The gods love me; I don't know why. There's something about me that just sort of rubs them the right way, I guess. Maybe it's that I can take a joke and joke right back at 'em. Even Poseidon likes me. It's really funny: I make fun of his beard all the time. Like, I'll look at it and I'll say, "I'll have the tuna, the salmon, and the eel sashimi." And he'll be like, "Get out of town," and I'll be like, "You get out of the town." Poseidon's pretty funny.
But the best is Athena. She used to be pretty cool toward me, a real tough cookie, you know, and she'd look at me through sort of suspicious eyes, but one day at one of their parties she pulled me into a closet and grabbed my crotch and got all up in my face with her gray eyes pretty much blazing, and she said, "I'm not waiting any longer," and we did it right there in the closet.
I only told one of my friends about it, the next day, and he thought it was a dangerous game. "You are entering a world of pain," he said to me. This was my man Robbie, who wasn't afraid to tell me if he thought I was playing a dangerous game or entering a world of pain. I didn't always agree with him, but I always liked to hear his thoughts.
"Naw, man," I told him. "You have no idea how sweet this was."
"A world of pain," Robbie said again. "You know what happens to people who fuck gods?"
"What happens?" I asked him.
"They get turned into shit," he said. "Or they get torn apart by crazy women."
"They get what?" I asked him.
"Torn apart, dude," said Robbie. He held up his hands like blunted claws. "They'll scrabble the flesh right off of you, while you're still alive."
"I'm sorry," I said. "Who did you say is going to do this?"
"All I'm saying," said Robbie, super patiently, "is that this is no like college girl or even someone you're picking up at a bar."
"This is Aphrodite."
"Athena. Aphrodite's too bubbly for me."
"OK," said Robbie. "Athena, then. All I'm saying," he said again, "is that I'd like to go to bat for you, man, like if you ever get in trouble? But I don't know if I can go to bat for you against, like..."
"Apollo," I suggested.
"Exactly," said Robbie. "You know I'd jump into a bar fight for you."
"Would you?" I said.
"Yeah, I would, and you would for me," he said.
"Huh," I said.
"But a bar fight with, like..."
"Zeus," I suggested.
"Exactly," said Robbie. "That's, like, thunderbolts and shit."
I knew that Robbie may have been right, but, like I said, the gods like me so much. Zeus showed me his thunderbolts one time. He even let me pick one of them up. ("This is a nice one," he said to me, "but I've got one at home that's twice as big." "No shit," I said to Zeus.) So I wasn't too worried about it. Maybe Robbie wouldn't go to bat for me, but who needs Robbie at bat when you've got Zeus; am I right?
The real problem turned out to be that I started to like her a whole lot, Athena. And one day when we were in the closet, because that's generally where we did it, standing up, I had been drinking a lot of that nectar they've got, and I said to her, like, you know, "Are you my girlfriend?" or, "Will you be my girlfriend?" or something like that, and then she went all cold again like some kind of statue.
"Why did you ask me that?" she said.
"What do you mean, why did I ask you that?" I said. "I like you, and we've been fucking for a while, you know, and I'd like you to be my girlfriend. So what's so wrong with that?"
And she said, "I can't be anybody's girlfriend. I'm a goddess."
"Well that's stupid," I said, and I'll admit that sometimes when I get drunk I can get a little hostile and maybe say things I shouldn't say or at least not the way I should say them. I mean, it was stupid: who cares if she's a goddess?
Anyway, Athena readjusted her toga and just left the closet without a word, and I could tell I'd really hurt her feelings. So I went after her, but I couldn't find her, and I asked Hermes if he'd seen her, and he said he'd seen her leaving.
But so why did I even want her to be my girlfriend? I asked myself this in a bar later that night as I was sort of just, I'll admit, sort of sulking a little. Why do you have to have girlfriends? Wasn't it OK that she just liked me? "But does she even really like me?" I said that out loud, looking at myself in the mirror over the bar behind two copies of a mess of liquor bottles. My hair was a little messed up in a way that looked really cool, but I had circles under my eyes and didn't look all that hot overall. I asked myself again: "Does she even really like me?" How could I possibly know? I didn't know what the hell she was thinking. We didn't talk all that much; we just screwed in the closet.
Now I started to feel really stupid for asking her to be my girlfriend when she maybe didn't even really like me that much and maybe just wanted some simple humping and not a lot of sappy talk about girlfriends and boyfriends.
I thought back to my last serious girlfriend, Hannah, who was a second-grade teacher. How had I screwed that one up? For a minute I couldn't even call up the story; it was like I was trying to remember the end of some dumb movie I saw like a hundred years ago. Hannah met some guy, single dad, and he kept taking her out for coffee and I got all jealous because one, who's this guy taking my girl out for coffee, and two, this guy happens to be this like super-rich banker when I'm, let's face it, the gods might like me, but I've never been much of a business success story. And I sort of messed up by leaning on Hannah about it, getting maybe a little drunkenly belligerent, and she left me for this guy, so then I was thinking, like, was she going to leave me for him anyway and just used this as an excuse, or would she have stayed? And if she would have left anyway, should I be mad at myself for speeding it on or just relieved that we got it over with and all the madder at her? Or should I not be mad at all, like Jesus? Turn the other cheek? But then of course I screwed everything up with Jesus, too. He had like only so many cheeks, and I'm just, let's face it, such a big fucking asshole, nobody likes me.
So then I sort of dragged myself home, and when I got there, Athena was lying on my bed naked. My dick perked up a little, but only like a tired old half-dead dog on like a big pile of shit. I couldn't even make myself pretend to smile.
"I'm sorry I walked out," said Athena.
"Oh yeah?" I said like I didn't even care.
"I don't blame you for getting angry," she said.
"Great, thanks," I said, and I wasn't being so nice about it.
"And I don't blame you for being unpleasant right now," she said.
Now I started getting optimistic in spite of myself. After all, she had never come to my apartment before, and it was nice that she even knew where it was.
"You just have to understand," she said, and everything fell through the floor again, "that I really can't be anybody's girlfriend."
"Oh," I said. "Right."
"You don't understand," she said.
"Can I just," I said, and I stopped. "Can we just fuck or something?"
Now her eyes narrowed again and blazed a little because she was angry, but I liked it because she looked a bit like she did when she first took me into the closet. "You don't even want it to be OK," she said. "You didn't even mean it when you asked me to be your girlfriend."
"Yes I did," I said.
"Oh, did you?" she said like she didn't think I did.
"Yeah," I said, getting a little heated up about it.
"Why?" she said.
"Because that's how I feel," I said.
"How do you feel," she said.
"I feel like," I said, but then I lost some steam. "I just like you a lot."
"Doesn't seem like it," she said, and I saw that she was sort of hurt, and all of a sudden I had this flash, like, oh man, I've been assuming that she's 100% on top of everything, but have I been reading this all wrong? All of a sudden she was the one who needed to get consoled. Everything got switched around.
I didn't know what to do, so I went and sat next to her and I said, "I do."
And, you wouldn't believe it, she looked me in the eyes and she said, "Do you really?" And I said, "Yeah I do." And she said, all sweet, "I really like you too."
For one great second I really believed it, you know?