“Maybe all that 'gonna find my soul mate' stuff is a delusional fantasy." Thus spoke ZaraTushka. We called him the Dark One because he had a way of putting a hard core reality spin on everything. He was first generation Chinese, from Hong Kong. Nissan, wasabi or whatever you call them.

    "No, I mean really," he continued, "It's like something I read the other day, about the first Soviet-U.S. space link-up."

    We sat in a Denny's because when Tushka had to be fed, nothing but something fried and on a bun would do. Ricky Martin crooned his ubiquitous hit over the loudspeaker. He was ever present, the pop constant. Tushka and I had pulled off the freeway on our way to San Jose.

    We were both wanna-bees working as stage hands for a event production company, mostly Dot Com launch parties. We were the dregs of the modern day Forty-Niners, panning our way through the Gold Rush of the Year 2000. San Francisco Bay Area Dot Capitalists. In this age of the Golden Empire, you either made millions or slung coffee at Star-butts. We were lower still, oozing out of the primordial slime.

    "I mean, did you hear about this?" Tushka rattled on, waving his fork at me over the Formica table, "It's all part of this male/female p.c. thing. Like male and female electrical connectors or pipe fittings. Here was this Saturn rocket. And on top sits the Apollo spacecraft. Now the Apollo is the male end. It rides inside the top of the Saturn. The Saturn rocket is the female end. That's how they got 'em into space."

    Denny's is an outpost of suburban Americana fashion, and in our black jeans and T-shirts, boots and Carhartts, we were styling. I picked away at some egg goo as Tushka's metaphor evolved.

    "So when the Americans and the Soviets decided to have a link up in space, neither super-power wanted to be the female end of the connection. Neither country wanted to be penetrated by the other in space. And the only way to solve the problem was to create a whole new system of linking, kind of a giant fuzzy warm hug that would hold the two space powers together for the historic link-up. But of course it wasn't nearly as good as if they had just used the old female/male connectors."

    This whole conversation had started when I made some crack about how I had decided I was probably going to be single my entire life, and this was Tushka's way of consoling me. As we paid our tab and picked our teeth with little wooden sticks, I wasn't so sure his example had worked, and I called him on it.

    "You're full of shit, asshole. What the fuck are you talking about?" I tended to get right to the point.

    "Okay, look," Tushka tried again, "it's like those tsetse flies or whatever. You know the ones. They hatch one night in May, find a mate, fornicate, and die. All in one evening. I mean, what's the chance they find their soul mate? Huh? There really isn't time, right? I mean, if that tsetse fly has any consciousness at all, what do you think it’s thinking during its one big moment? 'Oh shit, this wasn't the one!'?

    I mean, really, does that fly have time to really think about whether or not it's found its soul mate or not? Really? There's millions of them. They're just bumping into each other. That's it. That's how they decide 'who's the one?'!"

    Tushka was on a roll as we climbed into a Ryder truck loaded with ditz and gack -- props and décor for yet another Dot Com theme party launch. And the theme these days was always the same. THE FUTURE. Duh.

    "So maybe humans are like the tsetse, and this whole soul mate thing, that's just an excuse after the fact. Something we make up.

    We're born. We scurry around in the night. Maybe we have a link-up in space that works. Maybe not.

    But Soul Mate?

    That's something we make up to justify fluttering around part of our life with someone we bump into.

    Someone who is basically a stranger."