I was performing a routine inspection of my friends list, trying to get my life into a more efficient working order, when I first discovered that Z was missing.
I went through the list again starting with the A's. Perhaps I had made an oversight. Or maybe it was the platform itself, the pressures over the recent scandal swirling around its allegedly unwitting involvement in the most recent presidential election, the rush to correct those errors leading to some kind of temporary systemic failure, causing names to appear in the wrong order alphabetically or to vanish altogether, only to turn up later in their proper places restoring order and sanity to the world.
Retreating further into denial, I turned to Privacy and Settings, which led me to Help and Support, where I was invited to Report a Problem. Under the heading Something Isn't Working was a list of features I was asked to choose from, though none appeared to address my issue. I considered for a moment offering some General Feedback; however, staring at the blank box with the question How can we improve? printed in faint lettering along the top I couldn't think of anything to put there that wouldn't make me appear overly sensitive or needy, traits that I find important to conceal from total strangers. In desperation I clicked on an entry called See More, revealing a category called Crisis Response, which on further inspection appeared to be a forum allowing people affected by natural or man made calamities—Earthquakes. Tornadoes. Terrorist attacks or random confrontations with American Nazis or Angry Environmentalists—to request or provide assistance, or to simply assure loved ones that they were safe. Somehow my crisis just didn't seem to fit there.
Having nowhere else to turn I rebooted my laptop—an inexpensive model I'd acquired several months ago, reliable until now—and combed the list again like a bloodhound, hoping against hope to see the name there and thus have my faith in humanity restored. No luck.
She had done this once before, sending me into a tail spin of undignified behavior for a man my age. I started hanging out at the Fresh Market on Sundays where I knew she shopped, hoping to see her among the overpriced produce. Twice I stopped by the ice cream joint on Grove where we had held hands once under the table like teenagers, both times leaving with something that ended up melting in the car. Once I went out of my way to drive by the Thai place near her house that I took her to once—she said she went there often—on the off chance that I might see her going in or coming out. I didn't, which was probably a good thing, since I have no idea how I would have managed to spin something like that into a coincidence.
Finally, after searching her profile for clues—had she known how often I was viewing her page she might have filed for a restraining order—I sent her an email begging her forgiveness for whatever it was that I had done like some third grader passing a note to some girl he likes during nap time. It worked, at least until this last thing.
I'm not sending any emails this time. I do have my pride.
As for further surveillance, well, who can say?
Just writing some stuff.