A wealthy business mogul, who dealt in dark magic, had an ingenious idea to sell products faster. He cursed an entire generation of Americans with fifteen minute attention spans. This made true love and true friendship nearly impossible, for both take time to develop. This loss of intimacy ensured that a deep hole would exist in the hearts of every boy and girl; a hole they would attempt to fill with consumer products.
In this new world order, some unwittingly fought against the tide. Tim Toil was just such a person. He was an introvert. Strangers made him nervous, and everyone, except his parents, was basically a stranger. Most of his peers didn’t seem to mind their short attention spans. They didn’t mind not really knowing anyone as long as they had someone to talk at, or look at, or be envied by. Tim dreamed of a world he could only find in books. Where characters had many facets and talents. Sure, he had to read five books at once to maintain his interest, but it was worth it. Deep down, he wanted to imagine the storybook characters were his friends, but he wasn’t delusional enough to truly believe it. Therefore, Tim was lonely.
At least that was until Tim’s 21st birthday, when he presented himself with a challenge; he would go out three nights in a row, and talk to at least one person (besides a waiter/bartender). So, that evening, Tim went to the bar down the block. There, he was immediately intimidated by blasting house music and a swarming crowd. It seemed that the girl laughing in one corner one second, was at the other end of the room the next.
Through the blurred masses, Tim spotted a young woman who seemed as equally out-of-place as he. She kept looking from one side to the next, like a trapped mouse. She spotted Tim looking at her, and gave a timid smile. Tim did the same in return. For the next several minutes, Tim and the woman stared unmovingly at one another. Tim admired her off-beat style. Her large eyes, her Joan-of-Arc haircut…and her knee-length mismatched socks. One blue with pink polkadots, the other red with yellow stripes. Only in the fourteenth minute, did Tim gain the courage to walk up to her.
“I like your socks.” he said. She blushed. “Our time is almost up, but I would like to meet you right here tomorrow. Same time.” She smiled, and shook her head. Then, their minds were pulled away from one another, as if by some invisible force. Tim left the bar feeling bored, but with a clinging remnant of happiness. This, he was determined to hold on to.
The next day, Tim went out and bought two pairs of socks, cross-paired them, and then meticulously repackaged them as if they were meant-to-be. This took him three hours off-and-on, but he was proud of himself. He arrived at the bar five minutes early to make sure he got there first. If anyone was going to feel lonely and uncomfortable, he preferred it to be him. His date (?) arrived exactly on time. He handed her the socks without saying much about them, and she “loved them” without a hint of sarcasm. Her name was Silvy, short for “Silvia”, and she was studying to become a social worker. Time flew by faster than either of them could possibly have imagined, and yet they learned so much about one another. When the fifteen minutes were up, they had to fight their bodies and minds to stay together.
“Meet me again, tomorrow,” Tim said.
“I’ll be here,” Silvy promised.
And the next night, there they were again, sitting side by side. It was the last night of Tim’s challenge, but, for once, he enjoyed being around a person he didn’t know. For once, fifteen minutes really wasn’t a long enough period of time. So, in the final seconds of his and Silvy’s meeting, Tim leaned in and gave her a kiss. Their lips locked together, resisting any inclination to part. And when they finally did, it was past minute sixteen. For them, the curse had been broken. Tim and Silvy had become mismatched to their generation., but, fortunately, they decided not to dwell on the idea.
Written by Alex Schattner (10/2/12)
Love the balance you achieve in this story between modern satire and magical folktale elements. Really hitting a stride!