So, this is life. Why do you humans bother?

Joe of Pluto, or that’s what he called himself, was actually being a bit of a smartass. He was sipping on a margarita made with bottom-shelf house tequila and eating generic pretzels through a small hole near his chin. When I called the hole his “mouth” he giggled and punched me in the stomach.

“Good one,” he said.

I had just given him his second massage of the day (he said he needed at least three a day to survive on earth, plus a foot rub every week) and had ordered him a Mai Tai to wash down the margarita. Ten billion damned aliens on the outer reaches of our telescope length and I get stuck with one that likes mixed drinks.

“You know, you’re not from Pluto,” I said, shoving the last three pretzels in my mouth at once.

“And neither are you, bucko,” he said. “Garcon, por favor,” he said, making the drinky-drinky motion with his hand.

“And what do you mean why do we bother?” I was annoyed. Three back rubs a day, one foot rub a week, six hundred dollars in bar tabs, and pretzel salt in my bed sheets (don’t ask) and Joe of Pluto had done nothing but insult the human race since he showed up at my door.

“Well, look at it this way, bucko. You’re born. You work. You give yourself heart disease by worrying about your carb intake and bank account. Then you die poor and full of Wonderbread. And you wonder why I wonder why you bother. Garcon!”

Joe showed up at my door with the Chinese delivery guy (as a point of information, the guy delivering the food was from China, but the food was actually Mexican from a joint down the road called Encha-Lotta-Love). The Chinese guy spoke perfect English, so I understood him when he said, “Here’s your burrito and chips. I brought along this alien because he was drinking all our tequila. Hope you have some because he gets cranky when he doesn’t get his afternoon Tequila Sunrise. And don’t worry about the tip.”

Joe explained later that when he met the Chinese guy, he had actually worked for an Italian restaurant. After Joe hung around the ziti too long, the Chinese guy got fired and went to work for the Mexican joint. When I asked why he didn’t go to work at a Chinese restaurant, Joe said, “Why would he?”

“You know we do more than work, worry, and die.” The foot rub was scheduled for later in the night and I wanted to have this tiff over with before I got started.

“Oh, I know. There’s the illness, the lying, the cheating, the stealing, and the oppression. The oppression.”

At the end, Joe sounded a little like Marlon Brando in that spooky scene from Apocolypse Now.

“There’s happiness. You already forget about the skee ball and frozen yogurt from this afternoon?”

“Yeah, but you were preoccupied through all of that. I think you were thinking about ways to kill yourself.”

“I was not,” I said a little too loudly.

Actually I had been, but not seriously. I always thought suicide was a bit of a cowardly and selfish avenue to demise. But during the skee ball and yogurt trip, Joe had been going on and on about cancer and strokes and aneurysms and heart attacks. And yogurt.

Once, after hitting a bullseye with the little wooden ball, Joe spilled his yogurt on an old lady. He giggled, punched me in the stomach, and said, “Good one, eh? She’d been waiting for that all day.”

“Skee ball and yogurt did give me happiness,” Joe said throught the bottom of his margarita glass, “but all your moaning about respecting the elderly and assault and battery really brought me down, bucko. You really should come to Pluto.”

“You’re not from Pluto, Joe”

“Neither are you.”

I settled into my barstool, motioned for a two Tequila Sunrises, and conceded that, indeed, I wasn’t from Pluto.

“Is it time for my foot rub yet?”

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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