‘You lost me at …’
Ewww, I could just marry that man’s voice,” a receptionist said, hanging up her phone. Pushing the button that dispatched his seductive voice to the third floor had been difficult ” nearly impossible ” but it was, after all, her job.
Scores of co-workers emerged from cubicles, wanting to hear more. Who was he? Was he single? Did he give you a name? A phone number? There were so many questions.
“I don’t know him but, oh, that voice …” she said, trying to hide the goose bumps, staring at his number on caller ID.
Could Mr. Baritone be the one to finally sweep her off her feet? Maybe. She had almost recovered from her last date ” an outdoor wedding reception.
“I’m not a flower!” her ex-boyfriend had shrieked right after the cake was cut, flailing his arms at a Monarch butterfly that swarmed about his head. It was a scene that amused scores of champagne sippers.
The videographer ” a wicked little twerp with Paparazzi ambitions ” captured the raw footage. He hit the studio that night, played it in slow motion and dropped in the theme song from “Jaws.” His masterpiece, “The Butterfly Effect,” was an instant smash on You Tube and My Space. Her ex was now famous.
It was the last straw, though she knew from the beginning that it would never last.
“I’m Mike Christmas,” he announced the day they met, waiting for a reaction. His name was always good for a smile, but not that time.
“Oh … uh, nice to meet you,” she said, avoiding his brown eyes.
Fearing the worst, Mike checked his armpits and zipper. Everything checked out. Whatever caused her hesitation escaped him. He popped a breath mint and turned on the charm.
Ten minutes later, they exchanged phone numbers and the romance had begun.
“I guess it could be worse,” she told friends the next day.
“You could change your first name,” one suggested.
“At least his last name isn’t Lipschitz or Schmuck,” another added with a laugh.
She managed a smile and wrote her potential wedded name on a napkin: Mary Christmas. Could she handle a lifetime of Mary Christmas jokes? The only thing worse than writing it was saying it out loud and trying to keep a straight face. She couldn’t do it. Neither could her friends.
The fling lasted six months.
“It’s not you, it’s me,” she told him.
But “Mr. You Lost Me at Christmas” was old news now that the perfect man voice had entered her life. She replayed the phone conversation in her head throughout the morning, imagining the voice whispering a sweet nothing or two in her ear. Three times, she dialed his number, but hung up before it rang.
She barely tasted her sesame chicken and fried rice at lunch, but by the time she laid down her chopsticks, she realized that she could not wonder “what if” the rest of her life. She would call him when she got back to the office … or at least she would have ” if not for the fortune cookie. “A romantic interlude may have to be postponed,” it read.
“Stupid cookie,” she said, throwing the message on the table.
She tried to shrug it off, but could not. The message was no accident. She believed in fate and hated herself for it. By late afternoon, she crumpled up the paper with Mr. Baritone’s number phone number and tossed it in the garbage.
The Chinese fortune could not be ignored. Deep down, she knew it was wrong to call him. Why give the voice flesh and bones? Why parade the voice around in public, taking a chance on butterflies, last names and God knows what else? She didn’t want to tempt fate. She did not want to kill the perfect man ” a voice without a face inside her head.
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