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The Perfect Woman
by Carl Perrin
I’ve never had good luck with women. I’ve been divorced twice, and now my third marriage is on the rocks. So I decided to create the perfect woman for me. Really. I design custom-made, female androids, which I sell to wealthy men for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A couple of weeks ago my wife, Susan, blew up at me when I dropped a shirt on the floor. That’s when I decided to create my perfect mate. I don’t usually just drop things on the floor, but when I’m working on a project, I get so absorbed that I don’t think of anything else. I was getting ready for bed when an idea came to me. I knew I had to write down before I lost it, so I dropped the shirt on the floor and went to my home office to make a note.
When I walked back to the bedroom, Susan started screaming at me, “You’re such a slob. I don’t know why I married you.”
I knew I had been negligent lately and had been lost in my own thoughts. But
I was still taken aback by her yelling at me. The next morning I went to the shop and started planning my own android.
Realistic, life-like androids have been around for a while. From the beginning, you could hardly tell whether you were looking at a person or a robot. They use artificial intelligence and machine learning so they could carry on a real conversation. They even moved their lips when they talked. However, there was no expressions on their faces. They were always deadpan whether they were giving you good news or describing a disaster.
New android models are not like that. It’s much more complicated. Humans are motivated by emotion as well as logic. Brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin affect the way people react to events around them. Robots of course don’t have brain chemicals, so I use algorithms to shape almost-human feelings. The way I tweak the algorithms creates the temperament and even the personality of the beings that I fashion. The faces of my androids contain sensors that react to the mood being created. They raise their eyebrows and smile or frown. This makes them seem even more alive.
The final phase of the android creation is the most intense. I talk with the model, make notes, and then work on the software. I named my robot Cassie. The more I worked with her, the more I liked her. It was so much easier to talk to her than to talk to Susan.
I was working with her one evening. She was so beautiful with her red hair and blue eyes. It was nearly 10:00 when I remembered that Susan and I were supposed to have dinner with one of her friends, Mabel and her husband, Jake. I didn’t like either one of them, especially Jake. I had complained when Susan made the date, but I knew she expected me to go. By then it was too late. I closed the shop and went home, expecting Susan to start yelling at me.
But when I got home, Susan wasn’t there. I fixed a drink for myself and sat in front of the television. At midnight she was still not home. I began to worry. A little after one, I went to bed but not to sleep. When she crawled into bed about three, I pretended to be asleep.
In the morning I asked her where she had been so late at night.
“Well, since you were too busy to go to Mabel and Jake’s, I found someone there who would pay attention to me, Fred Mansard. We left soon after dinner spent some time together. I had a lot of fun, a lot more than I would have if I had been with you.”
Mansard was a notorious lech.
“Surely you didn’t go out with Mansard!”
“Oh, yes I did. He paid a lot of attention to me, not like you. I’m planning to see him again,” she said.
I could feel the anger boiling up inside me. And the jealousy. I hated the thought of Fred Mansard with my wife. Without another word, I went to the shop to work with Cassie. For the next week I slept on the couch in the shop.
I was fine tuning the algorithms that shaped Cassie’s temperament. As the days went by, it became less of a job and more of a pleasure to talk with my beautiful android. How fortunate I was! I could create the perfect woman for myself. No more of this random and unlikely chance of finding someone compatible.
I hated to leave her. When a man came into the shop and ogled her, I felt jealous. I began to feel the same way I had first when Susan and I were married. In the early days we couldn’t keep our hands off each other. What had happened to all that?
Finally I had to go home to get some clean clothes. I chose a time when I thought Susan would be at work, but she was home. It was awkward.
“I’m just going to get some clothes,” I said. “I’ll be out of here in a few minutes.”
I went upstairs and packed a suitcase.
When I came down, Susan said, “Jimmie, we have to talk.”
I didn’t feel like talking, but of course we had to iron some things out, determine what if any future we had. I sat down across from her in the dining room.
“I want to apologize to you,” she said. “I was so angry when you didn’t come home so we could go to Mabel and Jake’s for dinner that I wanted to hurt you.”
“What you said about Fred Mansard certainly hit the mark.”
“It was a lie. Fred was not there. I started crying at the table and Mabel comforted me. I just kept talking about all the things I disliked about you, and before I knew it, it was almost three o’clock. Mabel kept telling me about all your good points, but I didn’t want to hear about that.”
“You don’t know how glad I am that you weren’t with Mansard. It didn’t seem like you to be attracted to that blowhard.”
“There’s something else I have to tell you.”
I’ve been worried lately. My stomach has been upset all the time. I was afraid I had stomach cancer.”
I knew that Susan tended to worry a lot.
“That’s what put me in a bad mood so much of the time lately. But I saw Dr. Burns Tuesday. He said it was anxiety. He prescribed some pills, and I feel better already.”
“I’m glad you’re feeling better.”
“When I was complaining about you to Mabel, she kept telling me what a good man you are and how lucky I was to have you.” She nodded and said, “I realize how true that is.”
“I know it can’t be easy being married to me. I get wrapped up in my work and don’t pay attention to you. But I’m going to do better. I’m so lucky to have you. You’re the perfect woman for me.”
She gave me that smile that I hadn’t seen for a while, and I realized once again how beautiful she was.
The phone rang, and she answered it. “It’s for you,” she said.
“Hello, Mr. Smithson,” the voice said. “You don’t know me. I’m Alistair Conrad.”
I didn’t know him, but I knew who he was, one of the richest men in America.
“My friend was telling me about the beautiful android you designed for him. I would like to commission one for myself. How long will it take you to get one ready?”“I have one that I can get ready in just a few days. It’s a redhead. I’ll start working on it tomorrow."
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