I couldn’t concentrate on fixing the vacuum cleaner with Slippy and Georgetta yammering, so I gave it up, poured a cup of coffee, and hit the couch.
Slippy played with his octopus in his wibblish way, passing the little mollusk from tentacle to tentacle and dunking him in the tank every minute or so. Georgetta sat in the armchair—I considered it her chair at this point—her laptop open on the coffee table and several folders stacked next to it. She set down her fork after taking a bite of the red velvet cake I’d brought her, then washed it down with Diet Pepsi in a glass.
“Honey, if you don’t make public appearances once in a while, people are gonna think you’re creepy, and they won’t appreciate you for your charm and good looks the way I do.”
I swear, if anyone other than Georgetta had said that to him, there’d be a big sloppy pile of goo in their lap.
“I hate the attention,” said Slippy. “And I object to charging people for an exclusive dinner.”
“That’s a Washington thing,” said Georgetta.
“I don’t pay for my friends,” said the alien.
I scoffed. “It’s the only way to make friends on the hill.”
Georgetta threw a pencil at me. “You’re not helping. Some of them are real folks.”
“I don’t want a rally, either,” said Slippy.
“You can reach a lot of people that way,” said Georgetta. “Think how many people you’d be able to affect in an entire arena.”
I stuck the pencil in the corner of her cake. “I’d love to hear that speech.”
“I don’t make speeches,” Slippy flicked a tentacle. “Not the way you humans do anyway.”
I laughed. “You’ve got some first-rate rants, though.”
“Sugar, how do you expect to relate to people if you won’t talk to them?”
Slippy’s four upper tentacles stood straight upright and randomly extended and contracted, which I understood to mean he was feeling like a wiseass.
“Here’s my speech.” Two of his lower tentacles went low, while the other two went high, stretching his prune-like middle into a slant. It was an affectation from him I’d never seen before. “You humans are a special race. I have no idea why.”
I nearly spit up my coffee. “That is so you.”
Georgetta carved off a bite of cake with her fork. “That’s nice, guys, but it’s not helping.” She thumbed the cake off her fork into my coffee.
“What if you just have a public outing?” I said. “A day at the zoo with Slippy or an alien picnic.”
“I like the zoo.”
I’d taken Slippy to several of them around the country.
“The zoo is a mob as it is,” said Georgetta. “If we announce that you’re going to be there, it will be a madhouse.”
“A picnic, then?” The cake disintegrated, but I took her fork and pulled the icing out of my coffee. I contemplated doing something with it, but anything I could think of would take it to an irreversible escalation, so I set it on her plate.
I could have sworn Slippy’s translator sighed. “I don’t like to eat in public.”
“You go to Denny’s all the time,” I said.
“It’s pretty discreet there,” he said. “I tend to put on my ‘scary alien’ look, and they have a partitioned table for me now.”
“They did all that?” asked Georgetta.
“I’m a good tipper.”
“A picnic is more than just eating, though.” I absently took a sip of my coffee, then spit it out.
“He’s right,” said Georgetta. “We can have games and activities.”
I wiped my mouth on my sleeve. “Volleyball, face painting, kite flying—hey we could have a contest on who makes the best wibble kite.”
Georgetta started typing. “To keep the crowds down we could announce several picnics in different areas.”
This sounded like a good time. It certainly beat fixing vacuum cleaners.
“You can make a picnic almost anything you want,” I said.
“What do you think, baby?” Georgetta took a swig of Pepsi.
The alien wobbled a couple lower tentacles and flicked an upper one, which I interpreted to show slight discomfort but acceptance. “Okay.”
“Awesome,” I said.
Georgetta raised her hand for a high-five, and I accommodated her.
“It’ll be good, Slippy.” She tapped on her laptop. “We’ll make it fun.”
I grabbed the fork with the icing and stuck it in her Pepsi. Sometimes I can’t help myself.