"U Sound Lovely"

“I can’t go out with someone who can’t spell.”

“Okay.” Her face was turned away, but I knew Wyn’s eyes were rolling. I waited a beat, expecting a bit more. Nothing came.

“What, you’re not going to give me a hard time, say I’m too picky? Tell me I might be surprised if I just took a chance?”

Now she did look at me, blue yes holding a heavy dose of exasperation. “At least you have a good memory, if not good sense. I’ve said it all before, Tony. You’re going to do what you want to do. Or not.”

That hurt. Wyn had always been a willing sounding board for me, and I expected a bit of lighthearted banter, not…judgment.

We’d just gotten off the Tube in Chiswick to look for a coffee shop she’s read about and wanted to try. I’d lived in London for six months when Wyn, my best friend, came for an extended visit from the States, but I hadn’t seen much of the west side of the city where we were wandering. I took a deep breath and grinned at the day’s open blue sky. I lived in Brixton, an old, industrial area on the southeastern side of London. A bit gritty, a bit edgy. I loved it. But after only a few minutes I knew I could love this part of London, too. We turned left out of Turnham Green station and walked underneath the railway viaduct, passing a little park that smelled of freshly cut grass and had the name “Chiswick Common” printed on a sign next to an entrance. Dozens of people were out with dogs of all sizes and breeds. I’d seen much quainter areas of London, but Chiswick was both pretty and felt livedin. 

At the top of the street we took another left onto Chiswick High Road. Wyn was quiet. I glanced over and gave her a small nudge with my elbow. “Wyn, are you okay? You don’t quite seem yourself.” 

At first she didn’t say anything, and I waited. Then a small sigh blew from her lips. 

“Yeah, something’s going on. But I’m not ready to talk about it. I just want to walk. And then drink coffee.” 

“Okay.”

One white-blonde eyebrow raised and she looked up at me with a little smirk. “I will talk. I promise. But what about you? Where did you meet this girl?” 

Wyn was very good at deflecting. But I couldn’t help responding.

“I’m…well…I’m trying online dating.” I could feel my face warm up.

Wyn looked at me in surprise. “You said you’d never do that! Wasn’t there something about, ‘It’s for the sad and desperate. The lonely. The people who can’t…’”

I interrupted before she could continue, “I know, I know! But it’s hard to meet people in this city. At least, people I’d want to date. And maybe I am.”

When I didn’t say anything else she said, “Am what?”

I grimaced. “Desperate. But not desperate enough to compromise my principles.”

This time I could see Wyn roll her eyes. “Good grief, man, it sounds like you’re already compromising your so-called ‘principles’ by trying one of those sites! Which, as you know, I think is perfectly acceptable. To try a dating site. Not abandon your principles.”

“My principles have changed. Matured. Developed. I’m growing…”

“Oh, shut up. What did she say?”

“What?”

“What did she say? Write? You said you can’t go out with someone who can’t spell!”

“Oh. Well, she must have liked my profile, so she contacted me. And she’s quite attractive. But all she wrote was, ‘U sound lovely.’ With the letter ‘U’ instead of spelling the word out. That’s just lazy.” 

Wyn didn’t say anything for a few seconds, and when I looked over she had her hand to her mouth, shoulders shaking. A giggle escaped from between her fingers.  

I felt heat rising to my cheeks again. “That kind of thing drives me nuts, Wyn. You know what I do for a living!” 

Suddenly Wyn bent over on the sidewalk next to me, hugging her stomach and laughing so hard tears streamed down her cheeks. A few bemused Londoners passed us, some looking slightly suspicious and others starting to laugh a little themselves. 

I sighed. This was the Wyn I knew.