"You should take her to a decent restaurant and out to a movie. Trust me. You don't want to take her somewhere new like that with all those jackals. You want a second date don't you?"
"Well, yeah, of course."
"Then listen to me closely. You don't take a woman that looks like that anywhere on a first date where she can compare you to guys she could've been out with instead of you."
"But she's all excited about going."
William pursed his lips and said, "And why do you think that?" He left Geoff puzzling at his cubicle and walked over to his own.
"What did you do to him?"
William looked up. Paige was the resident feely-feely pop psychologist. Having seven grandchildren gave her all the answers.
"He was about to make a mistake. I gave him something to think about."
"Oh?" She expected more.
"Yeah, I told him that curiosity killed the cat." He didn't want to get trapped into another philosophical discussion with Paige until his caffeine had kicked in fully so he left his briefcase and headed for the floor.
But Paige always got the last word in. It was her duty. "Hey Billy," she called out as he reached the door, "boredom made the cat commit suicide."
He hated being called Billy. His name was William. Even Bill was fine, but not Billy. He wasn't twelve years old any more. And to top it off, Paige always had some smart-ass comeback no matter what. What did she know? She was only a computer operator, he was a level three programmer, at least four pay grades above her. Where did she get off dispensing advice all the damned time? Just because she had seven grandkids. Big deal.
William took a stroll down the long line of cubicles. He smiled at the underlings answering the phones and dispensing with customer requests. Everything seemed to be running smoothly.
"Jerry." William nodding.
"Can you help me out a second?"
"Sure." It was probably an unplugged power cord or monitor turned off.
Jerry pointed to the computer screen. "I can't get this thing to work for some reason."
Duh. That's why you called for me. "Well, tell me what it's not doing right."
"That's just it. It's not doing anything right. I came in just like I do every day and turned it on just like I always do. Then it just comes up and freezes. See?" He recreated his morning ritual and William watched him.
The computer booted, showed the bios, tested the memory, found the hard drives, loaded the operating system and froze. Just like Jerry said. Definitely not a power cord or monitor problem. Why couldn't today be easy? It was a Friday for God's sake.
William humphed and traded places with Jerry. He pulled himself up to the desk and pushed restart on the computer. Bios, memory, hard drives, operating system, freeze. Damn, not today.
"I don't know what to do," William admitted. And he realized he truly didn't. He had no clue what he wanted to do.
* * *
Lunch couldn't have come any faster. William opened the menu and glanced over it. It was new since the last time they'd been in here, no grease stains on it yet.
"I don't know why you even look, Bill, you always get the same thing. Grilled chicken with fries and ranch dressing on the side." Phil was smiling as he slid his silverware over, putting it on his right, the napkin on his left. "I think I'll go for the Philly Cheesesteak today, extra peppers. And onion rings. Yeah, that sounds good."
"I like the grilled chicken here."
"Yeah, but you always get it. Why don't you try something else?"
"Get the half-pound cheeseburger, that's what I'm getting." Geoff folded up his menu.
"I don't feel like having a cheeseburger. I feel like a grilled chicken. What's wrong with the chicken? You got something against chicken? You workin' for those damned Chic-Fil-A cows?"
"Whoa, Bill, it'll be alright. You can have the chicken," Geoff said.
"It's the other way," Phil piped up, "you got it wrong."
"Those cows want you to eat the chicken. That's the whole gimmick, get it? They want you to eat more chicken instead of beef because they're cows."
William glared at Phil.
"What? Sorry, it's just a freaking sandwich." Phil threw his hands up. "Look, get the chicken, I won't say another word. Okay?"
"What's the matter with you today anyway, man?" Geoff asked.
William scowled and closed his menu. The waitress scurried over, pen and pad in hand.
"Ya'll ready yet?" she said with a perky smile.
"Sure. I'll have the half pounder with fries."
"Cheesesteak and onion rings, extra peppers."
She looked at William and said, "Let me guess. Grilled chicken, fries, ranch on the side?"
"Uh … yeah. That'll be fine."
She smiled. "Great. It'll be just a little while fellas."
Geoff watched her walk away and said, "Mmmm, will you look at that? Now she's phat."
"Yeah, phat. Superfine, thick. Built like a brick shithouse?"
"Dammit Geoff, why can't you just talk like a regular guy?" William spat out. "Why can't you just say look at that ass or she's hot?"
"I never liked that phrase," Phil said.
"No, built like a brick shithouse. I mean, I understand it, it means she's built real nice, stacked, you know. Cause you don't want one of them things coming down in a storm. But why even associate the concept of the shithouse with a woman? I don't get it, that's the last thing I want to think about when I see a hot woman."
"Well don't say it," William said.
"I didn't, Geoff did. I'm just saying that I don't get it. Why not built like a chocolate sundae or a banana split? Talk about your sexual symbols, two rounded scoops of vanilla ice cream, a long banana right up the center. Better visual than a freaking shithouse."
"The banana's split, in two," offered Geoff. "And the ice cream is down the middle and usually three scoops."
"The banana's split, that's the most important part. That's where they get the name from. Banana split. Get it?"
"Whatever. You get what I'm saying, I'm talking about symbolism here. When you see a hot woman, would you rather visualize a shithouse or a banana split?"
"But wouldn't the banana split symbolize my dick cut in half? I don't wanna think about that. I mean that's my dick we're talking about-"