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The only two things Timothy Meeker had going for him were a good job and a brilliant mind. Other than those, he was a pretty pitiful specimen. Timothy had unfortunately inherited both alleles of the shyness gene. Coupled with that was an appearance that left little to cheer about. His hair was a mousy brown; his nose was so upturned that from a front view it almost presented the appearance of a pig's snout. His chin was badly undershot, leaving him bucktoothed. His beard grew in scraggly patches but was unaccountably very dark and thick where it did grow. By noon, his face always looked as if he had forgotten to wash it that morning. His ears stuck out from the side of his head like crumpled oak leaves bereft of chlorophyll to give them color. And this was just his head.
Timothy's odd countenance was set atop a scrawny neck, and sported a prominent Adam's apple that looked like an unattended tumor. His shoulders were narrow, his chest sunken and he had a round little potbelly that no amount of exercise seemed to help reduce. Besides all that, he was shorter than average and splay footed. He walked like a duck, and this made the wildly incongruous colors of his shirt, trousers and jacket appear even more ludicrous.
Some unfortunate men like Timothy quickly give up competing for women and devote their time to other pursuits, such as pornography, stamp collecting and science, to name a few. Being brilliant, Timothy chose science. However, being persistent and possessed of a very high libido, Timothy spent what time he could spare away from the genetics laboratory where he worked making the rounds of the singles bars in the affluentpart of Dallas, north of the central city. He wanted to find a companion, a pretty female companion, who would overlook his obvious shortcomings. His quest for a pretty girl friend always failed, but he kept trying. Sometimes (usually right before the bar closed) he did find a companion for the night, though in the sober light of the next morning he always wished he hadn't.
On this Friday night, Timothy didn't score until the very last moment, which was usually the case when he scored at all. The last call had been called and the few unattached men and women were settling for what was left if they intended to get laid. By this time, the woman who had moved onto the barstool near him looked very attractive indeed, the result of Timothy having imbibed a substantial load of ethanol. He had to drink substantially in order to overcome that awful, painful shyness which had plagued him all his life like a worthless, messy relative who wouldn't move out and couldn't be controlled. Even so, it was the woman who began the conversation.
"Where d' y' work?" She asked, surreptitiously checking her watch as she brushed back a tangled mass of horrid red hair that had a half inch of black roots showing. She grinned lasciviously, displaying cavities in her teeth and cracked makeup that was disguising her true age, somewhere well north of fifty.
"Uh, I'm a schientist, uh scientist at Bors…I mean Border Labs," Timothy slurred, peering myopically at the woman. He tried a grin and spittle leaked from the corner of his mouth. To his alcohol sluiced brain, the woman he was talking to appeared attractive, with nice red hair, a pretty smile and pert little nose. His befuddled mind traveled no further than her face. In his condition, he almost certainly wouldn't have noticed her dumpy body anyway. It bulged from her clothes in unsightly mounds, in unsightly places. Where mounds should have been was an almost flat plateau.
"You maksh rockets? Vroom!". The woman made a flying gesture with her hand. Unfortunately, it was the hand holding her drink. It sloshed over the brim, wetting them both.
Timothy didn't even notice. He was enthralled with the beautiful woman sitting next to him and taking such an avid interest in him. "No, I'm a genetishist," he corrected. "Whash y're name?"
"Alicsh. Whatsh yers?"
"Tim. You wanta drink?"
"I think they're closhed."
Timothy's conversational gambits were exhausted for the moment, but Alice didn't suffer from shyness. "I gots shomethin' t' drink at my plascsh."
"You do?" Even with a load on, Timothy was too shy to follow up on the obvious gambit. The woman was simply too beautiful. No woman that good looking would ask him home.
"Yesh. Wanna go?"
Timothy nodded gratefully, unable to speak. He wobbled to his feet and followed Alice outside. Neither of them should have been driving, of course, but they did. Fortunately, Alice lived only a few blocks away and they both managed to navigate that far with only minor damage to curbs, lampposts and fenders.
• • •
Timothy opened his bloodshot eyes and sat up in bed. The room spun dizzily for a moment then settled down. He vaguely remembered leaving the last watering hole with an attractive woman. They had gone to her place and…he looked down at the woman in bed with him and his eyes widened in horror. Peeling makeup clearly showed that she was easily old enough to be his grandmother. Alice was sleeping with her mouth open, revealing rotten teeth and a tongue coated with a fuzz that made him sick just looking at it. The rest of her made him sick too when he glanced hastily away from her face. How could he not have noticed last night? He must have been drunk out of his mind!
Very quietly, and praying very sincerely that he didn't wake up the apparition beside him; Timothy eased out of the bed and stood up. He found his trousers and a chair. He sat down and pulled them on, then gathered the rest of his clothing and retreated from the bedroom, out the front door and, he earnestly hoped, out of Alice's life forever.
• • •
For the rest of the weekend, Timothy mulled over the Friday night escapade. Being very honest with himself, he felt sure that had Alice awakened first, she would have had much the same reaction to him as he had to her. His shyness could be somewhat overcome with enough drink but there was simply no help for his appearance. He was doomed to either celibacy or a long line of future Alices. As he was brooding, he began to think what the world would be like if appearances didn't count. Wouldn't it be wonderful, he thought, if he had at least an equal chance at the attractive women and didn't have to get drunk and fool himself into thinking he had found one, then wake up with Alice or her equivalent? And vice versa, he admitted to himself as he remembered one painful episode of a woman gazing at him in unabated horror when she woke up beside him, notwithstanding her own less than enviable appearance.
Timothy wasn't vain enough to think he was such a super geneticist that he could devise a method to change appearances such as his, but he was certainly no dummy. Far from it. He began contemplating another way to go about it, to get essentially the same results. Suppose there was a way so that even when sober, every single woman looked as attractive as Alice had last night-and every woman thought every man was equally good looking? Wouldn't that be great? Wouldn't that even out the odds! He thought and thought and by Monday morning, he was ready to try putting his thoughts into action.
Copyright © 2006 Darrell Bain