I was built as a birthday present for my best friend. But we didn’t start out that way. She was just the girl my programmer was dating, and he was trying to keep an eye on her. He built me and put her into me—her likes and dislikes, her favorite colors and foods, the TV shows she binged and the movies she hated. I would be her friend and he would make sure she didn’t stray out of his reach.
The first day with her was like any first day with a stranger—awkward. We were the last at her party, sitting at an abandoned table in an empty restaurant near downtown San Jose. Dan, my programmer, had left in the first hour, and I’d stood numbly in the corner watching her.
She stared at me across her half-eaten birthday cake, the tip of her finger tracing the edge of a glass.
“So, you’re a robot,” she said.
“I’m a 3D-printed assemblage with a digital processor.” I paused, remembering her conversations I’d witnessed that day. I’d studied her reactions, when she frowned, when she laughed. I had a good idea of her sense of humor, so I tested the waters.
She snorted into her drink.
“Do you have a name?” she said.
I shrugged. “Not yet.”
She set her glass down. “How about Beth? Simple. Easy to remember.”
“Duh,” we both said.