Shoot For The Stars

by | Apr 9, 2024 | Fiction, Issue Thirty-Eight

I swipe through Caleb’s dating profile and scroll down to his reviews. He has an average of three and a half stars out of five.

Caleb’s good-looking and smart. He cares a lot about movies. He talked a lot and didn’t ask me very much about myself, so we only went on one date, the first one says. Three and a half stars.

He was as tall as he said he was, but he was also a little pretentious and kinda boring, the second one says. Three and a half stars.

Caleb is a dream guy for someone out there, just not for me, the third one says. Four stars.

Ever since the Connectz app came out with its reviews feature, finding a prospect who can keep their score above three stars has been difficult. Caleb’s profile is the first I’ve seen in a while without the words “fuckboy” or “needs therapy” repeatedly littered underneath it. I switch right back to his message asking if I’m free for drinks this Thursday night to tell him that I’m available.

On Thursday, I arrive at our agreed meeting place at 8:00 p.m. Caleb is already sitting at the bar waiting for me. He’s handsome and tall, just as his past dates had mentioned, with shaggy hair and a sharp jawline. He greets me with a big smile and throws his arms open for a friendly hug. He smells fantastic, like sandalwood and musk. I wonder why none of the other ladies mentioned that in their reviews. Caleb orders an old fashioned and I order an espresso martini.

“Aren’t espresso martinis just a fancier version of Four Loko?” he asks.

See! He’s not boring. He’s funny. That one review was totally off-base. Maybe she didn’t get his sense of humor.

Caleb tells me that he’s originally from Georgia and that he has two older brothers. He graduated from UCLA five years ago where he studied film. Now he works as an assistant for some hot-shot Hollywood producer.

“How long have you been in LA?” he asks.

Thank God! A personal question. That other review said he only really talked about himself.

I tell him that I’ve been living in Los Angeles for a year. I explain that I’m originally from upstate New York and that I went to NYU where I studied advertising.

“That’s awesome,” he says. “Rear Window was set in Greenwich Village, right near NYU campus.”

“I’ve actually never seen that movie,” I say.

“You haven’t seen Rear Window? It’s one of Hitchcock’s best films. We’ll have to fix that.” He grins like a Cheshire cat.

Okay, the film talk is a bit of a snooze, but he’s already arranging a second date. That’s impressive!

Caleb brings up two or three other Alfred Hitchcock films. He acts equally surprised every time I mention that I haven’t seen one.

“Have you always loved movies this much?” I ask.

He shrugs. “I mean, yeah, for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, no matter what was going on at home, I could always turn to them, you know? I liked how they wrapped everything up so perfectly in the end.”

“If only real life could be like that.”

“Exactly!” He raises his brow. His pupils swim in the whites of his eyes. “That’s why I chose it for my career. I knew I wanted to be a part of that magic, that perfection. I wanted to see it every day.”

We exchange a lingering glance and then we both take a sip from our drinks.

“What about you? What are you passionate about?” he asks.

I pause, unsure what he means exactly. “You mean career-wise?”

“Yeah, or in general? What would you do all day if money was no object? Would you still make ads?”

“I don’t know.” I run my fingers up and down the stem of my martini glass. “I mean, I like the structure of my job. I like knowing what time I need to be there in the morning and what time I can leave. I like seeing the results of an ad and analyzing all the data. It makes human behavior seem so simple.”

“But what’s your dream? Do you want to start your own agency one day?”

“No, I don’t think so. I’d like to be paid more eventually.”

“Well, what did you want to be when you were a little kid?”

Why won’t he let this go?

“A ballerina, I think? But I stopped taking ballet classes when I was in elementary school.”

Caleb stares at me after I’ve stopped talking as if he’s still waiting for the right answer. Then he sits back in his seat and peers around the bar. We don’t say anything for a couple of seconds, so I hurry to break the silence.

“How long have you been on Connectz?” I ask.

He sighs. “Three years.”

“Three years? Did you ever get a girlfriend out of it?”

“Not yet.”

I wait for some kind of explanation, or excuse, or even a joke. Instead, he leans in close to me. “Hey, I know this might sound weird, but would you mind leaving me a four-star review?”

“What?”

“On Connectz,” he says. “You can write whatever you want as long as there’s a compliment thrown in and a high star rating. It’s actually better if you add in a small insult anyway. It makes it more realistic.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You’re nice and pretty and all, but I don’t think either of us is really feeling a spark.” He gestures back and forth between us with his hands. “I was hoping you could help me out. I’ll leave you a four-star review too.”

I study the strangely pleasant look on his face as I wrap my mind around his offer.

“Why not ask for a five-star review?”

“C’mon.” He laughs. “It has to be believable.”

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