It went pretty good for a first date
I stumble into the dating agency’s main reception. It’s light and pink. A sickening reminder of the fact I’ve never been on a single date in all my years. Photos of people in love plastered all over the walls, small heart cushions adorn velvet sofas… I want to puke.
“Be brave, Joe”, I mutter to myself, and stride maybe not as confidently as I’d have liked towards the front desk. A women greets me, with big hair and thick-rimmed glasses. She boldly claims she is the best matchmaker in all the land before whisking me away to her office. She sits at her desk and pecks away at her keyboard, her expression growing ever more frustrated. And then I see it in her eye… pity.
Apparently, there’s no one on the books who’d be a good match for me. Of course, why would I expect any different? Twenty one years without a date, why would I think a woman with a little black book could help me? I go to stand up and leave, already consigned to the fact my life will be nothing but bags of Doritos and binge-watching Orange is the New Black.
But then I hear her. It’s a quiet sound, like she’d just had an epiphany. A smirk grows across her mouth, it’s almost difficult to see under the layers and layers of frankly insultingly shade of lipstick, but it’s there. With one quick tap of the computer, steam slowly drifts out of the nearby wall. Engines begin to whirl and buzz as… holy crap… the wall moves away.
Behind it, a room bigger than any I have ever seen. Too dark to make out exactly how deep it goes, but lined up on the walls are rows and rows and rows of… vats? Test tubes? It’s like something from out of a horror movie, except the mad scientist here somewhat resembles Bayonetta. She struts into the chamber, that smug look still on her face. As she moves ever deeper into the room, the lights begin to turn on and reveal the contents of the tubes… men.
Literally thousands of men adorn the walls. It’s difficult to take in the sheer quantity of the pods as she explains to me that this is her cache for the more difficult clients she sees.
And so on I go, with endless men to choose from, my mission to get a date begins. The first to catch my eye is a pale guy with short, red hair and a gentle smile on his face. Decked out in the finest t-shirt and braces money could buy, he seemed like an ideal fit for me. As the liquid he was suspended in bubbled away in the vat behind him, the mysterious matchmaker introduced us both.
His name is Yosuke. Sounds like his creator watches a bit too much Naruto, but whatever, names don’t mean anything. It had been suggested to us that we go for a walk in the park to get to know each other. It was nice; the autumn air was chilly but crisp, the oranges and reds of the leaves gently falling to the ground matched his hair.
He turned to me, his black eyes looked impressed as he said:
Yousuke saying that struck me as odd. We’d just met five minutes before in a secret lab of a probably evil genius matchmaker, I wouldn’t expect him to even know what Tinder is, let alone recognise me on there. I’m not even on Tinder. “But whatever, this is why you’ve never been on a date, Joe,” I think to myself, brushing all concerns aside, “You’re so pedantic. Just go with it.”
But then comes the awkward part: figuring out what to actually do. What do people do on dates with boyfriends they pulled out of a vat of bubbling goo? My knowledge of anything like this is limited to 1980s movies, and there isn’t a milkshake bar nor a high school prom in sight… but there is… yes! There are dogs! Everyone loves dogs!
“There’s a great dog park nearby” I say after a slight hesitation. What if he’s a cat person? What if he’s allergic to dogs, or is actually three dogs in a trenchcoat and might find it offensive? What do I do then? Oh pissing blimey this dating malarkey is hard.
I let out a huge sigh of relief. Dogs are good, everyone loves dogs, I couldn’t be with a man who doesn’t love dogs, and he does like dogs. Its fine, we’re good, we’re all good.
So we go to look at dogs for six hours in absolute and utter silence.
Eventually, Yousuke stands up and stretches his legs, and his treetrunk arms, in a huge yawn. He turns to me, that soft smile still on his face. Actually, I haven’t seen him change his expression at all since we met… which is probably weird come to think of it…
Has it even been six hours? The sun hasn’t moved. The oranges and reds are still matching Yousuke’s hair, and the leaves are still dancing on the breeze.
Yousuke’s voice penetrates all of my thoughts and I instantly forget about… something to do with the… trees? I think? “So, what do you like to do for fun?”
Oh crap. I panic, forget to breathe for a second when I realise this is the bit where he figures out I’m a lazy ass with no hobbies or aspirations. I figure I can’t lie about this sort of thing, because should this date go well he’ll find out soon enough. I stare at my feet and mumble something about watching Netflix. Please don’t hate me please don’t hate me please don’t hate me…
Yousuke said it in a slightly patronising, over-enthusiastic tone, which only made my heart sink even further. God Joe, everyone watches Netflix. I’d fucked up, it was over. Even a boyfriend chosen from a lab doesn’t think I was good enough, and so I begin to figure out how to leave as quickly as possible with a shred of dignity intact. But then he says something that is music to my ears, something that made it feel as though the whole earth was moving beneath my feet.
“Incredible”? Incredible?! We stared at dogs and I admitted to watching nothing but Orange is the New Black and this ridiculously attractive man thinks I am incredible. But it doesn’t stop there, oh no it doesn’t. Before I even have time to think, “Yeah, I feel that way too” slips out. Hopefully he knows I meant he’s incredible and that I’m not a massive egotist because that’d just be the end of the date right there and-
What?! He wants to kiss me?! Of course I accept (how could I not?) and our lips lock.
The world fades away into a sea of black, but I don’t care because oh my god I am currently kissing someone right now. A real person and not a body pil-you know what? Never mind. I can feel his lips on mine and that is all that matters.
Eventually, the world eases back into view. Still the same park, the same sun, the same trees, but something feels different. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the world just feels new in a way I never thought was possible. He gazes into my eyes, same gentle smile gentle smiling like it always has gently smiled.
Wait. That’s odd. I remember now, I was too distracted by this hot guy to notice exactly why the world is different, but I see it more clearly now. The tension is out the way now we’ve kissed, and the veil has dropped… he hasn’t changed his face at all in six hours. Neither have the trees… or the sun… or the cool breeze. It’s all been the same since we got here, and I don’t even remember getting here.
The matchmaker sent us out of the door of the lab with a large, toothy grin, and then here we were. I don’t even know where I am.
And then it happens. She appears in the corner of my eye, and I know the end has come. My attention is still divided between her and Yousuke’s broad chest, but I know what’s going on now. She’s here, once more, to reap the world’s souls. It’s Taylor Swift.
I can’t run. I can’t even move. I’m frozen in place, much like the trees and the sun and my new boyfriend’s smile. I’m paralysed, a numbness growing in my stomach as I slowly begin to accept this is the end.
We’re offered cookies. I bet the chips are the wailing spirits of those long since harvested by Swift and her musclebound partner in crime. I bet even the fucking matchmaker was in on it. I bet these three people are all simple the parts of a deeper, incomprehensible beast that is simply too vast for my pitiful human mind to understand.
“Mad love” she says. It is true. My mind has been shredded apart, handed to the beast. Time is no more, and hasn’t been for a long while now, I was simply too distracted by the man to notice. How could I be so foolish? But it’s true now. Our love is mad. Mad and angry and feeding the core of the monster hidden in the fabric of reality.
He firmly takes me by the hand. Its ice cold and strangely wet, but I don’t care. How could I care when I now understand the truth?
And together we go forth into the screaming darkness. Thanks, Build-A-Bara.