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Petrarch's Secret Crush

Posted May 15, 2004

May 15th
Gazing upon my electronic mail in the middle of the night, wading past the thicket of 'enlargement' epistles, purging the miasma of rejections from journals, skipping another Word of the Day, my long suff'ring eyes abused by a lack of good news I come upon a message from a party unknown to me: What a moniker, I sigh. Many people like me, some, yea, admire me. But I read on. The gist of the missive is this:

Somewhere in the lonely halls of cyberspace, exists a fair dulcet maiden with a crush on me.

O well deserved surprise, relief to mine eyes!

There's the catch, of course, Cupid's arrow is never straight in the treacherous world, but rather wends through a morass of bits and bytes, ones and zeros, routers and hubs. The interloper is a tease and will not reveal the name of this coy dame. I must guess.

So many damsels that I know. But who could be this she?

Perhaps it is sweet Laura, the chaste and lovely, Laura who owns my soul, Laura whom I've only seen in passing in a chat room, Laura of the Restraining Order.

I need but proffer five addresses of the likely lady, and so I type:

None of these are my crush. Would that I knew the lovely Laura's last name.

The servants of Eros yield a clue.

Your crush has brown hair.

It is but a diamond chip of hope, yet it is sustenance. With new vigor in my heart, I set upon the day's work, polishing a sonnet or two.

May 16th
Another message from those who know how to tune my heartstrings: offers another clue, if I can only produce another five email addresses. Breathlessly, I comply, but once again, my offers are rebuked, scorned, rejected. None of my addresses belong to Laura, my muse, whose fair skin and coal eyes help me to rise amorn. Another hint.

Your crush is between 18 and 65.

May the arrows of truth be swift and direct, for this is my Laura. Why can she not come out of her castle and face me herself? I press on.

May 17th
Why did I chose the sonnet as the ideal form? These cretins pay by the line. Today the monster's maw requires ten email addresses, before shedding this clue:

Your crush does not have a pet.

Sadly, since I only know my Laura from afar, an illuminated star just beyond my reach, this fact I cannot ascertain. I do know she is of money, and property, and likely has several horses, but these must be more than pets. Mighty steeds she loves to ride, oh, would I could be that saddle, would I could be that cheval? My humors have risen: I must take a cold shower.

May 18th
The foul knaves will give me no more clues. I am in highest dudgeon, I could spend days entering addresses: I surrender everything, the entire contents of my address book: my family, my editors, my agent, woe, I could verily rend my online buddy system, sacrificing gobbets of privacy and all for naught. Love is fragile indeed, but a crush a fey pistil, ready to be ravaged by the surrounding maelstrom.

A creeping doubt tickles my nape. Is this a billet-doux, or a billet-don't? But the letters do not quite reek of Spam, for my own foibles have taught me to detect their perfidious stench.

The agents of my despair, perhaps they have only contacted me to taunt me. Who could they be? I have many enemies. Peut etre a rival whom I offended at court?

But this thought is quickly dismissed. My editor tells me he too has received a communique of a secret crush. What cruelty, oh world, that such abounding love shrouds itself in secrecy and shame.

May 19th
At long last these agents of Eros have promised to reveal my crush. They have asked for my mailing address, and I have complied. They have asked me to view several advertisements, to add my name to many mailing lists, and I have agreed. They have asked for my Visa, and I have duly given. They have told me that my secret crush will contact me. And now, precious, pitch-haired Laura, eyes of deepest pearls, I will compose sonnets in your name as I await you.



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