Tom Mahony

I sat in a Japanese restaurant with Smitty and his new girlfriend, a tall blonde with a doctorate in biology. We talked and ate and drank. I was surprised by her beauty and intelligence. Smitty was neither a lady's man nor a mental giant, so the pairing confused me. When she left for the bathroom, I leaned toward him.

"Let me ask you something," I said.

Smitty fumbled with his chopsticks, trying to force a sushi roll into his mouth but the roll disintegrated and fell onto the table. "Go for it."

"And I mean no offense, old buddy. But are you paying her?"

"For what?"

"To be here."

He scoffed, struggling to tweeze sushi off the table with his chopsticks. "Of course not."

"It's just... how did you score such a woman?"

He stopped flailing, looked at me, and shrugged. "She's one of those hot girls with low self esteem, a gangly, nerdy kid who blossomed late. She has no idea she's out of my league and shouldn't even be talking to me."

"Ah," I nodded. "Everything makes sense now."

"But I'm in a bind."


"Until now I've played it cool and barely showed any interest in her. She's eating it up. I want an honest relationship, want to tell her how beautiful and smart and funny she is, but I'm worried she'll figure out she's too good for me. What should I do?"

"Do nothing, friend. You've landed in a warp in the space-time continuum. Just enjoy every moment."

Smitty rubbed his chin in contemplation, then scowled and shook his head. "You know what? Maybe I deserve her. Maybe she really does know the score and sees something in me that nobody else does. I've got a lot going for me."

"Like what?"

"Well... I just got a new car."

"But it's a minivan. What kind of single man drives a minivan?"

"It's got heated leather seats, jackass. But it's more than the car. I deserve her and I'm going to make sure she knows."

"That's a mistake," I said. "You can't change the laws of nature."

"It's not about the laws of nature, it's about love."

"She's a biologist. Don't give her a chance to ponder the genetic implications of mating with you. It will not end well. You've stumbled upon an anomaly in the evolutionary system. Don't blow it."

"You've never respected me. I'm not a high school loser anymore. I've matured and I'm ready to settle down with a good woman." He pointed a chopstick at me with some aggression. "And I deserve her, you just watch." He grabbed the mutilated roll off the table with his fingers, shoved it into his mouth, and glared at me, soy sauce dripping down his chin.

She returned from the bathroom. Smitty wiped his chin and took a belt of sake and gave her a smile so sincere it was heartbreaking. "You look even more beautiful now than you did five minutes ago," he said. "You're a stunning, ravishing, intelligent woman. You're everything I've always wanted, and more. We were meant for each other."

Her eyes widened and her mouth opened slightly to reveal rows of even white teeth. Then she appraised Smitty with scrunched-forehead intensity, as if seeing him for the first time. After a few moments she smiled. "Can you pass the sake?"

She dumped him three days later.

Tom Mahony is a biological consultant in California with an M.S. degree from Humboldt State University. His fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in dozens of online and print publications. His first novel, Imperfect Solitude, was published by Casperian Books in 2010. His second novel, Flooding Granite, is forthcoming in fall 2011. Visit him at tommahony.net.