The “history” of the titular website in my novel, Fast Lane, is this: Clay Creighton’s father, Chase, started a men’s magazine in the 1960s that featured articles about cars and booze and pitching woo.

And pictures, of course, of scantily clad women.

Chase died when Clay was 21. Clay took over and introduced The Rotation—three women hand-picked to be his consorts. Members are constantly cycled through The Rotation to match what Fast Lane trumpets as the three stages of romance: Phase 1, the excitement of primal physical attraction; Phase 2, deepening knowledge; and Phase 3, comfortable familiarity.

In this philosophy, though, familiarity also leads to boredom. So, every few months, the girl who’s been around the longest has to go, replaced by a new Phase 1.

Sound far-fetched? Only if you’re oblivious to recent dating/mating shows on TV.

Not that I’m an aficionado. Outside of Pawn Stars and American Pickers, I’ve watched exactly sixty minutes of “reality” TV: One episode of what has to be—what for the sake of Western civilization absolutely must be—the nadir of reality entertainment: Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch.

The premise is that Chad Ochocinco, a wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, travels the country to find eighty-five women who would like to date a rich, famous, world-class athlete. After culling the herd to sixteen, he assigns the survivors to brackets like teams in a basketball tournament, then subjects them to tests so he can eliminate the losers and crown a champion.

In one test, Ochocinco goes on a date with two hopefuls at once so they can “compete” head-to-head.

What did this vulgar display tell me?

My conception of Fast Lane is not at all unrealistic. This kind of thing not only exists in America in 2010, it’s also big business.

And there are women who are more than happy to get involved. Why? I don’t know. Maybe some want to claim their fifteen minutes of fame or view it as a launching pad to a career. I suppose some actually believe they could find love and happiness with what some media outlets describe as “a serial dater with four kids” who is known to football fans as a sometimes controversial, but harmlessly amusing, flake.

It almost is Fast Lane. And it’s what Lara sets out to destroy. The question is, what will she find when she cozies up to Clay and sees the view from inside?

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