"Are you sure you don't want to break away from your usual? The last three you've checked out have been traditional romance. Maybe a little adventure or even mystery this time?" Lauren gestured at a different shelf than her friend Amber was currently browsing.
"Why would I do that? And why would I take your advice you never even get one."
"It's all too predictable, I don't want predictable."
"You could do a Choose Your Own Adventure, look, there is an entire section of those."
"But that's not really true is it? I mean, the choices are laid out. Pick this then that happens. Pick that then this happens. It's all decided right?"
"I guess, if you look at it like that. But all of these are already decided. That's the nice part. You can pick what you want and just dive in."
"And that's why I don't do it. Just because today I think I want," Lauren picked a random title from the shelf and read, " Romance blooms with flowers, picnics, sunsets walks on the beach, maybe tomorrow I'll wake up and want," and with that she choose a different title, "A deep connection is forged with philosophy lectures, art museum visits and French movies. Okay, well, never mind, I will never want that, but you get my point."
"How about those?" Amber pointed to the Romance with a Twist shelf.
"You can't announce that there will be a twist. If you do that then the whole time people are looking for the twist! That's not really a twist at all then! If you know it's coming then it's expected. Life doesn't announce twists!"
Amber sighed, "You think it's all too contrived. I get it. But you know you are the last remaining hold out right? Nobody does it your way anymore. Look around. Do you see the lines at the check out counter?"
Lauren did see the lines. And it made her a little sad. Nobody wanted to risk the real world anymore when they could just check out their next relationship. What had started simply enough years ago with online dating and matching profiles had morphed in to this, this, safe, prepackaged world. Choose your relationship. Plug it in and let it run. Everyone was running life programs now. Nobody actually dated. Or at least very few people did. Pick a title, live the life, get bored, pick a new one! No harm, no foul. And no real connections. It was all so sterile. So safe.
Sure you could choose one that seemed a little riskier. There were even whole genres devoted to Deep Love followed by Tragic Heartbreak. Who the hell would want that? But the section was filled with people perusing the offerings.
She wanted to yell at them, "Hey! You know that guy standing next to you looking at the same boxes you are? How about you ask him out since you have so much in common!" But she knew from talking to Amber and their other friends that there was no way they would do that. Everyone wanted the safety of a planned romance now.
Everyone but her.
She needed to find a Luddite dating society.
"Found one. Are you ready?" Amber was holding a box with a cover almost identical to the last title she checked out. Gorgeous beach, tan surfer dude just walking out of the waves. "Fun in the Sun"
"How long is this one?"
"Just a summer fling. I will be back with a tan before you even have time to miss me."
"You're a redhead, you don't tan. Not even RomanceCorp could program that."
Amber just laughed, "Fair enough. Come on. Let me get this in the system so the next tan surfer looking for a stunning redhead finds me."
"You could just..."
"I'm not moving to California! I've told you. This is just for fun. Eventually I'll check out a nice Settle Down Fairy Tale ending and it will all be perfect."
And with that Lauren waited while Amber was checked back in to the system. She wasn't wrong, she was a gorgeous redhead so it wouldn't be much of a wait until some tan surfer boy somewhere saw her face on the cover of his latest "Fun in the Sun" and they were matched for a summer fling. All planned out. Safe. Boring.
As they left the store one of the clerks was approached by a customer, "The brunette that just left? What was she checking out?"
"Oh she's not in the system. Only her friend. But I can direct you to our section of Dark and Mysterious, you might find what you are looking for there?"
"Hmmm... Okay, sure. But do you have something a little less predictable than I got last time?"