One of the major downsides to tech advancement on Earth, after our biggest brains finally made faster than light interstellar space travel a reality and we opened our planetary borders to all friendly offworld visitors, was that the human dating pool became oh so very shallow.
Bored with the same old same old, curious and adventurous single and married people began dipping their toes in alien waters, some for the experience, others for committed relationships, and the rest simply for bragging rights. It had gotten so bad that finding a partner interested in a same species relationship became near impossible. And those not willing to get it on with an extraterrestrial, chose to marry their farm animals, automobiles, cartoon characters and even holograms, rather than share intimacy with another human being.
I tried to fight the good fight and preserve the human race, but there’s only so much rejection a man can face before throwing in the towel. I resigned myself to a fate of hermitry, and searched for hobbies to occupy my mind until the day my card was punched for the final time.
But the universe wasn’t done tormenting me yet. On my birthday, I received an anonymous gift in the mail: an all expenses paid trip to an orbital platform that was hosting a speed dating event. My first reaction was to chuck the invite in the trash and return to my 40,000 piece jigsaw puzzle of the notorious math problem, “The ABC Conjecture.” What stopped me was the 7 course meal and open bar, guaranteed, whether you successfully found a match or not.
Shinichi Mochizuki’s mathematical solution could take the back seat for a night, while I stuffed my face in space and got absolutely pie-eyed.
I made a half-hearted attempt at looking decent, no sense in getting turned away at the space jitney depot for improper attire, and got a jumpstart on the festivities by knocking back as many complimentary cocktails on the flight up to the orbital platform as I could manage.
The plan was to make a beeline for the food and bar, and when I had my fill, catch the next available jitney home. The catch was that I had to complete at least one round of speed dating before having access to food and drink. The second disappointment was absolutely my fault for not reading the invite carefully. I was one of ten humans in attendance, all of them male, because this was an interspecies speed dating event. How in the world did I overlook that detail?
For four minutes at a pop, I went through the motions of engaging in conversation with an Onzuid, a Thraikket, a Brelgut, a Mellad, a Thaeqen, and a Raphoth, and a majority of those dates were spent struggling to communicate in broken english, which I had to give them credit for. They knew more of my language than I knew of theirs.
My final obstacle was a Neita, who spoke no english at all. She, the assumed pronoun because she wasn’t able to convey one herself, spoke an melodies while her bioluminescent skin shifted through the color spectrum with each note. I had no idea what she was saying but I had to admit, it was beautiful to watch.
When it was my turn to talk, I decided to sing about my upbringing, not knowing whether she would be impressed by my effort, or take offense, thinking she was being mocked, but I was only here for the food and drink, so what the hell.
I sang about being born in The Bronx, in a neighborhood that history marked as one of the most dangerous places to live in New York at the time, but on my block, everyone spoke like they knew you. We played on the concrete year ’round because there was no local park, ate free bologna and butter sandwich lunches at the public school during the summer and filled our days playing handball, riding bikes, competing in games like Steal The Bacon, Hot Peas And Butter, Ringolivio, Freeze Tag, Skelzies, and when we got a little older, Run-Catch-Kiss. Water fights consisted of anything you could fill from the open fire hydrant (pots, pans, cups, buckets, or whatever). And if you didn’t go home dirty, you weren’t having a good time. We ate whatever we wanted because no one knew a thing about food allergies (and fried chicken and red Kool-Aid was as important as the air we breathed). We fought with our hands and made up the next day like nothing happened. And if you showed disrespect to your elders, or looked in their mouth while they were talking to grown folks you would get put in your place immediately. And the universal rule was, once the street lights came on, that was our curfew. Anything left undone would have to wait until tomorrow.
When I was done, she smiled (at least I took it to be a smile) and glowed a calming shade of yellow. The bell rung and I nodded goodbye and made my way to the dinner table. To my surprise, she joined me, and we sang to each other for the rest of the night.
When the event was over (yes, I stayed to the end) and before we went our separate ways, I gave her my phone number. I wasn’t sure if she understood the gesture, if she would call me, or even how we would manage to meet up if she did call. All I knew was that love would find a way.
Text and Audio ©2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys