No one drives their life, or even drives up to it. Fate’s no fast-food window. Take your order? Uh, I’d like a secure job, please, and a side order of soul-mate. Would you care to upsize to killer loft? What comes in killer loft? Airy ceilings, great light, sense of superiority. Not today, thanks. But could you throw some packets of meds in the sack? Sure: assorted? Yeah. Couple of anti-anxieties, anti-d’s, and a few sleepers. Think I got some at home but you never can be too sure. No you can’t. Your total will be at the first window.
To get something good, bro, you need a collision. A meet-cute crash. Fuckers our moms and dads’ age had it easy. They actually had to approach each other to secure shots of love. Forced to scope and flirt on each other at supermarkets and laundry… places. Whatever they were called. Laundry-mats. Dunno what they used the mat for, maybe to dry clothes on. Anyway, the chaos of encounter pushed them. They couldn’t talk their way into a date or friendship. Hells dude, when was the last time you and me even truly met, did a facer some place?
Other day I saw this pop-up ad for diamond rings. From a distance they looked like a pair of handcuffs. But once I made the connection for what it was, I didn’t get all hot sweat. I was like, that would be kind of cool. Handcuffed to someone else’s hand. I’m serious. I need this problem. Better than being a slave to screens, which is how life rolls now. Haven’t been part of a we or us in who knows how long. I’ve become a bunch of iI’s. iPad, iPhone, iWhatever: only thing keeping my lap warm is cathodes.
I don’t want it to be that way. So I signed up for a new app: CupidCollisions. It’s like blind dating mixed with bumper cars. Yeah! You know, bumper cars: those little electric shits at a carnie. Except only one party is truly driving blind. The app cross-listed people at our college who identify as “Single” or “Looking Around” on social media sites with the times my classes let out. See, classes are the hotspot. Each time they wrap, students got ten minutes to dash through the quad, quest from one rich-person-named building to the next.
We make these mad dashes with our eyes glued to our navels. To our screens. To make plans, flail at plans, report on class, ask what’s on the quiz, say who’s missing and guess why with winky-faces. Was teacher hung-over? She tumbled out of bed with that hair, at any rate. Since we’re not looking, we’re doing a lot of bumping. But what if those bumps had purpose? If I bang against someone the app identified as a potential match, not too hard to hurt, not to soft to brush off, it could lead…well, to love bumping. Bumper carnal. Something, bro, more than what I got.
Yeah, I did it. Three times, actually. After my nine, ten, and 1:30.
After first release, that’s my anthropology, no wait, my mineral science. Anyway after that, I was nervous. Bump someone early, it could be a day ruiner. For them and you. App told me I had several options to crash against. Except each looked like they knew I was looking at them, even though none looked up from their screens. Maybe the sky was making them angry: those grim clouds hadn’t cleared off the horizon deck yet. Anyway, no one looked like they wanted to be shoved.
By second release those grim clouds had folded into themselves or whatever it is grim clouds do. So I started my sortie in good spirits. Didn’t break stride. Type don’t look. Type don’t look. Then, bang! One got me right in the arm. Hot city. My pulse… wow. Launched into the concrete right along with my phone. If it spider-cracked the screen I wouldn’t of cared, girl was so pressing. And she was like sorry sorry sorry. And I was like no worries, no worries, no worries. And we talked about screens cracking. And she asked if I liked my new or old brand better. And I was like, coverage on this one flows. Layout is for shit, but data sharing is snap. All the while I’m trying to build some data bridge to get us talking romantic. Trying to recall what I said on my last first date? I talked up my watch chain, got on some run about squirrels. But before I could bring those topics out for an encore performance, she asked if I had a girlfriend. My screensaver today was an image of my sister. No mocks, bro, I just put it there to remind me to call her, but I sort of froze. I wanted to be like, “No,” but not have it sound “Nooooo!” Because then the girl would wonder if I was lying about screensaver girl. But the silence was a stammer. A broken link. A wreck in momentum that allowed the girl to remember her next class. And jet. And leave me in the quad down two strikes.
On try three, it came together. I knew I had limited time to make a mark. Had to keep up the stream. Veer from any tech. talk. That was part of the problem. We weren’t looking at screens, but we were still talking about them, you know? Hadn’t adapted.
Before I’d even hit the last girl, I smelled her. What she had on. Before even copping a proper gander, the diameter of her bones registered in my head. I knew their weight the instant we collided. Everything abandoned me but blood courage and smile. When I looked up to make apologies, all the data and discussion I’d planned out got overwrote with questions. The voices asking the questions sounded like a mix of judge and poet. One asked: you see yourself crushing hard on this person? Another: could she crush and crash hard on you? But what I actually said to her was, whoa. I’m seeing stars. She said her too. Well do your stars, I asked, share the color of your eyes? Because mine do. So they must be, I mean, good stars.
Pretty good live line, right?
Then she asked if I knew which stars had what colors. She’s into astronautomy! So I’m liking this unfolding. Science smart and perfect bones. We talked up stars a while, and I told her about the girlfriend who bought one for me. But bought it after she was an ex, and after the star was already expired. It’s become the gift that keeps on taking, each time I looked in the night sky. I told her I didn’t want to talk more about it.
And this girl asked, maybe you’ll want to later? I’m a good listener.
So am I, I said. But I already knew that.
She laughed. Then she said she could teach me to be a better looker. Said she had planetarium and telescope access this semester. We could go find my gift star together. Even if it’s dead, its flicker will still fill the sky for centuries to come.
Same as the light after you knock into someone, I joked.
Then I got bold—pretty much based off the same lightning bolt as awkward, but you aren’t sure which strike you’ve put out there til it’s already landed—and I asked, do you ever think people are asteroid fields? Ramming each other all the time, usually for no reason. But maybe every once so often, a couple go out of their way to hit on purpose, not to hurt, but join masses. If it happens at just the right moment and speed, just maybe the sticking rocks form and swell into a livable permanent planet.
She said, you’re funny. And you know nothing about science.
I know Thai food, I said.
Then she gave me her card. And I was thinking, Who carries cards anymore? So righteous old school. She might as well have been carrying a feather fan. But she was out of cards, so she wrote it on my palm. Not a Palm pilot, bro-ron. Actual palm. Even older school! Like light from a star that doesn’t know it’s supposed to be dead. Had to get that ink shit transferred to screen fast, because my hand got clammy looking at the digits. I’m 99% pure sure it’s really her number. Phone numbers have how many digits: seven or ten? I need a refresher. It’s so good to need a refresher.