Monday, April 20, 2015

A chapter from my own book

This is an adapted chapter from my novoir, unFETTERed.

In his profile picture he’d resembled the guy in Slumdog Millionaire, tall, dark and adorable. But the man who was now jingling change in his pocket beside me looked like what you’d get if you morphed Mr. Rogers and Aziz Ansari into one person and slapped on Mr. Magoo glasses.

                I put away my phone and flashed Sumit a toothy while I chastised myself for being shallow.So he’s not hot right now. That’s fine. He just needs to eat and sleep more, get a haircut and buy new glasses.
Sumit bought a chai tea for each of us and we sat at a table next to a shelf full of board games and launched into standard first date conversation. We’d been awkwardly batting around small talk for a quarter of an hour when I blurted, “So, I Googled you the other day.”
Sumit went rigid. “Oh.” His mug clinked as he set it on the glass-top table. “What did you find?”
My foot fidgeted on the white linoleum. “I looked up your LinkedIn profile. Then I read the blurb about you on your company’s website and I found a mention about you in an article about your high school academic decathlon team.”
Sumit frowned. “Oh.”
I dropped my eyes. Nice one. Now he thinks I’m a stalker. Maybe if I flirt a little, I can smooth this over.
I lifted my gaze. “I don’t know if just anyone could find you.” I grinned. “But when I start stroking a keyboard I just keep going until it spits out what I’m looking for.” 
Sumit looked like he’d just smelled a fart.
                I felt the embarrassment of someone who’d just farted… but I hadn’t and I wasn’t going to let some phantom gas stop me from connecting with my soul mate.
My wicker chair creaked as I leaned across the table, lowering my voice. “I also Googled your username.”
                 Sumit leaned away, fart-whiff expression in place. “Oh? What is my username?” He lifted his mug and took a sip of tea. “It’s been so long since I set up my account.”
I went on, undeterred by his ignorance-act.
“It’s Guillemets.” I beamed. “As soon as I Wikipediaed it, I cracked your code.”
Sumit set down his tea and clinked his fingernails against the mug. “Got what?”
My smile drooped for a second, but I perked back up. He just wants me to spell it out, so he knows I actually understand the significance.
“It’s a profound handle for a computer programmer.” My voice was whimsical. “The beginning and the end of writing a code has to be the most exciting part and you put guillemets at the start and finish of a lot of codes, right? So I just think it’s a really thoughtful choice.”
Sumit’s face was blank. “To be honest, I never really thought about it.”
My heart sank.
The man sitting across from me wasn’t Guillemets, the debonair computer wiz who’d embedded a secret code in his profile… This was just Sumit, a lanky stranger with a stick up his ass.

We continued with the small talk for another half hour before he made an excuse to leave. Sighing, I stood and shook his hand. Time to put down guillemets and move on to the next program.