Friday, March 30, 2007

Of love, leagues, and relationships - III

Arthur couldn't sleep that night. Twisting and turning in his bed, his only thoughts were of Tricia - a phenomenon that started with Tricia's account of her date with Ford Prefect. Somehow, he couldn't get her out of his mind. This rarely happened to Arthur - there were few girls that he cared about, and even fewer that affected his sleep. Confused, Arthur kept wondering about that dangerous four-letter word that turned minds into mush. Was he infected?

"Nah. How could I be? I have survived the attention of many girls...", thought Arthur, even as a twirl of Tricia's locks floated in front of his eyes.

"Well, who am I kidding? It wasn't was a few. And those were different days", he thought again, reflecting on his current social situation. "I'm too busy to be infected.", he concluded. "After all, I still need to complete the implementation of BabelFish by yesterday."

[ Editor's Note: These days, people have no use for tense in grammar. Time travel has made tenses irrelevant, and even though authors (like yours truly) have stuck with basic rules of tense, it is perfectly acceptable to use tense in a haphazard manner, at the least, in your own thoughts.]

Arthur's reverie ended when the alarm went off, alarming Arthur that he had to run for a meeting with Tricia. A few weeks ago, Tricia had joined the same company that Arthur worked for, and as Tricia's team-mate, Arthur spent more than his fair share of time with her, a situation he loved as much as Ford hated. Somehow, Arthur and Ford were never able to warm up beyond the occasional icy stare or a cold-fish handshake, which was a new headache Tricia had to deal with.

As Arthur swung his silvery convertible into the parking lot, he noticed that Tricia's red sedan was already parked. "What a ridiculous car", he thought, looking at the garish red paint and poor styling that was a hallmark of most Kakrafoon cars. He could never understand how women could buy cars without giving a thought to their performance. Cursing under his breath, he walked up the two floors to his office, swiped his access card at the door, and walked in. As he neared his cubicle, he saw Tricia coming towards him. Her peppy walk, the big smile on her face, and the confidence in her gait, all told Arthur that she was still hung over from her previous night's date. Was it the date? Arthur wondered.

Too polite to question, Arthur smiled and waved at Tricia. As they both settled down in the meeting room, Tricia opened the conversation: "How was your night?", she asked.

Arthur knew this was a trap. He realized there was no way he could answer this question without asking how her night was, and he knew how much he dreaded the answer to that question. Smiling, he said "Oh, it was the usual.", and before Tricia could respond, he said "Hey, you know, I've found the problem with the natural language processor! We should have simply used an algorithm instead of artificial intelligence. A neo-Turing algorithm would have fixed the auto-translate-and-induce-poetic-tenor module..."

"Won't you ask me how my night was?", interrupted Tricia. This was important. Who in the heavens cared if the poetic-tenor contraption worked? And if anyone wanted to read Shakespeare, he could learn English! Further, this sinful contraption is what caused the disappearance of God and the subsequent chaos in the Universe.

Sensing that there was no way out, Arthur nibbled the bait Tricia threw at him. His silence was the green light Tricia wanted, and she described her date in what seemed like excruciating detail to Arthur. During her extempore, he recalled his first relativity lesson: "If a beautiful girl is telling you how much she loves you, it seems like a minute, and if she's describing her date with a bloke you detest, it seems like eternity. That is relativity."

At the end of her monologue, which Arthur had kept parsing for the words "propose", "engage", "diamond" and "ring", Arthur was relieved that his parser had failed on all counts. Arthur wondered why. Out aloud, he said: "I don't understand what you see in that Ford. His fashion sense comes from the times of the Model-T, he has the perfect face to frighten kids in the dark, and the guy can't even code!". Ignoring the look of weariness on Tricia's face, Arthur continued: "How can you, one of our best brains, fall for that no-brainer!?"

Stung, Tricia asked: "Why didn't you fall for that brilliant girl in your neo-Turing Architecture class? She was perfect for you." The sarcasm in her voice was unmistakable.

Arthur was forced on the defensive. "She wasn't my type.", he said, almost apologetically.

"You see!? That is precisely my point. And this is something I've been telling you since time immemorial. Attraction is not a deterministic function. Why don't you get it!?"

"But Ford doesn't meet any of the standards you've set for a date!", Arthur cribbed. "He is boorish, doesn't treat people well, isn't smart, can't keep up with a conversation to save his life, and isn't even in your league as far as work is concerned!", blurting out all his frustrations at once.

Tricia returned to her enigmatic self. She knew what was going on in Arthur's mind. Still, she didn't want to point it out, at least not yet. With a very kind voice, she said, "Well, that is something you need to understand by yourself, Arthur. I cannot teach you everything."

The rest of the meeting went off well. Arthur decided to mull over what Tricia said. Somewhere inside his mind was a little worm of doubt - "Does Tricia know? Is there anything for her to know!!!?"