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Answer these questions, and we will match you with your ideal companion.

  1. What do you want in a wife?
  2. What will you do when that category of human you described, in 1, does not exist?
  3. What makes you think you deserve that category of human you described, in 1?
  4. Whatever happened to the wife we gave you the first time?
  5. If your first wife encountered you accidentally, would she cross the street?
  6. Would you cross the street?
  7. Would you end up on the same side of the street?
  8. Why do you spend so much time on the street?
  9. What is it you can’t find indoors?
  10. When you look deep into your heart, or your soul, or the otherwise random concatenation of incongruent memories that cling to your singular perspective, which emptiness, scarcity, or incompatibility scares you the most?
  11. Do you have a pet?
  12. What car do you drive?
  13. When we asked about your car, and possible pet, did you momentarily relax, equilibrium restored, and regain confidence in the questionnaire, partially?
  14. Do you want to sleep with your pet?
  15. Yes, we mean that kind of sleep.
  16. Why not?
  17. If you were forced to decide between finding a loving soulmate who would be your lifelong loving wife and watching your pet, who, for the sake of argument, had been snatched from your back yard and sold into a dog-fight circuit, forced into the ring to defend her life against a much larger and more vicious predatory sort of fight-trained dog, what would you decide?
  18. We thought so.
  19. This concludes the questionnaire.
  20. No, you don’t get any more questions.
  21. No, that is completely irrelevant.
  22. No.
  23. Thank you for your honest replies.
  24. No, you cannot change them.
  25. Say thank you.
  26. You’re welcome.
  27. An ideal candidate will shortly be knocking on your door.
  28. Be there. Answer.

I have a list. I think it’s complete.
1. To love.
2. To be loved.
3. There is no 3.
To be honest, there is no 2: to be loved is inconsequential. Even 1 is secondary to staying alive, but when we can achieve it, 1 is the list. Picture this trivial scene: we have wasted hours in the rain standing beside cheese that isn’t selling, on a plaza, near a parking lot, in a suburb, at a mall. Speaking for you, we are diminished when we fail to unite cheese with cheese-eaters to benefit the cow, the grass, and the sun; rain, bacteria, and enzymes; the farmer, the monger, the merchant, the merchandiser, the purchaser, the consumer, several species, and the culture. Beyond being employed by a cheese maker, we love what cheese can mean: milk made safe, then made long-lived, then rendered exquisite through craft, which is cultural genius. But we’re selling nothing while segments of beautiful rounds imperceptibly rot, dry, weep, and mold. Our engagement ends, as it were, without a wedding, and so we pack the truck with jilted brides. But Mrs. Kim returns. “I sampled a cheese,” she says. “Which one was it? I want some.” We’re wet, forlorn, and in no way will benefit from Mrs. Kim, but you’re evolved. Your head turns toward her, but you see cars in the lot. Where else on billions of planets, you wonder, are cars? Nowhere. When other than now have creatures discerned the beauty of bent metal (or the flavors of milk made solid)? Never. We’re alone. You drag out the cooler, dig in the bin, lay out sample cheeses, offer the fragile wonder of life on earth to Mrs Kim, without ever consulting “The List” because if you live it, you don’t need it.

The water flows both ways through the tunnel of love, depending on which rusty lever I force! Like life, this tacky carnival ride with its soggy boats bobbing in a curving trough is not a circle but a figure-eight, or an eighty-eight, that doubles back and gives us second chances Read the rest of this entry »

Some of my stuff I want to keep after I’m dead, but Ariel can pick out three things from my toy-box, not three of the same things, like not three ponies, or not even two insects, but a pony and an insect and a piece of furniture would be good, and she can ride my bike when she’s big enough. Read the rest of this entry »

Our shabby little houses look like conjoined twins inexpertly separated. Her family’s house got the worst of the porch, ours got the sagging gutters. Read the rest of this entry »

Halfway down the block from where we had just seen Uncle Mickey, Dad stopped the car and sat with his foot on the brake. He’d been crying, I think, Read the rest of this entry »

In photos of my daughter’s wedding, I look thinner than I was and not at all as if I wanted to strangle the groom. There stands Sheila, radiant as always against a bank of pallbearer suits. Read the rest of this entry »

They looked married. In what they took for granted, the other riders saw they had been together forever. He read the map of the system posted by the door, tilting his head to follow the lines, and kept his balance with a hand on the pole. Read the rest of this entry »

Something so good and pure at the core of a man like my husband hardens to a bullet in the forge of an inhuman world. He might laugh at me for saying so. Read the rest of this entry »

The light I saw flickering in my wife’s eyes as we sat at the little table we use for dinners that don’t involve watching reruns and the radiant golds that shimmered behind her, framing the face I love best after my own, Read the rest of this entry »

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Character, conflict, emotional impact. And sentences! Everything you want in a novel, without one extra syllable.

Behind the Pseudonym

The pen name David B Dale honors my parents Beatrice and Dale. David+B+Dale = davidbdale

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