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Tally's Speed Date

Kent V. Anderson is an artist and an author with a whimsical slant. His artwork consists of scientific prototypes of the past including full-size robots, ray guns, hand-cranked prosthetic legs, a steam clock, and other essential household devices. Kent has written dozens of short stories which have appeared in Fiction on the Web, 101 Word Short Stories, The Story Shack, Flash Fiction Press, Short Humour Site, Espresso Stories, and elsewhere. Lately Kent has been writing even shorter stories to conserve his vocabulary. He lives west of Chicago with no cats and no dogs, even though several have expressed interest.

It's my first time at one of these so-called speed dates, where you're given just three minutes to converse, and then move on to the next candidate.
My first date is named Julu and nice looking. I introduce myself as Tally. I come up with a clever line about my background, "My father was a robot, and his father was before him."
Julu's metal face is expressionless, matching her voice, "That doesn't make any sense. Robots don't have fathers; we're built in factories."
With my big robot smile, I explain, "What you refer to as a factory, in my case was an autonomous machine--basically a large robot. And the factory itself was built by a sophisticated construction machine--essentially a robot as well. Thus the factory was my father, and the factory constructor was his father!"
Julu rolls her eyes, "OK, technically you may be correct, but your phrasing is misleading. Besides, some other robots could assert the same thing."
I apologize. I tell her that I spend a lot of time with humans and thus have absorbed some of their expressions. Then I ask where she went to school.
She says, "That doesn't make any sense. Robots don't go to school; we're programmed."
"That's what I said; where were you programmed?"
Julu reaches her hand to the back of her head, and initiates a replay of her memory for both of us. Her eyes flicker, as I hear my own voice say, "Where did you go to school?"
I apologize once more. Concerned our date is not going well, I describe my more impressive aspects. "My entire family was made with Mechnic A3 technology, and I was lucky to get the R3 option."
Julu is silent. She starts looking at the ceiling.
I raise my volume a bit, "Julu!"
"I have little interest in your R3 option, Tally. You're an unremarkable robot with a rather affected mode of speaking." She starts to stand, indicating her desire to move on to the next male robot speed date.
The dating clock shows ten seconds left. I need to say something she'll appreciate. "I can't help but notice your U2 accessories, Julu. They're quite attractive on a girl like you. In fact, they're awesome!"
Julu stands. "Robots aren't programmed to recognize attractiveness, except to notice simple symmetry. And I'm not a girl. I'm a female robot." She walks away, rather quickly.
Session over. Sadly, I wonder if I'll ever find a female robot who will like a guy like me. My session with Julu left a bad taste in my mouth, so to speak. I reach the back of my head, activate a scan of my recent memory, and erase it. I feel better already.
I see a female robot leave the adjacent table with an irritated look similar to Julu's. She's my next date. I watch as she places her hand to the back of her head, and her eyes flicker.
She sits down and introduces herself as Sylene. She's quite pretty.
I decide this time I'll use appropriate robot terminology and proceed more quickly. "Hello, Sylene, I am referred to as Tally. I can't help but discern a certain symmetry about you."
"Thank you, Tally. I think you're cute, too. And I like your R3 option." Sylene smiles, "Where did you go to school?"
The End
This story was first published on Monday, October 10th, 2016

Author Comments

I write a lot of robot stories, perhaps because I also build full-size robots in my art studio. Since I have male and female robots around the house, I wrote a couple of quirky dating profiles for two of them. (It never led to anything between them as far as I can tell. One cannot force these things.) That prompted me to write a robot dating story.

- Kent V Anderson
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