Twenty dates at eight minutes each. So the ad said, and so it went. One hundred singles met potential mates at tables the diameter of an apple. Their matches were Black, white, Asian/Pacific Islander. Slight, obese, athletic. Talkative, dorky, insane. They had strings of mental one-night-stands—all except the two youngest. These two left after the first date, hustled to her place. There they whispered about passions, hatreds, obsessions. They skipped foreplay and climaxed prematurely. Then, with some time on their hands, they coined a sexual position, more efficient than missionary, worked at it until they got it perfect in just under eight minutes.
The lovers dated, saw each other, got engaged. A studio apartment fit their lean combined belongings. She took a crash course online and secured immediate employment as a virtual efficiency expert. To match her pace he delivered pizza, thirty minutes or less. Everyone else got fired; his deliveries stayed under twenty. While not at work the lovers experimented quickly with lifestyles. They turned liberal, independent, conservative; raw foodist, vegetarian, omnivorous; atheist, agnostic, Christian; monogamous, adulterous, onanistic. They married after a short engagement in a group ceremony. “I do,” everyone said, after the minister’s brief remarks, the lovers speaking a half-second before the others.
Before reproducing, they knocked out the prime of their lives together in six months.
They turned out low-birth-weight octuplets in sixteen hours. By forty they’d emptied the love nest of fledglings. Still minors, the fledglings entered college, the military, prison; exited thinkers, doers, statistics; made their parents proud, bewildered, wistful. The lovers retired at fifty—too young to join AARP—and raced toward a shared cemetery plot. They bingoed, RV’ed, volunteered; collected stamps, photographs, coupons. They grew old suddenly, eschewing grace. Meanwhile, the grandchildren came over, spent quality time wisely, went home.
The lovers died in their sleep twenty years before their life expectancies, on the same night, in each others’ arms.
Working together, their children executed the estate in fifteen minutes. Before shedding a tear—eight in all—they piled flowers on the fresh graves and drove away in U-hauls. Their genes had functioned on schedule. They bought the farm by fifty, the grandchildren by forty-five, but none of them achieved such streamlined infatuation, romance, acceptance as the first two. No one else would ever do love as they had.
Couples from all over the country, continent, world spent anniversaries visiting the fastest lovers’ grave. Their tomb read, Together 24 years, 6 months, 3 days, 18 hours, 40 minutes, 2 seconds. Paper and cotton couples beamed with hope. Wood and tin shifted uncomfortably. Silver and golden hung their gray heads in failure, and deference. But unseen below the grass, the lovers took it slow, took it really slow. Obscenely, they stretched hours into years and years into each other, bodies crumbling and mixing together, cheek to cheek, dress dissolving into coat, nothing measured or counted.