Speed Date
Meg Tuite

"Did you know there's a language in Mexico that only two people can speak? And they hate each other," #11 said.

Now that was, by far, the best line I had heard all night.

After "What makes you feel like a woman?" "You got a thing for cowboys?" and "I collect antique toys, I'd love to show them to you sometime," I'd figured I couldn't be surprised.

But now I was face to face with #11.

He didn't know what he was up against. My dad had been a psycho competitor. Got a gold medal for the bobsled in 1962. He'd been the front man, seen it all coming at rocket speed. When I was a kid, he'd read Treasure Chest of Fun and Fact to me every night. I'd locked everything in.

I looked at # 11, narrowed my eyes. "I knew some identical twins in grade school who had their own language. One of them threw herself in front of a moving train and the other became a lawyer. Who do you think made the best choice?"

#11 raised an eyebrow and studied me. "Did you know there are fruit salad trees? Seven different fruit on one tree."

I pursed my lips and looked unimpressed. "A piece of pineapple in your mouth will eat the protein right out of you. Any pineapples on that tree?"

I tilted my head, ready for the next attack.

#11 smiled. "4000 McDonalds burgers are eaten every minute which equals the meat of one cow."

"You're not a Scorpio, are you?" I asked #11.

"Really? That's the best you got?"

"Most serial killers are born in November," I informed him.

#11 stared off for a few seconds. "My mother was born in November. She had ten kids and only two of us were ever seen in snapshots at the same time. Come to think of it, she did love to garden."

The buzzer sounded.

Some girl with raven tattoos on her arms and a hovering stench of patchouli and ashtrays walked her kick ass over. #11 smiled a bit too wide for my taste. I didn't get up from my seat.

"You like yogurt?" I asked the girl.

"Yeah," she said, shrugging her shoulders, "who doesn't?"

"Bacteria found in yogurt is the same bacteria found in your vagina," I told her. "Consider that next time you rock some."

#11 laughed.

"Push off, low-life," the girl told me.

I got up and moved to the next seat, shook #12's hand, but kept my eye on #11 and that thing.

"Hello," #12 said. "Let me see." He squinted his eyes shut and tapped his fingers against his forehead. "Your name starts with a K, you have a deep love of poetry and you feed squirrels in the park."

I rolled my eyes.

He continued. "I have ESP."

God help me.

Then I heard #11: "Did you know there's a language in Mexico that only two people can speak? And they hate each other."

The tattooed thing giggled. I turned my head slowly in #11's direction. I gaped.

Mr. ESP continued. "People think you're an extrovert, but you're not. You have a hard time getting started in the morning, don't you?" He paused, squinting, nodding his head. "And you're a rocker. You rock in front of the mirror every morning when you're getting ready."

He stared at me for clarification.

I heard #11 go into the fruit salad tree deal again.

I stared at ESP, rocking slightly, as if I was channeling my own extra sense. "Never once," I said to the man, "have I fed a squirrel in the park."

Meg Tuite's most recent book is BOUND BY BLUE, a collection of stories (Sententia). She lives in Santa Fe.

Detail of photo on main page courtesy of Leo Reynolds.

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