was something wrong with me. There had been since the day I was
regarded me thoughtfully with her stunning green eyes, her petite
little hand impaling a piece of lettuce on her fork. I saw the
salad dressing glimmer in the candlelight as she lifted the leaf
to her mouth.
aren't eating much, Harold."
more than one course tends to make me fat."
bubbled an alluring feminine giggle, but it died on her glittering
smile, as something in my expression made it occur to her I'm
wasn't entirely joking.
please, call me Harry. Alright?"
gave her a reassuring wink, and immediately got the impression
that it looked just as cheesy as it had felt. I hated first dates.
was my brain that wasn't quite rightcaused all the trouble.
Oh, I was sane enough. Well, maybe. Who could ever tell? If anything,
the problem was that I liked my brain to be a little too normal.
conversation had reminded Alicia of the horrors an evening meal
could work on her waistline if left unchecked. She leaned over
her chair to rifle quickly through the contents of her fashionable
black leather purse. With impressive speed, she located and withdrew
a small semi-opaque plastic box, about the size of a pack of cigarettes.
It was decorated with a dozen differently colored buttons. She
pressed the black, and a tiny black pill rolled down a shoot and
out into her hand. Alicia tossed it back with a swig of champagne.
She brushed a long stray red hairwhich had somehow come
loose during this entire processback behind her ear.
was no danger in taking the medicine with alcohol. It was a dinner
pill, after all, specifically tailored to the occasion, and I'm
sure no one would be buying it if it meant the un-American hassle
of quitting drinking. Our society was nothing, if not built for
pill's chemicals sent messages to the enzymes in her muscles and
adipose cells, basically telling them not to store any of this
in-between-meal salad (and whatever else Alicia ate) as unsightly
fat, but instead to burn as much as possible for energy. Alicia
would keep her hourglass figure, enjoy her guiltless supper, and
even feel a bit perkier for the rest of the night. To be honest,
there was no reason I couldn't take one of those myself. Other
than a stupid, self-restricting bias. The sort of thing I called
personality when I was feeling less cynical. Which wasn't often.
small detachment of waiters arrived. Our sculpted glass salad
plates were removed and replaced with white china upon which was
artfully arranged the next coursea seafood dish, vibrantly
pink salmon covered in a thick white sauce of strong lemony aroma.
Two tall glasses of the recommended white wine were poured to
sparkle besides our meal.
lead waiter paused to ask if everything was satisfactory, and
if there was any other service he could be delighted to perform
for us. He did so with precisely the proper amount of concern
for our happiness, showing not a hint of frustration or disrespect.
I noted his smooth, unmarred complexion; the unerring symmetry
of his face; and the way his defining features were emphasized
in just the right amounts, his jaw firm and manly but not jutting,
his cheek-bones strong and regal, but not arrogant. When he moved,
his muscles rippled visibly beneath his dinner jacket. The other
waiters showed slight differences in style, but seemed to me only
minor variations on the theme of "unflawed". I scanned
around the restaurant, looking at every perfect couple, each table
a movie star heart-throb with his calendar pin-up-girl date.
cleared my throat. Alicia finished chewing on her first bite of
salmon and gave a throaty sigh of approval.
what made a pretty girl like you want to go out with a guy like
me?" I gave a her a playful smile. "I suspect you had
dunno," she said with a bit of a nervous shrug. "You
just struck me as sort of different, which I thought might be
nice for a change."
hesitated for a moment, then the box came out again. A blue pill
this time, a calming agent. The shrug probably worried her. Didn't
want me to think she was someone who lacked confidence.
went back to attacking her salmon. I nibbled at the edges of mine.
The sauce was a little much, but the fish itself was quite good.
She glanced up from her plate suddenly, looked me in the eye.
don't think I've ever met anyone who tried to live without supplements
before." Her voice was firmer now, her questions more direct.
The medicine was working its magic. "I can't even imagine
what that would be like."
assume she suppressed a shudder here, and a comment along the
lines of, 'It's so primitive!'
my case, it's not so much a choice as a health condition,"
I told her. I liked to think it would have been my choice if I'd
had one, but I wasn't sure she'd approve of that. "The supplements,
even the alternatives and the generics, all use pretty similar
delivery systems. There's something about what they call my blood
brain barrier, it's the membrane that decides what gets let into
my brain and what doesn't, it reacts badly to them."
it an allergy. There are others who have them, but not many. The
pharmaceutical companies do an impressive job of making them work
for everybody, and they're still making breakthroughs all the
it may not be long before they find a way to beat your allergy!"
expression indicated that I ought to be pleased about this. I
did my best to appear excited about the possibility.
always hope," I told her. In a way, I wished there wasn't.
If a cure for me was ever found, I'd have to actually turn down
a perfect body and mind. The moral high-ground is always a lot
easier to stand on for someone who doesn't have anywhere else
in pretty good shape for someone who can't burn off the fat,"
she observed, with a fairly flirtatious summation of my physique,
but it was probably the that I might be curable that made me more
attractive to her.
could imagine. I'd be a novelty for a while; she could show me
off to her friends. Maybe try and gain some social points for
being the suffering caregiver for a man with a horrible disease.
If things ever got serious, though, she could always send me off
to the doctor to get fixed. Didn't want some freak as a husband,
spend a lot of time lifting weights," I informed her.
weights," she giggled. "How old-fashioned. I remember
my dad doing that when I was a kid."
nodded at that. "I'm pretty old-fashioned guy, you'll find."
maybe she wouldn't. Alicia seemed nice, and was something of a
knock-outwasn't everybody these days? My bitterness was
getting the best of me, though, and I couldn't seem to bring myself
to fully enjoy her company. I suspected this was no doubt causing
me to give off confusing vibes.
sipped at my wine repeatedly for a lack of anything better to
do with my hands. I discovered that it went well with the meal
as advertised. I was probably drinking a bit too much, but every
time I set my glass down, it seemed to refill itself. The waiters
must be sprinting over to top it off every time I turned my head.
swooped in now, as Alicia finished her course. The white wine
was removed and replaced with fresh glasses of a red dessert.
My date pondered a proffered tray heaped with after dinner delights.
you help me with a slice of French Mousse Cake, if I ordered it?"
she asked, indicating with her fork a dark wedge of chocolate,
dusted white with powdery confectionary sugar.
be happy to oblige," I responded chivalrously.
didn't really have room for it, but the chef had outdone himself,
and I stuffed myself to a point I was certain to regret later
in the evening. Given her deep sighs of pleasure, my date was
happy with her selection as well. We quickly made short work of
the slice then regarded each other slightly awkwardly, neither
wishing to be the first to suggest that we leave.
I said, with a theatrical rub of my tummy. "That was a great
for coming out," I said, immediately regretting how lame
too," replied Alicia. "I'm glad Trish suggested we get
was the wife of a friend of mine, the sort who could occasionally
become obsessed with pairing up every single person she knew.
Co-worker Alicia was only the latest in a growing list of attempts
to tie me off.
check arrived, and Alicia made the necessary nominal attempt to
pay, then allowed me to be generous. The price was high, but not
beyond what I expected, and certainly not beyond my means.
complete, we rose and made our way outside. I took her arm as
we walked towards the door, a move of which she approved, though
I suspect my slight inebriation made me more of a danger to her
balance than a support. The skin of her arm was cool and smooth,
and she smelled faintly of flowers I couldn't possibly identify.
car was parked close to the entrance.
had a great night!" she told me as we reached its door, metallic
silver reflecting the street lamp above. A finely manicured hand
reached into her purse, and I caught a glimpse of yellow as she
dry-swallowed another tablet with a grimace. A wake-up pill then,
to make her more alert for the drive home.
was a hint, possibly intentional, that she wasn't expecting a
move on my part. Otherwise, she would have gone with the red pill
to provide a more emotional experience. This didn't really surprise
me; I hadn't exactly been at my best. I gave her a hug that attempted
to convey I wasn't entirely disinterested. For her part, she didn't
you can make it home okay?" I asked her, not that she'd have
a gentleman," she teased me. She had a cute smile. "I'll
be fine. Drive safe yourself."
took this as a dismisal.
Trish I said hi when you talk to her tomorrow," I told her
with a wink. "And share all the gory details."
laughed and waved goodbye.
steered sloppily back to my house along roads full of drivers
drugged to pinpoint reflexes. No wonder my tipsiness didn't worry
me in the least. I could probably drive home with my eyes closed,
as long as I didn't hit any parked cars.
pulled into my driveway without incident. Half my neighbors' lights
were still onthey were likely similarly stimulated. Why
waste the precious hours of the weekend feeling tired? The other
half were no doubt downered into a perfectly restful sleep.
stripped down and got into my own bed, but found myself lying
of the time I was alright with it, but sometimes it got to me.
Every now and then it hit me real bad.
were even times when I considered ending it. One thing always
stopped me, though. I knew just what they'd say when they found
a pity! If only we could have put him on the right anti-depressant!"