the rear, wasn’t in full retreat. A regular guy, Steve was generous to a fault. He’d give the shirt off of his back. It was only inwardly that he admitted he would rather give someone his heart.

Susan seemed like she were half a world away. She had resignations of her own. Susan had given up hope of finding that one true love of fairy tales and romance novels, which would take her up in its muscular arms and carry her away. Unfortunately, her self-image had taken the red-eye out of town years ago, leaving Susan holding its baggage. As she saw herself, there wasn’t a man alive that would be attracted to Susan. In her eyes, she was a plain Jane; a self-proclaimed “overweight, Old Maid” living day-to-day without flair or passion.

But, affections are funny things. They find you long after you have stopped looking for them. No star-crossed lovers were they. Steve and Susan gave up on fate and kismet. And fell into each other’s realm of influence from a thousand miles away. Mutual friends of a casual acquaintance suggested they’d get along “famously”. So far, they weren’t wrong.

Steve observed something about his office mates. He was aware that some were married. He knew a couple guys were gay. The very apparent ones were “players”, or at least they thought of themselves in those terms. Almost all of them had some significant someone close by to fill their days (or in the latter case, a good part of the evening!)

One thing was clear. As Steve saw, these people communicated in hieroglyphics, texting (or all a-twitter ,tweeting). ILY, LY2, @, ROFLMAO, #, ❤ ❤ <3… Quick pokes with their thumbs and they were off. With all their “someone” within arms reach. But Steve suspected their arms were as often as empty as his. If only his arms were longer…

Susan fostered similar thoughts about the people in her secretarial pool. Blog postings and e-mail letter responses intended to express emotion. But the “click” of the plastic keys sounded awfully the same as… “Dear Mr. Smith, in regards to your memo of the 13th…” The impersonal nature of such words irked her greatly. Reality made it nearly impossible for Susan and Steve to reconcile their feelings.

They saw the futility of 140 characters. There was no spontaneity in an un-opened e-mail. When the computer serves went down, the instant message lingered in a cyber-limbo. Communication was a lost art.

Susan reached for the receiver of her desk phone at the exact moment it started to ring.

“Hello, Susan?” came the distant query.

“Steve? I was just thinking of …” even in actuality the truth sounded contrived. “What a surprise!” she relented.

“Hey, it appears I WILL be out in your area on Valentine’s Day, and I was wondering…”

Susan smiled. After months of correspondence over miles, sometimes in the cursed quick blurbs of intimate thought, finally… FINALLY! They’d get the chance to meet “officially” face-to-face. Initially, she would have been leery of this kind of encounter. But there was a bond that had developed, a trust that trumped any quick liaison. Steve and Susan liked the deliberateness of their connection.

“… OK, I’ll plan on seeing you on the 14th then! I can’t wait!” she said excitedly.

“Uh,… Susan?” he started, “I… uh, think I… uh…” and awkward pause surrounded their thoughts.

In the same instance, they simultaneously finished Steve’s thought.

“I love you!” resounded in synchronous reply.

Susan and Steve laughed out loud.

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