“They licked a gas station toilet,” my buddy Nick says, waving his cell
phone like a town crier ringing a bell. “What should I say we did back?”
We scan the list and deliberate before settling on kissing the top of a
bald man’s head. Thankfully everyone had agreed to the honor system.
We’re friends. We trust each other. Nick types out our comeback and hits
send. The licked gas station toilet and kissed bald man make the score
five to three. Really the tally stands at five to zero. Nick and I
haven’t gotten off the couch, haven’t stopped watching Seinfeld reruns,
because not playing the game is funnier.
In a couple of hours, we’ll meet in the Shopko parking lot and crown a
winner. The losing team buys tonight’s beer. But since I’ve inherited a
few cases of Milwaukee’s Best from my uncle Joey, who skipped town with
his girlfriend, we can win by losing.
After the others had peeled out of my driveway, I filled Nick in on the
plan. He was gripping the list, drawing checkmarks next to the easier,
less disgusting tasks, ready to go. He gave me a come-on wave, but I
just gestured toward the refrigerator and asked him to fetch me a cold
one. Now whenever I glance at him sinking into the recliner, he flashes
me a this-is-going-to-be-good look, like we’re hosts of some hidden
camera prank show.
An episode ends only for, like days, another one to begin. Stretched out
on the couch, three beers deep, my buzzed eyelids get heavy. Then I’m
sitting in the backseat of the others’ sedan watching them gurgle Diet
Coke and wiping their tongues with filched fast-food napkins. They speed
toward their next target and park. But when they get out, laughing and
studying the list, I’m stuck to the vinyl, stuck alone, stuck existing
and nothing else.
Nick shakes me awake. We climb into his rusted truck and drive to the
meeting point. On the way, he tells me the final score, nine to six. We
lost. Or did we win? I don’t know. The others arrive a few minutes late.
They pull up next to Nick’s truck and roll down their windows. Nick does
the same. Grinning, they hand Nick a folded sheet of paper. He opens it.
Written in Sharpie is: We forfeit.
“Wait, did you guys do anything on the list?” Nick asks, turning to me
then back to the others.
“Nope. We just chilled at my apartment.”
“We didn’t do anything either,” Nick replies.
What did we do tonight?
I stare at the illuminated Shopko sign. The S flickers and goes dark.
With my chin resting on my hand, I wonder how many bald men there are to
kiss, how many toilets there are to lick inside hopko. Then the Os blink
dead, followed by the H, P, and K. Nothing but idling engines and an
empty, lonely parking lot remain.