It's not often when our editor comes out of his office, but he came out a few weeks ago and shouted, "James, I have a story for you!"
He proceeded to tell me his brilliant idea for a Valentine's Day story, and he wanted me to chronicle my dating life for our readers. I reluctantly agreed only because I had become so tired of being angry and cynical due to the fact that my ex left me for his Land Rover.
I was a bit taken aback at the enthusiasm some of my colleagues had for my assignment. The science and technology department is small but it was buzzing with ideas for dates for me since my idea of meeting someone at the coffee shop was a complete failure.
That's not exactly true. I did meet someone, and technically it was a date. We connected at first over our enthusiasm for cheese and then decided to meet for coffee where it was learned that he could never date anyone who drinks non-caffeinated coffees after four. The date ended fairly quickly after I placed my order.
Several days later, I met another man while getting the stitches out of my leg. He was a nurse practitioner with dreamy eyes. We made plans to grab a bite to eat during the lunch break the following day, but when he smiled at me with ketchup in his teeth, I just couldn't envision myself kissing him.
It was at this point, fellow science writer, Clive Danton told me of Marvin Tool whom he described as a Greek God and that he was sure I'd really hit it off with him. As a journalist, I'm trained to seek out the truth and I can usually tell when someone is lying. However, I'm also a bit naïve when it comes to my co-workers especially one who used to give me his last chocolate candy on Fridays.
I let Mr. Danton set me up with this man who according to him is every woman's fantasy at the train station. He apparently writes down locomotive serial numbers. Danton told me he was conducting research for the Department of Transportation so I thought nothing of it.
I was surprised however when I arrived in front of the restaurant to find him drinking weak lemonade from a flask. He was no Adonis! Instead he looked like something from a horror movie completely devoid of personality who also smelled of cat urine. When he asked me for money, I ran away cursing Clive Danton.
I later learned by text message that my esteemed colleague had a grudge against me because I told him his story about quantum physics was nothing more than a regurgitated Star Trek episode and was not fit for print.
The next day at work, I was feeling gloomy about men and my story when my co-worker IainB told me of Malcolm Talcum who sits at his desk across the room from us and has for months without us realizing. I turned to look and didn't see him. Iain gave me his phone and for me to use the telescope app he had installed. Still, I saw no one there but Teresa Freezer.
"Ahh," said Iain, "Try the optical illusion app."
Then he suddenly appeared writing up reports at his desk. He had blonde hair, almost white with blue eyes. Not really my type but then Iain went on to tell me that maybe what I had been looking for had been here all along, if only I had noticed.
"He's a good listener and shares your love of Star Wars," Iain went on to tell me.
I had to admit he was cute. Not handsome in the way Johnny Depp is handsome, but he was cute. Not traditionally cute, but there was something about him that was intriguing.
Several days later, thanks to Teresa from accounting, with some more prodding from my writer friend, I went on a date with Malcolm. I was looking forward to it though despite the fact Iain said he had never had a relationship last more than eight days, seven hours and thirty-four minutes. Iain used to word precise to describe him. I normally don't date men so precise, but Iain promised that he'd phone pretending to be the sitter and give me an out if I needed one.
We met at a restaurant close to the paper after we both finished up our work. He was a good listener and I was having a nice time. It had been a long time since someone has listened that intently to every word I had said. However, I was beginning to think that maybe he was mute because he wasn't speaking at all. That is until I mentioned that Han Solo shot first in the cantina scene in Star Wars.
Malcolm became animated and very impassioned and told me he writes a blog called 'Han Shot First - Greedo is Innocent.' I didn't know accountants could have a flair for writing so I was very intrigued by his blog and couldn't wait to have a look.
As it turns out he owns the entire collection of Star Wars figures from 1977. His knowledge of Star Wars surpassed anyone else I had ever known. Not even the guy I encountered at the convention last year. I had to admit, at this point, I started thinking that perhaps Malcolm was The One.
He invited me back to his place after dinner, however I could tell he was nervous. "Things never seem to end well after I take a girl back to my place," he told me.
Upon entering, the first thing I noticed was the stench. I almost gagged it was so horrible. I had never been in a morgue, but I had an idea that maybe this was the smell one would smell at a morgue.
"Don't mind the smell," said Malcolm. "It's my other hobby. I meant to put a new air freshener in, but it claimed to last ninety days, and there's still seventeen days, six hours and twelve minutes left on it."
The Star Wars scenes (he had several, and none from the prequel nonsense) were impressive, but I could hardly concentrate with the smell.
I had to know, so I peeked.
Malcolm was calm when I screamed.
"Don't panic," he said. "I'm sure other people recreate famous paintings using chicken livers and cat poo. That one's the Mona Lisa, but I've not finished it yet. If you're going to vomit, can I keep it?"
As I ran out of the apartment vowing never to let my boss talk me into such a stupid assignment again, I heard him say: "Twelve minutes, thirty-three seconds. A new record."
Later than night, after 5 missed calls from Iain, 3 text messages from other friends, I relaxed in the tub with a glass of wine when it hit me. Perhaps it was time for me to face the music.
I would just get a dog.