‘So, what’s your star sign?’ Mary asked, and took a sip from her glass, she watched him closely over the rim. It was one of her stock questions on first dates. You could tell a lot about a man, depending on how he reacted. His actual star sign was irrelevant, she didn’t believe in astrology.
She liked to meet new prospects in the pub, on the way home from work. It was easy to make a hasty exit after one polite drink if the ‘Perfect Match’ was less than perfect. And, let’s face it, most of them were, it was just a matter of degree.
‘I’m not sure, I think you call it Antares.’
‘There isn’t a star sign called Antares,’ she said. She picked up her glass and appraised him as she took another sip.
He touched his ear and paused for a few seconds as if listening. ‘Oh, what star sign,’ he said, ‘a subgroup of a horoscope of twelve.’
‘Yes, which one are you?’ she asked again, trying not to show her irritation.
‘I’m a Monkey,’ he said. He tried his drink, tentatively, as if he’d never tasted beer before and was finding it difficult to acquire a taste for it.
He paused and touched his ear again, ‘Oh, sorry, wrong horoscope, I’m an Aquarian, born on the twenty-fourth of January.’ He looked around the pub and smiled as he scrutinising the décor of old agricultural implements, tools and horse brasses hanging from the beams and walls.
‘Such an old technology,’ he said. ‘Hard to believe that you still use human and quadruped muscle to power your food production.’
‘We don’t, they’re antiques,’ she said. She thought he was rather gauche but he was pleasant enough looking, about her age (thirty), nicely slim and well presented. She even liked the smell of his aftershave, which she hadn’t yet identified, and she was something of an expert on men’s aftershaves. She came to a decision: he’d do, certainly for a night, after that, time would tell.
She put her drink back down on the table. ‘Would you like to come back to my place?’ she asked. ‘It’s quieter there and we could get to know each other better,’
‘Oh, yes, I’ve been looking forward to this,’ he said, ‘I’ve never been on a two-sex planet before.’
Oh no, she thought, a first timer, I’ll have to explain everything to him step by step and it’ll ruin the spontaneity.
‘Never mind,’ she said, downing her gin and tonic. ‘I think I’ll pass on this one.’ She stood, picked up her handbag and left.
I’m going to stick to Tinder Vanilla in future, she thought, as she walked to the car park. Tinder Galactica is just too unpredictable.
‘Open,’ she said and climbed into her car as the door sighed up. ‘Home,’ she said, it set off, almost soundlessly. There was no point being polite to software, particularly if it wasn’t even sentient.
Oh well, she thought, another night in with her rabbit, and maybe some screen time later. You can’t win ‘em all.
This story originally appeared in 365tomorrows.