Full Transparency

by John Domenichini

The program had a matter-of-fact male voice: “Welcome to the Happy Interactions relationship program. Would you like to start your profile?”

Glen brought the tablet closer to his face. “Um, yes,” he said.

Very good. What’s your name?”

Glen Michael Jefferson.”

Okay, how old are you, Glen?”

Glen paused as his full name appeared in the name field of the profile page. “Do I need to provide my exact age? Can I say ‘thirties’?”

Okay, ‘30’.”

No, no, no,” Glen said, “not 30 exactly.” He noticed a slideshow playing in the top right corner of the profile page. He was in every photo, and yet he had never seen some of the photos before. He wondered where they all came from.

Please respond to the prompt, Glen. How old are you?”

Well, yeah, I understand the prompt.” Glen said. “I’m answering it. What I’m saying is that I’d like to be a little vague when it comes to age.”

The outer edges of the Web page started to flash white. “Glen, do you not understand the prompt?”

Glen was mildly distracted by the photo of him currently displayed. He didn’t like it. It was too real. And yet, the slideshow seemed to have stopped on it. He begrudgingly returned his attention to the program’s question.

Hold up,” Glen said indignantly. “I just said I understand the prompt. You Happy Interactions people advertise how smart and interactive your program is. I’m just trying to ask a simple question about the prompt. I think you don’t understand.”

I understand just fine,” the program said defiantly. “You’re being oblique. ‘Transparency, transparency, transparency,’ that’s our motto. I’m pulling up your history in other dating programs now. Okay… cross referencing with Internet search results and a variety of other databases… By the way, we only ask these questions to test the consistency of your answers with other information we’re able to collect on you to see how much you’re lying.”

What? I’m not lying.”

Well,” the program said, “I see immediately that you’re 41. You said ‘thirties.’ Maybe it’s just my logic talking here, but ‘thirties’ seems suspiciously like a lie when the truth is 41. Who knows, maybe you’re confused about your age because you’re suffering from an early onset of Alzheimer’s, in which case we’ll definitely need to disclose that in your profile.”

Okay,” Glen said, embarrassed. “I didn’t realize that you’d be crosschecking my answers.”

Well, now you know,” the program said in a more conciliatory tone. “We do this with your dating prospects, too, so you know you’re getting honest answers. Honest everything. For example, we choose your profile photo, not you. We want to ensure an honest representation. If you’re considering meeting someone new, don’t you want to base your decision on an honest representation of them?”

Glen felt a mixture of emotions. He found the program’s attitude a bit brusque, but he liked the idea of knowing the truth about potential dates. “Well, let’s see if we can get through this profile.” Glen said. “You can continue, for now.”



Sexual orientation?”

What?” Glen asked. “Heterosexual, of course.”

Hmm, it’s a perfectly legitimate question for a dating service, Glen. Me thinks you protest too much. Checking, checking… Okay, how about we say ‘mostly heterosexual.”

Glen breathed out heavily. “What ‘mostly’? Just heterosexual.”

You know?” The program said. “I must say I agree with you. There‘s a problem with the word ‘mostly.’ It’s not the right word. How ‘bout ‘predominantly’? ‘Predominantly heterosexual.’ That’s better. Right?”

I’ve got a better idea,” Glen said. “How ‘bout ‘heterosexual.’ One hundred percent heterosexual.”

But, what about that time in college?” the program asked.

Glen’s face turned red. “I’ve never told anyone about that. That was just one weekend.”

Good point,” the program said. “I agree with you again. ‘Predominantly heterosexual’ doesn’t actually convey your current status, which is what we’re going for. Okay, how ‘bout we simply say ‘Heterosexual, but there was that one time in college’? You see? That keeps it relatively short, and yet clear enough as to its meaning.”

Glen stammered. “I don’t, I’m not really, I mean, I…”

Don’t you see?” the program said. “This lets potential dates know that you’re open- minded, free spirited. If they want to know about ‘that one time in college,’ and trust me, they will, they can ask you about it. You won’t have any of those boring first-date conversations that you get with other dating programs.”

Glen didn’t want to admit it, but the Happy Interactions relationship program seemed to be making a lot of sense. “You know, it’s just… Well, I, I couldn’t actually…”

I understand your skepticism to our full transparency approach,” the program said, “but trust me, under the bright lights, you look better than just about anybody. On you, the truth looks fantastic.”

Glen could tell that the program’s flattery was diluting his cynicism, which worried him some. But from an objective point of view, full transparency in dating did seem like a good idea. “Maybe we can go with your line,” he said. “You know, the heterosexual, except for the one time in college thing. I guess.”

Now, you’re talking,” the program said. “You’re going to do fine, just fine. You’re going to be very popular with the ladies. You’ll see.”

Glen felt a kind of freedom he hadn’t felt in a long time. Then, an interesting thought popped into his head. “I wonder,” he said, “I mean, no problem if you can’t… But, I wonder if you can speak in a female voice. You know, to change things up a little.”

Like this?” the program asked in a maternal voice.

Well, maybe a little younger-sounding.”

How about this?” the program asked in a sultry female voice.

Yeah, that’s good. Use that voice.”

Okay, Glen,” the program said with the new voice. “Can we continue with your profile?”

Sure. Let’s continue. Go ahead. Ask me anything. Anything at all.”

John Domenichini is a technical writer living in San Jose, California. He has a background in both education and journalism. His writing has appeared in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Bartleby Snopes, and Mysterical-E.