A Quarter to Stupid

The EmbalmedMax Holden sat in the Dutch Horse Pub. He sipped on his whiskey, and he scribbled in a leather-bound sketchbook. There were two girls sitting next to him, a blond and a brunette. They were not altogether attractive, but not altogether unattractive. They were what Max liked to call “Sobriety Tests.” If these girls started to look good enough to take home, it was time he relinquished his car keys. The blond was telling a story to the brunette about, from what Max could gather, a mutual friend named Stacey.

“Stacey’s good,” the blond told the brunette. “She moved off the island. Living in the city. Her and Brad are finally officially done. She’s trying to get past the pain of it all, and she’s dipping her toe into the dating scene again.”

“How is that going for her?” the brunette said to the blond.

“Well…” the blond said, letting the syllable hang in the air a moment.

“Uh-oh. What happened?” the brunette said.

Max glanced at the different faces seated around the bar. At the end of the bar was Fred. Fred was a fixture in the bar since the 1960s. Max had tattooed Fred with countless nicknames over the years, but now, Max just thought of him as “The Embalmed.”

The blond continued her story about Stacey’s love life. “Well, she met this incredible guy. She was out with work friends one night, and someone had a friend, who had a friend that knew some guy at the bar.”

“So, in other words, she met a complete stranger?”

“Exactly. But she really hits it off with this stranger. He’s handsome, funny, nice, has a great job… You know, one of those one in a million type guys that you immediately can envision future Christmas card pictures with. So, even though it is completely out of character for her, she goes home with this guy.”

“Good for her. She needed something after that whole Brad thing.”

“Yeah. She needed to get laid. Which this guy did for her. And it was like fantastic. Like toe-curling, bug-eyed orgasm good.”

“This sounds great, so what’s the problem?”

Max shifted his attention to the woman standing beside Fred. Charlene, the waitress, was waiting for a drink order. Charlene had waitressed at the bar since it was known as The Captain’s Quarters. In fact, the only person with more tenure than Charlene in the bar was Fred. Charlene was well into her sixties now, her face showing the creased wear of a woman who has lived the life among alcohol, but her body was still the smooth flawlessness of a woman in her twenties. Max had long ago dubbed her: “The Geriatric Butterface.”

“Well, the next morning,” the blond said, “the guy needs to head to work. He makes her breakfast in bed, and, with her nursing a hangover, he tells her to relax and sleep in.”

“That’s a problem?”

“No. He kisses her tenderly, tells her to hang out as long she wants, telling her to just make sure she locks the door behind her when she leaves.”

“Oh my god, she left the door unlocked and he gets robbed.”

“No. She relaxes for a couple of hours. Has a cup of coffee and reads the newspaper. But the combination of coffee and breakfast and hangover has now hit her stomach. So she runs to the bathroom and has what she called a Lamaze-inducing movement.”



Max glanced around the bar. He spotted the “Summer’s Eve Gang,”—a group of male twenty-somethings standing around the pool table, all of them just starting to reach the tipping-point of sobriety. They would soon be ornery, and challenge the male patrons to bar fights. And then there was “The Cougar Den,”—the pack of forty-something divorcees sitting in the bar’s corner—who were beginning to eye the young pool-shooting douches, which would only add to the surge of testosterone already in the building. Max looked at the clock. 10:45. He wrote, “It’s a quarter to stupid,” in his notebook, and he reached for the money in his pocket.

The brunette said to the blond, “So what? She took a huge crap. The guy wasn’t there. What’s the problem?”

“The toilet wouldn’t flush.”


“Exactly,” the blond said. “Now she’s panicked, running around the apartment looking for a non-existent plunger, Drano, a fucking shovel, she didn’t know what, just something to make that huge crap go down. There was nothing. So she finds a plastic supermarket bag and she cleans up as if she is a dog owner in a park.”


“Yes. And now she has no idea what to possibly do with this package. She can’t leave it in the trash, so she’s going to have to carry this shit-filled bag in the elevator, or, down five flights of stairs.”


Max recognized the coming punch line to the urban legend the girl was recounting, amazed that the girl had the balls to use an actual friend as the stories subject. He glanced to his right. The blonde’s cleavage heaved in her low-cut shirt, her plump, firm breasts causing a stir below Max’s waist. It was definitively time to go.

The blond said, “But she can’t head down the stairs at the moment, because she is currently, pretty much naked. She places the bag on the kitchen counter and goes and gets dressed. She makes the bed, tidies up the bedroom, and sits down to write him a note. She really likes this guy. I mean, aside from having a toilet with a minor plumbing issue, he’s perfect. She definitely wants to go out with him again. So she leaves her note on the table and lets herself out, making sure the door is locked behind her.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“As the door shuts, and she hears the click of the lock catching, she remembers the bag of shit on his kitchen counter.”


“Yes. And, of course, she has absolutely no way to let herself back into the apartment. His finding a giant bag of shit in his kitchen was as inevitable as time’s passing. Needless to say, he never called her.”

Max threw a twenty on the bar and took the final swig of whiskey in his glass.

“That is unbelievable. Poor thing.”


“So what did the note say?”

Max placed his empty glass on the bar and he turned toward the girls about to say, You know that story is bullshit, but instead, he said, “Thanks for fucking the shit out of me.” And he walked out of the bar.

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