Utopian Meet-Cute

by Robert Alan Silverstein

"So, I read your story," she said nervously, staring at her coffee cup to avoid looking at me.

I swallowed a large sip of my own coffee, watching her nervously myself. My previous meetings with people who'd answered my online ad hadn't gone very well, and the obvious tension here was definitely starting to feel pessimistically foreboding. And yet, I was also feeling a bit cautiously optimistic at the same time. "Umm..." I said hesitantly, "which one?"

"You know..." she started, still staring at her cup. "The one about the woman who answers the craigslist ad for a collaborator to write the perfect story ..." she blurted out in an adrenalin burst. "The story about a ragtag team working together to change the world ..."

That was one of my favorite ones that I'd posted on my webpage. Maybe this meeting would turn out better than the others.

She bit her lip, swallowed, put her cup down and reached into the pocket of her jacket lying over the seat next to her. I watched in puzzled anticpation as she pulled out some folded pages and placed them deliberately on the table.

The buzz of conversations all around us was completely drowned out by a growing bubble of silence as I watched her carefully unfold the papers. She bit her lip again as she stared at the pages and continued in another burst "... And while they're writing it they fall in love ... and after they write it and put it out there, that utopian team starts to come together in real life..."

As she pressed the pages open, erasing the creases, she gazed defiantly, almost angrily up at me. But as our eyes met, her expression softened. "You know...'Utopian Meet-Cute'," she added, her delivery a little more collected as our gazes lingered.

Before my brain could even form a response, she lowered her eyes back to the pages. "It's not going to happen," she said with a dramatic sigh.

"I...Uh..So... you didn't like it?" I muttered, feeling dejected and depressed as I took another long sip of coffee, totally unsure how to read or react to her confusing emotional presentation. Like all the others, this meeting definitely seemed to be going about as bad as I dreaded it would when I'd received her text to meet up.

"No. I mean yes, I liked it," she said softly, almost smiling as she folded the pages back into quarters, and then methodically, unfolded them again and pressed them flat. "That's why I'm here." She swallowed again. "It's... well. As much as I'd like to, I don't think I'm in a place to actually dedicate my life to trying to create a global movement...but I really would like to collaborate to write about a team that does..."

Oh. That sounds hopeful... Maybe this might work out after all.

Before I could reply that I felt the same way, she continued. "But we're not going to fall in love!" she definitively declared.

"Oh, um... well, yeah..." I practically stuttered. "That... that was just in the story."

We sat in more uncomfortable silence as we stared at our coffee cups.

"Well probably not..." I heard her barely whisper as a smile flickered across her face.

"I brought that sample story you requested in your ad," she said suddenly, jarring the smile that had started to form on my own lips. "This is something short I'd written a while ago, but it kind of seems relevant," she sighed as she hesitantly pushed the pages across the table.

I swallowed nervously as I reached clumsily for them. Our fingers touched briefly in the exchange before we both reflexively pulled our hands away. A warm, euphoria spread up my fingers and washed over me leaving me strangely hopeful as I stared at the pieces of paper. That euphoric excitement grew as I pulled the pages closer and began to read. Her words took me exactly where I'd hoped they would. With each line, I became more and more convinced that this stranger sitting across the table truly understood me in a way that no one else ever had.

"You hate it, don't you," she sighed, jolting me out of the melancholy bliss of her story and back to reality.

I looked up. She was gazing uncertainly at me.

"No ...," I sighed contentedly, still feeling comfortably numb. "... It's wonderful!"

We sat there in another long moment of silence, gazing into each other's eyes.

"So, how do we start?" she said softly.

"I guess we already have," I replied.

We both smiled and sipped our coffees.



© 2023 Robert Alan Silverstein


Back to Utopian Dreamer


Fleeting visions of an impossibly beautiful future of peace and joy and hope
have haunted me all my life.

I've been searching for a utopian dreamer
who'd like to dream with me.

We would work together to create stories of hope
that reflect glimpses of our shared utopian dreams.

Now, after so much time alone,
I am broken,
and I can barely remember how to dream.

I want to hope again that dreams can come true,
and you will find me.


May Peace Prevail On Earth



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