(A Costa coffee, somewhere in North London. A WOMAN is sitting alone with a coffee and a laptop. A BARISTA is talking into a mobile phone. Enter a MAN, carrying a pad of writing paper. He approaches the counter.)
BARISTA: (into phone)
And so I had another drink and said to her -
Hang on a second. (To MAN.) Can I get you something, sir?
I'll take a chocolate brownie and a large flat white.
Oh hell - I've only got a ten, is that alright?
That's fine - I've got the change. Five pounds and fifty pee.
I'll bring it when it's ready.
Thanks a lot. I'll be
There in my usual corner, writing.
BARISTA: (handing over the change)
There you go.
Sugar and caffeine sometimes help the juices flow.
(MAN takes the brownie and heads towards his corner. He pauses before the WOMAN, unable to pass her outstretched feet.)
Excuse me, madam, could you poss'bly move your feet?
Did you say something?
'Scuse. I'm trying to reach my seat.
Of course. I beg your pardon. I was miles away.
It's really not an issue. (As he passes.) Thanks.
WOMAN: (letting him past.)
Have a nice day.
(MAN goes and sits down, and starts writing. At some appropriate moment during this next section, the BARISTA brings him his coffee. The WOMAN returns to her reverie.)
I've always found it tricky
Meeting people face-to-face
'Cash-rich, time-poor''s a cliche
But appropriate in my case.
Tried speed-dating on the offchance
But you know that something's wrong
When the regular three minutes
Seems half-an-hour too long.
A colleague came in knackered,
So I ask if she's alright
She says 'Oh lord, I'm sorry.
I stayed up half the night.'
I ask her 'On the razzle?'
She says 'No, on the net.
You ever heard of Second Life?
You ain't seen nothing yet.'
One drunken night, I took the plunge-
What could happen at the worst?
A second life's attractive
When you haven't got a first.
Made an avatar - the person
That I'd like myself to be -
Blonder, thinner, quite a winner
An upgraded sort of me.
It's easy to get flirty
Where nobody sees your face -
Met a virtual kind of fellow
In a virtual sort of place.
It's virtual, not virtuous,
Things quickly got obscener,
Things move on rather quickly
In an avatar's arena.
When now's the only moment,
And you're neither here nor there,
There's little to restrain you
In a virtual affair.
Lord knows, I've had my moments
In the world of real-life men
But this was regaining virginity
And losing it again.
And again and again and again
And again and again.
Our avatars made tender love
Until that moment when...
A message popped up on my screen
I read it - Bloody hell!
He said "Since we're so good on here,
Why not try IRL?"
(WOMAN sits for a second. The MAN finishes writing.)
If men are from Mars, and women from Venus,
The vellum's the vulva, the Parker the penis.
The page undiscovered, a virginal land
Awaiting the touch of the pen in my hand,
Which grows slowly erect, like a conjuror's wand,
Each word a caress on the Basildon Bond.
I fondle each sentence, draw up to the brink,
As the seed of my passion pulsates through the ink.
Every paragraph marks an additional stage
To the climax that comes at the foot of the page
And I sign off 'Yours ever, let's never forget'.
Perhaps a P.S., like a last cigarette.
We stare at the ceiling, exhausted, replete,
The evidence round us, as marks on the sheet.
Put it into the envelope, make the world guess
Exactly what's hidden beneath her address,
Find a soaring red pillar, insert it and then,
Head back to the cafe and start it again.
Are you all done with these?
Yes thanks, take them away.
(BARISTA takes the coffee cup and plate, leaving the man alone. MAN starts to pack up his pen and paper.)
I think there isn't that much reason I should stay.
I'm writing to a girl I've never really seen,
Our only contact point a laptop's screen.
Her avatar I know, in real life, she's a blur,
I wouldn't know my love if I fell over her.
(MAN gets up and heads for the door.)
I've not decided what to do,
Now, here's the irony.
I wouldn't know the fellow
If he fell over me.
(MAN finishes sealing his letter, and walks towards the door, again towards her outstretched legs. As he approaches, she pulls them in, and he walks past her. Finis.)