Here I am, with you, having shown enough cleavage to be swiped right. Sneezes last longer than our observations about the craft beer selection. I’m peeking at my phone for tips about first date chitchat. You’re checking yours, too, but smiling way more.

I say, “My manager is a Ferengi.” I want you to know that Zach has a forehead as broad as a tablet turned sideways and giant ears that help him butt into my conversations. You should also understand that he schemes, without my disclosing the deal he made with the mayor. Zach promised that his underlings would perform community service by cleaning the old town cemeteries, and in exchange Zach would never get a speeding ticket in his precious BMW. Every week I’m tossing dirty Miller cans and used condoms into a plastic bag and looking at moss-covered headstones while wearing a mustard T-shirt that says Partners Bank Cares, so Zach can do 80 in a 45. 

“What’s a Ferengi?” you ask. 

Offer appealing details about yourself.

I tell you that I used to watch Star Trek reruns at my grandmother’s, who didn’t fuss over simmering pots of anything. I had a crush on William Shatner and stayed true to him even when I read that he wore a corset to keep his belly hard as a comm panel. 

Men appreciate a sense of humor.

While you complain to the waitress that your salad has only two olives, I regale you with jokes the stage crew played on Shatner. The starship’s doors were supposed to open automatically, which required a stagehand to pull a rope. But whenever Shatner approached the doors, the crew would “forget” to pull the rope, leaving him to stride smack into closed doors. Hilarious.

You ask who William Shatner is. I try to be considerate by not throwing the faux wood bowl of tiny pretzels at your head. 

Share a secret to create intimacy.

I pine for intergalactic passion. I want to be the diaphanous alien nestled in a starship captain’s cantaloupe biceps. I would whisper opinions about lawns (poisoning water wastes), that clock of a watch you’re sporting, and gender reveal parties. You shovel in your food so quickly that a radicchio shred lands on my nachos.

Really look at your date; hear him.

Your skin is as pampered as your photo, wiped of life’s traces. You are saying something about heli-skiing. 

Ask questions.

I am curious about why you like to be dropped into mountains of snow, killing my planet with your helicopter exhaust. 

You say, “No molten lava cake.”

Before I don’t fight you for the check, here is my gift: Kirk never said, “Beam me up, Scotty.” He did once say, “Beam us up, Scotty,” but there will be no “us” in this virtual flirtation now fleshly. I do not need warp speed, of any factor. I, your swiped right, will walk. I’m going to go slip into something diaphanous. You can take your cantaloupes with you.

Lisa Lebduska directs the College Writing program at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, where she also teaches expository writing. Her work has appeared in The Forge, Lunch Ticket, The Tishman Review, Narrative, and Writing on the Edge, among other publications. She is working on a collection of flash nonfiction and often thinks back to the time she saw William Shatner in person and swooned, at the tender age of 25.