It all began when Johnny came into lab, hair mussed and glasses askew, claiming that he could quantify love. We should have left it at that, laughed it off. We definitely shouldn’t have built the tracking device.
Now, before I say anything more, let me add here that I don’t know much about biology. You want some circuits programmed, maybe a specialized chip board designed? I’m your guy. But about the only thing I understand from biology is the fermentation process, and that’s just because I like the end products.
But Johnny, now, he’s a biologist through and through. Studied pheromones, probably because they were about his only shot of landing a decent date. I’d dragged him to the bars in our little college town before, introduced him to some properly sloshed ladies, but he never quite managed to pull it off.
He said he was looking for “the real thing.” I think he just can’t control the verbal vomit that he spews. Honestly, some chick who’s five shots to the wind at the watering hole doesn’t want to hear about breakthroughs in delayed neurotransmitter release. She wants to hear, “Hey, I’m a scientist, I discover new things for humanity, that’s pretty sexy, now let’s get back to my place before your buzz wears off.”
But I’m getting off topic. It was a Monday, and most of us in lab were nursing hangovers from the previous weekend. I had made out pretty well with some Latin chick who was up visiting a friend at our college for the weekend. In between winces from the tequila hangover, I was telling stories about how I scored her to a few other patrons of our laboratory. Sitting across the cheap card table listening to me were Spock and Mr. Chips.
I think I might need to back up again. Spock’s our resident geek. Even among the geeks, he stands out as especially geeky. He works in programming, like me, but he does software only, not bothering with hardware like me. I’m pretty sure that he’s a programming genius, but he only thinks in the same terms, so he tends to be overly logical. Teaching him something not related to computers is an act of pure misery because he just doesn’t get it. It’s like attempting to teach a puppy how to do your taxes. The damn creature is so earnest and tries so hard, but will never succeed. I long since gave up on trying to show him how to pick up girls. If he can hold a conversation with a chick for ten seconds without offending her, he’s having a good day.
As for Mr. Chips, he’s an odd egg too. Always seems to be snacking on a bag of potato chips, hence the nickname. The kicker is that he insists on calling them “crisps”, not chips. I don’t claim to understand the guy, but he’s a good listener and that makes him okay in my book.
So back to the story. I’m sitting on the edge of the table, explaining how this girl and I had to go back to her friend’s dorm room and make sure that no one else was there before we could get down to business, and Johnny comes running in through the door, totally cutting me off. “I’ve got it!” he yelled. “I know how to quantify love! I can find my soulmate!”
I stopped talking as we stared at this apparition that had appeared. “What are you talking about?” I asked.
“Love!” he replied. “It’s always been measured as a pheromone shift, but I know why the shift occurs! It’s all complementary! All it takes is a few molecules, and I can determine whether she’s your soulmate or not!” Johnny snapped his finger down to point at me. “And I need your help!”
Now, I’ll admit that at first not even Spock was agreeing with him. But it was a slow day, and any chance to delay work on my thesis is a chance I’ll gladly seize. Johnny drew up some specs for a detector, and I worked out how to make the thing fit in the palm of one’s hand and started soldering together some parts I had lying around. With uncharacteristic determination, Johnny bullied Spock into writing out the program code, and by the end of the day, we had a working love detector sitting in front of us.
“What now?” I asked, staring at the machine sitting on the table. The thing looked like a voltmeter, mostly because I had used an old voltmeter casing to house the electronics.
Johnny scooped the detector up off the table. “Now, we test it!” he cried dramatically, overly so in my opinion. “We must find a high concentration of suitable females! To the mall!”
To be continued….