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Anonymous Doug

December 23, 2005

I’m sitting in my new favorite fish-themed bar, The Bass-To-Bass, with my drinking buddy Bernie the half-cyborg cat when all of a sudden the doors open and this average-looking guy walks in. And everyone in the bar cheerfully yells “Hey!” and the guy waves to everyone. Then he walks around to greet the bar patrons and accepts a cigarette from each of them. I wave down the bartender, Captain Pat.

“Hey Captain Pat,” I say. “Who is that guy?”

“That’s Anonymous Doug,” says Captain Pat. “Everyone knows Anonymous Doug.”

“Wait…” says Bernie, looking up from his saucer of gin. “Everyone knows Anonymous Doug?”

“Yeah, he’s a cool guy,” says Captain Pat, taking my empty glass. “You want another wood varnish.”

“Of course,” I reply. “The night is young. But why does everyone give him a cigarette when he comes in?”

“So they don’t have to give him one later,” says Captain Pat, prying off the lid of the can of fresh varnish and pouring some into a pitcher. It’s very hard to pour varnish from the can right into a glass.

“Oh wait!” I exclaim. “I just got it. How does everyone know Anonymous Doug? I get it.”

“I don’t,” says Captain Pat. They don’t teach ironic word play in the Bartender Navy.

Just then, Anonymous Doug comes over to the bar and sits down next to Bernie. “Hey Pat, give me the usual.”

“Sure thing,” says Pat. He pours me a fresh glass of varnish then grabs a pint glass, breaks it on the floor, sweeps it up in a dustpan, dumps it into a shaker, adds orange juice and some staples, shakes it up, then serves it in a martini glass with a piece of string as garnish.

“So why do they call you Anonymous Doug?” asks Bernie.

“Because no one knows who I am when I’m not in the room,” says Anonymous Doug, unfazed that he’s talking to a half-cyborg cat with a saucer full of gin.

“Really?” I say. “How does that work?”

“Does that cat have a built-in cell phone?” Anonymous Doug asks.

“Of course,” says Bernie.

Anonymous Doug tells Bernie to go outside. Bernie hops down off his stool and takes the pet door outside. Then Anonymous Doug tells Captain Pat to give me the bar phone. I call up Bernie.

“Hey, what’s up?” says Bernie, activating his cell phone codec installed in his ear.

“Nothing much,” I say. “Just hanging inside with Anonymous Doug.”

“Who?” says Bernie.

“You just met him a minute ago,” I say.

“I don’t remember that,” says Bernie. “And what am I doing outside?”

Bernie hangs up and comes back inside. He jumps back on the barstool. “Hey it’s Anonymous Doug!”

“Okay…” I says. “But what about if I write myself a note?”

Anonymous Doug takes out a pen and writes his name on it. He hands it to me and tells me to go outside. I go outside and notice that I have a cocktail napkin in my hand.

“Anonymous Doug? Who the hell is Anonymous Doug?” I say aloud. “And what am I doing out here? My drink’s inside.”

I go back into the bar. “Hey, it’s Anonymous Doug! I think I have your napkin, man.”

Bernie orders another saucer of gin. He says it’s going to be a long weird night. I think I’ll be driving Bernie home tonight.

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