A woman reflects on the virtues and limits of online dating:
I went on a date with a classical composer who invited me to a John Cage concert at Juilliard. After the concert we looked for the bust of Béla Bartók on 57th Street. We couldn’t find it, but he told me how Bartók had died there of leukaemia. I wanted to like this man, who was excellent on paper, but I didn’t. I gave it another go. We went out for a second time to eat ramen in the East Village. I ended the night early. He next invited me to a concert at Columbia and then to dinner at his house. I said yes but I cancelled at the last minute, claiming illness and adding that I thought our dating had run its course. I was in fact sick, but he was angry with me. My cancellation, he wrote, had cost him a ‘ton of time shopping, cleaning and cooking that I didn’t really have to spare in the first place a few days before a deadline …’ He punctuated almost exclusively with Pynchonian ellipses.
I apologised, then stopped responding. In the months that followed he continued to write, long emails with updates of his life, and I continued not responding until it came to seem as if he was lobbing his sadness into a black hole, where I absorbed it into my own sadness.