Monday, June 14, 2010

The Unique Gentlemen Dating Service ( A Story I Done Wrote)

Sarah sat on the couch in the same way that a plane with engine failure lands. Unfortunately, while the plane could expect to have emergency crews expecting it, Sarah only had the greasy pleather of the cushions.

Rolling onto her back, she stared at the ceiling. It had been painted about two months ago, going from a beautiful red to a very streaky blue. She had done it all herself, not allowing anyone to help her.

She had also not let anyone help her pick out her new furniture, which also came into her apartment two months ago. It was a secondhand jumble of styles, materials, and heights. Sarah sighed as her gaze rolled over the aluminum coffee table, the wicker chair set up at her ancient roll-top desk, and the black pleather couch she was currently resting on. She tried not to remember what the entire place had looked like three months ago.

It was a futile effort.

Three months ago, under a beautiful red ceiling, Sarah’s apartment had been full of sleek furniture: A beautiful mahogany table, a few tasteful chairs set around it waiting for the dinner party she never threw; a comfortable armchair by the window, where she could sit and watch life pass by; an antique floor lamp she had found with James.

James had disappeared between then and now, though. Well, not disappeared exactly. Sarah knew where he was now, knew the exact address as a matter of fact: 357 E. 28th Street, apartment 12-B. The buzzer was labeled “James Preston & Molly Land”.

James left Sarah after a particularly messy fight. They had always fought, but she thought it was just part of their chemistry. His positive ions tried to squeeze past her own equally charged ones, and it would start. Sooner or later, though, the reaction would ease up and they could get to bonding.

This fight was different, though. It started when James set down his section of the newspaper and asked her, “Where are we going?”

“I thought we didn’t have plans tonight,” Sarah replied, trying to figure out 9-down.

“No, I mean, where are we going?” James asked. He was the only man Sarah had ever met who could italicize his voice. James went on to ask what Sarah thought their relationship’s future was.

She hadn’t thought much about it, and told him such. He asked her why. She asked him why it mattered if they were enjoying what their relationship currently is. He said that he wanted to know if he should look for a ring. She told him she always liked presents. He sighed, the sigh heard around the apartment.

By the end of that night, James had packed up and walked out. Four days later, he hadn’t come back. Sarah had tried to call but he wasn’t answering. She called some of his friends and they told her to not call anymore, that James didn’t want to talk to her.

When it became clear that she was officially single, Sarah felt marooned. She hadn’t wanted to marry James, necessarily (“I mean, I’m only 27, and you’re barely 28! That’s still young!”), she hadn’t wanted to break up with him either. Her girlfriends told her that there were plenty of fish in the sea. Then they all went home to their boyfriends, leaving Sarah staring into a cocktail the color of a crab’s shell.

Sarah decided it was time for a change. She redecorated and repainted her apartment, trying to exorcise the ghost of James. She wasn’t very good at it, but she got it done anyways. After that, Sarah decided to hit the singles scene again. She tried bars and she tried speed dating. Sarah even allowed herself to be set up on a series of blind dates by her friends. Nothing worked for her, and it didn’t help that she still ran into James and his new Molly. Those run-ins always gave rise to a horde of emotion in Sarah, anger mixed with remorse, and a strong hit of desperation.

She had seen the two of them today, holding hands as they looked at the liquor store’s windows. She had said hello, tried to look like she was having a great time. When she said her goodbyes and turned the corner, she exhaled. She needed a date. Or at least to get laid.

Sarah decided to break her one rule of looking for a date. Lifting herself from the couch into a sitting position, Sarah reached for her laptop. She typed “dating services” into the Google box. She clicked. The barrier had been broken.

For a while, every result seemed to be the same thing: “Find hot sexy singles in your area that just want to fuck!” Sarah wouldn’t mind that, but she had trouble picturing how many hot sexy singles were in her area. She thought of the other people in her apartment. Most of them were old and retired. The resulting idea turned her off those sites entirely.

The next ones all featured some sort of personality test component and a promise to find your perfect soulmate. Sarah hated those, too. After all, what if she failed the test? Would a robotic voice come from her laptop’s speakers, saying, “sorry pathetic hoo-man, but you are not a Desirable Mate to any of our five million members”?

After skipping everything she hated, Sarah found all that was left: the video dating service. These were old holdovers from an earlier age but modernized, like anthrax powder. Instead of VHS tapes full of men discussing their perfect mates, it was all streaming video.

Sarah figured that these, at least, would be good for a laugh. And who knows? Maybe it’d work out for her. She scrolled down the list until she found one she liked the look of, the Unique Gentleman Dating Service. Distinguished had a nice ring to it. Barack Obama was unique. So was Leonardo DiCaprio. She clicked the link.

After a splashy intro, the website got right into it. Men recorded videos and uploaded them. They would pay upright for the space, as well as a small monthly fee to maintain their ad. Women paid an even smaller fee, two dollars a month, for the privilege of perusing these personals. Sarah joined as “sxysarah295” and filled out a few questions about who she was looking for: height, age, build, et cetera.

After submitting her replies to the questionnare, Sarah’s screen filled with video thumbnails. Apparently, not every single in her area was just looking to fuck. Sarah had never realized how many unique gentlemen lived in New York, especially single ones.

After a brief scan, she decided to go with “lilfrankie” as her first video. She waited for the video to load, wondering what he was like. A stockbroker? Maybe a doctor?

When the video started, Sarah assumed there was something wrong with her screen. The man’s face was a disgusting yellow color, and his hair was a cross between black and dark burgundy. “Or maybe it was a problem with the camera, or the lighting,” she reasoned.

“Hello,” said the man, a faint European accent playing across his lips. “I’m… well, that’s an interesting conundrum. I don’t really have a name. Most people call me Frankenstein, but that’s not my name. That was my creator’s name. It’s right there in Mary Shelley’s biography, people.

“Sorry, let me start that again. I guess you could call me Frankenstein’s monster. I just moved to New York about a century ago. When you don’t really age, it gets hard to count the passage of time. I like walks through the park, cats, and quiet evenings at home. I’m currently trying to relearn French, but it’s been tough going. My tongue is a little loose and I can’t find anyone who can sew it back in.” Sarah had noticed a slight slur, but the horror of what she was seeing had been more pressing to her.

“My dislikes? Uh… fire. Fire bad. I have to say I’m not a big fan of movies. All of the actors just seem so… fake to me. Pretending to be something they’re not. I enjoy a good documentary, but that’s really about it. Mostly I stay in, trying not to incite a mob scene. I’m looking for a woman who’d like to move down to the jungles of South America and raise a family. If this sounds like you, please get in touch.”

He paused for a second. “Oh, and, yes, my creator did sew something on down there. It’s from a horse.” Then the video ended.

Sarah was stunned. What the hell was that? It must’ve been a prank. Some actor trying to get a rise out of a potential date. Sarah decided to just forget about it and moved on to the next video, one by “moonchaser69”. She rolled her eyes at the number, but still kept an open mind.

An impossibly hairy man filled the video. Muscular, broad shouldered, with a full head of hair and a beard. Sarah swore later that she saw it visibly grow during the four minute video.

“What’s up, ladies?” asked the I.H.M., in a musical voice. “He’s a little hairy, but he’s got a certain… animal appeal,” thought Sarah.

“My name’s Jack, and I’ve been in New York for a couple of years now. I work with Animal Control, chasing down predators that get into the city’s parks. It’s a lot of fun and reminds me of hunting with my father. Just us, racing through the snowy woods, trying to catch a rabbit.”

Sarah smiled. Her father had never taken her hunting, choosing instead to go with her brother. They had always seemed so happy after returning from the woods. Any guy with a relationship like that with his father couldn’t be all bad.

“Let’s see, what else… I love music, especially classical stuff. You know, soothes the savage beast and all. I spend most of my time outdoors, though: hiking, canoeing, rafting. One of my dreams is to go over Niagara Falls.”

This guy was sounding better and better to Sarah with every sentence he said. Chiseled, rugged, a competent outdoorsman – everything James wasn’t. Just the palate cleanser she needed.

“So, I guess, there’s not much left for me… for me to… to… AROOOOOOOOOO!”

Sarah had a high tolerance for pranks. She liked a good laugh as much as anyone else. But two in a row? That was too much for even the most good-natured young lady. Hence her disappointment when the I.H.M. all of a sudden turned into a bipedal wolf-man. What she didn’t understand was how he had made it look so realistic. “This guy must’ve had access to a whole suite of CG animators to pull that off,” she reckoned. No way he could afford that on an Animal Control salary.

A sense of grim curiosity took over Sarah at this point. She knew she wasn’t going to find a date on this site, and that there was no point to watching the rest of these videos. Yet there was the cursor, slowly sliding towards “romanigent”. What untold horrors would this video reveal to her?

An empty chair in a well furnished apartment. Burgundy drapes and candles. Obviously the Unique Gentleman was hovering off camera, making sure that everything was just right. This guy had the most promise out of the three she had watched.

The search bar under the video said five seconds had elapsed, but nothing happened. Then there was a cough and Sarah realized that the Romani gentleman must be on screen. Her suspicions were confirmed when a voice came out of her speakers.

“Oh, I knew this wouldn’t work. Stupid, stupid Vlad! You know you don’t show up on film, why would digital video be any different? Man. Okay. Let’s just do this.”

The nervousness of the voice and its owner was palpable. Sarah wanted to just close the video but something kept her cursor far away from the X.

“So, uh, um. I’m Vlad, I’m about two hundred and forty years old. You can’t see me, obviously – I’m sweating like a roast duck here – but I’m in good shape for my age. I have black hair, black eyes, and… well, I’m really pale too. I like long walks at night and the theatre. I don’t really like Italian food.”

This was too weird for Sarah. This was just too weird. She still couldn’t close the window, though. Something kept her fixated on a small point in the video, just where Vlad’s eyes would be if he was visible.

“I guess I should mention the other thing I’m into. It’s… it’s called bloodplay. I think it’s a really intense and erotic way for two people to come together. I’ve had…”

The spell was broken. Sarah was as open as the next single New York woman, but she drew the line at that. The window was closed before she even realized her hand was moving.

Three for three. Sarah had completely struck out. These “Unique Gentlemen” were a little too unique. Unwilling to test her sanity anymore, Sarah listlessly scrolled all the way down. At the bottom of the page, nestled between “Site map” and “Affiliates” was “Our Mission”. Finally, someone could explain this madness to her.

The page read as follows:


Since the dawn of time, there have always been undesirable creatures, searching for love as best they can. Too long have these creatures been pushed to the sidelines, shunned by a hateful and prejudiced public. We here at Unique Gentleman Dating Services say, “No more!” Through the magic of the Internet, we can bring these men straight into your living room.

All of the creatures who have always lurked at the edges of society – the monsters who go bump in the night – are now available for you to date. Watch the videos and find your soul mate, even if they have no soul.

Unique Gentleman Dating Services is an LLC, operating out of New York.

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