The Beginning

In the beginning, Dan created a profile on one of those love websites. It did not make his life any less empty and directionless, but it provided hope. "My name is Dan," it said. "I don't usually do this kind of thing, but what the heck." He added smiley face for effect. "I'm a cartographer (I make maps). I would like to meet any girl who likes geography and dancing."

Dan and Vera

"My name is Vera," hers said. "I want to meet the man who I complete. I like cooking and will try anything once. " Dan liked her. He thought they had a lot in common, and she lived only a few minutes away. "Hi, Vera. I'm Dan," his private message said. "Would you like to go to lunch with me this Saturday? There's a bistro on Garden Road that has the best salads." He added as a postscript that if she wanted to do something more exciting like bungee jumping, that would be okay, too.

"Hi, Dan," she responded. "I looked at your profile. I like dancing, too. Lunch would be great. Can I meet you there at 2:00?"

The Fall of Dan

Vera was not as beautiful as her profile picture. Dan was not as handsome as his. They ate salads over a small basket of fake petunias and talked about what they wanted for the future. Vera wanted children— lots of them. Dan wanted to own his own company, but he said children would be okay, too.

She asked him what it was like to be a cartographer. Boring, he said. They laughed and so did the waitress, who had no one else to wait on and had been standing by their table and listening the whole time. She told them about the dessert specials: Chocolate cake á la mode, coconut ice cream, apple crumble, rice pudding. She recommended the apple crumble and Vera ordered them one to split.

After dessert Dan decided he loved Vera and took her back to his apartment where they made love with the lights off. He had never been with a woman before. "I love you!" he cried as he pressed himself to her. Her eyes looked into his through the dark and she replied, "I guess I could love you, too." Afterwards she asked Dan why he was willing to be with her. Dan didn't see any reason why not. "I have a husband," Vera said. "It said so on my profile." Dan had not read that. "Oh," he said, and asked her to leave.

"I still love you," he explained as he helped her find her stockings, "but you've done a bad thing and I can't be a part of it." Then she left and Dan's universe emptied once more.