From the author: In a future time, two lonely people bond over their joint affection for past media.
ABSENT FRIENDS AND NEW ACQUAINTANCES 697 words
By David Perlmutter
It was pretty simple how we met, really. We were both at the costume party, and we hooked up based on our common interests.
Well, there was a little more to it than that, yes.
I spotted her over by the punch bowl. You couldn’t not see her- at least I couldn’t. Tall, with bright red hair, red sweater, white skirt, and white shoes. The spitting image of who she was trying to be from TV. From a show long since gone, but well-remembered by those who saw it.
Myself, I hoped that my similarly-designed outfit, based on another, similar character from another show of that type, was accurate enough for her to know a) who I was supposed to be and b) that I was tolerable enough to be thought of as a romantic figure, as my TV role model hoped to be thought of vis-à-vis his particular crush. Thus far that night, strikeouts at both ends.
So I gathered myself up, cleared my throat and spoke to her.
“Shouldn’t you be out busting your brothers?” I asked.
Fortunately, she smiled pretty wide, as if to say to me: You know who I am! And then she answered:
“I should be asking you the same thing about stopping all that weird supernatural crap that happens on your show. Or maybe just keeping your goofy twin sister in line, huh?”
I gave her the same smile she gave me back to her, with the same meaning.
Then we hesitated as to what to say next. We clearly had something in common. Neither of us had that glassy-eyed look you get from when you take Computron pills and can project the Internet right in front of your face for hours and hours, just using your hands the way you used to use a mouse in the old days, without the need of any external device to help you get online. We two were both outsiders who refuse to play by the rules of our time by following “trends” and doing what was expected of us, just like those whom we impersonated did. But was it enough for us to connect beyond that?
Fortunately, she broke the silence first.
“It must’ve really been hell coming down here in this weather, just dressed in that getup,” she said. “My damn legs are still freezing from walking down here. Stupid winter!”
“Yeah,” I responded. “This is what happens when two fictional characters made for summer end up stuck in the middle of winter. But you took a bigger risk, since you got longer legs to freeze.”
“I suppose,” she answered. “Anybody here know who you were- or, I should say, are?”
“Not a clue,” I said. “They figured me for some kind of midget adventurer type.”
“Well, that’s who he was. ‘Cept he wasn’t a midget.”
“Unlike me. It’s not fun being a short guy when you have to look up to everybody.”
“Better than hitting your head on crap all the time, and having to get things down from the shelf ‘cause you’re the only one who can reach them.”
“There are bad things to everything.”
“You know something? I think the two of them could have made a good couple if there’d ever been a cross-over between the shows.”
“Sure. He was real good at finding out the truth about stuff-even if he didn’t want to. She wanted to find a sure-fire way of making sure her mom saw what her brothers were doing, in an honest, no B.S. way. Sounds like a good match.”
“Too bad it didn’t happen.”
“Not in their worlds.” Suddenly, she had extended her hand for me to grasp, as if she were an Elizabethan lady extending a dance invite to a gentleman of that time. “But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen in ours.”
And so, we got together and danced. And we decided to stay together after, from then right up until now.
And nobody had better tell us TV cartoons from way back in the 21st century, viewed and reviewed on ancient DVDs, aren’t good for anything. Because we know better.
This story originally appeared in Blank Spaces (Dec. 2018).