I’ve always wanted to be a hermaphrodite. Then I could have sex with myself.
Julie unfolded the piece of paper in front of her, smoothed out the creases and passed it to Eve. They were seated in their favorite booth near the back of the bar, huddled over the table. “I wrote it really fast. It needs work,” Julie explained.
“Seems kinda long,” Eve said as she reached for her reading glasses from her purse.
“Yeah, well, there’s no real word limit online. Glory of technology, I guess. Be honest, Eve. Should I really do this?”
“You said you wanted to do something crazy. Though, I have to admit, online dating doesn’t sound all that wild to me, although it was wild like in 1994. Now everyone does it. I was sort of thinking you were going to do something wild and drastic like a sex change or something.”
“Yes,” Julie agreed. “I’ve always wanted to be a hermaphrodite. Then I could have sex with myself. You want some more cake?”
“Of course. So with this ad you want, what? True love?”
“No. No! I was thinking…maybe I want dating practice or something. I want to experiment with being crazy. I guess at the heart of it, maybe I just want to get over Ronny, or back at Ronny, or something, and I want to do it as quickly as possible. I can’t take any more of his postcards. I want to have postcards of my own! I thought…I don’t know. It’s stupid.” She reached for the paper and crinkled it in her palm.
“Give me that!” Eve said. “It isn’t stupid at all. What I meant was that when you said you wanted to do something spontaneous I thought you were going to go on a trip to Europe or have a radical make-over. But online dating is good. It’s a start. Give me your ad. And the cake.” She read:
Young Treasure Seeks Seaman on Love’s Sea
When I was young, I collected broken pottery shards
that had washed up on the beach. Each one, I knew,
was from a shipwreck. In my palm, a tiny piece of
white plate became the last dinner of a couple in love.
A brown half of a beer stein with edges smoothed by
sand and time became a sailor’s last drink just as the
swell of the lake surged and took him over. These
collected pieces of plates and bowls from the last
moments in people’s lives proved to me that all things
end: childhood, careers, and yes, even love. I am
resigned to this reality. Still, I am looking to date.
Casually. If you are interested, here I wait, at the
bottom of the sea, for you to find me and uncover me.
Eve wound a finger in a lock of her honey hair. “Okay, Young Treasure Seeks Seaman on Love’s Sea. That’s catchy.”
Julie couldn’t tell if Eve was emotionally affected by the impact of her personal ad, or if she had something stuck in her teeth. “Is it all right?” Julie asked again. “Oh, you hate it, don’t you? I sound boring, don’t I? Oh, forget it!” Julie took a huge bite of her sandwich. Her eyes were burning with tears.
“I don’t hate it. Not at all. It’s just…a little sad. It sort of makes it sound like your life is a shipwreck.”
“Exactly!” said Julie emphatically. “A complete and utter shipwreck.”
“Let me read it again,” Eve said. Julie watched her intently, looking for any reaction from her, good or bad.
She read it again, coughed, set the paper aside, and quickly downed her glass of water. “Julie…Look,” Eve continued. “I love you. To pieces, and anything I can do to help get Ronny out of your system, I’ll do. But you say here Young Treasure Seeks Seaman. It sort of looks like you misspelled ‘semen’, like this is a personal ad for semen.”
Julie gasped. “Eek! No. No no no. I was trying to be poetic.”
“It is poetic, but maybe you should just say sailor instead.”
“Okay. I can do that. Anything else?”
Eve hesitated. “Can’t you cheer it up a bit?”
“Cheer it up? Why?”
“Julie, you sound like you don’t believe in love. You’re posting an ad to find love and you’re saying here, quite effectively, that you’re obsessed with things ending and dying. Do you really think that all of life is a shipwreck?”
Julie felt a rush of tears forming. She was so emotional lately, and talking about love did nothing to help her. “Not all of life, just mine.”
“You’re smart. You’ve got talent. A wicked sense of humor, and, need I say, killer knockers. Your life is not a shipwreck. And I’m sorry to be such a hard-ass with you, but ever since Ronny took off you’ve been swimming in your own misery, and you’re better than that. Now write this down. We’re going to write you a personal ad that really works. That sings. An ad that will bring the man of your dreams to your feet.”
“Fine.” Julie said as she reached down and picked up her personal ad. She liked what she’d written. She didn’t think it was that depressing.
Eve leaned in. “Now take this down…”
Bud interrupted from the bar. “How about…Hot Mama Seeks Love Slave And Marriage. That would reel me in.”