You know that soulmate AU trope where the first thing your soulmate(s) says to you is some how magically engraved on your wrist? Why are those stories set in worlds that are otherwise socially normal?
I mean really. If everything was exactly the same except for this trope think of how many people would have hello written on their wrist. Think of how many people would meet the wrong person but hit it off anyway and think well this must be my soulmate(s) because we get along more or less. Think of how many people would get married and have a life and a dog and like start up some kind of artisanal meat market or something and then find out that they married the “wrong” person. Like, people wouldn’t be signing prenups, this is your soulmate it should last forever. So now you’re stuck in this crazy legal battle with your fake soulmate while your real soulmate is like trying to fend off people who also have hello on their wrist and think they’re making the wrong choice. Divorce lawyers would probably make it big in this hypothetical world.
But. I don’t think the above is actually all that likely when you consider that this would be a world where everyone knows that the first thing you say to your soulmate(s) is on your wrist. I think a whole world of this trope would basically teach people that you don’t say hello to strangers.
Instead you blurt out something very original. Last thursday I ate a live worm! I own a collection of glass eyes! I’m secretly a super villain and this is my android body! You know. Distinctive. Something that isn’t likely to be ambiguous.
Think of the possibilities. Think of a society that celebrates truly unique first words. People could see someone and spend hours agonizing over what ridiculous thing they want their first words to be. An unusual metaphor for your undying love? A declaration about how much you like snails? A compliment no one could have ever possibly said to them before? Your nose is a glorious rendition of the Summer Triangle.
Kids would grow up being encouraged to say outlandish things. You wouldn’t be told to stop saying silly things. You would be told to make sure not to copy the silly things your friend said. Think of how careful parents would be about introducing very young children to new people. Kids that are too young might meet their soulmate and not realize it. They could miss their one chance because they were too busy fighting over a little mermaid eraser.
What about people who can’t read? What about people who are blind?
You wouldn’t say sorry if you bumped into someone on the street. You’d either stay silent or shout something oddball out first, I shove lilacs up my nose. and only then do you say sorry.
Imagine “speed meets”. Groups that organize meetups between complete strangers. You’re in a room with a hundred other people. Line up and start saying outrageous things. I am actually a hippopotamus. No? Okay next. I wish to own seven hundred thirty one and a half dalmatian mice. No? Alright. Next. One day I will travel to Europa in the fanciest of hats. And then the other person grins, Well captain it’s not naked if you’re wearing a hat. And damn they have been waiting years to say that line.