An IN THE AIR Excerpt: “Stormy Weather” by Daniel M. Kimmel

He had never liked dating, but dating as an older adult was like a series of job interviews, a dispiriting experience that ended up in a series of disappointments. And there wasn’t even the compensation of unemployment insurance to make up for the series of mismatches.

When the mysterious, and patented, algorithm for the dating website he was on presented Breezy as a potential match, he didn’t immediately respond. He’d been there before and refused to get his hopes up. Yet as he read through her profile, he thought he saw a kindred spirit. He couldn’t take such things at face value. Online dating profiles were about as reliable as resumes, with all the positives embellished while any negatives had not-so-mysteriously vanished. With luck there was a chance that she might actually look like her photo. He’d had more than one experience where the person had posted a photo taken ten or twenty years earlier.

Of course, he knew that women experienced online dating differently, having to slog through a veritable flood of emails from would-be suitors who weren’t subtle about the fact that they were looking for nothing more than a hook-up. He was looking for something more but was beginning to wonder if it would ever happen.

He sent her a message that he hoped came across as sincere, as a fellow human being looking for a relationship that might endure:

“Like you,” he wrote, “I didn’t expect to be dating at this time of my life. I know that women experience dating sites like this differently than men, so consider this an invitation to check out my profile. If you think there’s a possibility that we could make a connection, then let’s meet—in a public place with plenty of exits—and see what happens. I’ve been on far too many first dates. I’d like to go on my last one because I found someone special.”

He signed it, “Hoping for the best, Sam.”

Two days later, he got a response.

“Dear Sam,” it read, “Thank you for reaching out. I hear from so many men who seem to think this is a hook-up site, but you seem to be looking for something more substantial. I would be happy to meet with you. I’m free this Sunday if you’re going to be around.”

She suggested a place he didn’t know, but a quick online search found the cafédown on the waterfront. Her profile had noted her fondness for sailing and sea air, so apparently, they’d be meeting on her turf. That was fine with him. He suggested they meet late in the afternoon, after the brunch crowd had left and before the dinner rush. Who knows? If things worked out, perhaps they’d stay for dinner. Her response came back quickly. It was a date.

Sam tried not to get too excited. He’d been on too many of these already with little to show for it. Still, after all this time, the prospect that, just maybe, this could be the one put him in a good mood for the rest of the week.

***

On Sunday, he took extra care with his grooming, selecting the appropriate casual clothes, and figuring out the best route to the café. It would be terrible if everything was all set, and then he got caught up in traffic from people coming home from the beach. When he got there, a few minutes early, she was already seated at a table on the outdoor deck. She looked even better than she had in her picture. Yet as in the picture, a puff of wind blew her hair back, showing off the blonde streaks that came not from a bottle but from being out in the sun.

He walked over and greeted her with a hesitant smile, extending his hand and saying, “Hello, I’m Sam. You must be Breezy.”

“I suppose I must,” she said with a gentle laugh. “I ordered us two iced coffees. I hope that’s all right.”

“It’s more than all right. It’s perfect.”

Now that the difficult first step was out of the way, it was time to get to know one another. It was the part Sam hated, never certain if he talked too much or not enough, trying to remember to ask questions to show his interest in her and hoping that somehow through this process something might click. As the conversation flowed, he grew genuinely interested in her. She worked at a local TV station and wanted a chance to get on camera as a meteorologist. She might get the opportunity this summer as a substitute for an early morning or late evening newscast.

“When did you know you wanted to do this?”

“Back in seventh grade. I was always fascinated by the weather. One day in school, I was looking out the window and watching storm clouds roll in. I don’t know what possessed me, but as I kept watching, I could instinctively feel the changes in the atmosphere. I suddenly stood up in class, interrupted the teacher, and said, ‘It’s going to snow now!’ And sure enough, it did.”

Sam was impressed. That wasn’t the sort of story to share with someone you just met. It was something that, for many people, would have marked her as somewhat odd if not outright demented. Instead, she captivated him.

 

 

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Veteran film critic Daniel M. Kimmel is the 2018 recipient of the Skylark Award, presented by the New England Science Fiction Association, and is the author of Hugo finalist Jar Jar Binks Must Die, a collection of essays on SF movies. His short stories and novels are marked by his twisted sense of humor.  His most recent book is Father of the Bride of Frankenstein combining two popular subjects: weddings and reanimated corpses.

 

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