We meet for a drink at Commissary Bravo. She wears Feminine Semi-Formal Attire #3, along with a custom belt made from discarded food packets — I have a wallet made of the same. I order a gin and tonic, and she has a vodka soda, though both are actually just recycled water with added flavor and ethyl alcohol. Unfortunately, ever since the first asparagus harvest, all the recycled water has had a distinct odor. After a few minutes of sitting and sipping filtered urine while adorned in silvery space garbage, we simultaneously become overwhelmed with disgust and announce we have early mornings tomorrow.
Our conversation in the app felt forced and stilted, but we agree to a date anyway. It’s going surprisingly well. She tells me an amazing story about how she recently saw a cat land on its feet after she threw it nearly thirty meters! I mesmerize her with a story about finding a lump in my thigh that turned out to be benign. A facilities op interrupts our conversation to inform us there is a problem with the oxygen levels in the building. We evacuate into a nearby hangar and wait in silence for the hypoxemia to pass. “Wait,” I say after a while, “why the hell did you throw a cat?”
A few hours before our date, she sends me a message: “Do you really weigh 190lbs?” “Yep!” I reply. But when I can’t find her at Commissary Bravo, it dawns on me that she is probably referring to our Mars weights, which means I’m looking for someone nearly three times larger than I’d imagined. Eventually we find each other, and despite the confusion, we have a nice time, though she keeps looking at my waist and saying she doesn’t usually date “skinny guys.” I order some loaded nachos, to prove I’m capable of change, but the next day she unmatches me.
She looks like a supermodel in her photos, so I’m slightly nervous about what her reaction will be to my bald head and bony elbows. But she lights up when she sees me, flashing the same bright smile I saw in her picture. The exact same smile, in fact. As she gives me a quick hug, I hear the faint hums and clicks of motorized appendages. “So, are you autonomous or remotely operated?” I ask, unwilling to pretend she’s human, but also reluctant to forgo the possibility of sex. “What do you mean? I’m not a robot,” she says, which means she’s remote-controlled, because the autonomous robots aren’t permitted to lie. Still, I’m surprised — this is the most advanced robot I’ve seen. Then I remember a notice of an active Turing test sent by the big boss himself. “Elon, is that you in there?” I ask. The robot doesn’t respond. It just sits there with a neutral smile, blinking and making small naturalistic gestures. I order another drink and leave the robot with the bill.
We go for a romantic drive around the settlement in one of the land rovers. Ten minutes in, we get a message that an unexpected dust storm is rapidly approaching. She stops the rover and quickly assembles the emergency shelter. She yells for me to retrieve the air tank and rations. I pull two metal cases from beneath the rover as a wall of red dust sweeps over the settlement. The last thing I see as I zip the tent behind us is our rover tumbling through the air like a leaf. For 11 days, we huddle next to each other through sub-zero temperatures, unable to do much more than hold each other and pray. Finally, a message comes over our phones that the storm has passed and a rover is coming to rescue us. We dig our way out from the dust. Our muscles have atrophied; our eyes struggle to adjust to the soft light of dusk. “We’re gonna tell our kids about this one day,” she says in a hoarse whisper. “Kids?” I say, and with my last ounce of strength, I unmatch her.
A friend sets me up on a blind date with an engineer I never met on the app. She arrives twenty minutes late, wearing a worn-out pair of Neutral Comfort Attire #1. She puts her bare feet up on the chair next to me and I smell them immediately. “Remember when you said ‘Not if I were the last woman on Earth?’” She chugs my drink then belches, sending droplets of recycled urine and saliva cascading across my face.