This is a chapter from the book I wrote. It’s a very early chapter that introduces a main character named Emma.
I love any feedback or notes so feel free to comment on what worked / what didn’t. I don’t think you need any context to enjoy the chapter, it’s somewhat meant to work standalone.
Emma wasn’t having the best day of her life, although she should have seen it coming. This dumb speed dating event her friends convinced her to go to was not working out. You don’t get out enough, they said. You need to meet someone, they said.
Funny advice, given people who met someone didn’t go out much because they stayed home with the people they met. You went out so you could stop going out. Why not skip the middleman and stay home? Case in point, none of her friends were here with her.
She didn’t have time for this. Between work and grad school, a social life was a dim and distant theoretical, and she had gotten used to living within her own routine.
The event was taking place in a bar, obviously, and she sat at her assigned table while guys rotated through. Someone had organized the room so the women could sit with their backs to the wall while the men moved around the inside. The overhead lights had their brightness set to “flattering” – dim enough to hide flaws, but not so dark that it became creepy. In fairness, most of the guys she’d met seemed nice enough, but small talk made her uncomfortable and she stumbled through the conversations, making no real connections.
While she wasn’t unused to attention from guys, she preferred her own company. She had a long-standing theory that a certain type of guy was generically attracted to redheads – any redheads – which made her feel less like a person and more like a fetish.
She checked her phone. 8:30. The next guy sauntered up to her table, wearing a hoody with a white tank top underneath and loose, baggy pants that sagged down below his hips. He leaned back in the chair as the buzzer sounded, giving them ten rushed minutes to fall in love. She introduced herself.
“Hey,” he said. “I’m Stan.” He reached out to shake her hand. “If you don’t mind my saying, you’re really pretty. I kind of have a thing for redheads.”
“My friends call me Smoove Dick.”
“I’m sorry,” she said “Smooth what?”
“Smoove.” He corrected. “Not smooth. It’s like groove, but even smoother than that, so smoove.” She attacked the linguistics of that sentence from a few angles but found it impenetrable. She nodded.
“Smoove Dick is my rap handle.” He said. “I’m a rapper,”
“Oh, okay.” She knew rap, sort of. “You’re like a DJ or something?
“No,” he replied. “DJ’s spin tracks. I spit rhymes.” She stared at him, confused. “They put down beats and I flow over it.”
“Sorry. I don’t understand what any of that means.” He opened his mouth to clarify, but she held up a hand and waved him off. “It’s fine. You don’t need to disambiguate any further. I’m good.”
There was an awkward pause, the type that only appeared after you told someone your preferred name was ‘Smoove’. She thought he must be used to this.
“So, should I call you Stan or Smoove…. I’m sorry, you said Dick?”
“Yeah.” he seemed proud.
“Is your middle name Richard?”
“No.” he laughed.
She didn’t mean to be funny and wasn’t sure why he found it entertaining. She tried again. “So why wouldn’t you be Smoove Stan? Or, I know,” she snapped her fingers. “Your rap name could be ‘Rapping Fresh Stan’” She was proud of herself for coming up with such a good rap name on the spot. “Why would you be Smoove Dick?” as soon as she said it out loud, she realized where the second part of his name might come from and her face flushed hot.
“You know,’ he said. She was terrified that she did. “I’m Smoove like butter. With my moves.” He vaguely gestured downward towards his crotch and she was vaguely nauseated and entirely finished with this conversation.
Strike two. On the spot, she decided baseball was too lenient on batters. Two strikes was plenty. Why did you need three?
Eight minutes left. God help her. She gamely soldiered on.
“That’s fascinating,” she said, not at all fascinated. “I always wondered how people came up with rap names. Like how did Grand Master Flash decide to be a grand master? And why the Fresh Prince of Bel Air instead of the Fresh Viscount?” she tapped her finger against her chin, thinking. “Would a Prince outrank a Grand master in rap circles? I’m not sure of the hierarchy. Technically, one would own a Dutchy and the other would be a great bridge player, so it’s really tough to tell.”
He stared at her uncomprehendingly, but her nerves were getting the best of her and she rambled when she was nervous. Speed dating was not her friend.
“And how would Dr. Dre fit in, given that a Doctor isn’t a designation for nobility? Would he be like an adjutant? Do you think Sir Mix-a-lot got knighted by the Fresh Prince?”
“Do you want to hear some of my rhymes?” he broke in, mistaking her panicked rambling for interest.
“No. God. No.” she said. He looked hurt, and she vacillated. “I mean, you understand. The bar. The noise.” She tried to make a gesture that would convey that bars are bad acoustics for freestyle rap, which ended up being a kind of double hand wave, but the nuance was lost on Smoove Dick.
“No, it’s fine.” He said. “Check this,” he straightened in the chair and tapped out a simple beat on the table. His head bopped side to side to the rhythm. “I crush it when I rhyme and my flow and beats are sick, your mouth can call me Smoove but your hand can grab my d-”
“Would you look at the time,” she said. “I bet they’ll be calling the buzzer any second now.” Despite not wearing a watch, she tapped her wrist so he would know where she kept time. “It was nice meeting you Mr. Dick, or Smooth Stan. I hope your rapping works out.”
“Actually, there’s still like 6 minutes left?” he looked around.
As she opened her mouth to argue that time is variable based on who is perceiving it, a massive charge of electricity slammed into her brain. Her back arched and she tried to scream but no sound came out. She experienced pain unlike anything she’d ever known, similar to what she assumed dying would be like. She dropped out of her chair and onto the floor and convulsed as waves rocked through her.
In the tiny part of her mind where coherent thoughts still formed, she mused this might be a better alternative than continuing to talk to Smoove Dick. As she arched and convulsed, he jumped to his feet and yelled “Hey, help! This chick is having a seizure!” he got down beside her and impotently wrung his hands.
My rap name would be District First Selectman Emma, was the last thought she had before she blacked out.