She had it all, but hated everyone and everything. Nothing was ever good enough for her; so Alice spent every day complaining about her life, her job and the people that surrounded her. No one was ever as smart or as pretty as she; no one could do anything as well as she. In her mind she was flawless and faults were unacceptable.
One day, she met Jason, and just like everyone else, he was not good enough. Alice was convinced that Jason didn’t mean anything to her, but she was only cheating herself. The truth was that Jason had impressed her deeply from the very start. Jason was tall and handsome and intelligent. He had been hired at her jobsite and was quickly climbing the corporate ladder. He was proving to be a valuable employee. He did things right the first time, just like Alice. He was nice, well-educated and unassuming, just like Alice (or so she thought). In any case, he was perfect. The perfect catch, the perfect man. But Alice had convinced herself that he wasn’t good enough because Jason was deaf. And in her flawless mind, deafness or blindness, or any other handicap was an intolerable fault.
Despite this huge blemish on Jason’s life resumé, Alice’s heart still skipped a beat when she saw him. Her mind swam with pleasure whenever the scent of his cologne floated to her through the sea of office cubes as he walked by. She woke up every weekday elated that she would see him; and during the day, whenever she bumped into him in the hall she would bask in the sunshine of this gaze.
Try as she might to reject and deny it, Alice was thoroughly smitten and her attitude towards Jason changed. She smiled at him, praised him whenever she could, and even tried to teach herself sign language from a book she’d borrowed from the library.
One day, she got up the courage to ask him out to lunch and, to Alice’s amazement, he agreed. In his mind, it was just a friendly outing between co-workers. In her mind, it was to be the date of her life. This was to be the date that defined everything for her, this was to be the most important hour of her life; excepting the future wedding ceremony, of course. During this one hour, she was going to bowl Jason over with her wit, her charm and her beauty; since Alice was certain she was in possession of all three. She was perfect, after all.
The next day Alice was slightly late for work. She had woken up extra early and spent much of the morning picking out her outfit, doing her hair and makeup to perfection. She was ready to conquer the man of her dreams. At lunchtime, she strutted to his cubicle in a tight red Nordstrom pencil dress, black Jimmy Choo stilettos and Prada handbag. She was a sight to behold. She even paused to look at her reflection in one of the windows and set her hair just right. Alice was hot, Alice was sexy and Jason would not be able to resist her.
Throughout the date, she was sensual and seductive. She gave it her all. She smiled, flirted and was certain that Jason was completely and irrevocably enamored of her charms. She was Alice, how could he not be?
Jason was a dream; he was kind and witty and in spite of that strange muffled quality of his voice, he was eloquent and gentlemanly. He was even sweet enough to point out her mistakes in sign language and praised her for the effort she was making in communicating with him. Alice brushed those comments off; she was certain she hadn’t made mistakes, her sign language was flawless, she had made sure of that. Perhaps Jason was just being polite by communicating in her preferred mode: the spoken word, and was using these so-called mistakes as a way to make her feel comfortable.
When they returned to the office, Jason accompanied her to her desk and said goodbye in the most polite manner. He assured her that he would love to lunch with her again and Alice’s heart raced as those blessed words flowed through her brain. Yes, she would very much like that too. Jason was hooked. She could take that to the bank.
That night, as she lay in bed she dreamed of the perfect relationship, the perfect wedding, and their future flawless life. She woke early again, and made herself up to perfection. Jason must think that Alice’s image was always perfect. She could not afford one single mistake now that she had met the man of her life.
Alice walked into work as if in a dream. She was still curt to those imperfects around her, but she felt herself light, featherlike, and very much in love. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw an envelope on her desk. It was not on company letterhead and looked rather personal. She was certain it was from Jason, and as she reached for her letter opener she imagined him coming in early just to give her that. She pictured him standing behind her as she read the letter, smiling like the sun, arms wide open while she rushed to his embrace.
She opened the envelope and read Jason’s letter. It began with a gentle explanation of how difficult it was for him to speak, since words always came out strange in his voice, and, while that normally wouldn’t stop him, he felt that in order to avoid any misunderstandings, in this case, he preferred to write.
He wrote about how flattered he was by her attentions, but that he didn’t think she’d be good fit for him. He didn’t like the way she treated others. He didn’t like the way she thought so highly of herself, and he was certain he did not want a romantic relationship with someone like that. He wrote about her initial attitude towards him and his deafness, her curtness towards her peers, and her rudeness towards those that made no difference in her life.
He wrote about how he believed there were five crucial conditions for a good relationship. The first, was that both parties had to like each other. In their case, there was no doubt about that; she was very pretty, he wrote, but there had to be more than that. The second condition he sought in a relationship was the way a potential partner would treat him. That meant a lot to him, he wrote, especially because of his condition, and Alice, who had recently showered him with praise, had not always been so attentive towards him. Third, it was important for him to see how she treated those she loved, both in good times and in bad times. He admitted that he had not been privy to that behavior, since it seemed that Alice did not have many friends at the office, and he had only seen her at work. Fourth, he always paid attention to how she treated people who were indifferent to her, and in these instances, he had seen a lot. Alice was rude and boorish, especially to those who worked under her, not only at the office, but elsewhere too. He even gave an example of how she had yelled at the waiter the day before because he had forgotten to bring the ketchup. And five, it’s always important to note how a potential partner treats her enemies; and he had seen how Alice had destroyed a poor colleague’s career by taking credit for all the work and blaming all the mistakes on him. It had not escaped him, Jason wrote, that that man was first in line for a promotion, and that Alice, had received it instead.
So, he concluded, while Alice was a very beautiful woman on the outside, it seemed to him, that she did not fit his other conditions and that it would be best if they just remained colleagues and friends. Perhaps, he went on, if Alice rethought her attitude, someday, his feelings towards her might change.
Alice read the letter, crumpled it up and threw it away. In her mind, Jason had passed on a great love with someone beautiful, smart and flawless. But in reality, Alice had missed out on a wonderful relationship because of her ego.