The Pick Up

Futuristic Feminism in the style of Black Mirror

This story is my homage to the Netflix series Black Mirror. If you haven’t seen it yet, let me take a minute to warn you: It will change the way you think about everything. It’s a fantastic look at the possibilities and issues in the near future. From the surreal devotion to our social media standing, so much that it drives you crazy, to killer cyber-bees used to target internet bullies. If you enjoy this, you should definitely check out the show.


You could always tell how old someone was watching them work their implant. The younger generations worked it much more subtly than the older ones did. Eye-twitching? Probably over forty, but not quite fifty. If their hand moved slightly as if in echo of the hand-motion based systems of the very first implants, they were closer to sixty.

I was in Reed’s office wondering where muttering fell into the stereotype because he was the only person I ever saw do it. He was forty-two, with a really energetic type-A personality. You just had to like the guy. Tall, ex-football player build and this big Irish grin.

He was perusing a merger proposal I had been working on for months. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I was sure. Everything had to be stamped by the company’s A.I. before it reached Reed’s level for approval. This was incredibly hard to do. We can still out-guess the machines often enough to stay useful. You have to make your financial models, extrapolate predictions and submit the predictions. If they were within a certain proximity to the A.I. projections, it was pretty much a guaranteed money maker.

They were rare, and I couldn’t have been happier. I caught the trend several years out and began pulling the threads. Checking and rechecking every so often, to be sure the numbers were where I wanted them to be. If Reed broke into a big grin in the next few seconds, I was looking at an office next to his and more money in the next twelve months than I had made in my entire life, thus far.

He grinned. “God damn, boy!”

I let out a breath that I hadn’t even known I was holding. We went over some of the details. It was mostly the parts that I wanted to brag about. He knew the idea because he had helped coach me and kept my head down when I needed reminding not to jump the gun.

“I couldn’t have done it without you, Reed,” I told him. It was true. People said it was complete luck to out-guess the machines. I didn’t believe that, but on those days when it started to make a lot of sense, Reed had been there.

“Hey, it’s entire, your baby, though.” He turned and mumbled a bit, then the Sent Mail icon appeared suspended in the air over his desk. “I just want to help keep us relevant. God, that’s weird. These fucking things,” he pointed to the data drop discreetly built into the corner of the room. “They are everywhere now. Every business! We can beat them with these big imaginative leaps, but I really wonder what we are going to do in the long run.”

“I don’t know about you, but I am planning my next one already.” I grinned.

Reed managed to cover his skepticism with a smile and shook his head at me. I was always ambitious. In today’s market, why wouldn’t you be? The computers can process any errors, and your problem won’t ever materialize. Every once in a while, recklessness pays off. If it hadn’t the world would look very different.

“Have you ever heard of Abbas Ibn Firnas?” He asked. I shook my head in denial but awaited the story that was coming. Reed had this Lincoln-ian habit of telling parables all the time. “He was a famous Muslim inventor during the European dark ages. He changed architecture, philosophy. He was their equivalent of Leonardo DeVinci.” He paused. “He was the first person to ever fly.”

I was confused, “I thought the Wright bro—“. I was cut off by my boss’s waving hand.

“They were the first to fly in a plane, but he built a glider. He climbed a prayer tower with these big home-made wings and strapped into them and then—whoosh!—like Superman.” He paused to sip water. “No engine, no work in aerodynamics to build on and the very real chance that he was going to hit the ground so hard that his face would be poking out of his asshole for the rest of his life.”

“Sounds ballsy.” I smirked. Reed was old-school and didn’t understand. It was all too big to fail anymore.

“Yeah, ballsy. Stupid, but ballsy.” Reed retorted. “Broke both of his legs making that leap into the unknown. All I am saying is, ‘Look before you leap’.”

“Do you have time for a drink?” I asked. I wanted to say thanks and had invited some others from the department. Some to celebrate their support and others to smooth over ruffled feathers. A couple glasses of good scotch would cap the achievement.

“Nah, not tonight, big-dawg. It’s your moment. Here—,” He paused briefly. “I just sent five-hundred bucks over to Flaherty’s for you and the team. Have fun for me, and make sure that includes a young, nubile creature.”

“Creature? They are called ‘women’, these days, Reed.” I chuckled. “They can vote and everything.”

“A horrible turn of events, I know.” He often made this mockery of sexist thoughts. To him, it was funny to shame ignorance, but I always worried it would be mistaken for sexist or racist outbursts. That could get you branded a “Roach” real quick, but Reed’s face met the symmetry, height and fitness requirements to qualify as “human.” That was, by no means, a foolproof way of spotting Roaches, though. They were wily and devious. You never knew who they were until they were labeled.

As I shook his hand and exited, I felt a bit let down. It was a big moment, but I somehow wanted it to feel bigger. It didn’t feel like a big enough moment for all of the work I had put in. Riding the elevator I thought of how studiously I crept through college, unnoticed. At work, I threw myself into it. I was on a minimum salary of forty-thousand, and working over eighty hours a week. I had no friends, only coworkers. Everything for the last four years had built towards this day. It seemed like it should have been a bigger deal, but I do have a touch of Prima-Donna in me, I suppose.

After a squeeze through the sidewalk traffic and into a U-Ride self-driving cab I told the Human Machine Interface to take me to Flaherty’s. I ignored the polite questions. Why anyone thought curious machines was a good idea, I have no idea. No matter what voice or tone they used, it sounded harsh and interrogatory.

I walked into the bar, waving at the bouncer. Lucky for me, I am the kind of guy people want in their bar. Just over six feet, ebony skin, and green eyes. Like most Americans, it was almost impossible to pick out an ethnic background anymore. Mom told me my dark skin and light eyes were magic, and she was right. Girls always paid attention to me. I always got to make up work I missed in school. I had built-in second chances in life if I was only smart enough not to waste them.

The bar went for a natural look using a combination of antique knick-knacks and holographics and it was built to resemble and old Irish public house. The bar wrapped along the left and back walls in an L-shape under a balcony with booths lining it. The bright wood and red leather on the inside made the dim lights seem brighter. It wasn’t real leather, of course, that would be illegal as hell. I shuddered just at the thought of wearing skin. Yikes.

I found my group upstairs, trying to pack six guys into a four-person booth. Dean was the first to see me and come congratulate me. He seemed sincere, despite being one of my biggest hurdles to completing the job. He was one of the corporate attorneys who had the task of scrubbing and collating the proposals before the machine looked at them.

He and others made it a point to say congrats, and I have to say I was impressed when he stood by his original assessment. That meant it wasn’t about me doing better than him. Sour grapes were childish, but when you aren’t getting what you want, you tend to see them in everything. Now that it was over, that didn’t matter and it was good to see him share the blame for all of our head-butting. I toasted him back and told him if he ever went easy on me because of this, I’d never let him live it down. I meant it too. Shame is a big motivator between men.

My implant pinged in my ear, letting me know that someone had commented on my MyBook account. I couldn’t announce details until the deal was over, but I had hinted that something big was in the works for me. The kudos were rolling in, but it still felt kind of empty. Maybe it wasn’t real to me yet. I had gone straight from the office to a very fine bottle of Lagavulin scotch.

Every sense felt deadened, but I couldn’t have said whether it was the endorphins from my implant’s reward system or just shock. The bar was loud, but everything sounded far away. I didn’t seem to be sitting but floating above the bench’s red faux-leather cushion. I was calm and collected, but the whole evening I felt like I was missing something.

I excused myself to get another drink and went down the steps to the bar. Patrons lined up at the bar for new drinks from a pair of laughing grinning beauties in Catholic schoolgirl costumes. Well, mockeries of school-girl uniforms. They were really only barely clothes at all.

All of the sudden, it hit me: I hadn’t been laid since I broke up with Sarah. No time and I didn’t want to invite anyone to my shitty studio apartment. I felt every day of that three-year-itch right then and there. I pulled out my handheld and streamed the camera to my implant to check my appearance.

I looked too serious. I wasn’t a whole lot of fun, but there’s no sense in advertising that. I wore a navy-blue suit with a bright salmon shirt, blue tie, and brown shoes.

Lose the tie, came the first comment. It was the free version of some app for dating advice. Other users could give you advice for free, but to talk to the masters, the guys who set the whole thing up, you had to pay. Handsomely, people said.

Snappy dresser! Came the next comment. Same! Just take the tie off!

I responded gratefully and took the offending garment off. I opened my Find-Her app and checked out who was nearby and interested in talking. As I turned to a blonde nearby, the red “X” popped up. Not interested in talking. She was gorgeous, though. I could only assume she was waiting on somebody.

I turned around slowly and surveyed the room. Nearly every woman within eyesight had a dating account and most of them had the green check-marks saying that they were open to introductions. I scrolled through a couple of profiles in my head, but there was almost nothing interesting.

I have never understood people’s propensity to babble about nothing on social media. It confuses me why anyone would give a damn where I go on vacation or what I eat for dinner. Of course, I had never taken a vacation and I ate the same thing for dinner almost every night. I have always felt that my gift was the discipline to avoid those distractions that seem to bog down so many of my peers.

There were only two—three?—women the handheld had whittled it down to, based on my dating history, consumer report, and porn preferences. I wondered where the other one had popped up from and scanned the room again. It turned out that the blonde I had thought was waiting on someone had changed her mind about being unavailable… and she was looking right at me!

It has never been hard for me to meet women, but it has never been this easy, either. I began to wonder about a possible practical joke, or that she may have been some “hired help” from the boys upstairs. I grinned saluted with my glass, which made her grin. I motioned asking if she would like another drink. It was a risky move, but she was low and seemed a couple glasses of wine into the evening. People can almost always be counted on to take the path of least resistance. She nodded and blushed a bit.

Even though it’s considered sexist to pay for a woman’s drinks, if you timed it well and made it a really convenient option, you could still pull it off. Then you pretty much had them, because now they want to see what they gave up the game for. They have been seen investing in you, and want a return. Sixty-percent of the time, it works every time.

I pulled her MyBook page up: Grad Student at NYU in anthropology, twenty-five years old, no marriages, no kids, no religion or any other Roach markers and she was a four-point-five approval rating. A catch for a night, or the catch of a lifetime? Just for tonight, I thought.

Hi, I am Julie! Came the message. Nice to meet you!

Hi Julie, I said. What’re you drinking?

Rum and Coke, she smiled. Thanks!

We chatted a bit, and she was not at all shy. She was in town for a bachelorette party, she had just come back from central Africa as part of a Roach outreach program. She was working in her school’s library and thinking of writing a book. She had a twisted sense of humor but was very sweet and positive. After I got the drinks and went over, I was able to finally hear her voice. It was a mature and musical voice, I was happy to hear.

My handheld buzzed mid-conversation and I heard shouts as I turned to see my coworkers leaning way too heavily on the rail. They wanted a peek of my new lady-friend. I rolled my eyes and apologized as they loudly made their way to the table.

The best-laid plans of mice and men. I supposed that the window to escape with this interesting beauty had closed and these drunken reprobates would probably shut it forever. I made apologetic eye-contact, at which she gave me a positively wicked wink. She suddenly hushed all the guys, then shouted to the whole bar. The bartenders, seeing a single woman at a table surrounded by men stand up and call for attention, shut the music down to hear her. The last thing a popular bar wanted was a woman reporting harassment.

“You guys! Seriously?” She said, projecting to be heard. I think all of us held our breath wondering if we had done something wrong. I had never been blocked, and I didn’t want to start now. “I can’t take this many big dicks in one night. It’s just… I mean, you're five guys, with at least eight feet of penis, between you its…” She trailed off, putting her face in her hands for effect. I saw her barely peek out and ask Dean his name.

“And this Dean!” She pointed at him. “Goddamned weaponized foot-rubs!”

“And I can sing,” he whispered.

“And he can sing!” She echoed.

I realized that this may be one of the most amazing women I had ever met. It took guts to change status right in front of someone you are crushing on. Then she accepted my drink. Then my idiot coworkers crash the party and she finds a way to duck them and make it sound like their idea. She was setting them up to get other attention so we could sneak off. The woman was brilliant.

“You can’t give a woman four orgasms in ten minutes and then not call her, um—“ she paused.

“Adam,” Came her subject’s reply.

“…Adam!” She said. “I had to go through…um… sex-traction all by myself!”

By now, the jig was up that it was a show for fun. People were grinning, and some probably streaming from their implants. She started just inserting the word “sex” into everything. The raunchier the sex she described, the louder people laughed. She gave each guy at the table a sexual super-power and a priapic phallus in her yarn, then she finally got to me.

“Now you come back when I meet this man, this beautiful ebony specimen right here… you just walk back into my life?” She turned to me with a straight face and said “I am so sorry you found out about the old me, darling. Can you forgive me?”

“What’s to forgive?” I said, also projecting. “I’m gay!”

The entire bar went up in a roar at us, and she laughed so hard I worried that she may suffocate. The bar resumed it’s normal, dull existence after that, but I wasn’t ready for that. After ten minutes, I could see that this girl was different. I suddenly wanted her all to myself.

I put my hand on the small of her back and she didn’t pull away. “You want to go outside and chat?”

She nodded, grinning widely at the applause that broke out as we passed to the front of the bar. I held the door but turned to find her grabbing me by the wrist and dragging me back inside. She pulled me to her and kissed me on the cheek and then pulled me into a bow. The bar, again, turned to cheer her performance, and I had time to notice that two of the guys from work were now chatting with women totally out of their league.

Then we stepped outside into a cool evening breeze. The busy street lights of the city whirled around us, and I had this giddy idiot feeling. That was definitely not rom-com typical handling of the situation, but it was totally brilliant, to me.

“That was—“ I said, turning to her. She had her hands steepled, covering most of her face. Her big almond eyes stared out playfully at me, though.

“I know,” she said. “Did I take it too far?” Her face scrunched up cutely.

“Nah, some of the boys were able to make it work for them,” I said. “It was fantastic.”

She gave a dramatic bow, “I did a whole semester of Drama in College.”

“Wow, a whole semester?”

She smiled. “Nah, that’s a total lie. I had a whole semester of drama, but it wasn’t a class.”

“Oh come on, tell me about you. You’re always dodging with the clever-isms.” I asked. “What’s a girl like you doing in a nice place like this?”

She guffawed at the wordplay. I couldn’t resist it. She obviously wasn’t the type of girl to take it too seriously. Honestly, I was beginning to feel she was funnier than me, and it put me off. It was a challenging feeling, and I liked it.

“I just submitted my Ph.D. thesis, and I never get to come out and have fun.” She explained. “I will no longer be a Grad Student. Soon I will have my Doctorates. I wanted to come let my hair down, and I invited the other ladies from the Women’s Studies Department, but all they did was bitch about the location. ‘It’s a den of patriarchy.’ And ‘Oh, my God, those poor bartenders.’ Those shrews have no idea how to have fun!”

“Well, yeah—I am surprised this was your choice—,” I started, thinking better of it.

“Why?” She sipped her drink. “Because I am a feminist I shouldn’t come to a place like this?”

This was one of those crucial answers that would determine how the rest of the evening would go. I thought carefully because I did not want to alienate this amazing woman.

“Well, yes. It seems to go against everything feminism stands for.” I said. I had decided that a lie would feel like a lie. Like insincerity.

“Then you don’t know anything about feminism.” She shot back. It was flat, with no animosity, but it cut the old ego pretty good. Aside from being true, there was nothing negative about it. She sipped more wine before continuing. “It is all about choice. The bartenders? They make more in a year than my seven-year education cost. My mom was a mechanical engineer who quit her job because she wanted to be there for us. A stay-at-home mom, in this day and age? There are radicals, but it is as simple as saying: Women want equal footing with men and we have to fight to get it.”

Suddenly, the scene in the bar seemed to be cast in a different light. She had really focused on the whole penis-ego thing a lot. “So, that is why you did the whole macho build-up thing? Big-Dick Bryan, and all that? You think our dicks are all we think about?”

“Pretty much,” She smiled.

“Well, I will have you know that at least half of the time, I am not thinking about my dick.” I assured her.

“What do you think about then?”

“Mostly big butts, if I am honest.” I made a show of peeking at her ass.

“I like big butts and I can not lie!...” she began dancing. At least, she probably thought it was dancing. For a moment I worried it was a stroke. She continued until I couldn’t hold in my laughter anymore. She regarded me seriously as I got it under control. “Thanks for not running away. Not being afraid. Every time I try to date, I bring up that I study ‘Feminism’ and poof!”

“Thanks for not being a typical… anything,” I said. We stared at each other a moment and she grinned at me with a very specific intent. A U-Ride pulled up and the door opened and called her in. She grinned a very meaningful grin at me before saying “This is gonna be so much fun!”

I took her outstretched hand and asked, “What is?”

She didn’t even turn around as she pulled me into the cab. “Riding that dick like there is overtime involved.”

And away we went. It occurred to me later that this meant she had called the cab before we were even outside.


An hour later, we were in my apartment lying in a post-coital glow. We both wore sheens of sweat, and not a damn thing else. She was beautiful. The shapely breasts flowed down to a flat belly. The light rippled and accented everything about her. She was beautiful. Beautiful enough to lay in sweaty sheets, which I absolutely hate doing. Beautiful enough to let her into my piece-of-shit apartment and take the chance that she might laugh in my face. She didn’t though. It was almost as if us ending up here were inevitable.

“Oh, wow,” I said. She was oddly quiet, now. I was worried she was regretting the whole thing. Then she seemed resigned to some incoming call on her implant.

“Hello?” She began. She headed towards the bathroom, which was the only privacy in my place.

I sat there thinking about the day, and what it meant for my future. Had I just found another piece of it? Nah, that was just the afterglow talking. I wasn’t in a place to date, and I doubted that she would accept the dip in ratings a four-point-two would bring her. There was a heavy price for all my years of sequestration. This was it. Still, she was fun, though.

Then, something odd happened. Her hand-held chimed as if she was out of range of it. That was weird. After several seconds of trying to talk myself out of it, I approached the bathroom.

I was terribly afraid that she had regretted it so much that she jumped out of the window on me. Of course, it was irrational, but I couldn’t help wanting to know for sure that she was still here. Part of me still thought that she might have been a dream entirely.

The good news was that I could hear her mumbling, the bad news was that it sounded like something shady was going on. “Yeah, eleven-twelve, pm to eleven forty-four…not bad, you know me…setting?...shit! My handheld!...um, fuckberries. Hang on!”

The door flew open and I played nonchalant as I looked out the window pretending not to hear. She darted out, her ass jiggling deliciously as she did, then she was back in the bathroom.

No sounds came out for a minute. “…because he is listening!...Oh my God, Susan, just message it to me any, fucking, way!….Yeah, I am gonna do him again! I need a control rep—“

I had heard all I could stand for the moment and if this was some weird peeping-tom kink, I damned sure didn’t appreciate it. I opened the door and asked her to hang up and explain, or leave. A guy will put up with a lot, but being talked about like a lab rat in my own home was too much. I think part of me also figured that I may as well get the bad news: I was more into her than she was into me.

“Shit, I—Susan, shut up, I am fine. Watch my E-gram and if there is a problem call someone.” That was basically like saying “If you don’t hear from me in a few minutes, call the police.” E-grams were bio-signs fed to the network. They made emergency services much better, helped the police round up undesirables and identified the owner undeniably.

“So…do you want to tell me what’s going on?” I asked.

“Not really. I was kind of trying to avoid that by closing the door.” She managed, weakly.

“Oh, come on, why do you want privacy from me in my own house?” I said. “I’m just trying to make sure you’re not dangerous.”

“Okay!” She said. “Okay., I am an anthropologist. That means human behavior. So, a friend of mine developed an app. It’s like a dating app for women only.”

“Like a lesbian Find-Her?”

“No,” She looked genuinely concerned. “Thank God you’re pretty.”

I grinned, “Well then what is it like?”

She explained the app to me and as she did I felt this pit open up where my stomach had been. It was a ladies-only Find-Her but Julie’s friend had added a few other features just for the fairer sex. Ratings of guys in bed, and a “boost” button. For a paid member, they could opt to “multiply” the experience. The app sent a signal to the implant to trick it into a much bigger dose of endorphins and serotonin. Then the memory of mediocre sex would be transformed into a memory of amazing sex. It was experimental tech, and they wanted to prove the concept... on me.

“As far as the memory is concerned, every single thing we feel is processed after it has happened. That concept means that if we change the lenses we look at the past through, we will see a different picture. That’s why people’s opinions change with their moods, or with age.” She sounded clinical and cold and I thought to myself that this may be the most crushing conversation of my life. “See, all the apps are geared towards guys. Guys want hot notches for their belt, so they want quantity. Me? I just want a guy who does what he says he will do. Fuck!”

“Well, wait, is it hard for you to come, or something?” I said, never realizing my peril.

“What? No, it isn’t hard for me to come,” She was angry now. It was actually refreshing to see her dig in because she could have walked out. Apparently, my part was done. “There is nothing wrong with me.”

“…you asshole.” I finished for her. “Yeah, I didn’t think about that when I said it. I apologize.”

She looked shocked, and never took her big eyes off me as she held up her handheld to send the voice comment: “Okay, he just apologized to me for getting experimented on in his own place. I have to blow him before I go, so take your time getting here.”

My eyebrows instantly jumped up, but came crashing down when I remembered her penchant for messing with people. That was likely for her friend, on her way to rescue her from the big bad paragon of the patriarchy that is me.

“So, you think this is the answer? Just plug the gap with a bit of techno-spackle and gender politics is solved?” I had to challenge this because I was so tired of technology being inserted into every God-damned aspect of our lives. It was infuriating. Now even when people had sex, it wouldn’t be real sex. Could a night be special after that?

“Oh no! You are cute, but you are not cute enough to be that stupid!” She said. “We have tried talking, teaching, making porn, and even authorizing generations of girls to ‘get out there and hoe it up!’ Remember the twenties?! More snizz than you could shake a cute sexual euphemism at!”

When I stopped and thought about it, it was a constant issue. Magazines still held tons of articles about better sex, longer lasting sex, and still there seemed to be only one-in-four people happy with their sex life. Two of those four were almost certainly male, too. It was an ongoing joke, but he wondered if there was any truth to the self-deprecating jokes that Reed made all the time.

His favorite was: “Kelly told me to give her nine inches and make it hurt…So, I fucked her three times and poked her in the eye.”

“We are only barely getting a seat at the table in the last couple centuries. Before that, men told us that we couldn’t have orgasms or sexual desire. Can you imagine how insane you would feel if the entire world told you that you were a tree.”

“I had a U-Ride try to convince me a door was actually a jar, once.” I crossed my arms in mock seriousness. “I was having none of it, though.”

“Cute, but please tell me you get this?” She said. “You’re a nice guy, and if it helps you were amazing.” She pulled her handheld out to show me. “Really—um, oh shit—"

She tried to duck the screen away before I could see it. I sat down, stunned. It had read “Good Try”.

I drank too much. Maybe I am just over-tired. It had been a long day and I hadn’t had much to eat.

She could see the deterioration on my face and began to pout. “Fuckberries. I forgot I—I used the app.” She looked sheepish. “I am sorry.”

“Nah,” I tried brushing it off, but not well. “I am under a lot of pressure still, and—“

“No-no, stop this ridiculousness right here. Okay?” She said, taking my face in her hands. I hadn’t thought that it would be this crushing of a blow, but I hadn’t known how poorly I rated, then. “This is the other side of the coin: You guys are off the hook! I mean, you are already getting yours. We just want ours, that’s all.” She had this hope in her expression that I didn’t want her to have. This need for me to accept that, as half of a sexual species, men were so thoughtless that the other half turned to mind-control to just get on with the shitty sex lives they had.

“God, I hate that,” I said. “I hate that shit has gotten so bad that men and women don’t even really talk anymore. Maybe you are right, but I hate the idea of knowing I will never get better at sex because of a false impression that I am great at it. It seems like a shitty way to build a relationship.”

“A whose-a-what-now?” She said. “No, I am just a piece of meat. This was an experiment. We thought you were alone at the bar and cruising.”

“Ah, so the whole song and dance at the bar was a group-chat?” I said. Almost immediately, I saw what had happened. “No, it wasn’t. It was you drowning them out…you picked me yourself…and they gave you an earful. So you drowned them out with that fucking show…because …why? Wanted a fling with a black guy?”

“Holy shit, are you in airplane mode? Are you trying to get me arrested?” She snapped. Racism was the number one way to spot a Roach. Jokes or teasing about race could be one-way tickets to the preserves. “I have just…I’ve never been with a black guy and I wanted to know if it was different. That’s all.” She looked annoyed now. Wanting to be anywhere else. “I suppose you took one look at me and said ‘Oh my! Doesn’t she look trustworthy.’ Or ‘Check out the big brains on that!’, right?”

Now it was my turn to blush. “Fair enough.”

“I don’t know why I feel like I am doing something wrong, this is bullshit. If guys, not just you, but guys in general would listen to women none of this would be needed. We are sick of waiting, to be honest.” She huddled her knees in front of her and looked rather sad for a moment.

Then she gathered her things as I gathered my thoughts. It was another numb moment for me, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted. I was hurt by the bullshit deception, but she was an amazing person all the same. No pretense, no stereotype fit her and she didn’t shy away from a debate. She didn’t seem pleased with them, but she most certainly wasn’t afraid of confrontation.

I watched her slip on her panties, bra, dress, and shoes while I considered the evening's ending. I had an out. Why not just take it? Wave goodbye and move on to someone not involved in giving men everywhere a handicap in the bedroom? Why couldn’t I just let her go?

“Fuckberries,” I said. She turned to me, confused. “Can you turn it off?”

“Yes,” she said, dubiously. “Why?”

“I’m calling a Mulligan!”

“Okay, but I am a person, not mini-golf.” She said wryly.

“Fine, but I am not an informed lab-rat either.” I retorted.

“So, I owe, you? Is that the implication here?”

“Nope. You already want to. Or wanted to.” I corrected. “Before I started saying stupid things.”

She appraised me for a minute. I was still naked, and she stood there armored in her evening dress and heels. I was gambling on the last ditch effort, the “Hail Mary Play”…having a direct conversation.

“I want to learn how to make you come,” I said, out loud.

“You don’t already know?! What kind of God’s-gift-to-women are you?”

“One that didn’t come with instructions,” I said.

She stood there for a long moment, wiggling her hips while she stood there thinking about whatever was in her head. Ponderously “hmmmm”-ing just to drive me crazy. Then she pulled her handheld out, closed the app out completely and peeled the dress over her head.

“Lesson one,” she said. “Nice guys who finish first run the risk of getting their own pubes in their mouth, because I will make you eat this pussy until I am tired if you waste my fucking time.”

“Be more direct, I am not real good with subtlety,” I said pulling the covers over my head.

“Nag, nag, nag,” She quipped. “Remember to use your bottom lip instead of just your tongue. It feels nicer.”

I peeled the sheet back to stare up at her in complete awe. It was the kind of thing that wouldn’t even occur to me. Men want lots of sensation. All we can get. Thus went-eth my first lesson. Then she grabbed my head and forced me down between her legs as she said: “Back to work!”


Twenty minutes later, Susan was still downstairs and had been for almost as many minutes. She was a blonde, and pretty. People accused her of having resting bitch face, because, apparently, women are like decorations and should always be cheery. Two drunk dude-bros stumbled past her but knew better than to say anything out loud. No doubt their implants were twitching away about her outfit, or something equally disgusting.

She was now getting very worried about her friend, Julie, upstairs with a stranger and with an erratic heart rate. After the cat had been let out of the bag, Susan had feared for Julie’s safety. Who knew what a guy might do, faced with an inadequacy? Just when she was thinking of calling the cops, she got through.

Later, they would figure out that Julie’s foot had touched her handheld screen and turned it on, which let Susan’s call through.

“Jules?! Jules?!” She shouted. “Jules, is that you?!”

“I…um…wha?” Julie said on the other end. “Oh, oh God!”

“Has he hurt you?”

“Hurt?” She seemed sleepy. “No, feels good. Who…who is…mmmmm…this?”

“It’s Susan, your research partner? What the hell? Are you coming or what?” Susan said.

“Oh yeah,” Julie said. “Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah! I’m coooomiiiiiing!"


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