The Rosie Project Page 18

Claudia must have interpreted this as a statement of distress because she said, \Are you all right, Don?\

\Of course,\ I said. \She was highly entertaining. But totally unsuitable for the Wife Project.\ As I said these words, indisputably factual, I felt a twinge of regret at odds with my intellectual assessment. Claudia interrupted my attempt to reconcile the conflicting brain states.

\Don, do you know what time it is?\

I wasn\ wearing a watch. And then I realised my error. I had used the kitchen clock as my reference when phoning the taxi. The clock that Rosie had reset. It must have been almost 2.30 a.m. How could I have lost track of time like that? It was a severe lesson in the dangers of messing with the schedule. Rosie would be paying the after-midnight tariff in the taxi.

I let Claudia return to sleep. As I picked up the two plates and two glasses to bring them inside, I looked again at the night-time view of the city - the view I had never seen before even though it had been there all the time.

I decided to skip my pre-bed aikido routine. And to leave the makeshift table in place.

9

\I threw her in as a wild card,\ said Gene when I woke him up from the unscheduled sleep he was taking under his desk the next day.

Gene looked terrible and I told him he should refrain from staying up so late - although for once I had been guilty of the same error. It was important that he eat lunch at the correct time to get his circadian rhythm back on schedule. He had a packed lunch from home, and we headed for a grassy area in the university grounds. I collected seaweed salad, miso soup and an apple from the Japanese caféon the way.

It was a fine day. Unfortunately this meant that there were a number of females in brief clothing sitting on the grass and walking by to distract Gene. Gene is fifty-six years old, although that information is not supposed to be disclosed. At that age, his testosterone should have fallen to a level where his se* drive was significantly reduced. It is my theory that his unusually high focus on se* is due to mental habit. But human physiology varies, and he may be an exception.

Conversely, I think Gene believes I have an abnormally low se* drive. This is not true - rather I am not as skilled as Gene in expressing it in a socially appropriate way. My occasional attempts to imitate Gene have been unsuccessful in the extreme.

We found a bench to sit on and Gene commenced his explanation.

\She\s someone I know,\ he said.

\No questionnaire?\

\No questionnaire.\

This explained the smoking. In fact, it explained everything. Gene had reverted to the inefficient practice of recommending acquaintances for dates. My expression must have conveyed my annoyance.

\You\ e wasting your time with the questionnaire. You\d be better off measuring the length of their earlobes.\

se*ual attraction is Gene\s area of expertise. \There\s a correlation?\ I asked.

\People with long earlobes are more likely to choose partners with long earlobes. It\s a better predictor than IQ.\

This was incredible, but much behaviour that developed in the ancestral environment seems incredible when considered in the context of the current world. Evolution has not kept up. But earlobes! Could there be a more irrational basis for a relationship? No wonder marriages fail.

\So, did you have fun?\ asked Gene.

I informed him that his question was irrelevant: my goal was to find a partner and Rosie was patently unsuitable. Gene had caused me to waste an evening.

\But did you have fun?\ he repeated.

Did he expect a different answer to the same question? To be fair, I had not given him a proper answer, but for a good reason. I had not had time to reflect on the evening and determine a proper response. I guessed that \fun\ was going to be an over-simplification of a very complex experience.

I provided Gene with a summary of events. As I related the story of the dinner on the balcony, Gene interrupted. \If you see her again -\

\There is zero reason for me to see her again.\

\If you see her again,\ Gene continued, \it\s probably not a good idea to mention the Wife Project. Since she didn\ measure up.\

Ignoring the incorrect assumption about seeing Rosie again, this seemed like good advice.

At that point, the conversation changed direction dramatically, and I did not have an opportunity to find out how Gene had met Rosie. The reason for the change was Gene\s sandwich. He took a bite, then called out in pain and snatched my water bottle.

\Oh shit. Oh shit. Claudia put chillies in my sandwich.\

It was difficult to see how Claudia could make an error of this kind. But the priority was to reduce the pain. Chilli is insoluble in water, so drinking from my bottle would not be effective. I advised him to find some oil. We headed back to the Japanese café, and were not able to have any further conversation about Rosie. However, I had the basic information I needed. Gene had selected a woman without reference to the questionnaire. To see her again would be in total contradiction to the rationale for the Wife Project.

Riding home, I reconsidered. I could see three reasons that it might be necessary to see Rosie again.

Good experimental design requires the use of a control group. It would be interesting to use Rosie as a benchmark to compare with women selected by the questionnaire.
The questionnaire had not produced any matches to date. I could interact with Rosie in the meantime.
As a geneticist with access to DNA analysis, and the knowledge to interpret it, I was in a position to help Rosie find her biological father.


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