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Modern Dating

I was a bit nervous when I walked into the restaurant to meet her. My hair was combed, I'd even put on a little cologne. While I didn't do the whole shirt and tie thing, I was wearing a nice dress shirt and Dockers.

The reason I was nervous was that I was going to meet Rachel. I had pre-ordered this date with her from Girlstop, (a new dating site)  a couple of months ago, and I wasn't sure what I was going to be getting. Some of my guy friends had scoffed at my date, saying things like "girls like her come along every year and they're run into the ground by now." Other friends had said that the redhead fad was dying, but I'd always been a fan. Sure, some I had dated weren't as good as they could have been, but they'd always been good for a least a couple of dates before things fell apart.

But I admit that I had never pre-ordered a date before. I usually waited to see what other guys may have thought, but this one seemed really special. The previews I'd seen had been really interesting, and she sounded like a fun gal. It's not like I had a lot of current experience anyway, as I'd been taking a break for a while.

I went up to the hostess and told her I was meeting someone there. And then I saw her.

She was a vision, all right. Her flowing red hair down just below her shoulders, wearing a nicely cut, short-sleeved black dress. She smiled as she saw me walking toward the table, her blue eyes sparkling.

She was everything I had been looking for. Easily a candidate for Woman of the Year. And it was only May!

She got up and hugged me lightly, planting a kiss on my cheek before sitting back down. I sat down across from her. This was going to be a good night.

The waitress came up to our table.

"Now that you're both here, can I get you anything to drink?" she asked pleasantly.

"I would like a white wine," I said and looked over at Rachel. Rachel said that she wanted the same. The waitress pulled out a tablet computer.

"I would be glad to get your drinks," she said, handing me the tablet. "Just enter the 40-character code that came with your date pre-order and I will come back with them."

"What?" I said, and then remembered the paper that had come with the date confirmation. I pulled out the piece of paper that I'd stuffed in my pants pocket, unfolded it, and looked at the list of codes. Ah, there it was. I took the tablet and started keying the characters in using the touchscreen. I admit that I hadn't looked at the paper much after I'd placed my order, so it took me a moment to find it.

Once the code had been entered (after a couple of restarts - God how I hate touchscreens), the waitress smiled and said she'd be back momentarily. Rachel and I shared some small talk while we were waiting. I told her I'd never done anything like this before, but that I was looking forward to it. She grinned and said this was unusual for her too.

We had our drinks now and had placed our food order. I didn't realize that would require another code, but I managed to enter it correctly and the waitress left us again.

Rachel asked me about my work and I told her that my job as an accountant wasn't the most interesting work but that it paid the bills. I then asked her what she did for a living.

Her face went blank for a moment, and then she pulled a tablet out of her purse and handed it to me, saying in a monotone "you must enter your pre-order code to access my 'professional small talk'  area."

I did a double-take. "What?" I finally blurted out.

"Please enter your code" she said, flatly.

I got the piece of paper out and scanned the list of characters. What the hell was this, anyway? Oh, there it was. Another 40-character code? This was seriously weird.

I entered the code and gave her the tablet back. She took it, smiled, and started talking about her work as a high school teacher. We shared a few laughs, including me saying that I wished I had had a teacher as beautiful as her as one of my teachers when I was in high school. She blushed and thanked me.

Finally, the food arrived and we dug in. It was delicious, as this restaurant had come highly-recommended. I'd always wanted to come to the X-Dot but never had any reason to. It was truly a date restaurant, unlike the Playful Stallion 3 (the other two restaurants must be across town) which was more of a bar and grill with incredible atmosphere.

Between bites of pasta, we talked about my dating history. She didn't sound concerned or threatened, though her eyebrow did raise when I told her that I had actually dated an Italian plumber once. Female, I assured her. She had acted like a real princess, though, and what was with that monkey fetish?

"So what's your story?" I asked Rachel. "How did you get involved with Girlstop?"

Her face went flat again and she reached into her purse. Oh no. What was this?

"You must enter your pre-order code to access my 'previous relationships' area," she said, once again in a monotone.

Another fricking code? Was this what dating was like nowadays? I admit that I didn't have a lot of experience with it lately, having been out of the game. And as I said, I had never pre-ordered one before. I got the paper out and scanned it before finally finding the "relationships" code. After punching it in, I handed the tablet back to her and placed the paper next to my fork. I was sure I was going to need it again.

Rachel started talking about some of the guys she had dated, both the jerks and the ones that just hadn't worked out. She was a really nice girl, and I was beginning to like her. But I was also getting frustrated.

We went ahead and ordered dessert (yes, I had to enter another code for that). We had a nice conversation about topics ranging from current events to Hollywood celebrities to the NHL lockout. I was pleasantly surprised to find out she was a sports fan, though doing so required the entry of yet another code. As did getting her to talk about her family. This was really starting to get annoying. But I was determined to work through it.

Finally, dinner was over, the dishes had been cleared away, dessert was done, and we were down to the last dregs of our drinks.

"Listen," I said. "Me and a few friends were going to be getting together later tonight and shoot some pool at a bar downtown. I really like you, and I'd love for you to meet them. I hope this isn't too fast or anything, and I understand if you're busy or not comfortable. Feel free to say no, of course."

She smiled. "I'd love to shoot some pool! It's one of my favourite games!" Her face suddenly went blank again and she once again pulled out the tablet. "Just enter your pre-order code for access to my Multiplayer area. Feel free to go to my web site and you can purchase my season pass for a discounted price, entitling you to many new date locations as they come up."

That was it. I'd had enough of this. I got up and threw my napkin on the table. "I can't believe this!" I said heatedly. "All of these stupid codes! What happened to just arranging a date, going on the date and then getting a nice kiss good night? My finger is sore from entering all of these idiotic codes!"

I slammed my hand down on the table and she jumped. "It was nice meeting you. You're a gorgeous woman and very nice and intelligent too. But I can't live my life with all these codes. And a Season Pass? All of this stuff should be included in you when we meet. None of this "extra locations to come later" crap!  You've probably already thought of them! Why weren't they included already?" I started to walk away, but turned back. "What if we had decided to go back to my place after this date? I suppose there would be a code for that too?"

"No," she said. "That's only included in my Hardened Edition."

I shook my head and stormed out. If this was what dating life was like nowadays, maybe I should go back to my plumber.

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