Hypothesis:Robots Like Greek Food TestResult:True

July 30, 2014 : Mike Drakos meets Cricket Schodt and shares a table with her. Food ensues.

Midtown Manhattan - New York City

Situated between 14th and 59th Streets, Midtown Manhattan is *the* tourist destination in New York City. It is also the largest central business district in America. Most of the tallest skyscrapers in the city can be found here, from the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings to Stark Tower and the Baxter Building. It's also home to Times Square, Broadway, and Fifth Avenue.

In the day, the traffic is non-stop. In the evening, bright neon lights light up the street such that it looks as if the sun simply doesn't set on the city. But, then, there's a reason New York is called The City that Never Sleeps. This, right here, is it.



  • Restaurant Staff

Mood Music:

T'is a pleasant early evening in Manhattan, as the heat of the sun is finally being blown away by the cooler air off the ocean, and the shimmering is now the lights of businesses, rather than the distortion rising off the surfaces of metal, asphalt, and concrete. Midtown is simultaneously more beautiful and more dangerous, but the danger is more one of being caught up in the night life, losing track of the day.

Mike Drakos has decided that now is the time to test out his skin. It's far from perfect, too smooth, too monochromatic, without the faint translucence it should have, and thus, appears a bit plastic; he could be a person who has had surgery to correct burns, or who is faintly ill, though he seems energetic enough. He's in a sort of indeterminate dance-club/bar/restaurant place, after attending an afternoon performance of something off Broadway, waiting to get into the restaurant area. He's not sure what he'll enjoy here, but he's determined to try it. They have Greek food, and he is required by family rules to see if it's any good.


Oddly enough, though she too is a robot, Cricket's skin is perfect as far as being mistaken for human skin. She walks along the street, wearing a long summer dress and wedge heels, looking for somewhere to have dinner. Oooh! Greek. Did she used to like Greek food. Who knows. She should find out if she likes it now though. She heads over to put her name on the waiting list but is told that there are no tables for one. It's too busy. She frowns, not liking that answer. She looks around and spots another single person. "But I'm not alone. I was just waiting for my friend to arrive. Table for two please." She hands over a bill. "Now?"

And with that, Cricket walks over to Mike. "Hello. I know this is a little sudden, but apparently this place doesn't have any tables for one. So… would you like to have dinner with me? My treat?"


Mike looks up, and a vague surprise followed by caution models on his face, almost. Almost. Stiff. Slow. It annoys him so very much.

"I've noticed that they are … not friendly to singleton diners," Mike answers. "I would love to join you, but please, no need to pay for my dinner."

He stands, and says, "Archimedes, please change that to Drakos party of two," to the host, who has been apologizing in Greek for the Manager's strange prejudices to Mr. Drakos for the past forty-five minutes. He smiles now, and says, "Certainly, we JUST have a table for two opening," as he cuts off the Manager who is about to go to the waiting area outside to let in a clearly under-aged couple who came in minutes before, pre-drunk for easy service. He hisses something in Greek about "check their licenses, you want us to lose our liquor card?" and taps a waiter. They're taken to a small table halfway from the kitchen door, with a clear view of the bar, and the small raised dance-floor. Greek flavored pop music is playing, and people are dancing in an unfortunate blend of folk styles and club thrashing.

Mike would do the gentlemanly thing but the waiter is already there, holding the chair, and leaves a pair of menus.

While all this is happening, Mike's been doing his best NOT to scan his dinner partner. That would be rude. He does, however, simulate a cell-phone well enough to send an update GPS location to something, somewhere. Not the normal social media sites.


Cricket smiles graciously to the manager, speaking to her in fluent Greek. "Thank you so much for seating us so quickly. I understand a place like this not accepting singles when it's so busy. If you could have your sommelier come to our table as soon as he can. Thank you." She slips her arm in with Mike's. "My name is Cricket, and please, what is money for if not to spend to have a good time?" She looks around the place and smiles. "This place is rather lovely. Are all Greek places this nice."


Mike's smile looks faintly plastic, but genuine enough. As they sit, he laughs, and replies, "I'm Mike Drakos. Please, call me Mike. So, I haven't been to all Greek places, but my experience is that they are generally friendly, the food is usually quite good, but may not quite match what American tastes are expecting, and there's a bit of madness in every one of them, because we're something of a mad people. Dramatic anyway."

He scans the menu once — appearing to simply glance at it — and then puts it down, as he considers the foods and the prices. The smells are all appropriate. There is an unfortunate lack of tornado-shaped lamb rotating vertically alongside to a radiant-heat lamp, but there are … ah, the waiter has returned with a large plate and two smaller plates, and the large plate has five kinds of olives, slices of flattish bread, dolmadakia, an array of lightly battered and deep-fried zucchini and thin tiny eggplants, some rather oily anchovies on disks of crispy bread, and four tiny pies made of phyllo dough with melted feta cheese, next to a small dish with plain greek-style yogurt.

Mike smiles. "This is the fancy orektiko," he says to the young woman… robot. Orektiko being one word for appetizer.

"I think the Manager's being penitent," he stage-whispers. The Sommelier — actually a different waiter with a quickly donned arm-towel and a wine list — shows as soon as the appetizer is placed.

"I would recommend a split of the Xinomavro with the orektiko," she says. "It stands up best to the complexity of these flavors."

Mike nods, but she waits for confirmation from Cricket before she nods to the waiter, who has it ready.


Cricket doesn't even bother to look at the menu. "My name is Cricket. Cricket Schodt. It's a pleasure to meet you, Mike." She looks over to the waiter as he brings over the appetizers. "We will have two of today's special, thank you." She then looks to Mike with some concern. "Unless you have allergies we need to worry about."

She smiles warmly to table partner. "So you are greek then? Well then, I will have to trust you to tell me how wonderful everything is." She nods to the Sommelier, trusting in her choice for the evening.


"No allergies," Mike says. He considers the special marked on the board by the door — Ouzo and Nutmeg Lamb Chops, normally prepared just a bit past medium rare, served with a dice salad of cucumber, tomato, red onion, red and yellow peppers, a hint of garlic, and of course dressed with olive oil and slightly pine-scented red wine vinegar. With the appetizer, there's enough food. The Sommelier suggests two possible wines, of course the more expensive one being the best choice - but it's actually the better of the two … 2004 Palivou Estate Terra Leone Ammos. And of course, a quarter-split of Ouzo to go before the lamb, to ready the palate.

Mike nods to Cricket. "My father is Greek. Second generation Greek-American, lived in Nemea for ten years, but came back here. My mother is not Greek, but she speaks it better than he does sometimes."

He looks at the young woman, wondering how she's going to process the food; his own system is able to take it apart rather aggressively, but he prefers to do that away from people.


Well, Cricket doesn't seem to be worrying about money. She doesn't bother to look at prices, just trusting in people to make sure she gets the best experience they can offer. She is smiling, but trying mostly to ignore that other voice that she keeps hearing.

- Detected: Second Cybernetic Intelligence.
- Chosen Line of Action: Ensure further contact for possible uploading of program matrix to improve ones own.

She seems so wonderfully human, every movement, every pore of her skin. If not for Mike`s metal-sense it would be hard to tell that she wasn`t human.


Mike has been admiring that perfect human emulation. Mike has an 'uncanny valley' effect on some humans because of his own imperfect emulation, and if Cricket were responding to that at all, he'd be wondering if his mutant senses were lying to him, but no, there it is, far more titanium than the average human, and active circuitry tugging at his mutant senses - there is so clearly technology. Maybe asking her … but if she's hiding it for some reason, then it would be very, very bad to "out" her, and he needs to observe her more for her body language as well. Not that his is wrong … just not expressive enough. Like acting through cotton batting.

He eats an appropriate share of the appetizer, commenting on the relative flavors. For whatever reason, Greek food is much, much easier for him to taste 'as if it were real' — no need to add tinfoil or lead or arsenic or iron filings to bring out the flavors it should have. So he's able to judge it well. The deep-fried vegetables are not very flavorful, he notes, and need the yogurt, or better, a tzatziki sauce. The dolmadakia are traditional, just rice and lemon and a hint of garlic and mint, wrapped in a brined grape leaf with olive oil so strong it crushes the other flavors. Kind of … ordinary, really. The olives are delightful, the anchovies exquisite, the pies are like something brought from the heavens. Of course, the wine doesn't hurt that.

He asks her, "Is this the first-ever Greek food you've eaten? You seem to be coming at everything like it was brand new."


Not only is her human emulation perfect, but it comes with an ease that would almost imply that she is unaware of it. She eats a little bit of everything, her own appetite modest. Cricket does seem to be able to eat, and it's as though the food is helping her system to recharge her fuel cells. She flushes when asked about eating the Greek food for the first time.

"Well, this is going to sound very strange, but I lost my memory. My father died a month ago and it seems it was so stressful that I got amnesia. I don't remember eating Greek. But it's quite nice now."


Mike pauses, freezing for a visible quarter-second as he processes that. Amnesia, she was either wiped or freshly brought online, then, and the father's death — she seems minimally stressed about it now, but that's not completely out of character for an amnesiac — how does she manage to operate so smoothly?

"I'm sorry for your loss," Mike says, managing a completely realistic sympathy. But he doesn't pursue past that; robot protocols and human protocols are identical in this case: do not force information dump. Do not impose further judgement, assessment, or platitude. Do not comment on the strangeness of the amnesia. Listen with attention if the survivor wishes to express emotion or grief.

He sips the last of his wine, and the waiter clears away empty glasses and the demolished appetizers, and returns with a tray bearing two small glasses, each with two golden ounces of Ouzo, that licorice-scented liquor that is the essential Greek contribution to hangovers.


"Thank you. I wish I knew more about him. I feel bad that I don't feel worse about his death. But he was in his eighties, so really it's not too surprising." She takes a deep breath and lets out a sigh. "I know I must sound terribly callous." She picks up her Ouzo and offers a toast. "To new friendships."


Mike raises his glass to return the toast, "To new friends."

He tosses it back in one swallow, per tradition. Or possibly because that's what his father does. That's tradition, right?

"If you don't remember him, and haven't had any memories return, then it's possible you weren't raised with him around, so you didn't interact much. If he was in his eighties, then that might make sense. If you regret not knowing him well, that honors him. So, you're not callous in my opinion."

As soon as the ouzo is downed, the lamb is delivered, along with that higher-end wine - which is really, not terribly expensive as wines can go. The lamb is possibly the best version of lamb that Mike can remember tasting, ever.

"This is amazingly wonderful," he says. "Outstanding."


Cricket watches as Mike downs the Ouzo. She doesn't down it quite so quickly, letting the flavour of the anise wash over her palate. She licks her lips, listening to Mike and reaching over to pat his hand in gratitude. Her skin is warm, human warm. There is even a glow of sweat to her from the summer heat.

"Thank you. I hadn't thought of it like that and it's very nice to hear. And you're right, with him being so old, it's likely we didn't really associate much, but I apparently lived with him." She shrugs her shoulders.

She tries the meal and lets out a happy side. "Oh, that is quite lovely. Please," she says to a passing waiter, "My compliments to the chef."


Lived with him? Well, it's likely that she woke with amnesia in his home, anyway. More than that, amnesia could be hiding anything. Mike makes small talk as they eat because harder questions are not really something to chew on when one wishes to enjoy a meal, and he wouldn't insult this meal. The salad is wonderful, but definitely an accent piece to the lamb, and the wine is perfectly balanced for it. But when they've finished, he has to ask the question.

"I assume, since you had no memory, that you found identity documents, possibly birth certificate or passport, some other documents that confirmed your relationship?" His face doesn't quite show it right, still too stiff, but his voice is sympathetic.


Cricket enjoys the meal, closing her eyes to savour the flavour more. She sips at the wine and takes a deep breath of satisfaction. "Yes. I found them in my room. And then the will left everything to me. Apparently my father was quite wealthy, which shouldn't surprise me since we live in sort of penthouse. But yes, all the paperwork was there. That's how I knew my name in the first place."


Mike nods. "I figured it had to be something like that."

He considers telling her about his mutation, but … not here. He needs to know about her more, see what her positions are on society, on people. Maybe she's like him, but, if she was, why the amnesia? And besides her tech doesn't feel like his, not as much simulation of organic functions. Too bad his skin is so INorganic.

The waiter brings by a complementary dessert, "The Chef sends his thanks." It consists of a trio of watermelon slices, an inch thick, wedges, which have been grilled, and are covered in a minty yogurt dressing with pepper and salt and honey drizzled over that. Mike grins at the sight of it.

"You're apparently now in a mutual admiration society with the Chef here," he says. "No dessert for me, please," he tells the waiter.


Bowing her head in thanks to the waiter, she waggles a finger at Mike. "It's not polite to make a lady eat on her own. Have one slice?" Dinner is finished and Cricket doesn't even look at the bill when it arrives, simply putting her credit card in the folder. "You know, I realize this dinner date was a little self serving for both of us, but I'm glad it happened. It means that I met a wonderful new friend."


"Certainly, evkharistou," Mike says, thanking Cricket in Greek. "But they would try to make me eat baklava, and after that meal it would be too much."

He accepts a slice of the watermelon, and smiles at the flavors.

"This is like my aunt Rhea would make, when she lived in Los Angeles. She and the Chicana woman who lived next door would grow watermelon in their tiny gardens, and then give each other their favorite ways to prepare it. The latinos use lime juice and chili powder and salt, and it's served ice-cold, but the Greek method of grilling and putting on lemon tzatziki with fresh mint and a little honey… they liked that too."

He reaches inside his pockets and comes out with a business card. |Mike Drakos, Drakos Motors LLC, …| there's a phone number and a post box in Manhattan.

"May I have the honor of escorting you to your ride?"

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