| Sometimes the wrapping paper doesn't
really do justice to the contents of the package. After all, she
didn't look anything like what he had expected her to but, then again,
it really didn't matter. He had come to know what she was like on
the inside, and on the inside there was nothing but beauty.
It was hard to believe that it had already
been over four months since their nicknames had bumped into each
other while strolling through an internet hallway. In fact, it was
a hallway that they first met in. She had entered a singles chat
room, looked around very quickly, and then immediately exited. He
had just happened to glance down at her name as it was being announced
that she was leaving. For some reason he hurriedly sent her an instant
message to see if he could catch her in time. He smiled when she
o, yes, hello
excuse me but.....
why did you leave so fast
a little shy i guess
do you want to chat
sure, why not <s>
It started out just that simple. He found
out that her name was Melissa. She was a kindergarten teacher in
a school just outside of Baltimore. At thirty-three, she seemed confident,
intelligent, and personable; all of which came through in their conversation.
Alex was delighted to discover that she lived only a few hours up the main
highway from his own hometown of Wilmington.
After about a better part of an hour of chatting
with her, he asked if he might have her e-mail address. She gave
it to him without hesitation and he promised to drop her a line just as
soon as he could. They said their ‘byes' and she was the first to
sign-off a few moments later. Alex continued to surf for a little
while longer but found himself thinking only of his newfound friend.
He logged-off and turned in for the evening.
In the meantime, Melissa amazed herself that
she had so freely given him her address. She had been asked to do
this by other men that she came across while on-line, but had promised
herself that she would never give it out; so why was this Alex so different?
Unlike most of the others who had been blatantly vulgar, he had behaved
himself and remained polite. Furthermore, he was easy to talk to
and she took note of how comfortable she had felt while they were chatting.
The one thing that really impressed her was that he did not ask her for
a physical description. It seemed to her that he was the kind of
man who cared more about the inner-person than he did the outer-packaging.
Early the next morning, Melissa checked her
mailbox just as she had done countless times before. The envelope-shaped
icon appeared and the internet voice announced that she had new mail.
To her delight, she found that a message from an Alex Henry was listed
with a few pieces of incoming e-mail. She clicked it open and began
"dear melissa...i really enjoyed our chat together tonight...i hope
you did too...you seem to be very nice and i would like to talk to you
again as soon as possible...will you be on line tomorrow evening...if so
then what time...please drop me a note to let me know...that is if you
are interested...i hope you are...thank you...sincerely...alex (aka alawyer)"
It was a simple note. What made her smile
was the obvious indication that he had written it right after they had
finished chatting the night before. He hadn't wasted any time to
write her and she thought it to be a very sweet thing to do in spite of
She quickly jotted off a note to him to say
that she would be on the internet somewhere around 9 p.m., hoping that
it would be a good time for him too.
On that day, Melissa Combs faced seventeen
energetic five-year-olds realizing that she was smiling inside the whole
time. It was so strange, she thought, to actually look forward
to a chat with a man that she knew so little about. A man who was little
more than a shadow behind some words that had appeared on her monitor screen.
Meanwhile, Alex was involved in an unusually
hectic day at the courthouse and was beginning to feel tired from the stress.
As one who had become acclimated to the fast-moving pace of the legal profession,
he had learned to make himself take momentary mental breaks as a coping
device to deal with the normal pressures of his work. Each time he
did this on this particular day, he found himself thinking about the kindergarten
teacher he had chatted with the night before. He wondered if she
had taken his e-mail to her seriously.
He made sure to sign-on early that evening
to make sure that he would not miss her. It was 8:45 p.m. and he
made his way to the singles room where they had met the night before.
There he waited in the attic as he watched the jabber and kibitzing of
those who had already gathered there. It's strange how a quarter
of an hour can go by so slowly when you are anxiously waiting for a special
At almost the exact moment the digital clock
at the bottom of his screen hit the top of the hour the greeter announced
that "KindTeach" had entered the room. He immediately clicked his
instant message button and typed in.....
so glad u r here
so glad you invited me
how did your day go
She paused for a moment to look at what he
had just typed on her screen. The night before she had been so impressed
that he had not asked her to describe herself. Now, this same man
was showing an interest in the everyday things of her life. His gentle
and caring spirit intrigued her all the more.
a little boy kissed me today
and then he handed me a card.....
that he made.....
and colored himself
what did it say
I Love You Miss Combs
smart kid <s>
Their chats soon became a nightly occurrence.
Hours passed by quickly as they shared their thoughts and lives with each
other. He would tell her as much as possible about the daily happenings
at the law firm and she would share cute little anecdotes about the children
she taught. They spoke of the history of their backgrounds, their
philosophies of life, and even their religious and political views.
It seemed that the more they told each other, the more they had in common.
Yet, there not one time that either asked a physical description of the
other. Connections between two people in Chatville can develop into
relationships even though the faces remain hidden behind words.
There was only one time when Melissa tried
to bait Alex.
got my hair done today
want to know what color it is
it really doesn't matter
are you sure
beauty is in the eye of the beholder <s>
She couldn't believe it. He had walked
right by it. She had given him an opportunity to inquire as to what
she looked like and he had ignored it–or at least evaded it. Of course,
she thought, it does work both ways. Perhaps he is not a very good
looking man himself and is avoiding a query into her features so that he
would not have to explain his own. Although, that thought quickly
left her as she read his response to her next question.
want to know what i look like
i already know what you look like
what do I look like
here is Melissa.....
likes a certain attorney <s>.....
easy to talk to.....
a beautiful heart.....
a lovely soul.....
i see you very clearly
Melissa's keyboard was speechless. There
was only silence marked by a long pause. The next line of words appeared
on her monitor and asked.....
r u there
thank you <s>
Alex knew by her response that he had connected
with her heart. He wanted to reach across the miles and touch it
for just a moment and now he knew that he had succeeded.
The kindergarten teacher went to sleep that
night knowing that her lawyer was indeed a very sweet man; a very handsome
man. Perhaps beauty should be more appropriately placed in the "mind"
of the beholder rather than just the eye.
It was Alex who first asked. He was
going to be in her area to do some research on a case he was working on.
He wanted to know if there would be any chance of their finally meeting
each other face to face.
At first, Melissa was somewhat fearful of
the idea. The little place where they shared this pleasant internet
relationship might be threatened if they were to meet and end up not really
like each other. As it was, she had been frustrated before in her
past relationships because of her looks. Although, a rendevous with
a stranger might prove to be an exciting experience, it also might take
away the innocency of what they had so far enjoyed together. Then
there was always the possibility that a disappointment on either side might
bring the whole thing to a halt. It seemed to her to be somewhat
of a risky thing, but she could not escape sensing that it was the
natural and logical next step. She would tell him that a meeting
would be very nice, but it would have to be on her terms.
Melissa's next e-mail to Alex suggested that
they meet at a large mall in a nearby suburb of Baltimore. It was
just off of an exit on the same highway that he would be traveling on to
conduct his business. She went on to write him that she would be
sitting on a bench at the inside entrance of one of the department stores
there. Perhaps they could then enjoy a lunch at one of the mall restaurants.
She asked him to give her an idea as to what time he could be there.
The only means of identification she gave him was that she would be wearing
a pewter cat pin on her collar. Other than that, he had no other
description of what she might look like.
As they chatted on-line that night, they decided
to meet at noontime. He told her that he would be wearing a dark
blue pin-stripe suit with a burgundy and blue tie. The anticipation
was beginning to build for both of them.
The drive down Highway 95 was a tense one for
Alex. This whole thing seemed so out of the ordinary. In a
little while he would be putting a face to an internet nickname; one that
he had already, as strange as it seemed to even him, come to have some
As he pulled into the mall parking lot, he
wondered if she might already be there waiting for him. The realization
that she was this close made his pulse quicken. Suspense has a way
of jangling the nerves.
Since they had agreed to meet at noon, Alex
hurriedly walked into the mall rotunda as it was already a few minutes
past the hour. As he neared the spot where they were to meet he noticed
the figure of a woman sitting on a bench with her back facing him.
He was immediately attracted to the beautiful frock of long shoulder-length
brunette hair that fell from her head to her shoulders in rows of tight
little curls. Could this be Melissa?
Not being sure if it was her, he decided
to take the long way around so that he could approach her from the front.
Making a sudden change in direction, he accidentally bumped into a rather
large man and quickly excused himself. His nervousness was showing
and he didn't know what to do to control it. He stopped for a moment,
took a deep breath, and told himself to get a grip. This was
not going to be easy.
As he made his way toward the brunette, he
began to see her features more clearly. She was slender and quite
attractive. In fact, she was absolutely gorgeous. Framed within
that beautiful head of hair was a very attractive looking face. Her
large eyes and full lips caused him to stare unconsciously at her as he
slowly walked toward her. She was wearing a soft looking beige dress
that covered a very feminine figure. His heart was pounding as he
tried to think of what to say to her by way of introduction.
Just as he was about to announce himself,
the lady stood up, picked up her purse, and walked right by him.
She didn't even look at him as she passed. Alex quickly glanced at
her collar and noticed that she was not wearing the pewter pin. Disappointment
has a way of calming the nerves.
A long sigh escaped his lungs and, after shrugging
his shoulders, he regrouped.
Knowing that Melissa must be nearby, he quickly
scanned the area to see if there might be another woman sitting alone in
one of the nearby benches. His eyes fell upon a pudgy little gal
who was busying herself eating chocolates out of a little white paper
bag. Her small face was rather plain and the two-piece dress suit
she was wearing looked to be a little scrumpy. Just to make sure
that it wasn't Melissa, he made a bee-line to the bench where she was sitting.
He looked down at her and there, on her collar, was the pewter pin in the
shape of a cat.
By now, his nerves had completely disappeared.
"Melissa, is that you?" he asked.
The woman set her bag of candy down on the
bench beside her and stood to shake his hand.
"Hello, Alex. I'm so happy to finally
meet you." she replied. "Say, I'm hungry already. What do you
say we go get something to eat."
As they walked through the mall toward the
restaurant, he tried to remind himself of the perception that he had of
her. She had turned out to be a rather ordinary looking woman but
he was still impressed with Melissa's inner beauty. They said little
to each other until the hostess seated them at a booth.
He smiled when she ordered a super burger,
a double order of fries, and a diet soda.
Her bubbly personality and happy disposition
proved to be the source of her attractiveness. She also had an infectious
laugh that came easy. Every time she smiled, her eyes lit up and
a cute little dimple appeared off to the side of one of her cheeks.
Her style of conversation was very animated and full of expression.
Alex found himself to be comfortable and relaxed with this marvelous lady.
It was if they were two old friends who had known each other for a very
When the waitress brought their food order,
Melissa asked her for directions to the ladies room. After excusing
herself, she trotted off leaving him to his hot beef sandwich. Alone
with his thoughts, he decided that he liked her.
Within a few minutes she returned and they
began to talk about their having met on the internet. He noticed
that the little cat pin was no longer on her collar. It was rather
oversized and it had obviously served it's purpose. Anyhow, the gold
chain necklace that she replaced it with looked much nicer.
As their conversation continued, he was surprised
to find that she knew little about computers other than to sign-on and
click her mouse. Alex couldn't resist. With a sober expression,
he told her that he had recently broken his mouse so he bought a new one.
He went on to say that he was able to return it and get a full refund because
it gave the old one ‘mouse-to-mouse resuscitation'. There was
a short moment of silence and then she burst out with laughter. He
was so tickled by her response that he found himself laughing just as hard
For the next half of an hour they joked, laughed,
and teased each other. Alex found himself beginning to be taken in by her
charm and good natured spirit. He determined in his mind that this
kindergarten teacher was everything he had hoped for and perhaps even a
After finishing a dessert of fudge-covered
chocolate ice cream, she seemed to want to change the mood of the conversation.
As a matter of fact, she became very serious. It seemed important
for her to know whether or not he wanted to see her again, to see if he
was interested in pursuing the relationship.
Without a moment's hesitation, Alex smiled
and told her that he would really look forward to seeing her again.
In fact, he suggested that the next time ought to be a real date with a
nice dinner and perhaps an evening of dancing afterwards.
A look of delight spread across her face.
"Alex," she said, "you are a very sweet man
and I have a confession that I have to make to you."
She quietly reached into her purse and pulled
out a small folded piece of pink note paper and scooted it across the tabletop
toward him. With a cute little grin on her face, she motioned for
him to open it.
Inside was this little note.....
The lady sitting across from you is my Aunt
Sally. She agreed to help me today because she cares about me and
wanted to make sure that I did not come alone to meet you.
I was concerned that, upon your finally meeting
me, you might only like me for the way that I look and not really care
about the person that I am inside. This is why she stood in for me.
If you are reading this note it means that
she has gotten a nod from me. Please forgive me for doing this but
I had to make sure.
I have been watching and listening to you
the whole time. I hope that you still want to meet the real person
who has come to care about you very much.
I am sitting in the booth directly behind
As he turned around, the beautiful woman seated
behind him flashed a big smile. Her head was covered with shoulder-length
curly brunette hair and on her collar there was a pewter pin in the shape
of a cat.