John sat down at the table at the back of the dim café where the comfortable couches were. The deep purple of the couches fit very nicely with the dim atmosphere of the place. He was there to meet with his old friend from school; they got together about once or twice a year to catch up on their lives.
John sat there quietly drinking his latte playing with his wedding band, he was still getting used to it even after being married for 3 years. He was a happily content man, he liked his job, he liked his home, he loved his wife. Everything was pretty simple for him. He was lost in thought when the bell on the door from the front of the café rang, distracting him. Looking up he saw Ed stamping the snow off his feet looking around for him. Noticing he waved and headed over to the bar to buy himself a coffee.
John was looking at him, Ed hadn’t changed very much from school. He still wore that worn out old jacket with all those patches, the shoes though they looked new were still the same type, skater shoes. John was again lost wondering if Ed was still up to his same old tricks when he heard footsteps coming up to his seat.
“Hey John! How are ya?” came a deep unmistakably male voice as the footfalls of boots on the hardwood floors grew in volume.
John stood up as he turned his head and shook Ed’s hand, “I’m good, and you?”
Ed took off his beaten up jacket and threw it over the chair and sat down and asked enthusiastically, “So how’s Molly doing?”
John took a sip of his latte and shifted in his chair, “she’s doing great, she got a new job as a marketing manager for a pharmaceutical company. She’s pretty excited.”
“And you? You still working for the Ad agency?” Came another question between sips. Ed was obviously still fanatical about his coffee and would drain it in a couple minutes.
“Yep. What about you?” John responded calmly, knowing it was best not to excite Ed too much, two years of living with him at university had taught him that much.
“I’m still with ITCore, it’s a nice cushy job and it gives me a lot of time to talk to Janet”, Ed’s face lit up with an unsure but happy smile at the mention of the name.
John shifted in his seat and crossed his legs. He knew this was what Ed had wanted to talk about when he set up their meeting. It was always like this, Ed either wanted to show off with something or something was bugging him and they met up. It was a good excuse to catch up and typically didn’t last long, but this was a girl so this might be different.
“And who pray tell is Janet?”, John asked keeping a close eye on his old roommates gestures and mannerisms as they often told more of the real story.
Ed was positively beaming, “Well she’s my girlfriend, we’ve been going out for 3 months now. She’s amazing we talk all day long and don’t get bored of each other. Kind of like you and Molly”
John was a little surprised for Ed wasn’t the most personable of people to be around. He was good in small doses until you got to know him a bit, then he was alight. John new he had to go through the motions and let Ed show her off, “So tell me about her”
“She’s a student, she’s doing her masters thesis in meteorology and wants to work for the weather network. Its kind of cute actually. But she really knows her stuff about the weather. Other than that she’s sweet and nice and has this very cute voice. We haven’t had an argument yet and I’m totally happy.”
And happy he was, Ed was simply beaming by this point, which is good for him. About time that he found himself a girl and settled down a bit, but there almost had to be some kind of a catch here, John thought to himself.
“So Ed, how is it that you can talk to her all day long?”
“Well its pretty simple, you know how we occasionally chat online? Its pretty much the same thing, we use online chat all day long while I’m at work and sometimes in the evenings. Though we normally talk on the phone now”
‘Now?’ John thought to himself, that’s a very odd way of putting it; this might be the catch or quirk he sensed earlier, it was time to explore this some more. “So where did you meet Janet?”
“In a chat room on Lavalife”
John watched Ed playing with his coffee cup, which was now all but empty. Still a caffeine junky, which is normal.
“So how many dates have you guys been on?” John knew he was going to get an answer out of Ed.
“Well,” there was a pause as Ed shifted in his seat looking much more uncomfortable than before, “none”
“None? You haven’t met this girl yet?” The reality of the answer took John for a bit of a surpise.
“Not, yet. But I will ask her on a date soon enough.”, Ed was clearly trying to regain his composure. He had obviously set this meeting up for some kind of approval or support but it wasn’t quite going how he had expected it.
“Ed, how could you be going out with someone you haven’t met yet?”, John’s tone had a bit of humor to it being almost rhetorical in nature.
“Its an online relationship,” Ed was getting a bit flustered and shifted in his seat grabbing at the armrests, “I really like her personality and we get along great so I figured there was no point in rushing”
“You really should meet her Ed, you might not even like her when you meet her” John realized that his acquaintance had come for some support, but also needed a bit of reality.
“Not like her? John I love this girl” Came Ed’s startled reply to the question.
“Ed, you’ve never met her” John knew he had hit a button the moment he said it. Ed stood up and grabbed his jacket. “I gotta go, I’ll talk to you later” Ed proceeded to storm out of the café.
John quietly sat there and finished his latte then put on his jacket and headed to the door. He noticed he was the only one in the place other than the girl behind the coffee bar.
As he was walking towards the door the girl asked, “what was that about? He left in a hurry”
John stopped and started to put on his jacket as he looked at the girl, “He was upset because I questioned how he could have a girlfriend without meeting her, he called her an online girlfriend”
The girl shifted on the stool she was standing on, “Doesn’t make sense to me either, but I’ve seen more and more of it. Though I do have to say the internet is an interesting way to meet new people”
“I agree, but that will never replace the physical side of a relationship” John finished zipping up, “Have a good night”
John started to turn towards the girl behind the counter to give her a smile as he noticed her name tag, it read Janet.
Technorati: short story, friends, virtual girlfriend