No “I” on a First Date
by Franco Amati
Jordyn was so delicious that I swear I was this close to going full-on self-exposition on the first day we met. Just looking at their topaz eyes and perfect hands nearly made the me’s and my’s fall right out of me.
It was weird, because I don’t normally engage in self-referential conversation, but there was something about this creature that I trusted.
They brought me to an overlook on Garret Mountain. It’s a scenic spot, except the scene wasn’t so beautiful. We had a gorgeous view of the ugliest city in North Jersey. The place used to be called Paterson, but in 2052 it was renamed Garden View Park. That was back when people thought renaming a place would make it less gross.
“I grew up right there,” Jordyn said.
I was stunned that they so brazenly revealed a personal fact about themself.
“You know you shouldn’t say things like that unless you’re, well, serious about a second date,” I said.
Jordyn smiled. And then they reached over and held my hand.
“Don’t worry. I have no expectations. Don’t see this as me putting pressure on you to talk about yourself, too. Everyone should reveal themselves at their own pace.”
At that moment I was on the precipice of saying something about myself. I was so freakin’ close to telling them where I grew up. But my self-consciousness was too strong. You don’t talk about yourself until you’re married. That’s just how it is. And sure, plenty of people break the rules. Some like to divulge like crazy right after they start sleeping together. Sex has a way of lubricating the communication channels. But for me, it’s never happened yet. No person has ever tempted me that much.
“All right, since you’re not afraid to break the rules,” I said, “how about you tell me how you became so cavalier.”
“Let’s just say I’m not of this place.”
“But you just said you grew up right there in Garden View Park.”
They let go of my hand, stood up, and twirled their keys a few times around their finger.
“How do I say this? I didn’t grow up in the same culture that you grew up in.”
“So your family doesn’t adhere to the Social Graces?”
“I don’t have a family. But I do have a community. And no, we don’t abide by that tradition.”
After hearing that, I stood up, looked them straight in the eyes, and this time I reached for their hand.
“Who are you, Jordyn? It’s been decades since the rebels were exiled. There’s no way you could get by around here without at least making it appear like you follow the Social Graces.”
“Rebels? We’re not rebels, we’re refugees. And many of us are still here. We just found a better place to hide. Let me show you.”
Jordyn pressed a button on their keychain and vanished. I looked all around. They were gone. But I didn’t have much time to panic, because they reappeared a few seconds later.
“What the hell just happened? Where did you go?”
“I was still right here, in the exact same place, but I entered a part of the continuum that human eyes can’t perceive. Our scientists have developed this cloaking technology and many others that allow us to live on-world without being bothered. There’s a whole dimension unseen where people roam freely on both sides of the self-other divide. Where people can still talk about themselves without fear of social repercussions. Come with me, Yoon, and I promise you can tell me all about who you are without having to sleep with me or marry me first.”
“Where are we going?”
“We’ll be right here, in a way. And we can talk about ourselves without having to mince words.”
And with that, I took a leap of faith that forever changed my life.
Copyright © 2019 by Franco Amati