Joe hated the name Peggy because it was his mother’s name. One of his more specific social malfunctions was the inability to hide his disgust when he was introduced to a Peggy. In the throes of drug-induced paranoia, Joe sometimes accused Skirl of seeking out Peggys, just to torment him. Skirl, to his credit, never denied it.
It was inevitable that Skirl would fall in love with a Peggy. The twitch in Joe’s right eye picked up its tempo whenever he spent time with the happy couple and he decided, in the best interests of all concerned, to break them up.
Skirl’s most glaring flaw, and the one Peggy had latched onto as her pet project, was his irredeemable drunkenness. Joe broached the subject delicately as any concerned friend might.
“I know what you mean,” Skirl assured Joe, who had placed himself strategically between Skirl and his bottle. “I understand why a person wouldn’t want to be a drunk. It’s nice to wake up without a hangover. Now and then. But I wouldn’t want to make a habit of it.”
“I guess I just don’t get the whole sobriety thing. The advantages seem so minor compared to the fact that you’re fucking sober all the time.”
“That can be a hard thing for some people.”
“No. Not me.” Joe retreated into his mind to search for a metaphor. “You know how women like chocolate more than men?”
“Like it’s a drug.”
“It is a drug.”
“They get high just smelling it. Maybe cocoa and estrogen have some kind of chemical reaction.”
“I thought it had to do with the proximity of the hippocampus and the medulla..”
“Whatever. The point I’m trying to make is that you’re the same way with the booze. You get something out of it that I don’t, like women get from chocolate. I like them both. But if I have too much of either I throw up. So I try not to have too much.”
Skirl opened his mouth to continue the conversation and found it as dry as a crust of bread. He was seriously in need of lubrication. “OK,” he said. “Fair enough. Now be a good guy and pass me the bottle, woodja?”