Suggested Audio Candy:
 Pearl Jam “Better Man”
 Pearl Jam “Worldwide Suicide”
 Pearl Jam “Rearviewmirror”
It was Petra’s first foray into speed dating. After a run of disastrous relationships; she had been ready to throw in the towel and join the convent. That is, until her best friend Gina suggested she give this a try. Petra had been skeptical at first as it took time for her to warm to new people and the idea of doing that under pressure from the clock seemed preposterous and doomed to fail miserably. She considered herself a complex character and wasn’t relishing revealing her quirks under such duress or being captive while another did the same. However, three years of being single had left her willing to try anything so she agreed this one time to tow the line.
The rules couldn’t be simpler; one minute for each rendezvous and then on to the next. On the plus side, she wouldn’t be required to sit for an entire evening listening to some self-immersed sociopath harping on about why they would make the ideal candidate. Her last three dates had been dead in the water by around the minute mark and she had desired the ground to open up and swallow her on each occasion. She had taken particular exception to the last suitor after he mentioned he was in accounting and did so with such monotone delivery that she made a hasty retreat to the restroom and never returned. After that botched exercise, she vowed never again to put herself in that situation and things had been going according to plan until now. She wasn’t even convinced why she had agreed to this; there were 1001 things she would rather be doing right now than condensing a string of failed dates into a ten minute period. Gina had worn her down with threats of creating a profile for her on numerous dating websites should she not agree and there was absolutely no way Petra was going to waste her time on such dishonest pursuit so she allowed herself to be talked round.
Come to think of it, the whole concept of meeting someone new appeared dishonest to her. She had been involved in three long-term relationships before now and each of them had played out like tactical chess games. The first person she had settled down with, Tim, was nothing more than a travesty; an elaborately woven web of white lies which gained momentum for the four years they spent together and ended with her being unceremoniously discarded before the truth ever came out about his duplicitous behavior. This left her reeling whilst also questioning her own suitability as a partner. After that she was understandably somewhat cautious and spent the next three years getting to know herself better. The mid-twenties provided the perfect epoch for reflection and she used this time gaining more familiarity with her own quirks. Watching other relationships around her crash and burn so spectacularly gave her precious insight into what not to do. She knew that another Tim could prove disastrous so, when Derrik began to show interest, she remained vigilant.
In truth, Derrik couldn’t have been more different from her last boyfriend. He was attentive, happy to compromise, and seemed genuinely interested in taking Petra exactly as she came. They talked about engagement and decided the best course of action was to rent a property together and see how things developed. Derrik too had been the victim of compromised fidelity so they entered into their arrangement with due caution and, after several months of bickering, this appeared an astute decision from both parties. There was nothing acrimonious about their inevitable love fracture; they chatted through the night and decided to go their separate ways by breakfast. For a few months after the split, they remained in contact, but eventually he moved away and any communication became less and less frequent until which time as Petra mislaid his number. Derrik never called back and she considered this fateful.
As things had ended in a whimper, she carried far less emotional baggage into her next relationship with Ian. Petra was mindful of his inability to commit from the offset and he made no attempt to disguise it. This suited her down to the ground as she wasn’t sure herself whether they were right for one another. Again, things escalated, and they ended up eloping to Vegas to take vows within six months after what started as a drunken dare. Their matrimony lasted than six weeks plus change. He knew it; she knew it. It was never going to last as neither of them demonstrated reason when they stepped up to the altar. Their shared lack of commitment worked against them as it seemed to make sense to pool their collective loathing towards those who chose to settle down…as husband and wife. The consequent annulment was bereft of drama and ended in a handshake and acceptance of stalemate.
That was five years ago and, with her late-thirties now looming large, Petra had begun to identify a lonely future ahead. She had long since perfected the art of being self-sufficient but that still left elongated moments of desolation as the reality of her plight began to hit home. Speed dating required very little in the way of commitment; it was largely a tick-box exercise free of any unnecessary attachment or drawn-out mind games. Still Petra approached with due caution; she knew any warning signs to take heed of and wasn’t interested in fake representation. Years of insight into the psyche of her opposite number had afforded her exclusive vantage and a minute felt long enough to cut through any bullshit and to the chase. Gina had high hopes for this method of engagement whereby Petra’s remained steeped in realism. However, should the improbable occur, and she be introduced to Mr Right; then she would have no complaints either.
Straight off the bat she crossed several boxes. As the rules were explained, she identified a number of suitors whose minute would be better spent elsewhere. Taking the rough with the smooth appeared part of the requirement here; thus she decided to create a persona for each of these hapless hopefuls as they punctuated any genuine possibilities. She was beginning to warm to the idea now; if nothing else this would prove to be entertaining. With that, the stopwatch commenced and her first victim shuffled over, already looking defeated. Morris had nothing at all to bring to the table and, moreover, had already spotted the passionately scrawled X beside his name on her call sheet.
“Do you mind if I take a seat?”
“They’re not my seats”
“So…Petra is it?”
“No actually it’s not. I’m holding the fort while Petra visits the restroom. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to relay back to her. Yes, it’s Petra”
“Your name badge gave you away”
“Yeah funny that”
“So do you live nearby?”
“Yeah it’s a nice area. I only just moved here last month”
Petra had a way of making “Oh really?” sound suspiciously like “you’re a moron.”
“Uh-huh. What about you?”
I’m sorry what?”
“Lived her a while”
Why was that great? She hadn’t aimed for greatness.
“So Petra. Do you mind me calling you that?”
“You’re very pretty”
“Yeah I couldn’t stop looking over”
“I noticed. Probably want to work a little on your stare”
“I was thrilled when your name was on top of my list”
“Funny that. I felt exactly the same way”
Bless him; Morris was clearly one of life’s positive thinkers and his enthusiasm was admittedly a little endearing.
“I tell you one thing Morris. The others are going to have their work cut out for them”
“They may as well give up now”
“Can I have your number?”
“That’s not how this works Morris. You’ll just have to wait and see”
“But my name is crossed out on your list”
“Thanks Morris. I feel we have made a connection. I’d definitely say you were in the running”
Morris left the table with a mixture of excitement and utter bemusement and suitor number two began making his way over no less awkwardly. Lambs to the slaughter she thought.
“Before we start Eric I must inform you that it is customary in my religion to start any new date with a minute’s silence”
“But aren’t we…”
“Time’s up. Thanks for stopping by”
“Let’s not spoil the moment Eric. Bye bye”
Two down and Petra was hard pushed to think of another time when she had this much fun. She was not averse to crushing spirit; especially when such easy prey was being laid on in her honor. However, as much as this was proving highly amusing, she was here to find a potential mate and suitor number three, Greg, appeared far more likely to succeed. Game face on; one final check of her cleavage confirmed that Petra was ready to do battle.
“How you doing sweet cheeks?”
Fuck sake. Five words; five fucking words. Was it really that hard to nail an introduction?
“Please tell me you didn’t just call me sweet cheeks”
Freudian slip. So how you doing treacle tits?”
“I have to ask Greg. Has that approach ever worked for you?”
“Every time without fail”
“Then I wish you luck”
“Listen you skanky ho. I saw what you did to that last poor bastard. Brutal, real brutal. What gives you the divine right to act that way anyway?”
“It’s called freedom of speech”
“Well in that case I’m exercising my right to free speech”
“And I’m exercising my right to tell you to fuck off”
“Slow down mutton flaps”
“You’re quite the charmer aren’t you? Does your mother let you eat her out with that mouth?”
“Do your best love. It’s water off a duck’s back”
“You’re a cretin”
“And I can smell you ovulating from here. You may want to change that maxi-pad a little more often”
“Let’s not spoil the moment Petra. Bye bye”
Petra was positively reeling. How very dare he taunt her that way? What gave him the right to lay into her like that? She didn’t appreciate the taste of her own medicine and it didn’t bode well for suitor number four, Richard, whose downbeat approach had already seen him pocket three big fat crosses and was heading for the fourth.
“Sit down Dick”
“Nobody actually calls me that”
“Well then they’re missing a trick aren’t they?”
“Shall I just move on to the next table?”
“Why do that when we still have forty-five seconds to play with Dick”
“Will you stop calling me that please?”
“But it saves time”
“There’s no need to be mean you know. You seem to forget that we’re all here for exactly the same reason. I may not fit your criteria but I’m still a person you know. I’m widowed actually. Three years ago my wife was killed in a six car freeway pile-up. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t consider ending it all. You don’t know me and I know as well as you do that that was never likely to change. But passing judgement is just plain shitty. And kindness costs nothing. I’m number four, you still have six more dates before the end you know. Just think about that”
“I’m sorry Dick…I mean Richard…sorry…fuck”
Petra had been soundly put in her place and knew full well that she would be required to adjust her approach before suitor number five arrived. As he joined her at the table, she had no intention whatsoever of picking him, but decided to practice application of said kindness.
“Take a seat Kurt please”
“So tell me Kurt, what kind of woman are you hoping to meet?”
“Someone smart and athletic, similarly minded, and funny…that’s most important of all. She has to make me laugh”
Poor deluded Kurt. While it was great that he had divulged his personal preferences, the hairy mole on his cheek was likely to cut down his options significantly. He should be happy with anything with a pulse she thought, but hadn’t the heart to voice that. Instead she opted for a far more kindly approach.
“They’re great qualities for sure. I’m going to be honest Kurt, I may not fit the bill on this occasion but I do know that somebody here will snap you up for sure”
Try as she did, she became involuntarily drawn toward the mole and fell into a momentary trance; bewitched by its beguiling dance.
“Are you okay?”
“Sorry Kurt. Yes I’m fine. Like I said, you’re a real find. I wish you a mole lotta luck”
“Oh I get it. Nice”
“No Kurt. I really didn’t mean that. I swear blind”
“it’s been a real pleasure meeting you. Goodbye”
Petra felt godawful. A quick glance at Gina on the far side table confirmed that her friend was enjoying the excursion fr more than she was. Petra couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to reciprocate any thumbs up and instead offered a grimace masquerading as a feeble smile and returned to her Coke Zero. She didn’t even notice suitor number six advancing.
“I’m Mike. Nice to meet you”
Petra looked up and cursed her fortunes as she noticed Mike suffered from severely crossed eyes.
“Excuse me Mike. I have to use the ladies room”
She waited at the doorway until Mike had been ushered on to his next appointment. This was supposed to be a bit of fun; at no point was it mentioned that she would spend the entire evening learning that she was a complete bitch who didn’t deserve her shot of happiness. How could Mike follow Kurt? That just seemed cruel. She had every intention of looking him in his eyes but a minute wasn’t long enough to find them. She made herself a promise for suitor number seven. No matter how badly disfigured he was, or how disarming his halitosis, she would give him a fair crack of the whip. Terry looked okay; not really her type, but she was willing to give him the benefit of any doubt.
“Terry it’s a real pleasure”
“I’m thirty-four years old”
“Really? You don’t look it”
“Thank you, that’s so sweet”
“No I mean you look older”
“You have got to be fucking kidding me. Is there a hidden camera here or something?”
“Not much older mind. Maybe thirty-eight”
“Gee whizz Terry. May as well round it up to forty while you’re at it”
“Sorry. I have a tendency to put my foot in my mouth. It’s like a tick. FUCK. ANUS. BOLLOCKS. PISS. TITTIES”
“Thanks for that”
“I don’t mean to FUCKING JIZZ COCK”
“Your Tourette’s is bad isn’t it?”
“I don’t suffer from it. You see that guy over there?”
Petra looked over at where he was pointing. Suitor number four, Greg; that fucking bastard. He was grinning wide and, to make matters worse, his current date had also been let in on the joke.
“I’ll be honest. He offered me fifty bucks to fuck with you a little bit”
“I’ll give you sixty if you’ll kiss me right now”
Before Terry could muster a response, Petra grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and pulled him in for lip service. She kept her beady eye on Greg and his latest victim throughout their passionate embrace until…
Terry was utterly stunned and, after composing himself, left the seat without another word being uttered. Suitor number eight, Boris, witnessed the kiss and frantically began rummaging in his pocket for lip balm.
“Name’s Boris. I find kissing a great way to break the ice”
He puckered up expectantly.
“Ah fuck it”
She grabbed him too and, sensing Greg’s bemusement from across the way, went one better and placed his trembling hand on her right breast. This gave her the advantage over her nemesis whose own eighth date was rapidly turning into a misfire of epic proportions. Meanwhile, it felt great getting her tit fondled. Boris was like a toddler on his first excursion to the grotto and all but ready to jump on her knee and feel out the other wrapped gift to its direct left.
Petra’s sexual appetite was becoming roused at this point and lucky number nine, Geoff, was likely to bag himself the ultimate prize so long as he played his cards right.
“Geoff. That’s a strong name you know. You look like you work out Geoff. Nice hands. You can tell a lot about a guy by his fingers. Yours are thick and look tailor-made for my sopping wet pussy. I want to feel them inside me Geoff. All four and thumb too. I think you will find me most accommodating”
“Actually I find you utterly repulsive”
“What’s wrong Geoff? Don’t you like my dirty little mouth?”
“Don’t really care for it much no”
“Well that’s a bit of a conversation stopper”
“Fine with me. I just threw up a little in my mouth anyway”
Geoff didn’t wait for the next chime and this time it was Petra’s turn to feel utterly bamboozled. That was her penultimate shot and every single experience up until now had been catastrophic in one way or another. Every fiber of her being was crying out for an early exit but she had come this far and daren’t leave without tasting dessert.
The extra reflection time afforded her chance to consolidate and her determination to see this out overrode that snowballing sinking feeling. Her final suitor was Ray and it appeared that the best had been left for last as he was far more appealing than any of the preceding dates. Ray was the kind of guy she would actually opt for in the real world. He had kind eyes and they lit up his entire face like a lantern. In addition, he was well presented and evidently a fan of Petra’s favorite band Pearl Jam as attested by a tattoo on his left forearm.
“How you doing?”
“Great thanks Ray. Cool tat by the way”
“You a fan?”
“The biggest. Their Riot Act tour was fantastic. I caught them in Massachusetts”
“It’s got to be Rearviewmirror”
“You’re kidding me”
“I shit you not. Love that tune”
“Tell me you like sci-fi too”
“I love sci-fi movies. Blade Runner changed my life”
“I watch it regularly. Definitely in my all-time top five”
“So why speed dating then?”
“It was my friend’s idea”
“Mine too. There he is look. Give him a wave”
The moment she figured out that he was gesturing towards boss-eyed Mike, Petra felt her heart instantly sink in her chest. He was looking directly to both her left and right which suggested he had her directly in his crosshairs. Mike began scowling in derision as soon he recognized that she was the cold-hearted bitch who gave him the slip earlier. Enough was enough. Petra grabbed her clutch bag and left Ray where he sat. She was required to pass arch-enemy Greg on her walk of shame and he let out a hearty chuckle as she reached the door. He then returned to his final date with her best friend Gina which was going swimmingly.