I download to find the little dude’s sitting cross-legged on his bed bare-mattress-style.
“Oh, uh, hey,” he says when he sees me, looking like I’ve just interrupted some kind of Zen meditation session.
“Hey. What’re you doing up?”
“I couldn’t sleep. You?”
“Munchies.” I hold up the chocolate peanut butter rice crispy treat I’m currently working through. “What happened to your bed?”
“Oh, uh…stupid Ernie left a, um…pie under the pillow. I had to throw everything in the wash.”
A perfectly viable explanation.
I sit myself on the floor, take a hearty bite of chocolate-peanut butter.
“That’s a lot of sugar for the middle of the night,” Theo points out.
“Doesn’t matter when you’re virtual,” I say. “Besides, I can’t stand being an uneater.”
“Mm-hm. Want a piece?”
Theo shakes his head.
“Anyway, yeah, an uneater. As in someone who uneats all the food they bring home. When I was still actual, I used to have a huge problem with uneating. I wasn’t bulimic or on a diet or anything. I ate all the time. It’s just that a lot of the food I bought ended up uneaten and, eventually, thrown away.
“Personally, I blame Igor’s Baked Goods—the one off of 170th and Yerba—for my uneating. That’s where I used to get my crispy treats. I didn’t mean to leave them in my fridge until they went badder than bad. Really, I didn’t. But when it comes to uneating, there’s a natural sort of progression at work that initiates a chain of events as inevitable as they are irreversible. Igor’s started off with a great recipe: artisan peanut butter, dark chocolate, lightly-sweetened rice crispy treat. It was a perfect marriage. Expensive, but delicious as fiack. Then, for twice the price, they switched to Reese’s-grade peanut butter, war-time milk chocolate, and a rice crispy treat layer with enough marshmallow to make Stay Puft himself weep. Think about it—you go from a nice little treat you can easily scarf with your lunch to this slab of high-fructose corn syrup and filler that you can only eat half of before getting sick to your stomach. So, you stick the remaining half in the fridge and tell yourself that you’ll finish it tomorrow, once you recover from today’s half. Only you haven’t fully recovered by tomorrow. So, you put it off for day three. Only on day three, the crispy treat’s paper wrapper has begun to stick to the chocolate and peanut butter, the oils and sugars have begun to congeal, thereby making it even less enticing than it was the day before. But you know you don’t want to waste it—tomorrow, you promise. Tomorrow you’ll finish it once and for all. Day four comes, and you’re still not in the mood for sweets, but screw it, you’ll eat the chocolate peanut butter rice crispy treat—you paid ten bucks for the fucking thing. But now it tastes and smells like fridge, and so you end up throwing it away—
“—only to find yourself driving home from Igor’s later that very afternoon.
“With another fucking chocolate peanut butter rice crispy treat in your hand.”
Theo frowns. “Can I get you a glass of milk or a therapist or anything?”
“Har-har, little dude.”