“Request denied,” Sean told me as he slid off the stool at the International Bar.
I appealed his ruling. “Why?”
“Because, as is the case every morning,” he explained, “I must report to my place of employment.”
“The hour at which I must do this is rapidly approaching.”
He sighed. “Excluding you, and perhaps some chemically enhanced rock musicians, the mammalian biology requires a number of hours to rest and reset its physiology. A more economical way of describing this function is…” He pantomimed quotation marks, probably because he knew how much I hated that. “… ‘sleep.'”
I wasn’t sure how this applied to him. Given the way he interacted with people in general, as well as the fact that his fashion was as robotic as his vocabulary, I’d always suspected he was not a mammal at all, but rather a really badly disguised alien that didn’t actually need to sleep. Regardless, I chose to play along with his subterfuge; I was desperate. “Call in sick to work,” I said. “Spend a few extra hours in bed.”
“The flaw in your logic is that I would find myself wracked with boredom upon awakening.”
“Watch some TV.”
“I derive the same amount of pleasure from television as you.”
I derived the same amount of pleasure from television as someone getting beaten in the face with a sanitation worker’s shovel, so that was out. “Don’t you have any hobbies you’ve been meaning to get to?”
“Excelling at my family’s business is the closest approximation I have to a hobby,” he replied, “inasmuch as it is the only pastime for which I’ve shown any aptitude.”
“I don’t know what to say to that.”
“Then say nothing.” He gave me a moment before sitting back down and asking, “What is it you seek to avoid at home by further socializing?”
I sighed and signaled Dan the Bartender. “I think I need another beer.”
There was one in front of me almost instantly. “You really look like you do,” Dan replied.
I poured it down my throat and said, “I think I need another beer.”
Dan handed me another bottle.
I turned back to Sean. “Where was I?”
“Right.” I sighed, “Every time I go home, I run into my neighbor, and she calls me Dude. And that word cuts into me like a…” Okay, so where the hell did my wit go just now? “Like a sharp thing that hurts a lot.”
“What qualifies this as more dire than other verbal indignities you tend to endure on a regular basis?”
“Because,” I tried to reply. “Because… To be honest…” I said before turning back to Dan the Bartender. “I think I need another beer.” Upon my order being delivered, I spat out, “Because it makes me feel awkward.”
“Why, pray tell, would it be awkward?” he asked. “You have, after all, seen her in the nude and have performed unspeakable acts upon her body…”
“Enthusiastically, I’ll have you know.”
“You have performed unspeakable acts upon her body with great vigor…”
“Vigor’s a good word for it,” I sighed.
Undeterred, Sean continued, “and you fled from her without so much as a simple telephone call, and now you’re hiding in the closet–figuratively, of course–only to discover that your most recent sexual conquest…”
“Not my most recent,” I mumbled.
“I’d forgotten you were a slut.”
“I’m not sorry.”
“Be that as it may,” he continued, “one of your more recent sexual conquests sleeps in a bed not more than four feet away from yours, and you have yet to learn her surname.”
“When you put it that way,” I said, “it sounds kind of filthy.”
Sean laughed. “I find it astounding that I’m sitting next to the most preposterous thing ever to grace this bar. And, if you’ll recall, it had been recently patronized by a man in a gorilla suit.”
Dan the bartender shook his head and chuckled, “Silly gorilla-suit guy.”
Inspiration struck me. “This is a message from the heavens!”
“No,” I replied, “Sex. I quit having it.”
“I doubt your conviction.”
“I believe me, and that’s all that matters.”
“This is the most ill-conceived idea I’ve been party to in quite some time,” he told me.
“It makes perfect sense,” I said. “I am tired of being led around by my penis. When I think about it, I’ve made so many bad decisions in pursuit of sex, and what do I get out of it?”
“Orgasms,” he replied.
“Well, it’s not worth it,” I declared.
“There is little doubt in my mind that you’ll find yourself fornicating at some point in the near future. As a matter of fact,” he told me, “I’m willing to entertain a wager in regard to your poorly thought-out declaration.”
“I’m prepared to stake one dollar on this.”
“That’s not exactly a fair bet,” I said. “You’ll only have pay up if I die before you.”
He sighed. “Very well. If, by this time next year, you haven’t engaged in sexual congress of any sort, I will pay out the dollar you will have earned.”
“That’s not a lot of money.”
“My father would say, ‘It’s the principle of the thing.'”
I shook his hand. “Better make sure you have enough money in that bank account in a year.” I added, “And can we keep congress out of this? They just fuck everything up.”
He ignored me. “Double if your partner in said acts is your neighbor.”
“Hell, I’ll go triple on that.”
“Double is sufficient.”
“Sucker,” I mumbled.
“Sucker,” he mumbled.