Philadelphia Man Desperately Seeking Woman without Colossal College Loan Debt: A Tragedy in Four Parts

Walter Bowne

Walter Bowne

Man to Girl #1 in Ocean City:
Wow. I just think it’s so cool you know so much about Hegelian philosophy. The girls back home didn’t know their Hegel from their Schopenhauer. Is that so? I never knew that. Geez, I only thought the girls who knew deep stuff like that resembled Hobbits. It’s not too often I find that brains match beauty, but hey, babe, you’re caught the combo. Really Swarthmore? You graduated from Swarthmore? Do you know how many girls back in high school got rejected from there – and boy, were they out of me league. Ok, ok, now enough with the parley vous. I only know enough phrases in French not to make me look like an idiot. Yeah, I have my degree. Got a sweet gig downtown. My studio apartment’s not much, but it sure beats living with my mom. So Swarthmore, huh? So like, I know this is a personal question, but I’m sure you had to take out loans, right? So how much? What? $160,000! You owe how much? Listen, good luck with Hegel and Voltaire, but I forgot to water my plants, and this sun has been brutal. Maybe I’ll see you around.

Man to Girl #2 at Independence Mall
You know, I’ve been eating on this bench all summer, and I’m so glad I finally got up to nerve to introduce myself. I can’t believe we both eat that falafel on pita with a blueberry vinaigrette glaze for lunch! It’s no wonder you look so fit! Oh, thanks. I don’t really work out. It’s just when I’m waiting for the tea to boil or the microwave orange chicken I get from Trader Joe’s, I drop and crunch out as many push-ups as I can. I mean, I’m waiting, right. I may as well tummy-crunch. Oh, yeah. I have a small place in Old City. I sleep there, but with work and all the downtown venues, I’m rarely there. Yeah, I got my degree. No, no, I was the loser and commuted from home. But don’t think I’m a mommy’s boy. What? You graduated from Gettysburg? I’ll be ashamed to admit this, but I’m a rather a Civil War buff. I couldn’t imagine waking up from the dorm and doing a jog along Seminary Ridge every morning. Oh, I know Wawa is great and all. Yeah, the pay must be crap. What do you owe? Sure, sure, $103,000 divided over thirty years isn’t that much, but what about that thing called compounded interest? Never heard of it? Look at the time! I didn’t realize the sun had dipped beyond the cupola there. Look, I’ll catch up with you later.

Man to Girl #3 at Rittenhouse Square
Really? You had two dates this weekend. Who was the guy last night? That’s awkward. You didn’t know he was married, and then he left you with the check? Bummer. That’s the problem with online dating, huh? Me? No, I’m not into that whole online thing. I like to trust my chemicals. Like with you. When I saw you on that dance floor. I went to my buddy, and I said, “Now that girl over there is the best looking girl in the joint.” Well, I’ll glad your girlfriend thought an outdoor movie in Rittenhouse Square more romantic than what the guy had planned for last night? No, I don’t think Taco Bell is romantic. He actually poured rum in his Coke? Wow. Loser. Now I hope you’re hungry because I know you’re a nurse and I’m trying to eat healthy, so I have homemade nutrition bars here made with 100 whole grain. I have baby carrots with hummus and some bananas and this delicious Greek yogurt with blueberries with some natural Stevia. Impressed. Cool. Why can’t you afford Greek yogurt? Don’t nurses make…? Huh? You went where? Susquehanna? How much is your payment? Yeah, no wonder you can’t afford an apartment. No, I wouldn’t take a second job. Being a nurse is tough already. Wait. Please don’t cry. I know you want a house and a family. Here, take my picnic blanket, and enjoy the feast. I need to find a bathroom. If I don’t make it back, can you just give this stuff to that homeless guy over there?

Man to Girl #4 at the Barnes
It’s really cool that you studied art in France. I thought you’d like it here. I’ve been trying to get tickets since it moved, but now was the only time available. Matisse is not my favorite. I don’t know why. I feel more at home with Renoir. Call me a family guy. What? I’d love to model for you? Are you looking at doing some ugly etchings? So you do your art at night right, and what do you do during the day? Oh, Cosi’s. The one on Chestnut? I’ve had lunch there. It’s pretty good. Did you work while in France? Okay, I’m rusty on my Francais. Can you speak in English? You didn’t work? How did you live and study in France for five years? Your last name isn’t duPont or Annenberg, is it? Don’t laugh! You from the Main Line? Loans? Really. If it’s not too forward, like, how much do you owe? Combien? Sacre bleu! Excusez-moi. J’ai besoin d’utiliser les toilettes.


Walter Bowne just recently won the New Jersey Wordsmith Competition for his humorous essay “Omission.” Other humor pieces have appeared recently in The Yellow Ham and The Satirist. Inkwell Journal published his short story “The Proving Grounds.” Another story “The Donkey Man” also appeared in Essays and Fictions. Also, in the online winter edition of Philadelphia Stories, his essay about Elmer, NJ, “Vanishing Acts,” was published. Weird NJ published his nonfiction ghost story “The Restoration of Charles Jones” and the NEA Today published “Pride and Regret.” He’s currently working on his comic Bildungsroman, The Adventures of Thaddeus Littleman. He teaches AP English and journalism at Eastern High School in Voorhees, NJ.


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