LoveLab Podcast—Interplanetary Edition (Tara Campbell)
This week on LoveLab: A fleen-playing scientist from Zink looks for love on Earth. An advertising professional from Ohio expands her dating horizons. Will their First Contact lead to a Space Odyssey or a crash landing? We gave Tanya and Neil a LoveLab date budget and sent them out on the town to find out. Now they’re back in the studio to tell us all about it. So let’s jump right in: Tanya, why don’t you give us a LoveLab introduction?
Tanya: Hi, my name is Tanya, I’m 23 years old, and I’m from Akron, Ohio. I work in advertising, and in my free time I like to play soccer and go to baseball games—go Sox! I just started taking guitar lessons, so I still suck, but you know… Anyway, my favorite food is chocolate cake; and, um…oh yeah, the first thing people notice about me is my eyes.
LoveLab: And they are beautiful, by the way. So, Neil, how about you?
Neil A: Oh, hi. My name is Neil A. I’m approximately 25 Earth years old. I come from Frandis, Barvis; planet Zink; Glinkian System. I’m a planetary scientist and, uh, when I’m not taking measurements I like to play soccer and denkval, which is a game like basketball. I also play the fleen, but I’m still looking for an ensemble here.
LoveLab: Favorite food?
Neil A: Binquist, which are like sardine pancakes.
LoveLab: And first thing people notice about you?
Neil A: My eyestalks. But that was on Zink. I’ve made adjustments for Earth, and so far so good!
LoveLab: Okay, so we’ve met Tanya and Neil. Now tell us what happened! Start from the top.
Tanya: Well, he wanted me to pick the restaurant, so I chose Sirius Eats. They’re known for their steaks, but they also do comfort food from other galaxies. You know, eclectic and comfy, so he’d feel at home.
Neil A: I got there about 5 minutes early to give myself time to settle in. I was a little nervous, so I ordered a milk on the rocks—I wasn’t driving. As soon as Tanya walked in, I realized I’d made a big mistake.
Tanya: I was right on time—well, maybe a minute late—and the hostess said Neil had already arrived. She had this funny expression on her face, and when I got to the table I saw why—Neil was a she!
LoveLab: Neil, WTF?
Neil A: That was my mistake, taking on female form. The person in the picture LoveLab sent me had short hair, so I stupidly assumed Tanya was male. I can’t tell from the names yet. I know I should have asked, but I didn’t because I would have felt dumb. Well guess what—I felt even dumber sitting at the table with mammaries and a miniskirt when what she clearly wanted was a guy!
LoveLab: I don’t understand; didn’t you mark “guy seeking gal” on your form?
Neil A: I marked them all, actually. I wasn’t sure…
LoveLab: Oh, right. We’re sorry about that, Tanya.
Tanya: Hey, it all worked out. But I have to say, I was pretty shocked when I first saw him—her. I knew he wasn’t from around here, but holy crap! You know what, though? He could tell he’d made a mistake and he fixed it right away. He turned from a she to a he in, like, half a second. So I give him credit there.
LoveLab: Okay, quick recovery, Neil. So what happened next?
Neil A: Well, I was kind of rattled after my initial snafu, and when I’m nervous I start to babble. She sat down and I just launched into this whole apology and explanation, like “you see, on my home planet blah blah blah.” I kind of monopolized the conversation at first, but she was nice enough to wait it out.
Tanya: I actually enjoyed getting to know a little bit more about him. I mean, ever since I’ve expanded my dating circle to include extraterrestrials—you kind of have to figure that introductory part is going to take a little longer, you know?
LoveLab: Yes, but did he ask you anything about yourself?
Tanya: Oh, sure, once he relaxed a little. You know, we ordered an appetizer and started talking about other kinds of food we liked and stuff. Pretty soon I caught on that he could read my mind, so I didn’t really have to talk that much. It was kind of convenient, really. I could just think about the answers to his questions and eat without having to worry about talking with my mouth full.
LoveLab: And that didn’t bother you, the mindreading thing?
Tanya: No, I’m pretty much an open book anyway. What you see is what you get! He seemed like enough of a gentleman not to go rifling around in there.
Neil A: Oh, my people are very circumspect about looking into other people’s minds. We only scan for content specifically directed at us. I mean otherwise, just think about it, delving into other minds from different planets? Pardon my language, but trying to interpret all that shit would pretty much drive us insane.
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LoveLab: Right. So what happened next?
Tanya: Well, after the appetizer I got a steak, but Neil didn’t get a main. He said he just needed milk. I guess he was nervous, which I thought was kind of cute, you know? But then the tables around us began to fill up and it felt like people were starting to stare at us. I think it was because he was reading my mind. I mean, I guess I can understand it: one person’s drinking milk, having half a conversation, and the other one’s just thinking and eating steak. I could see how that would look a little weird, so I started talking again.
Neil A: I was glad when she started talking out loud again. I was starting to lose track of her thoughts. I’d ordered a second glass of milk, you see, and that one went right to my head. I probably should have eaten more.
Tanya: I know, I feel bad about dessert. You could have finished it, you know.
Neil A: No, that’s okay, I wasn’t thinking.
LoveLab: What happened?
Tanya: Well, he was so excited to see a dish from his home planet on the menu—
Neil A: Tscharanga.
Tanya: Right, taschengarta.
Neil A: No, tcharan—close enough. It was amazing; they were so fresh!
Tanya: “Fresh” meaning still alive. I mean, I like to keep an open mind, but you don’t expect that from a dessert, do you? They were these cute, pink, fuzzy-looking things, wriggling around on the plate and cooing.
Tanya: Yeah, they sounded so cute. But then you have to…
Neil A: There’s some technique involved.
Tanya: Meaning you have to tear their heads off and squeeze their guts out.
Neil A: It’s easy; you just twist and roll, like a tube of toothpaste.
Tanya: Except toothpaste doesn’t squeal when you take the cap off.
LoveLab: Okay, eww, change of subject: what happened next?
Tanya: Well, we still had some LoveLab money left after dinner, so we decided to go play some pool. I know, cliché, but Neil said he’d never played before, so I thought it would be fun—until we got there.
Neil A: Yeah… That was kind of uncomfortable. We have some stuff that looks like that back home, but, uh, it’s used for different purposes.
LoveLab: Like what?
Neil A: Well, umm… It’s not something you’d typically do on a first date back in Barvis.
Tanya: I’m so embarrassed right now.
Neil A: It’s not that I’m not attracted to you—
Tanya: Let’s just skip to the next question.
LoveLab: Well, okay then, let’s cut to the chase. How did it end? Did you kiss him good night?
Tanya: I’m not sure.
Neil A: Well, I was nervous, but yeah, I leaned in and made my move. I kissed her for about 5 nanoseconds. But then I realized she probably didn’t catch it, and by that time her cab had arrived so… Well, next time—if there is a next time, which I hope there is—I’ll try kissing her slowly enough for her to perceive it.
LoveLab: Well, sounds promising. And now it’s time to Rate the Date!
Tanya: He was a real sweetie, and I’d like to see him again. But I’m gonna have to give it a 4 out of a 5 cause of those first few seconds. First impressions, you know?
Neil A.: It was wonderful. What’s the scale; can I give it a 7.5? I’d give it an 8.0, but I messed up the kiss. Or maybe a 7.0—that “pool hall” sex palace was pretty freaky. Maybe a 6.5. Oh, yeah, and I kind of messed up the very beginning, so probably a 6.0. Or maybe a 5.5. But I’d definitely like to see her again!
Update: Another LoveLab success story! Despite their busy schedules, Neil A and Tanya have met up twice since they appeared in our studio, and they have another date on the books. According to Tanya, Neil A has learned to slow down his kisses; and his shape-shifting ability allows her to date a variety of handsome men with the same sweet personality. Sounds like Tanya’s boldly going where no Earth woman has gone before!
Next on LoveLab: Squinn, a lovelorn Lorithian banker meets Queenie, a barista from Barbados. She says tentacles turn her on, but will she get more than she bargained for? Join us next week to find out.