The reading room reminded Carl of Great Aunt Gertrude’s parlor. On special visits to her house, Gertrude would let him look through the new Sears & Roebuck catalog. Carl would giggle at the brassiere models with their conical breasts, and high-waisted girdles. Gertrude diligently censored the men’s underwear section, expertly cropping the offending pages.
After Gertrude passed, it was Carl’s job as executor to curate his aunt’s possessions. He found several dozen boxes filled with reams of photos of men in boxers or briefs. That was before Carl became unwell.
It was his doctor’s idea to use the matching service. After months of systematic desensitization, beginning with emails, then phone conversations, to video chats, Carl finally felt safe enough to venture out of his home for a trip to the service’s headquarters. Through their video conferences, his counselor had conducted many virtual tours of the facility, giving Carl a sense of familiarity.
So, here he sat, ensconced in an overstuffed chair in a dimly lit, wood-paneled den, leafing through several catalogs of potential matches. A Tiffany lamp on a side table cast a warm pool of illumination over him and his reading material. It was all very cozy.
The service discouraged the term “catalog” when referring to their index of eligible members. Cross-referenced into 58 separate profile qualities, there was an extensive archive of binders to peruse. For the umpteenth time, Carl wondered why the agency didn’t have all this on a searchable database.
The counselor assigned to him explained it was akin to the old-fashioned courting ritual. The more effort you put into the search, the more meaningful the match. According to his doctor, having easy computer access to these lists would also defeat the purpose of withdrawing from his comfort zone.
On the provided notepad, Carl jotted down a few candidate reference numbers. That he wanted to meet new people, he told himself, was a sign all his hard work was paying off.
If this experiment was a success, and he was able to make one new friend, perhaps sometime in the future he could even try for a marital match.