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Choosing Theo: Chapter 11

Jade looked at the contents of Theo’s folder blankly. It seemed the translator in her ear did not also translate written words.

“Can you help me out here?” she asked, handing the folder to Asivva.

“Mm-hmm.” She nodded. “Before I read this to you, I need to explain a few things.”

Jade sat back on the couch and waited. This oughta be good.

“In many cultures on this planet but especially here in Tremanta, Clecanian children start going to school when they are about seven years old. The subjects at that time are what you would consider normal. Reading, writing, history, arithmetic, technology, science, and so on. When Clecanian boys turn seventeen, their education is split in half. Half of the time, the boys take classes that coincide with whatever job it is they’ve chosen. The other half of the time is spent in husbandry school.”

A grin spread across Jade’s face. “Are you messing with me? This must be a joke. They go to school to learn how to be husbands?” An image of teenage boys wearing dad jeans and mowing the lawn popped into her mind.

“As you know, there are many more males than females here. The way our society decides who’s deserving of a wife and child is based, in part, on their grades in husbandry school.”

“I guess that makes sense.” Jade shrugged, too tired to be surprised by any more absurdity today. “What else is it based on?”

“Many things. They have to make enough money to care for a wife and child, they have to have a clean bill of health, be of a certain age…things like that. Females mostly care about their grades, though.”

“What are they graded on?” Jade asked, curious.

“There are a few classes every male has to take and then there are some they can choose. Cooking and childcare, for example, is mandatory. A husband must know how to make a good meal for his wife and, with any luck, his children. A class about pairing beverages with food, however, is optional. The males train in both schools until they’re about twenty, then they take their final exams and earn their grades.” She held up the folder Jade had handed her. “Everything you need to know about them is in here.”

“And you’re sure they’re okay with this?” Jade said, feeling guilty about what the men have been put through in order to have the chance at a family. “Being forced to learn how to do all of these things for women? Don’t any of them feel used?”

“I don’t believe so.” Asivva frowned as she thought about Jade’s question. “If they were resentful, all they’d have to do is not dote on their female. They wouldn’t be picked for marriage again and could go on living how they choose. Many males here will never have the opportunity to prove themselves to a wife, so when they’re given the opportunity, most are grateful, not angry.” Asivva grasped one of Jade’s hands. “I can answer as many questions as you want about the dynamics here, but it’s unlikely you’ll truly understand our culture unless you’ve lived in it. Our culture isn’t perfect. It’s been molded by our needs, not our wants. For now, try to accept what we tell you as truth and make your assumptions about the way we do things after a few months have passed.”

On some level, Jade agreed with Asivva. There was no way for her to truly understand what the people of this world felt about this system. Not until she lived in it for longer than a few days. So far, she’d only spoken to a few men, but none of them had seemed oppressed.

“Well, let’s hear it then. What kind of scores did these boys get?” Jade asked, clapping her hands together.

“I’ll start with their backgrounds. Fejo specializes in retrieving lost goods. Clients hire him to find stolen and or lost items,” Asivva said with pursed lips.

“And…?” Jade asked, sensing the woman did not approve of Fejo.

“Well…there’s a rumor that not all of his jobs are completely legal.” She glanced around the room uncomfortably. “In addition to retrieving stolen goods, he may also, on occasion, do the stealing.”

He actually is a pirate! Am I ready for a life of crime?

“On to Theo,” Asivva continued. “I know he’s a mercenary hired through the government but there isn’t too much information available about any specific job. I do know that most of his work is done undercover and alone. He’s very good at what he does and is often hired by powerful individuals. That is probably why no details are available.”

“That sounds ominous.” Jade wondered if it was better to choose someone who did bad things out in the open or in secret.

“Both Fejo and Theo are wealthy. Theo is slightly more so.” Asivva continued, “They’re also both in excellent shape. Fejo tends to travel for work, which may be why he hasn’t been married yet. Females generally want their males to be close by at all times. A child wouldn’t do well if their parent was always gone. Theo lives about an hour from the city and rarely accepts jobs anymore.”

“Maybe we should focus on Theo,” Jade suggested, “I don’t know if I’d feel safe being alone all of the time.” Lie! Being alone was something Jade enjoyed immensely. She was inventing excuses in order to make sure she ended up with Theo, and Asivva knew it. Jade noticed the side of Asivva’s mouth quirk at her suggestion.

“As you wish,” Asivva said nonchalantly. “Shall I list Theo’s required class scores first?”

“Please do,” Jade mumbled, flushing with embarrassment.

“Alright. A perfect score is ten. Males need to average a score of seven to qualify as a potential husband.” Asivva explained. “Cooking: nine.”

Mmm, I love a man who can cook.

“Massage: ten. Childcare: eight.” Asivva paused and glanced at Jade wearily before reading the next scores. “Conversation: three. Appearance: one.”

“One? I don’t understand why no one except for me seems to find him attractive. I feel like I’m in The Twilight Zone,” Jade said, throwing up her hands in exasperation.

Asivva let out a relieved breath. Quirking a brow, she asked, “What’s The Twilight Zone?”

“A TV show where odd things happen. In one episode, a man is stuck all alone in a world full of books but he doesn’t have any reading glasses. In another, a beautiful woman is called ugly because all the people around her look like pigs and she normal.” Asivva wrinkled her forehead as if she’d understood only a few of the words Jade had used. “It’s hard to explain, I guess. Why do you think he got such a bad conversation score?” Jade asked, changing the subject.

“Theo isn’t the most patient male, and he has always had a hard time talking with females. Conversation classes teach males to use charm and compliments while conversing with females, but Theo never felt natural speaking in that way. I’m guessing he became frustrated during his exam and forgot his lessons. I warned you that acting the part of a gentleman isn’t something Theo has an easy time doing. It’ll likely be frustrating for him.”

As Jade listened to Asivva talk about Theo, she realized Asivva was very familiar with his mannerisms. “How do you know so much about him? Were you two together at one point?”

“Me and Theo?” Asivva asked with a surprised look on her face. “No! I’ve known him my whole life. He’s family.”

“Oh, okay, good. It would be awkward if I were getting your leftovers.”

“Leftovers?” Asivva wrinkled her nose. “That’s an odd expression, but I suppose it makes sense. Anyway,” Asivva continued, “Preferences: nine. In their preferences classes, males learn about the different types of things females prefer to have on hand. That way they can get a rough idea of what to stock their homes with in case they end up being chosen by a female. Preferences covers things like clothing fabric, jewelry, household furnishings, and beauty products. Females buy most of those things themselves when they arrive in a new house, but it’s good for the males to understand what the items are, what they’re used for, and why some may be better than others. Anatomy: ten.”

“Anatomy? As in female anatomy?” Jade interrupted.

“Yes. If they want to please their wives, they need to know where everything is, don’t they?” Asivva’s tone made it clear she thought Jade’s question was idiotic.

Jade had to admit, understanding the opposite sex’s anatomy seemed like a brilliant idea. So many guys on Earth spent their whole lives searching for the elusive clitoris. Jade then had a disturbing thought. What if I’m different? They are aliens! Our anatomy is probably very different. Oh my God! He probably has a tentacle, or some other crazy shit, instead of a dick!

Sensing Jade’s sudden unease, Asivva asked, “Is something wrong Jade?”

“I just realized our anatomy is probably very different, and I doubt they covered humans in that anatomy class.”

“Our doctors did a little research when you arrived, and they believe you’re very similar to us. We’ll know for sure when we go to the doctor in a few minutes.”

Although still on edge, Jade felt a little better knowing the Clecanian doctors had already thought through the possibility of her anatomy being different and had ruled it out.

“Theo’s last grade is for Sexual Proficiency, and he received a score of ten.”

Jade stared at Asivva for a long time before she said, “How would they even know that unless they…” She gasped. “Did they test him by having sex with him or watching him have sex?”

“Yes. How else would they know whether he would make a suitable sexual partner? Sex education classes are a very large part of their training during the last year of school,” Asivva said matter-of-factly.

“Who trains them?” Jade croaked.

“Volunteers. Older females who can no longer have children, mostly. There are some younger females who volunteer between marriages as well.” Asivva rifled through Theo’s folder as she added, “During the exam, the tester is blindfolded so the encounter isn’t affected by the male’s appearance. They try and make sure each test is judged without any bias.”

“How admirable,” Jade muttered with a roll of her eyes.

Clearly annoyed, Asivva said, “Would you prefer your future husband be a virgin when you marry him? Or would you prefer he be experienced and know how to please you properly?”


“You should criticize customs only after you’ve experienced them,” she chastised. “The males can opt out if they want, but very few do. The low female population doesn’t allow males the luxury of experiencing sex organically.”

Remember, alien planet. Vastly different. Jade had to remind herself not to judge, no matter how odd their customs were. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be judging based on what we do on my planet. My world isn’t exactly a stable place most of the time.”

Asivva still looked annoyed but relaxed. “It may seem selfish that these classes are all centered on how to make a wife happy, but there’s a strong correlation between a happy female and fertility. Females who aren’t sexually satisfied by their partner and don’t orgasm, for example, rarely get pregnant.”

Asivva sighed and gave a small smile. “It’s getting late. We need to get to the doctor. I can tell you about Theo’s remaining scores later.”


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