“How to Meet the Love of Your Life: A Basic Guide” by Stephen Kampa

Stephen Kampa

HOW TO MEET THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE: A BASIC GUIDE

There are many ways to meet the love of your life, and no one
way will be the right way for everyone. This handy guide
will provide examples of some of the ways
you could meet the love of your life.

Chapter 1: Thinking About Personality

One way to meet the love
of your life is suddenly to find yourself in a deserted
research facility specializing in robotics
just as a sentient fungus interested in robotics has infiltrated
the facility and begun to create theriomorphic fungobots
to take over the world. If you meet anyone
at this facility who is not a robot, and both of you survive
your escape from the facility amidst the explosions,
the person you escape with will be the love
of your life. BONUS TIP: Your fellow escapee also should not
be a fungus.

Chapter 2: Thinking About Values

Another way to meet the love of your life
is to hang around well-dressed people
who look like they might be carrying guns. Odds are someone is
a spy, and if you hang around long enough, this someone
will start to do spy things such as shoot lots
of expendable people, drink lots of expensive beverages, explode
lots of mainframes, power stations, and/or mountainsides,
and because you were hanging around, this spy
will either feel compelled to protect you, push you to the ground
before explosions, and touch your excitables after it
is all over, or shoot you. If your new interest
does not shoot you, this is a spy for the forces of good and the love
of your life. BONUS TIP: The easiest way to distinguish
good spies from evil spies is that good spies
hit everyone they shoot at.

Chapter 3: Thinking About Baggage

Yet another way to meet the love
of your life is to travel through time. Whether you
travel through time with the love of your life
or in search of the love of your life, time travel guarantees you
will find the love of your life, not least because certain
varieties of time travel only allow you
to arrive at your destination naked. Blazing naked into the past
amidst a host of electrical disturbances, explosions,
and spatial displacements that sometimes
destroy whatever was occupying that particular part of the space-
time continuum before you blazed naked into it leaves
an indelible impression on whoever wasn’t
spatially displaced and sees you naked. If you travel through time
and manage not to write yourself and the world you left
completely out of existence by introducing
into a previous position on the timeline a new variable, even
the slightest of which can irrevocably alter a timeline
the way an insurance agent in Slippery Rock
can sneeze a tsunami into being from halfway around the world,
then whoever joins you during your time travel will be
the love of your life. BONUS TIP: If you travel
into the future, you will have much less to worry about since
you will only be writing the future of the future
out of existence.

Chapter 4: Thinking About Little Surprises Along the Way

As you can see, there are
many ways to meet the love of your life, more than we have
time to examine. Let us look at one last example.
Suppose you are a lifelong telepath
with the power not only to read minds but also to predict events,
and you meet a person whose mind you cannot read
and whose future you cannot see. You will be
nonplused, then, since you will not know what that person is
thinking and will not be able to tell if that person’s
future is a happy one and involves you
or is an unhappy one but involves you or is an unhappy one
and does not involve you or, worst, is a happy one
but does not involve you, and since
you will be unused to such imprecisions, such precariousness,
you will be mightily interested in this mysterious person.
You will imagine hundreds of futures together
because you cannot see the one that awaits, and you will make
a game of trying to guess what that person is thinking—
like, when you go out for ice cream, you’ll think,
half the time this inscrutable cutie pie orders pistachio gelato,
and the other half this miraculous cryptolectician orders
chocolate-coated almond and vanilla, um, uh,
and you’ll feel it’s pretty much a crapshoot and say, “You want
some pistachio gelato?” and your new interest will say,
“Actually, I’m going to have butter pecan,”
­­­and you’ll think, scorch my back porch and call me Stan DeLott,
I sure didn’t see that one coming! At this point, you are
sure to have more questions, but since this is
only a guide for meeting the love of your life, we cannot tell you
what to do after you have met that non-robot, non-fungal,
not-shooting-you-in-the-face, not-causing-you-
to-write-yourself-out-of-the-timeline, unsusceptible-to-your-ESP
love of your life; you will have to figure out the next part,
and what to do about it, by yourself. BONUS TIP:
There is always the chance the one whose future you cannot see
and whose mind you still cannot read will turn to you
beneath the spilled gypsophila of the stars
and say, “You know, I can see the future. Ever since I was a child.
It’s like stumbling into a room whose door you don’t know
how to close, a room and a door you didn’t know
were there, a room full of objects you wish you could obliterate
from your memory. After a while, you stop asking
whether the future you see happens
because you saw it and did something to try to change it,
or whether it happens because you saw it and did
nothing. Yours is so happy. I am not in it.”

from Rattle #46, Winter 2014
Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist

__________

Stephen Kampa: “Sometimes one writes to find a way of saying that becomes a way of seeing, to better understand the world, to remember the lost or to hope out loud or to beat back the darkness, and sometimes one writes because one has just seen yet another movie in which a sweaty fathead hunk improbably ends up with a witty, intelligent bombshell because they both escaped from an alien invasion, and one thinks, ‘All right, that’s enough. This is not how people fall in love.’ This poem certainly began as a result of the latter impulse, but I wonder if it didn’t turn into something else, not least because—not being a lifelong telepath with the power not only to read minds but also to predict events—I never saw the end coming until I was there.” (website)