Back home after driving the neighborhood looking for Ann and Dylan, Joe sat down in front of his computer to ponder Match.com. In less than a day, the personal ad that Cole crafted yielded almost 200 replies from women of every age and stage.
"How am I supposed to choose?" he asked Daisy, as NewsRadio88 played behind him. He scanned the listings and found photos of women dressed formally, casually, even hardly dressed. He looked at their names: Smiley, GingerCat, OrangeTabby, MostlyHappy.
He glanced down at his sleeping dog. "I guess the cat ones are out," he said. "That's a problem right there." He moved to delete a listing labelled FancyCat, but hesitated.
"Cole would tell me that I'm looking for reasons to limit this list," said Joe aloud. "He would be right."
Walking to the kitchen, where he poured a cup of coffee from the pot on the counter, Joe picked up the Star-Ledger and glanced at the sports pages. It was the habit of a lifetime; he had written a good bit of what he read, and knew the scores already, but couldn't resist. Derek Jeter homered against the A's, and Joe mentally calculated the player's batting average.
"Not bad," he murmured, then shook his head when he read of the Mets' fielding errors.
A quantifier by nature, Joe tallied the losses and wins in his mind, keeping track of the local teams' scores so far in the season. Swallowing the coffee, he returned to his desk and looked again at the website before him.
"Stats," he murmured. "That's what I need. Stats will show the way."
And taking a pen and piece of graph paper, he began labelling columns across the length of the paper. He turned it sideways to copy the names. TabbyKat led the list.