I’m From Chicago, IL.

by Robert Kingett

State Satellite overhead image from Google Earth 2022

If someone approaches you and says, perhaps with a gob full of French fries, that surprises are the worst thing that can ever happen to you, they’d be sorely wrong. Surprises can do much more than cause a new reality TV show worthy of MTV schedules or cause a new viral video to saturate syndicates. They can teach you things about yourself and even teach you something.

On a gloomy Wednesday afternoon I am on my dating site, absently scrolling past people that have rejected me or people I have rejected, suddenly realizing that something I am doing is not working because I have to eliminate the aforementioned in order to come upon a new face and this is a task all on its own. With each click that hides the rejections from my search result I’m beginning to picture myself in a bar telling someone that, yes, I do play the stock market, and you were the only one that showed up in search results because I had wheedled through all the rest. I’d ask them if they want to go see the LEGO movie and then they would run away with a possibly misspelled tweet a few minutes later about how they wish they could just find a cool “brotha” to chill with.

Just as I’m really getting into my fantasy, even to the point where there’s music in the background, a picture dominates my attention. It’s so inviting that I have to click on it to see what lies beneath the enchantingly intense brown eyes.

The picture is a clear face shot showing his face in center frame, something that’s so rare on this site a dating consultant would use it as an example. A dashing gaze rests in the forefront of a slightly golden backdrop. The gaze in the picture is attentive and inviting, all the more enhanced by the depth of his brown eyes. His skin is brown, or so it appears to be. There are not any ghastly piercings that would make a dog snort with derision nor a tangle of escaping tendrils people call dreadlocks ruining his face.

It’s hard to tear away from this face because everything about the picture is so calming and inviting It’s utterly spellbinding. Even his mouth is set in a casual position that illustrates his relaxed collected demeanor. Everything about the picture begs for attention and I am certainly under its spell. I’m clicking into his profile in a matter of seconds and I am swelling with positive vibes reading about his wide array of interests including TV, books, music, and movies sprinkled with declarations of travel and culture appreciation.

There’s definitely a difference in tone to his writing even though he writes the same interests as everyone else. It’s utterly refreshing and I am soon sending him a novel telling all of my faults and personality traits. I have made the complete transformation into a madman when I look at my dating inbox an hour later to see if he replied to me. Somewhere, a dog is snorting with derision.

It takes him a few days to pop into my dating inbox but when I see his face populating my unread messages tab I click into it immediately. I fear that he will follow the stereotype of slang sentences and punctuating every thought with the word “nigga,” performing a case of ethnicity confusion. I am utterly surprised because he actually responds to every subject I have written about in the Email, unlike the frequent games of tennis where people tell me about themselves as if we’re having a competition of interests. Instead, he actually responds to what I have to say rather than slamming interests back at me.

He agrees with me about Buffy and the connections to real life parallels before telling me why he thinks the way that he thinks. He disagrees with me that fish is the most disgusting food on the face of the planet before asking me why I feel the way I feel. Every email back and forth is an actual conversation. I’ve never had a fully fledged conversation on this site before so I’m enchanted by every point he makes, agreeing or disagreeing with me or asking questions. It even takes 12 messages of discussion before we ask each other’s names. His is Jason. I have learned so much about every facet of him I feel as if we’re friends already and I punctuate that thought by obsessively checking my inbox daily because I want to see his reply. He is the first person I spill my diary to, as well, and he pours his right back at me. We make each other feel good, console each other, and correct each other. We develop textual chemistry in a matter of weeks.

I am getting so used to our conversations I begin to expect it to continue for a long time but after a month of conversing I get a message that I never expect.

Hi. I’m good, Thanks! How are you? I’m actually thinking of deleting my profile, sadly. I’m so thankful I met you and had the opportunity to read your kind, and beautiful words. You’re a beautiful person with a beautiful spirit. Lately I’ve been feeling a bit insecure and kind of sad when I think of my dating life and these online dating websites. I think it would be best for me to just delete them and find peace. I’m so thankful you messaged me, you were the very few people that did and I feel special because of that. Hope you are doing great! I will continue to follow your blog! Peace and love.

I absorb the message feeling as if someone has just shot him rather than he choosing to find peace and happiness within himself. I want to comfort him but I can’t. He has provided me with his email, though, so I send him an email before trying to look him up on social media. He is nowhere to be found, not even on Skype.

Months pass and I don’t hear from Jason again. His profile has been deleted. His kind eyes no longer greet me when I open my inbox because I kept his final message like a last hug. Soon, the message is gone as well and I can’t help but thinking I’ve lost someone dear to my heart. I scan the pictures wishing that there were more people like him. I have the inability to be as wise as he has been. My accounts still remain open. I think that says something about my own peace. I try a few more times to find Jason again with the email he provided but he has vanished. I wish I could tell him how smart he really is.

A few days ago a friend and I are at the mall in a bookstore debating over what audiobook we should get and listen to together. She has a sack of CD’s in her hand before she suddenly stops and grabs my shoulder.

“Oh my god! Turn around,” she says. I obey to see a brown skinned head looking away from me choosing a book. We’re a few feet away so he has not heard what Amber has said.

“I think that’s Jason!” she gushes. “Go say hi! He looks JUST like him!” As I watch the man, who is actually a bit taller than me gather a few paperback books and move away to the counter I start to take a step towards him. When he tells the desk personnel his name, Jason, I can’t believe it. I don’t move while I listen to him joke with the personnel before leaving. I approach him and tentatively say hi. I suddenly blurt out, “I’m Robert Kingett. Remember? It’s so nice to finally meet you!” He looks at me with a sad smile and clasps my shoulder.

“I’m sorry, Robert, but we have never met before. You have the wrong Jason.”

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