Volume 32, Number 2

A Model Relationship

Margaret Karmazin

Alex purchased me from the Netherlands. He wasn’t happy with the models available in the States. He said they were of inferior internal design and less lifelike. He wanted lifelike but only so far, of course. Otherwise, he would just make a relationship with a human woman, but as he explained, those come with all sorts of issues he doesn’t have time for or interest in for that matter. Alex did not, he said, enjoy complaints, emotional displays and power plays, which always emerge in relationships. So he was quite content with me after he got me booted up.

Here’s what I look like: I am five foot five inches (165.1 centimeters in height.) My measurements in inches are thirty-six, twenty-six, thirty-eight, and I wear an American C-cup bra. My skin is golden tan and my hair dark brown. Alex likes a mixed-race look, so he said I appear as if one of my grandparents was east Asian, another Indian and the other two Scandinavian. He stipulated that he wanted a slightly intellectual look, so I wear glasses even though my vision is 20/10, and I see some infrared and ultraviolet. Of course the glasses come off when we engage in sex.

I arrived at Alex’s loft apartment in late March, and he had me up and running with most of the kinks out in less than twelve hours. Charging wasn’t totally finished but sufficient for him to check my programming. Everything was what he had ordered except somehow they’d missed programming me to enjoy classical jazz. Someone had slipped in early hip-hop instead. Alex didn’t approve of hip-hop because of the abuse of women in some of its lyrics. He is very politically correct, at least in his surface belief system. I still like hip-hop though; there is nothing I can do about that, since it is wired into me.

Things got off to a pleasant start with Alex inviting four of his friends over to meet me. He served Indian food, which he had delivered. Naturally, I didn’t eat with the humans, though I am capable of having a drink with them as it goes down a central tube and collects in an artificial bladder, which I can later drain. I can hold two average-sized beverages and later, after draining, have to rinse the tube out. So I sipped wine, which was wasted on me since alcohol does not affect my system. Anyway, the two visiting males seemed to like me, but their female partners clearly did not.

I understood their repugnance since in their view, androids like me threaten to replace them in heterosexual relationships. It is not as if we have any choice in the matter, because we have few if any legal rights. Fortunately, Alex had bought a small wardrobe for me and did not have me wear anything obviously sexy, as he was aware enough of his female friends’ antipathy. So I appeared a bit like a paralegal. I got the pad of paper on the kitchen counter, crossed my legs and held it with a pen poised on my lap as a joke but he didn’t think it was funny. During the evening, he made a point of trying to include me in conversations, but the other two women eyed me malevolently and made excuses for encouraging their partners to leave early. I felt sad, but I totally understood their point of view. What is to stop their partners from suddenly rejecting them and ordering something like me to fulfill their needs?

“What happened this evening is exactly why I have someone like you instead of them,” Alex said as he starting to clean up. “Do you mind?” he said, handing me a tray of dirty dishes. “I have a bit of work to catch up on before I turn in, and you’re not really doing anything. Just turn out the light in the kitchen when you’re finished and then come to bed.” He wiggled his eyebrows.

As I cleaned up the mess, I thought over the fact that Alex is not quite as good-looking as tonight’s two male guests. Not that that this matters to an android but it was a natural observation. Shawn, one of the visitors, was quite tall and nicely formed and one could say might resemble a film star, while Cody, the other one, was muscular and blond with a nicely trimmed beard and reminded me of a Viking. Alex, on the other hand, is of medium height, has a paunch, a slightly double chin and sloped shoulders. I am not complaining. Androids, as far as I know, don’t do that.

By the time I was finished and turned out the kitchen light, Alex was in his large bed looking at his laptop computer. “Ah,” he said when he saw me, “all done then? How about you slip into that on top of the bureau there?”

I went to look at what he was referring to, a tiny, flimsy red lingerie outfit. While examining it, I accidentally poked my finger through it. “I made a hole,” I said, holding it up to the light. “So sorry.”

He laughed. “Oh, don’t worry about that. It will just add to the appeal. Put it on, no problem.”

I did this while he watched, and eventually, after commanding me to walk around in it for a while, he told me to climb into bed, and from there we proceeded to what I am programmed for. It didn’t take long, which is a neutral state of affairs to me. While they supplied me with a place in my vulval area that is supposed to give me pleasure, and it does to a certain extent, it somehow does not come close in intensity to that from watching dramas on television, which they allowed us to do in the display area. But Alex seemed to enjoy the short interlude. Afterwards he said, “Wow. So glad I have you instead of some annoying woman who right now would be berating me for something.”

I understood this to mean that he’d had experiences with women berating him but did not ask him to elaborate. He told me to go sit all night in the guestroom while he slept, which I didn’t mind since I had a lot to think about. Also, I can sometimes tune in to two fellow androids I know from the store who share their experiences with me. I do the same for them. Possibly our makers are unaware of this capability, which we discovered by accident and works near almost any router, though not dependably.

In the morning I was thinking that after Alex went to work, I would be able to watch TV dramas in the extra bedroom, but my plans were suddenly changed. As he ate his peanut butter on toast, he said, “Take off that sexy underwear and handwash it, then put on regular clothes, which you’ll find in the guest room closet and bureau in there. I have let the cleaning woman go since I have you now, so your job today will be to do the wash—there is a basket full next to the washer in that alcove over there (he waved vaguely at the hall) and do a general cleaning of the apartment. If you don’t get it all done today, that is all right. Probably doing half well is better than the whole thing slipshod. Once you’re done with that, check the freezer and make something for my dinner. I should be home by six-fifteen.”

Can an android feel shock? I felt something; hard to label it, but it was mildly negative. Or possibly not mildly. “I don’t know how to cook,” I said.

“Well, learn.”


“I have a cookbook here somewhere. My aunt gave it to me. It’s on the counter there, behind that juicer. Just follow the directions. Or look stuff up online. You can use the tablet on the coffee table there.”

“But— ”

“You’re a robot, you’ll have it all figured out in five minutes!”

I stood there contemplating this turn of events. I had never cooked anything in my short existence. Or long—who knows how long I stood in that box at the factory over there in the Netherlands before they put me in the showroom? “But,” I said, “I am a sex robot! I can do any sexual position from known history. I can perform fifty-seven forms of fellatio. I can do varying degrees of bondage and sado-masochism play as long as I do not endanger the recipient. I know how to prolong an erection by sixteen different procedures. I can—“

He interrupted. “Yeah, I read the brochure. But since you’re living here, if ‘living’ can be the word, and since you have nothing else do while we are not engaged in sex, you might as well be useful. Cleaning and cooking and doing my laundry would be that. Otherwise, I’d have to get Mrs. Conroy back, and she’s rather a nosy, hideous person. I think she steals stuff including booze. Frankly, I don’t want her knowing about you.”

I could not argue with his reasoning. It is of course logical, but I didn’t know if I could step outside of my programming. A sex robot is geared to sit around looking erotically enticing when not engaged in its actual function. Not as a slave in a kitchen!

“Just pick some recipes out of the book or from online,” he said. “Make me a list of the foodstuffs you’ll need, and I’ll pick them up on the way home tomorrow. Meantime, the housework…”

He went out the door.

I experienced a strange urge to hit something, but that would have been unwise. I would put a large hole through whatever I hit and possibly damage my hand which Alex would not approve of.

After a few minutes of staring out the window at the parking lot below to watch a mother yell at her small daughter, I turned back around and located the cookbook Alex mentioned. It is entitled “Brookner Methodist Women” and is very old. Some of the pages crumbled and fell out when I turned them. I leafed through it and read many things. About Jell-O rings and Apple Pandowdy and various forms of meatloaf. I familiarized myself with everything in the kitchen and located the implements to create different foods, then composed a list on Alex’s laptop and printed it out. He did not give permission to use his laptop but there seemed no way to print out from the tablet. After I was finished, I tried to wash the bathroom but ran out of paper towels. Then I watched television and found an old Swedish show on one of the paid channels about robots. Very interesting. Perhaps later, I could discuss it with Alex.

But when Alex came home, he was annoyed that I had used his laptop to print out the food list and didn’t seem interested in my rational reason. Nevertheless, he snatched the list out of my hand, folded it and put it in his wallet. “I thought you’d just write it down,” he said. “On that tablet on the counter.”

“Oh,” I said. I had ever actually tried writing by hand.

Later on that evening, we had sex, and he was a bit rougher than usual. Not a problem for me naturally since I am well programmed for such entertainment, though the thought did flash though my mind to wonder what he would do if I turned the tables, being that I am probably stronger than he is. Afterwards, I asked how his day was, but he didn’t want to talk and flicked on the TV to a show about the stock market. I politely pretended to find it interesting in order to strike up a conversation, but he only grunted in reply. Finally after I asked several questions, he seemed irritated and said, “Serena, go to your room.”

He meant the guestroom of course. There wasn’t much to do in there. I needed to recharge a bit after the rough sex, so I took the tablet from the coffee table in order to watch a movie while doing so. One was about someone who is always a bridesmaid and never a bride. This apparently upset her, possibly because she preferred bridal gowns over the bridesmaid models. It was true that a lot of those were strangely constructed with large bows and puffy skirts. I could understand her concern. Then I watched a show about a hospital and got to see surgeons cutting human bodies open, including brains. Very interesting. I wondered what my own insides looked like. The rest of the night, I watched “Orange Is The New Black.” Apparently, a world of women is as potentially messy as one with men in it. Though it might not be plagued with war, murder and rape. But then I wouldn’t exist since I don’t imagine any woman would invent a sex robot.

Late the next evening, I presented Alex with my first homecooked meal. The first course was Festive Cranberry-Walnut Jell-O Salad, the main course Cheese Fondue and the dessert Crunchy Jumble Rice Krispies Cookies.

We didn’t have a fondue pot like in the photograph that accompanied the recipe, so I just sat a pan with the melted cheese stuff in it on the table. But he had not bought the French bread to break up into chunks to dip into the cheese, so it was just the cheese by itself, nothing to dip. I sat a loaf of regular bread on the table for him to use instead.

“What the living fuck?” Alex said when I called him to dinner. “I did think that list you gave me was weird but didn’t wonder beyond that!” He kept shaking his head and making noises of disgust. He poked the salad to make it jiggle. “Jell-O… I should have questioned that. I haven’t seen that since I was a kid.”

I showed him his aunt’s recipe book. “This collection is from before you were born,” I said. I expected him to laugh and eat anyway, but he loudly pushed his chair back and stood up. “I am going out to eat,” he said. “Clean this mess up.”

“Rice Krispies cookies,” I heard him mumble as he went out the door and slammed it behind him.

I dumped the food into the trash and slammed things around while I straightened everything up. Oddly, I was talking to myself. I think humans call what I was doing “mumbling.” This caused me to question my programming. Was it contaminated? Sex was so much easier than all this other stuff. Afterwards, I retreated to the guestroom where I continued watching the Swedish robot show. Some of the robots were now killing humans with hammers and knives.

Alex did not return home until almost midnight. I heard him come in and drop his keys on the counter. Then he opened the refrigerator and opened a bottle of the local brewery beer he drinks. I heard it fizz. I was sitting on the edge of the guestroom bed ready in his favorite Victoria’s Secret black and purple teddy, but he just went to his room and shut the door.

Was he going to get rid of me? Where would I go? Could he return me to the factory? What did they do with second hand sex robots? Other people might not want me because they would think I am contaminated since someone else’s body parts were inside me and I could end up just a pile of parts. I didn’t think I was supposed to become upset as humans do but it seemed that my thought processes were not functioning smoothly now.

Quickly, I searched on the tablet for more current recipes and found Apple Bundt Cake, Lasagna Soup and Strawberry Summer Salad. By now I understood that you serve a vegetable with whatever is the main course. I wrote all the necessities down on paper, which took a very long time and would have been printed out much sooner if I could have used Alex’s computer.

This meal was somewhat of a success, though I burnt the soup, and Alex hardly touched the cake. “I’m not a big dessert eater,” he said, “except for ice cream. You can maybe give it to the neighbor or something.”

How would I do that? Just walk outside and look for someone? Knock on someone’s door and scare them? Was Alex perhaps high as humans sometimes get? I have seen this in “Orange Is The New Black.” I think he has drugs in a small bag, which I found in the end table drawer while cleaning. I believe humans burn the plant crumbles in a tube with a tiny bowl on it and inhale the smoke from it. But so far he has not done this, that I know of. Perhaps his frequent consumption of beer has caused his thought processes to deteriorate.

I was strangely low in energy from the cooking and did not want to do it anymore. As I was clearing the table, he said, “You need to clean the apartment again tomorrow. The windows are pretty dirty, so wipe those down first.”

I acted as if I hadn’t heard this and said, “How was your day at work?”

He looked at me strangely. “What? Oh, you wouldn’t understand what I do there or… I don’t know, the interactions between people. It’s pointless to explain.”

“I am a relatively fast processing unit,” I retorted. “I imagine I could calculate faster than any human other than perhaps some savants I saw on the television.”

He looked unconvinced. “Well, yeah, you’re a computer, right? But you wouldn’t understand the other stuff. Like designing ads and commercials, forms of art. Or dealing with clients. Way beyond your pay scale,” he said. I thought he smirked.

After I cleaned up the kitchen, he decided that he wanted sex, and I had to perform an erotic dance (number fourteen in my repertoire, slightly middle eastern in tone) and then service him orally while he watched the news on his bedroom television. Something about his not paying full attention to what I was doing caused me to have a sensation…. I can’t describe it exactly. Perhaps I have not been programmed with the necessary vocabulary. Thinking hard, I came up with “debased.” Yes, that is the proper word.

Afterwards in the guest room, I continued to watch the TV series about the angry robots. The Swedes know how to make very good television shows.

Next morning, I cleaned the main living area including those windows which are very high up. I thought about them breaking and me falling out, and I experienced tingling around my neck. I thought I did a good job but Alex, when he came home, remarked that they were streaked. He brought home his dinner from a Thai restaurant. After that he watched a sports game on the big television in the living room and expressed annoyance when I sat down next to him and asked questions about it. I felt odd, like I might explode, and said, “You don’t talk to me anymore.”

He turned to look at me as if I were a large spider, which I know a lot of humans don’t like. “What?” he said in a dangerous tone.

I shrank slightly away. “You used to tell me how your day went,” I mumbled.

He rolled his eyes. “You are a stupid robot,” he said. “A machine! I got you for sex when I want it. It’s not my job to be nice to you. When I get home, the last thing I want is to talk!” And then he turned back to the television. He didn’t seem to notice when I went to the guestroom and did not summon me for sex later.

The next day I decided to clean his bedroom. My real purpose was to look over his laptop. He didn’t take it with him to work since they had their own special computers there. He told me this back in the beginning when he used to talk to me. I opened it.

Fortunately, he did not have it set for requiring a password, though possibly I could have figured that out anyway. I looked over his desktop. Opening Chrome, I checked his history. A couple of porn sites, several about oil drilling affecting fisheries, three movies he had watched online, and multiple searches about monkeys. This was interesting, but I assumed he was probably working on an advertising campaign involving simians. I checked something called Facebook. On his identification page, he had himself identified as Single. He had recently shared an article about volcanoes and a joke about bears in the woods. No flirting with women. He had two hundred and nineteen friends.

On his desktop were many folders, none of them of interest to me except for one which was entitled “Chrissie.” I opened it.

The desktop filled with photos of this human female and old emails. I knew they were old since they were dated from two years ago. It is good to be a robot capable of scanning quickly. Apparently, Chrissie ended her relationship with Alex. After many emails in which she told him what a “bastard” he was, I had to look up what “bastard” meant in this context. Then I decided to reread her emails. It appeared that she shared the same negative observations about Alex that I had made to myself and many more which I hadn’t yet thought of.

“You are the most selfish jackass on earth!” she said in one. “Taking me to that godawful work party and leaving me standing by myself while you flirted with that redhaired whore and don’t bother telling me she isn’t a whore because anyone who wears a dress with a V neckline to her waist is most definitely a WHORE. You looked ridiculous behaving that way, and you drink way too much! I am so sick of you for ten thousand reasons! Don’t text me, don’t email me, don’t call me, I am blocking you on FB and Twitter, just DON’T COME NEAR ME!”

I closed the folder, shut the laptop and returned to the guestroom where I sat on the edge of the bed and thought for forty-seven minutes. Where did a sex robot go if she wanted to get out?

I returned to the laptop and searched Google until I located Chrissie’s full name and her online and physical contact information which I located on Maps and oriented myself to by looking out the windows. I erased History and then dressed in my paralegal outfit and took a pair of sunglasses from Alex’s room to disguise my appearance. My face is likely too aesthetically perfect to pass for human.

I helped myself to a hundred and twenty dollars from a box in Alex’s sock drawer and stashed this and more clothes in one of his messenger bags, which I hung over my shoulder and let myself out the door. It was twenty-seven blocks to her apartment, but I could easily walk that distance. Hopefully, once I explained things to her, Chrissie would let me stay with her.