I didn't mean to upset her; it was only meant to be a bit of fun.
But I looked at A's results; snatched the printout from her hands and ran off with it, yeah schoolground style. Looked and laughed. I suppose it was a breach of trust, more than most women would take on a third date. I mean I felt bad straight away, and gave it back, but the damage was already done.
And for weeks, I thought that must be the reason she dumped me.
Dialling back: about a month ago. Third date; pressure's on. Like you gotta find something new, different, can't just be the usual drinks and a meal. So I double date her to the South Bank near the London Assembly building. That night there was a winter fair on, or should I say fayre, no fuck I hate that spelling.
It was cold, colder than I expected. C and G - the other pair - had gone, back to base, but she's wrapped warmer with folds and layers. We're wandering round the stalls, noodles and she thinks about one of these christmas lanterns and I'm thinking yeah, but I'm the one who's gonna have to carry it but then maybe that's an excuse to get invited home.
Then behind the main area there's this patch of trees. Dark inside a blue tarpaulin with a sign:
Rosalind Elsie: Gene-Teller
Profile your DNA - Know your fortune - Find your perfect partner
while 'U' wait
Well I'm thinking this is pretty... alternative. Palmistry century 21. They take a sample of your DNA and use it to tell you things about yourself. Or personal genomic consultation, as they reckon it. Just the trick to amuse a girl who's still on probation pending a damn shag.
Past the tarpaulin outer, it's like a little mobile lab inside. An older woman greets us. White coat and upbeat, less a mystic old crone, more like some kind of motivational trainer. Makes sense, always reckoned all that management stuff was just high-class horoscopes, Myers-Briggs telling your personality.
"Cross my palm with plastic, my dear."
Cute. In return, she hands us the swabs. Run it across the inside of your cheek, squeaky on the teeth. Over to a white apron.
Of course, they only tell you about the little things, not the big stuff. I mean no-one wants to go out for an evening, find they've got a predisposition. Cancer, Alzheimer's or some creeping, demyelinating horror - something your going to get, or going to pass on. Hardly entertainment that. Strictly between you and your life insurance.
But the smaller stuff, that's just fun. It's also where the real art comes in. I mean a simple wet-test can give you a yes/no flag for cystic fibrosis. But the gene for being good at Hula Hoop? That takes a real eye. Better than any computer, better than the best bioinformatics. That's where the gene-reader comes in. She turns the tarot, reads the runes, stirs the tea leaves, whatever cokes your cola. The subtle patterns in the junk that a computer couldn't tell.
"I've a little Romany in me, on my Grandmother's side"
Um yeah, whatever grandma. I mean joss-sticks, WTF? Meant to be sterile in here.
"And I can prove it - Mitochondrial DNA."
So while 'U' wait I'm admiring the set-up. Wipe clean surfaces, stainless steel, food safety certificate-WAIT FUCK this is a converted burger van! Ah well. Won't mention it to A. Anyway we've paid now.
Sequencer only takes a blink but even that's starting to drag. Reading the menu, 'parrently they also do predictive sex. Match a sample from each of you, show you what your kids would look like. I don't want to suggest it. I mean if I were here with.. I dunno, Neomie Lenoir then maybe I'd think about it. But we're not exactly clicking here, don't want her getting ideas.
...now I'm told - back door - they can even show your children by this or that celebrity. Not strictly legit, I mean just think of the intellectual property issues there, but frankly how would you know? Probably just some shit they keyed in, or borrowed from a former punter who looked a bit like so-and-so. Actual product may vary from that shown...
But we've just gone for the straight 'scope. Two minutes and we each get our personal print-outs. So what does mine say?
Let's see. Cancel the salsa lessons, no aptitude for it. But sushi - preparing sushi - says here I'd be a natural - OK, mental note to give that a go. I lack the gene for stretching bin-liners to fit the top of bins - actually, now I think, yeah, iss true. It says I should avoid jazz, and jazz musicians, fair enough. And good at driving too fast! W00T go me!
Oh and yeah, some stuff I'll skate over, if you don't mind. Remind me, who's blog is it?
So that's burnt half an hour, given us a cheap giggle and we're walking back East along the river. Wind's dropped but wishing I'd kept the scarf. She's still looking at her printout and smiling.
And that was when I did it; snatched it and ran. Quick skim... Jackpot! So THAT was what she was good at. Well, I'm not gonna say.
OK I am. The nicest compliment a woman can pay a man. I mean not spoken... exactly... but still involves her mouth, you catch? So maybe I'll give this relationship another weekend. OhComeOn people I was joking! Alright half-joking, it's there you'know, back of your mind least it is if you're me, and I doubt many men are different.
Felt bad straightaway and gave it back. Sheepish but now I'm T playing the-sorry-naughty-puppy and she gets play to forgiving me. Yeah? No. Terse. She walks her printout back to the bin where I threw mine and carefully tears it up. I look away and pretend to look at my watch or some shit. Neither a word. Hometime.
And after that, she just stopped. Stopped phoning, stopped texting. I mean that was cold of her, colder than I expected. No date four, never got to appreciate her... special talent. Not so much as a sniff. Unfair I thought, bit over-sensitive. Only meant to be a bit of fun. OK I mean yeah I shouldn't have looked but I mean you'd think she'd be proud!
But it wasn't till after that that I figured it out. Dialling back: Ditch my printout... She walks over to the same bin... carefully tears hers up... I look away.
THAT wasn't the reason she stopped seeing me. Not because I saw her gene-reading.
But because she... SHE SAW MINE.