***With thanks to Ursula Vernon for a most magic moment: see under the cut***
Once upon a time (or indeed once upon another time, if that suits you better: there’s always more time lying around), in the lounge bar of a pub in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland, a redheaded woman is kissing a pig.
Not just any woman, granted. And definitely not just any Pig.
In any case, none of this is as difficult as it might sound on first hearing, as the Pig is both graceful and light on his feet, and good at displacing his own mass in such a way as not to wreck the barstool on which he’s perched. Nor (from the redhead’s side of things) is this particularly an unpleasant experience, as the Pig’s facial bristles are on the soft side, and due to being fairly silvery to start with, almost invisible anyway — as if he’s wearing a very subtle and discreet version of designer stubble, with a slight glitter about it.
“Chao, bello.” It is of course a pun, a terrible one. “Mwah. Mwah.”
The redhead gets a third “Mwah” from the pig, then straightens up and looks at him quizzically. “Three? What, are we in Switzerland all of a sudden? Or no, of course you are. By definition.”
“And why not? Besides, a three for one deal, I’d think you’d be in favor. Value for money. Very Swiss. Anyway, I hear you’re planning to be crying on the bar up there shortly…” He grins.
“Oh, don’t you start tormenting me now! I can get that at home.” She rolls her eyes. “Yet another way for the BBC to break my heart, who needed that…? Come on, get yourself settled.”
No one in the bar shows the slightest sign of having noticed a redhead kissing the Pig hello a la Suisse, or the two of them settling in their respective seats. This is partly because all this is happening in the woman’s head, but also partly because this is one of her locals. And even if they could see what was going on, the neighbors (who’re by now well used to seeing this particular redhead with a red wine and a mineral water and a netbook and an iPad and a notebook on the bar in front of her, working on them all at once) would never be caught actually remarking on whatever she’s up to this time. At least not until she’s left.
“What’s your pleasure? They’ve got Ballygowan if you’re on the clock.”
“You kidding? I’ve been on the clock since the local Big Bang, and no one cares when I punch out. Or is qualified to judge what I’m doing, whether I have or not. If you’re buying I’ll have a Remy, thankyouverymuch.”
The dark-haired assistant manager, Louise, comes around and takes their orders without batting an eye. (And why would this be a surprise when you think how many jokes start with “A(n) [x] walks into a bar…”? They get all kinds around here; any place that routinely deals with Wicklow bachelor farmers has no problems with the occasional Yank-Irish woman or silvery-pink Pig.) Shortly the redhead has a fresh glass of a Spanish-bred Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Pig has an oversized snifter of XO, and they are clinking glasses.
“Mud in your eye.”
“Like there’s any on you. Ne’gakh emeirsith.”
They sip and settle back into the calm atmosphere. Halloween isn’t for another two weeks and change, but the decorations are up already: people here like Halloween, and in any case there’s not the inevitable groaning that comes with the appurtenances of Christmas (especially the TV ads) starting too fecking soon. The place is calmly busy, half-full with a subset of the place’s normal afternoon clientele — in the recently-redone front bar, guys who have bets on races or the football are escaping home life till teatime; here in the lounge to the rear, ladies and gents are cozied away in the U-shaped banquette booths, having tea or drinks and taking a break from the shopping with the kids in tow. Some of the smallest of the tinies are thundering up and down past the far wall in the enclosed play area.
The most important thing the pub has, besides a comfortable atmosphere and genial staff who know the redhead and her husband of old, and a good restaurant and lunch buffet, is working wi-fi—which the redhead has been exploiting for some time now to turn this general area into one of several Away Offices. Now, though, she shuts down the laptop and the Pad and silences the phone and takes a few other precautions against being interrupted. “Thought we’d have been having this conversation a bit earlier,” the Pig remarks, gazing around.
“Nope, we’re right on time.” She finishes putting the last of the various devices to sleep. “You know the guidelines. If you’re going to self-insert, don’t be shy about it, don’t let yourself off easy, and pay attention to the symmetry. Right at the beginning, right at the end, or smack dab in the middle.”
“Or all three.”
“Can’t have a resonance with just one thing, can you? You need two, minimum. But three’s a chord.”
“So tell me something I don’t know.”
She chuckles. “Bit of a stretch, that…”
“Well, I may be omnipresent, but that doesn’t necessarily make me omniscient.”
On the face of it, this is true, but the redhead suspects that the Transcendent Pig—due to his unique uncreated status—has certain positional advantages he doesn’t routinely reveal or discuss. Fine: so does she. “Let’s not play semantics games just now,” she said. “Got other business.”
“I assumed so. What’s on your mind?”
“Well… You know what I’ve been up to.”
“It’s more or less unavoidable. You mean the OTP thing.”
“Well… The spooning.”( Read more... )