Love & Flowcharts

Submitted into Contest #150 in response to: Write a story where an algorithm plays an important role.... view prompt

41 comments

Funny

“All right now, listen up. You cannot get two people to fall in love by shillyshallying. This is serious business. We’re talking about love—passionate love. The kind of love that eats away at you in the dark hours of the night. The kind of love that makes you crazy enough to hate. The kind of love that makes you wanna nuzzle and kiss and nibble and bite—”

“Mars…”

“Yes, Venus?” 

“Just introduce the boy.”

“Okay, Venus. Ahem. So as I was saying, our son, Cupid, has a brief presentation—”

“It’s not brief, Mars. It’s actually quite lengthy.”

“Venus, do you want to introduce Cupid or would you like to zip it for five minutes? I swear you could talk a pot of water to boil. Sometimes you make me so mad that I could—”

“Start another war? Now that would be useful.”

“Venus!” 

“Oh, simmer down before you misplace your spear again. Ladies and gentlemen, what our son Cupid would like to explain is the systematic process of romantic love in the earthly realm. It’s a powerful force, but one that is carefully managed and aggregated here on Mount Olympus.”

“I’ll take it from here, Venus. All right, folks. Put your hands together for the god of desire, the god of erotic love, the god that brings every luscious drop of attraction and toe-curling morsel of affection to all mankind. Please welcome my son—Cupid!”

“Thank you, Mars. And please, hold your applause until the end. I have a four-hundred-and-twenty-five slide PowerPoint presentation that will explain the meticulous method we use to calculate how mortals find true love, as well as the computations of a couple’s compatibility index or eventual emotional damage score. So, if you open your packets and turn to the tab for prescribed sequencing, you will see the decision matrix used to achieve the desired effect. I will explain the flowchart as we go along. Are there any questions at the outset?”

Are you saying there is an algorithm for falling in love?

“Not only am I saying there is an algorithm for falling in love, but it’s been systematically codified into an easy-to-understand ninety-two page flow chart—all on legal-sized paper in a Duo-tang two-pocket folder. Are there any more questions before we begin?”

No.

“Then let’s get started. Look at the branch and control start symbol on your left.”

Swipe left?

“No. Do NOT swipe left. That will negate the entire process. Just look at the initial oval start symbol, which, ironically is Step 1: Looking.” 

If the first step is looking, then how do blind people fall in love?

“That’s covered in the off-page connector box at the bottom on page thirty-seven, which describes a separate process entirely, one involving the heightening of other senses. When touch comes into play, hoo-wee! But let’s start with the basics. Looking. Falling in love generally starts when a mortal first sees a LI.”

A lie?

“No, no. Not a lie. An L.I.—a Love Interest. That is the initial step. Spotting a LI. Do you understand?”

No.

“Well, just muddle along until it all clicks. As Petrarch wrote in his 14th c. love sonnet: I fell a captive, Lady, to the sway / Of your swift eyes: that seemed no time to stay /The strokes of Love…” 

STROKES of love. *snicker*

“Let’s keep this family-friendly, shall we?”

Sure, Eros. Whatever you say.

“Now, the first eye-to-eye connection with a LI starts the chain of events that leads to romantic love. The connecting arrow from the initial viewing leads to the first diamond shape on the algorithm, indicating a decision. Although there can be multiple outcomes to this decision, usually a YES or NO option will suffice in understanding how to proceed.”

You want to dumb that down for the peanut gallery?

“Essentially, when one spots a LI, he or she needs to decide whether to engage.”

Engaged? That escalated quickly. I thought they were just looking…

“No, not getting engaged to be married—they are becoming engaged in the process. The algorithm doesn’t work by itself. Effort must be expended. This is where the end-user hits a checkpoint. For example, does she say hello to the handsome stranger at a party? Does he cross the dance floor to join in with some mutual twerking? Does he pop into the overpriced coffee shop—to follow the LI he spotted on the subway?”

How is this different from stalking?

“Intent. Does the party in question want to smother the LI in tenderness and affection, or does he just want to smother her? See the control transfer symbol to indicate the process step when specific conditions are met.” 

This is incredibly complicated.

“Oh trust me. I know. Skip to the summing junction symbols on page twelve. You’ll see that multiple branches converge into a single process.”

What’s the process?

“Adolescence.”

Oy vey.

“At thirteen years old, the first tinglings of romantic love grow in the puberty forest.”

Puberty forest?

“You will note that when a young teenager first feels affection for another, they will smack, slap, or push the party in question. There is definitely some creative name calling and some trash talking on social media.”

About the object of their affection?

“Most definitely.” 

That’s counterintuitive. 

“What can I say? The repellant-attraction method seems to work well with teenagers. As Edmund Spenser wrote: ‘My Love is like to ice, and I to fire…’”

So the more the LI disdains the pursuing party, the stronger the romantic attachment?

“Exactly.”

When does this change?

“It doesn’t really change. It may lessen a bit over time as their mortal bodies begin to bloat and sag, but essentially for a human to romantically attract another, he or she must appear completely disinterested, entirely self-confident, and wholly independent.”

That’s insane.

“That’s amore.” 

How does anyone get together?

“You will note the large rectangular process symbol on the last page.”

The rectangle that just has the word ALCOHOL on it?

“Exactly. That seems to cut out a few hundred steps in the falling in love process.”

So is falling out of love just as complicated?

“Not really. I’ve included that flowchart on a Post-It note."

Step 1: The LI is no longer interesting. That’s it?

“That’s it.”

How does one rectify the convoluted process of finding, nurturing, and winning another person's affection only to lose it when they cease to remain interesting? 

“The answer is on the back of the Post-It.”

It’s just another rectangle with the word ALCOHOL on it!

“It’s why Bacchus is so popular.”


June 18, 2022 01:16

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41 comments

Michał Przywara
17:42 Jun 18, 2022

Lol! Cupid as the strict data analyst, presenting a gargantuan PowerPoint presentation on a flowchart he (no doubt lovingly) compiled is fantastic. Now I wonder if Bacchus is a timid chemist who spends most of his time in his lab, only wallflowering at parties to observe the results of the latest experiment. On a technical level, this story is notable since it's just dialogue. It's nevertheless easy to see the action, and more important, to know who's speaking. Thanks for the laughs :D

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17:53 Jun 18, 2022

Bacchus totally on goblin mode 100% of the time. I personally believe Cupid gets far more credit that he's worth. L + ratio on his aim.

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Jamie Gregory
12:20 Jun 18, 2022

Hilarious! Your concept for this story was so clever and witty. Your dialogue was terrific as usual. I loved all of the exaggerations like the 425 slide PowerPoint presentation and the contrast of the post-it note flowchart that describes falling out of love. Being married to my high school sweetheart, and a former high school teacher, the explanation of teenage love was spot on haha.

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13:26 Jun 18, 2022

Oh Jamie — it’s been a week. We moved from Florida to Virginia and I started a new job. I feverishly scribbled this out late last night and I’m not sure it makes much sense. Oh well 🥹 I’ve always wondered if those flowchart symbols had specific meanings — turns out they do. And somethings in high school never change 🤪

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Jamie Gregory
13:32 Jun 18, 2022

Wow! I’m impressed that you wrote this so quickly in the midst of moving and starting a new job! Best wishes for your new endeavor. 😊

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14:02 Jun 18, 2022

Thanks! I’d prefer life changing events come at me one at a time — but the universe likes to DUMP them all at once.

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Amanda Lieser
23:29 Aug 02, 2022

Hi Deidra! Boy this was a fun one! I love how you chose to make it in presentation format. That made the whole thing just add the perfect amount of comedy to the piece. I also love the way you made all of the characters feel like long term real life colleagues with old grudges and inside jokes. I think this was just the ray of sunshine I needed in my day. Nice job!

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23:37 Aug 02, 2022

Quite a comment, Amanda :) Thanks for the love, and as always, I appreciate the read. :)

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Delia Tomkus
15:25 Jun 25, 2022

I love this! I haven't been on Reedsy for a while and had wondered if you had written, and was actually just wishing for some mythology. This was hilarious, and fairly true. Thank you so much for this story

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18:19 Jun 25, 2022

Welcome back, Delia! Have you been writing for another platform -- or off to craft the next great novel? I dip into mythology when I'm feeling exceptionally lazy. Those rascals write themselves in an endlessly amusing way. I just transcribe their antics :)

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L. E. Scott
13:36 Jun 25, 2022

I love your humor. You must know quite a bit about Greek mythology. I love the Eros line.

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Andrea Doig
20:46 Jun 23, 2022

I’ll bet there really is a secret algorithm for falling in love … and the Universe AKA Cupid AKA Mars and Venus’s love child - conceived after a night of Pluto’s Finest Sparkling Wine (for if he is not truly a planet then he cannot boast a true Champagne either) accompanied by some of the Moon’s finest select green cheese - is surely having a laugh at our romantic delusions of star-crossed and fate-induced love stories! Wow that was a mouthful. Pass the champers! Enjoyed the flow and the humour. Thanks for sharing x

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22:58 Jun 23, 2022

Honestly that right there is a much better story... :) You make me happy, AD.

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Arya Dixit
13:41 Jun 22, 2022

This was absolutely hilarious. I never though I would see Roman gods carefully taking notes during a powerpoint presentation lectured by Cupid but here we are. And I love it.

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16:26 Jun 22, 2022

WOO HOOOO - Thanks for the read and the awesome comment. I often return to the Greek gods when I'm feeling zany...they are so fun to play with :)

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Michael Typist
11:57 Jun 22, 2022

Hi Deidra, First week on Reedsy here. Omg, I'm so glad I finally found this story at the top. I belly laughed at several points in this story. Just hilarious! There's a reason you have all those wins and short-listings. Everything from "strokes of love", "alcohol", to "post-it note". I had a continual smile on my face and kept waking my puppy up from laughing like a loon. Loved this! :)

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16:25 Jun 22, 2022

Welcome, Michael! Ugh - this was a particularly dumb story, but it's been a crazy week. I promised myself to write every week and sometimes it's just b o n k e r s. There's a discord chat in my bio for Reedsy writers to chat about various and sundry things. It's a little wild...so jump in (or run away?) Looking forward to reading your work. Awesome people here. Glad you are aboard!

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Ace Quinnton
23:04 Jun 20, 2022

Love is complicated, and Cupid is an alcoholic. Setting up a system, a guide of instructions to romance and affection. How funny, this is a great story. Once again, you've made a comedy that did not disappoint.

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23:42 Jun 20, 2022

Ace with the comment of the week! Thanks for the good cheer. Needed the ego boost :)

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21:08 Jun 20, 2022

Lol! That was a cool take on L.O.V.E!

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23:42 Jun 20, 2022

T.H.A.N.K.S.

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Jim Firth
19:04 Jun 20, 2022

If I take nothing else away from this stimulating story (which I'm sure won't be true because there's always something interesting to learn from reading your work)--I will always have 'Shillyshallying'. So thank you, Deidra!

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19:20 Jun 20, 2022

Here's another for you: dillydallying You're welcome :)

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Seán McNicholl
13:53 Jun 20, 2022

Deidra, this is hilarious! Loved it!! “Do NOT swipe left!” Absolutely genius idea!!

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15:02 Jun 20, 2022

Thanks Sean -- it's fun to write slapstick nonsense once in a while ...

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11:58 Jun 20, 2022

This story was so fresh and smart and funny and true. In fact just like everything funny it’s funny because it’s so true. I don’t know if I believe in mythological gods but I sure believe in you and your writing. It’s always the best on Reedsy. Great job.

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14:57 Jun 20, 2022

Christina, you have no idea how much I love you and your comments! Thanks for the continued support.

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Zelda C. Thorne
08:15 Jun 19, 2022

Omg this is sooooo funny. Puberty forest, post it notes, alcohol, touch hoo wee... So many snappy lines, the whole thing is snappy really, like a whip lol Thanks for my morning giggle 🙂

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10:47 Jun 19, 2022

Rachel, this was a bit of a 🤡 — but fun to write before the deadline. Been that kind of week 🤪

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Mike Panasitti
20:23 Jun 18, 2022

This vies with "Shuttered Hearts" for recognition as one of your more incisively witty tales. Both recast gods in contemporary settings and make these divinities relevant to modern readers. I sense a book of short stories with a common theme, and more accessible than Neil Gaiman's American Gods, in the making.

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23:14 Jun 18, 2022

Mike, you are too kind. I have found myself dabbling with the Gods when this world becomes too much. "Seven Greek Gods Walk Into A Bar" is probably better. The idea of Eros and Hermaphroditus eating at a Chili’s still makes me smile. https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/6mgim9/

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20:53 Sep 06, 2023

https://exampledomain.com/?u=XXXXX&o=YYYYY please come in I beg you

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Korinne H.
23:13 Jun 22, 2022

Wow! What a genius way to include an algorithm in a story. The story was very interesting and really made me think. Odd to look at love in an "step by step" sort of away, especially when annualized from "non-humans." Good job!

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Elayna B
02:27 Jun 21, 2022

this one gave me giggle for sure! very well written, and i love the way you portrayed Cupid. Also, I hope you enjoy your new job and home in Virginia. ❤

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H L McQuaid
11:13 Jun 20, 2022

😂😂😂 I'm having flashbacks to actual presentations like this. Not MY presentations, mind you. It's always the other people. ;) Thank you for this hilarious, skewering, and accurate story.

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Beth Jackson
01:05 Jun 20, 2022

This was hilarious, Deidra! “How is this different from stalking?” Lol, just so so funny! Thank you for the laugh! You’ve made my day. :-)

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