This is the nineteenth section of the second chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.
Laurence followed the waiter as he directed him to his chairs. The place looked like one of those false Italian chain restaurants that he did his best to avoid.
“Best garlic bread on the station”
“Not exactly a ringing endorsement.” Laurence glared over the menu at that "If all they do that's great is garlic bread and there's, what, three restaurants on the station, that is not a compliment"
“One day I’ll cheer you up what.”
“Lot of people here, is it summer or something, all the young ladies are out in their summer outfits”
“That’s the one benefit of space stations, or at least this one anyway, it’s always summer, they don’t bother to try and fake seasons.” With this Tom whipped out his pad and started punching away”
“What are you up to?” asked Laurence
“Oh just a few queries, sowing a few seeds” something had clearly appeared on his screen as Tom smiled “and let’s see if we reap what we sow” With this he nodded towards a group of women sat at an adjacent table.
“Feeling lucky?” asked Laurence
“Hopefully no feeling needed chap” Laurence watched carefully as two members of the group in question whipped out their own pads. “See, told you, child genius and famous athlete, which one do you fancy?”
“You’re confident then?”
“Then why are they turning away and not coming over then?”
“Strange” said Tom “must have scared them off with our brilliance”
“With your arrogance perhaps?”
“Nonsense, let’s check our feedback” said Tom busy with his pad.
“I’m sure things used to be simpler” said Laurence under his breath
“Oh” Tom sounded slightly crestfallen “I’m afraid to say old chap you’ve put them off.”
“Me? The young genius?” said Laurence with sarcasm “What could have put them off.”
“Well it’s your own fault for that sparse profile I told you about on the train”
“They don’t like a man of mystery I guess”
“Who does like someone with something to hide?”
“Humm, there’s more feedback coming in now” Tom paused and looked at Laurence almost with pity in his eyes “I forgot you put Engineer in your profile”
“Well it’s what I am.”
“They seem to think you’re a car service engineer or a beverage management engineer. You should have said research physicist or practical mathematician or something”
“But it’s what I am I build things anyway I grew up as a middle class male Caucasian.” Exclaimed Laurence “No-one was going to hold be back, but no-one was going to do anything for me either.”
“Yeah I saw that bit too, are you trying to annoy people?”
“I’m an engineer not a politician”
“Again as i said you might want to steer clear of that it sounds like you get your hands dirty”
“And what’s wrong with that, so do landscape gardeners”
“Right and girls love flowers and gardens, shows you’re in touch with your feminine side.” Tom thought for a second “Can’t you say you do that as a hobby?”
“Where would I claim to get the time?”
“It doesn’t have to be real”
“Well I’m not going to claim to be something I’m not. And yeah there was talk about coming up with a new title for engineers, clean start and all that. Sorcerer seemed like a good replacement don’t you think?”
“No I think you’re right, stick to what you know.”
“See I told you I would bring you down.”
“Not to worry, that said it’s been a few days. How long for you?”
“You know how long since you last had sex?”
“I’m not answering that.”
“Boy, prudish lot in Sutemia.”