Love in the Time of Computers

On Thursday Nick got an email instructing him to call Allison the following evening, tell her he'd had a good time on Tuesday but had been too busy to call until now, and ask if she'd like to do something again. Allison's email advised her to respond with noticeable but understated satisfaction, agree that she'd had a good time too—“Way better than most of these things, they're usually so awkward” was listed as optional—and inform him that, though she'd had plans for the night, they'd fallen through (here she had her choice of “One of my girlfriends got sick, and we really want to save this movie until she's around” and “I was going to get some work done but I'm not in the mood”). She was to suggest doing something that very night, though not, the message stressed, too eagerly.

They saw a lighthearted romantic comedy, giving Nick something to complain good-naturedly about, along with a slight feeling of being owed, and Allison the satisfaction of having nominally gotten her way, as well as the early precedent in movie-selection powers. Neither was interested in this particular movie, but that wasn't the point.

Powers-Smith / Love / 3

The point was that, at her car following the after-movie drink—both had stuck to the strongly recommended two-drink limit—they exchanged a kiss which was neither short nor entirely closed-mouthed.

Nick promised to call her the next day; it just slipped out. She smiled, and drove off.


Nick checked his email nervously and often all Saturday morning and early afternoon, convinced he'd screwed up badly. Finally, the blessed message arrived. He could, in fact should, call Allison that evening, and ask her out again. It took a while for the excitement of the impending date to seep through the relief, but seep through it did.

Allison, however, pleaded prior plans. At first she wouldn't tell him anything more, but after a brief pause—during which he heard her thumbs padding softly on the buttons of her phone—she informed him that an old college classmate was in town. They'd decided to have a girl's night out, she said, which assuaged Nick's worries about the gender of the friend. He still wondered whether she was real or fabricated, but that was a less urgent question, and one without practical implications.


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