The Voyager, 2018
Among other peculiar customs, such as the subjugation of lesser organisms for one’s personal amusement, and the forcible and conceivably excruciating removal of one’s pubic hair, nothing has ever terrified me more greatly than the human dinner party. I was invited by my human employer, a virile male of high standing, to dine at his residence on a Friday evening. He had warned me that his wife, acquaintances, and business partners would be in attendance, and so I resolved - as any good voyager should - to prepare an impeccable backstory and review the art of human conversation. My efforts were, sadly, in vain.
You see, humans are terrible rule-makers; their rules are either too cumbersome or preposterous to follow. Sometimes both. Upon arriving at the home of the host, one must ring a ‘doorbell’ to announce one’s arrival. Another socially fundamental obligation is the extension of one’s (anterior) hand in greeting. The first guest to arrive that evening followed neither, instead launching herself at the hostess who was placing the last glass on a meticulously dressed-up table, which itself exemplified a common, senseless act of establishing order and cleanliness although neither will persist. But I digress.
The guest, having performed a more intimate variation of the common ‘hug’, then turned to me.
“Oh, hey,” she said, with a flick of her unpowdered eyes before engaging herself in fervent conversation with the hostess.
I was astounded, struck speechless – and, dear voyager, you must be, too – but I took her omission of a self-introduction as a social cue and made a point of standing in a corner to avoid interaction with the influx of guests behind her. Once our host had arrived and we were seated, and alcohol flowed freely from glasses to lips to table, the real terror began.
“So, John, are you single?”
Single what? Single-minded, single-celled, single-digited? I hoped my pores would not open and secrete the putrid evidence of my discomfort.
Take note, dear voyager: humans crave clarification.
“Are you seeing anyone?”
My hidden eye twitched nervously. I counted eleven guests, including the host, the hostess, and myself.
“Plenty of people.”
The woman from before was picking at her salad.
“You know, a respectable young man like you ought to settle down.”
This guest was grey-haired and weary-eyed and had refilled his glass twice already.
“Yes, there’s the thrill of mixing up one’s palette, trying new things – but you’ve got to see the bigger picture in life, son.”
He leaned back, basking in the glow of his weak metaphorical assertion. Humans tend to think that age pertains to great wisdom, but I believe their egos grow faster.
“Yes, sir,” I agreed. My three hearts hammered relentlessly against my chest.
“And you, Rachel?”
She put down her salad fork.
“Me? I’ve never met a human being I can stand. Seriously. I doubt I’ll ever come across someone who doesn’t completely tire me out,” she declared, and promptly resumed eating.
The others sat in stunned silence.
“A human being,” I whispered, before I could help myself. Our eyes met.
Three months later, Earth-time, she contacted me. Her belly had swollen, and she could feel three heartbeats. And this, dear voyager, was how my troubles began.
Coco Huang is the sort of person you would find in a library choosing books that look rarely read. She writes fiction, poetry, and music, and is an art enthusiast and avid people-watcher. She tweets sporadically