Friday, January 11, 2008

The Wedding

She texted him, he texted her, she texted him, and then he texted her back. Their language was cautious and carefully chosen. Both aware of the risks they were taking. Aware they must be cautious and avoid revealing too much.

But still the texting continued, sometimes with confidence, other times with uncertainty until eventually it became the language of intimacy. Shocking epiphanies. Words of lust made flesh. Interspersed with unrestrained sexual hyperbole – an extravagance of Chaucerian phrases of devotion and Freudian expressions of need.

But he lived here and she lived there, geographically distant from each other. They had certainly lucked out career-wise, each in a place with secure promise of their star rising. How foolish and impractical it would be for him to go to her or her to go to him. Foolhardy, it would be to sacrifice the mad success around the next corner by either of them leaving their Promised Land.

So despite the mutual strumming of heartstrings, if mutual can exist across such a vast separation, how silly it would be to give up their dream of fame, wealth, and independence. Why should they when each can access the other so quickly through text messaging? More quickly than one can access another in the same bed in a tangled twine of sheets?

And so they remained where they were and she texted him and he texted her and she texted him back. After all love is intangible. A shock wave, an impulse, so why not allow it to flow within it’s own currency?

It cannot be denied that it was a passion of love and electronic devotion. True, deep, and abiding love traveling with ease the smooth pulse of a bonfire of text interchange. The words on the screen validated it. Made it truth and reality. And so, before long, in a flash of reckless text and electronic waves and icon asteroids they consummated their love through some untold means that even Darwin would fail to understand. It was now, in truth, an affair.

But this will never do. What respect in this association? An affair must be legalized. So they texted a minister, he texted them back and they hired a Cyber-Geek to create a wedding venue. A beautiful and sanctified space with icons of cool-burning candles, a gilded altar, massive flowers, balloons, the delightful strains of a wedding march, and stitched digital photos of the princess and her prince.

The minister texted them the all-important questions and they responded in quivering, nervous yet bold interfaced italics. All of it enchantingly beautiful and duly witnessed by the Geek and an errant Commenter who accidentally happened by.

But still they felt incomplete. Their loins burning and empty. And so Mr. and Mrs. ASCII worked hard at improving their relationship with more text and still more text.

Each wrestling within their own messaging space with icons and alphabet symbols, phrase and poetry, until exhaustion and the strain of it all overrode their painful need. And in the brief spurts between they sated themselves with smug self-stroking of their wisdom. With the boldness of this new preference they congratulated themselves on their uncanny wisdom to remain in their own geographic space, ascending with such rapidity career ladders stable-set with sturdy rungs that invited them onward and upward. Hearts beat as one when he texted her that he had been named ‘Business Man of the year’ and she responded that she was now the ‘top CEO’ within a prestigious institution.

Years swiftly passed and he texted her and she texted him. And then one day, for each, a memory came softly sneaking around the edges of minds that were forming more ASCII compositions. A vague gnawing memory of what had been forgotten. And what it was, were the legends of things that formed the culture of their birth and childhood.

They had forgotten the pitch and fall and rise of voices and how that melody gives meaning to words. They had forgotten how in a physical space intuition reaches out in an interchange, despite happy smiles, and verbal assertions of contentment, to dispense truth and the real essence of things hidden beneath an exterior display of physical calmness. They had forgotten the clarity of the silent messages delivered by the coloring of a countenance, a bodily gesture, or a smoldering optical exchange.

They forgot skin is warm, silky, and delicate to the touch. That even hair when stroked by another can cast a magical spell. They knew nothing of warm body oils and gentle massage. And without this, they forgot how a gentle touch and soft caress is as nurturing to adults, as it is to a child.

But all that aside, they had a preference, and to each their own. But still I can’t help but think that this new preference jeopardizes the sustainability of human life on this planet. And furthermore, what might become extinct is the precious thread of touch and intuition that connects us to a partner’s ardent care or a child’s emotional need.


Dick said...

This is a masterful piece of polemic, Roberta. It's beautifully composed, managing a fine balance between solemn parody & serious concern. I don't have a massive readership, but I'll put a link to it in my next post.

Pauline said...

Amazing - I read and reread it and each time felt the same admiration for your writing and the same nagging sense of loss at the end. How silly we humans can be.

Jim Murdoch said...

Lovely idea and well executed. I think its brevity is one of its strengths too.

Two things jumped out at me, not so much criticisms as observations:

I liked "the mutual strumming of heartstrings, if mutual can exist across such a vast separation" but I think the idea of sympathetic resonance might work better than mere strumming besides don't we pluck at heartstrings rather than strum?

"Chaucerian phrases of devotion and Freudian expressions of need" are probably more suited to e-mails than texts in fact that was the weak point for me in the whole story, that it involved texting. I think if you did a global replace you'd find it works as well, maybe even better.

Roberta S said...

Dick, all I can say is if you are impressed then I am impressed. Thank you. Thank you.

Roberta S said...

pauline, thanks for visiting. Although I wrote this with tongue-in-cheek, I do think that there are serious consquences that will eventually show themselves as a side-effect of the evolvement of the things we do that may be quite disastrous. I think we've been adequately taught to plan ahead, but not necessarily to think ahead.

Roberta S said...

Hi Jim. Thanks for the critique. I'm not sure empathy exists in the lives of these two who have converted affection and communication to text. The text is the only strum (stimulation) they feel.

I do apologize for the ASCII/e-mail thing. I'm in no way a computer geek. Hub is my computer man and he knows everything. So I know nothing about usb ports, gigs, big bytes and little bytes -- it's all greek to me. So I simply used ASCII as a reference for any kind of electronic message. What I was thinking about when I wrote this is how much faster the young people in my area can type on a telephone. They can type more rapidly on a telephone than they can on a computer. They use text-messaging because it is free and voice message is not. So I see them limiting contact with their friends in the same way as my story describes.

E-mailing, texting, ASCII -- it's all one and the same to me, but I expect for the learned in those departments, it is all quite different.

Matty said...

I wonder if we took their cell phones and computers away...would they be able to hold a conversation? I wonder what technology in the future holds?
I love the fluidity of your words...every sentence in tune. You definitely have a book in you...maybe 2 or 3.

Roberta S said...

Thank you matty for that incredible faith in my abilities. And I wonder the same as you do about the fate of the upcoming generation if suddenly their "text-communication" gizmos were gone. I know a couple of people that have no intuitive sensitivity to others aside from the words they speak, and they have admitted to me that life with that kind of handicap is difficult.