The Personal Ad | Elle Vidovich


The Personal Ad

By Elle Vidovich

For the What We Talk About When We Talk About Love Award


 

Seeking a relationship.
I am Conrad, a single, 41 year old man. I am fun, 6 foot 3 inches, and I am of a medium build. I am seeking a relationship with someone who is fun and loyal, caring and friendly, loving and adventurous. If this is you please contact me on 0456 123 257 to arrange to meet.

Conrad waits by the phone.

It is late Sunday night, five days after his message went to print, that Conrad receives a phone call. Joan is sweet. Her voice rolls smoothly down the phone and resonates in his ears. There is a frequent chirp that seems to punctuate certain parts of her sentence, the parts she holds in high importance.
“How about Thursday at noon?” There it is, Thursday and noon. A high chirp that makes Conrad’s pulse race in excitement.
“I’ll see you outside the aquarium at Thursday noon, Joan.” He repeats, eager not to make a mistake. He lingers, phone tight to his ear, before it is silent and slowly puts the phone down.
Thursday noon. He jots down the first things that come to mind. Possible conversations, ideas for future dates, wedding plans. Then he crosses out wedding plans and writes possible holiday locations.

***

Conrad stares at the mirror. He notes his odd sized ears, his thin lips, and his chin, which seems to form a part of his neck in one continuous line.
Conrad tucks in his shirt, untucks it, unsure. He looks back at the mirror with an anxious face, then he spends ten minutes trying to smooth down the wrinkles between his eyes from the anxious faces.

HIs beard is trimmed and neat. The evidence lies in the sink. A cake of soap is covered in thick dark hair speckled with grey. His bow tie is straight, shoes tied tight. He is ready to meet Joan, the woman with an incredibly sensual voice who punctuates certain words with a chirp, and potentially his final first date.

“I want to find the woman of my dreams, Joan.” Conrad practices lines he would say to Joan on the short tram ride.His hands shake as he stands at the steps of the Melbourne Aquarium. His eye twitches and he paces up and down the pavement in anticipation. His bow tie is bright red with blue polka dots, his shirt is a pale, baby blue and his pants, which are a size too small, cup his groan. His wristwatch ticks so loud he feels it might indeed be his heart on his wrist. The time is noon.

No Joan.

At twelve-thirty Conrad tires of pacing up and down. The roaming guard eyes him off and as one o’clock approaches, his patience begins to wear. He grabs at his hair and he pulls at his perfectly tied bow tie until it loosens and hangs from his neck. The lunch crowds arrive and dissipate, yet Conrad remains at the step of the aquarium with his head hanging between his knees.

At two-thirty the weather turns. The wind blows in and past the aquarium steps, creating a roar as it swings through; a tunnel of water and rage. Conrad runs inside the doors and sits, wet and deflated. His chance at happiness is slowly disappearing. At three in the afternoon Conrad has given up.

Joan is not his soul mate.

Conrad sits down on the tiled edge of the touch pool. He looks down at the fish that dodge and weave past his hands. He pushes around the small stones at the bottom of the pool and stares at the shapes he makes in the water.
“Excuse me” A voice gently speaks from behind him.

Conrad turns his head, yet does not speak. He is momentarily lost for words.
“I was just wondering if you knew where the closest tram stop was?”
Jane leans in to hear his response. Her eyes are blue with green ripples and reflect off the touch pool. Her skin is bright and aging gracefully.
“I’ll show you” Conrad replies. “I’m leaving now.”
Jane let out a small soft laugh. “That would be lovely.”
As Conrad guides Jane to the direction of the tram stop his mind ticks over with things to say to her. She looks up with a dainty smile. Conrad looks down at Jane’s small frame, and their eyes meet. “Perhaps this is love,” Conrad thinks to himself.