"Well, you look more chipper," Monica said, turning off the vacuum. "You get Joey cheered up?"

"A little... I think," Chandler replied. "At any rate, he agreed to let me set him up... so that's a step, right?"

Monica clapped her hands together. "Ooooooh! Fun! I *love* setting people up!"

"Um... honey," Chandler said uneasily, "None of my pronouns were plural..."

"No-no-no!" Monica cried. "I know the *best* girl! She's *so* perfect!"

"Sweetie, um... don't take this the wrong way, okay? I told Joey *I* would set him up, with a girl *I* picked out."

"Oh, *please*, Chandler," Monica laughed, winding the vacuum cord. "You have the world's *worst* taste in women."

"Says my *wife*...!"

"I'm a rare high point! Anyway, it's not like you picked me *out*, honey... you were just powerless to resist my charms."

"And your humility. Wouldn't want to forget the humility...!"

"Sure, that too. But seriously... Janice? Aurora? Ginger? Susie? For god's sake, Johanna? Your dating record is like a sideshow carnival... if the freaks in the tent stapled your hand to your desk, handcuffed you to a chair, chased you to Yemen and left you naked in a bathroom."

"As fun as this trip down Painful Memory Lane *is*... I still want to *try*, okay? Look at it this way... my girl will be so horrible that you can swoop in with your girl later and she'll look ten times better."

"My girl doesn't need the help."

"Okay, okay! You win! Your girl is way better than the girl I haven't picked out yet. Can I at least give it a *shot*? One dinner, c'mon."

"Say that I won again. In the good voice."

Chandler put on his Phone Sex voice. "You won. Oh boy, did you ever *win*. Everybody else is just a *loser* compared to you, you big, winning, *winner*..."

"God you make me hot when you talk like that," Monica moaned, sliding her arms around his waist and pulling his shirttail out of his pants.

"Yes, little did I know that of all the weapons in my sexual arsenal, it was my Ed McMahon impression that would prove to be the most potent."

***

"And suddenly, there are *no* hot chicks in this building," Chandler announced, walking into his office and throwing his coat across his desk.

"Thanks a hell of a lot for *that*," his secretary drawled. "Did you want your coffee with one lump of phlegm or two?"

"You know what I mean, Meg," Chandler sighed, collapsing into his chair. "A week ago, I couldn't saunter to the copier without leaving a snail-like trail of *drool* behind. I tell my friend I'm gonna set him up, and all the hotties poof."

"You're just a little ray of sunshine on my self-esteem this morning."

"You don't count and you know it. The thing is, Monica's gone into competition mode about this. So I have to find, like, the uber-hottie."

"You're about to enlist my help in this highly offensive endeavor, aren't you?"

"It's that... or get actual work done."

Megan pondered this for a split second before plopping into Chandler's inflatable Knicks chair. "So what flavor of hottie are we looking for?"

"What about your hot friend, the one you eat lunch with on Thursdays?"

"My hot *lesbian* friend?"

"That's not a problem. Joey'd just love her more."

"Well, unless he's grown boobs, I don't think I could pique her interest."

"Damn. Okay, we spend eight hours a day here, we have to know some hot people by name."

"We spend eight hours a day here... downloading MP3's and porn."

"Aw, c'mon."

"Oh, I'm sorry. You also take naps under your desk and play 'Everquest'."

"I just wanted to make sure my full workplace contributions were being appreciated."

"Back to the hotties... what about Ellen in Purchasing?"

"She's dating Dan in Payroll."

"Nancy in A.P.?"

"Looks too much like Rachel."

"What's your time limit on this thing?"

"I'm meeting Joey and Mon at six."

"Oh, good," she drawled. "*That's* no pressure, then. What about Sandra the Receptionist?"

"Already set him up with her four years ago. Or didn't you notice her habit of *kicking* me hello?"

"I thought that was a consequence of your natural charm. Here." she grabbed a stack of memos gathering dust at the end of Chandler's desk. "We'll both take stacks of these, wander the halls, look busy, and troll for hotties."

"That's a great idea! God, can you imagine how productive we'd be if we ever *worked*?"

***

"Do you think I.T. is kidnapping the hotties and burying them underneath the server room?" Chandler sighed, setting the stack of memos back on his desk. "Those guys have such twitchy eyes."

"Maybe the hotties have adopted some kind of elaborate camoflauge."

Chandler checked his watch and groaned. "Five-thirty. I'm dead meat. You think he'd believe in an invisible, mute hottie?"

"I think he'd be a little disappointed in her bedroom performance..." Megan trailed off. "Why are you looking at me like that? Don't, don't look at me like that..."

"Aw, c'mon, *please*?"

"I thought I didn't *count*."

"It wasn't five-thirty then! C'mon, I'll put in a raise request for you!"

"You were supposed to do that *last* month."

"But this time, I'll definitely try to remember!" Chandler dropped to his knees in front of her. "One itty-bitty date. One eensy-weensy, teeny-weeny meal. He's a really nice guy, he's my *best* friend, you'll *love* him."

"Didn't you tell me that he thought Vermont was a foreign country?"

"Geography's not his strong suit. But he is a *lovely* human being. Probably the sweetest person I've ever met." Chandler fluttered his eyelashes outrageously. "Except for yoooooooou...!"

"Oh, you're disgusting when you grovel, get up. I'll go."

***

"Hey, man," Joey called as Chandler got out of the cab. "Is Mon with you?"

"Nope, we came straight from work. Joe, I'd like you to meet Megan... Megan, Joe."

They shook hands and exchanged awkward pleasantries while Chandler bounced on his toes, scanning the horizon for his wife. "She's *never* late. She's, like... the anti-late."

"So you, uh... you work with Chandler," Joey said awkwardly, hands stuffed into his pockets.

"Yeah, I do... he's, um. Said a lot of really nice things about you."

"Hey, that's nice," Joey smiled nervously.

He and Megan began busily examining the concrete.

"Hey, I'm... I'm gonna go inside and pee," Megan declared.

"Yeah! Good! Um, have fun," Joey replied, wincing even as the words left his mouth. Megan escaped inside the restaurant.

"We're here, we're here! We got stuck in traffic, but we're here!"

We? Chandler's head snapped up in alarm.

Monica bounced down the sidewalk, holding onto the arm of a beautiful blonde. "Joey, this is Theresa... Theresa, this is Joey."

"How you doin'," Joey said weakly, as they shook hands.



"Monica," Chandler hissed, "What the hell are you doing?"

"I knew you wouldn't be able to find anyone, so I brought my girl. Joey's going to *love* her, Chandler! She's *Catholic*, she's *Italian*, she's a fabulous *cook*..."

"I *did* find someone!"

"Who, an invisible *mute*?"

"No, a very nice girl with, apparently, a very small bladder!"

Monica blinked. "You actually brought someone for Joey?"

"Yes! I said I was going to, didn't I?"

"Well, quick -- send yours home."

"I'm not sending mine home! I had to beg her to come! You send *yours* home! It's not your *turn* and you *cheated*!"

"Mine's perfect! Who'd you find?"

"I'm back," Megan said, pushing the restaurant doors open and looking in confusion at the assembly. "Um... what's going on?"

Monica burst into laughter. "Your *secretary*??"

Chandler covered his face with his hand.

"Ohmigod... that's the best you could do?" she crowed. "*Begging* your own *secretary*? Loo-hoo-hoo-hooser!"

"Don't do the dance," Chandler begged.

"Oh, I think I just might have to...!"

"You had to *beg* your own *secretary* to go out with me?" Joey asked in horror.

"Nononononooo!" Chandler cried. "It's so *not* like it sounds."

"What's it like, then?" Joey glared, arms crossed. "Cause I know what it *sounds* like. Sounds like a big fat pity-date for the poor pitiful little single boy!"

"Joey, Joey, wait..." Megan said, crossing to him. "Um... I *reeeeeally* wanted to go out with you. Um. Actually, Chandler has this picture of you, and... uh... every time I saw it, I was all, uh, 'hommina'. But I'd heard, um... I'd heard what a ladykiller you were. And I'm, um. In a really vulnerable place right now. So what, what Chandler had to beg me to do... was, y'know. Take a risk. Live a little. Follow my, uh, heart."

"That true?" Joey demanded.

"Uh... yeah...!" Chandler stammered. "I mean, you should have heard the speech I gave her, it was... uh..."

"Inspiring," Megan finished.

"Yeah, I was inspiring all over the place."

"Theresa works at my restaurant, Joey," Monica said, shoving Theresa forward. "Tell him a little bit about yourself, Theresa..."

"Let me get this straight," Joey said. "You *both* got me dates. I have *two* dates."

Megan saw her opening and grabbed at it. "Golly, this is awkward! So I'll, I'll just go. Very nice to meet you, Joey... Theresa... nice to see you again, Monica..."

Chandler grabbed her by the arm. "No, you *can't*."

"Yes, I *can*," Megan hissed, attempting to wrench her arm out of Chandler's grasp.

"No, you *can't*," Chandler said through gritted teeth. "You're gonna stay here and 'follow your heart'... or get an ass-whupping from which legends are born, okay?"

"Well, uh..." Theresa murmured, "This was just a blind date for me, I wasn't following my heart or anything... so I'll bow out..."

"No way," Monica cried, staring at Chandler with a glint in her eye. "We're not quitting now!"

"Can we eat?" Joey begged. "I don't handle weird so good on an empty stomach."

***

"Hi... I'm Aletha, and I'll be your server this evening... what can I get for you?"

She pushed an escaping lock of black hair behind her ear and turned to Teresa, pen poised. "Ma'am?"

"Ooooh... I can't decide... I just can't de-ci-i-ide... y'know, I haven't even really *looked* at my menu yet..."

Joey blew air out of his mouth impatiently, and Chandler shot Monica a look of triumph.

"Well, let me tell you about our specials. Our pasta dish tonight is Chicken Chardonnay, our soups are French Onion and..."

"What's good?" Theresa asked.

"Well, what I usually get is the Super Melt. It's a crusty French baguette with seven cheeses, this awesome spinach-artichoke spread, tomatoes..."

"So basically, it's a cheese sandwich?"

"Yes ma'am."

Theresa let out a little shudder. "I *hate* sandwiches."

"Oh-ho!" Chandler chortled loudly.

Theresa's eyes flicked towards Chandler in confusion. "Um... why don't you come back to me."

"And you, miss?"

Megan scrutinized her menu. "Is the French Onion soup made with chicken stock?"

"Yes ma'am."

"The vegetable soup, too?"

"'Fraid so."

"Dang. Um. Okay... could I get the steamed veggie plate, *no* butter on the veggies, please... and the garden salad... no cheese, no bacon bits, no eggs, no dressing..."

"Vegan?" Aletha guessed.

"Yep," Megan grinned.

"Oh-ho-ho!" Monica chortled, even louder than Chandler.

***

"Thank God," Joey moaned as Aletha set their quesadilla appetizer in front of them. He pulled off a wedge and stuffed it in his mouth.

"You, uh, you want one?" he asked, offering a wedge to Megan.

"Oh, no thanks... cheese really grosses me out, honestly."

"How can you be grossed out by *cheese*? It's the perfect food!"

"Do you have any, *any* idea how much putrid, disease-carrying *mucus* ends up in the milk of a factory-farm raised cow?" Megan asked.

Joey, mouth full of mozzarella, turned a little green and swallowed with difficulty. Monica coughed pointedly in Chandler's direction, mouth turning up in glee.

"I mean... and the conditions!" Megan continued. "They keep those cows pregnant *all year long*, they shoot them up with..."

"Meg? Hon?" Chandler said gently. "As much as I know that *I* enjoy these little lectures while I'm trying to eat... could you enlighten us about the plight of the dairy cow *some* other *time*?"

He kicked her shoe underneath the table, and Megan snapped her mouth shut and went back to eating her salad.

"*You* eat meat, don't you, Theresa?" Monica said sweetly.

"Of course!" Theresa chirped. "How could I not? It's the main ingredient in my Mama's spaghetti!"

"That's right... you come from a large, traditional Italian family! That's so *interesting*! Why don't you tell Joey about it?"

"Well, uh, I have five brothers... they all work at my dad's repair shop," Theresa stammered. "And, uh... my mama's the best cook in the world. That's kinda my dream, y'know? To have that. The big Italian family, so close-knit, the family business through the generations..."

A smile of victory spread across Monica's face.

"Yeah, that's cool," Joey said, "If you're into that sort of thing, y'know? Me, I moved to Manhattan to get away from all that. My dad wanted me to go into the family business, too. I just had to get out, y'know? Before I got sucked in and could never leave."

Monica's grin slid off her face and reappeared on Chandler's.

"What?" Teresa demanded. "What kind of son are you?"

"A good son, who didn't want to work at a hardware store...?"

"But family -- family is the *most* important thing!"

"My family *is* important to me. But I don't let them run my life. I'm my own person."

"Are you saying I'm *not* my own person? Just because I *care*?"

Chandler's grin now stretched from ear to ear. "Did I mention that Megan loves video games and has a *massive* porn collection?"

"Chandler, shut up!" Monica cried, hitting him lightly on the arm. "That's low."

"What? It's a legitimate commonality! *You've* been doing it all night!"

"Oh my god," Megan screeched, opening her mouth and letting a chunky white bit fall back into her salad.

"Okay, *that* was disgusting," Monica said, pointing a finger. "*My* girl doesn't spit chewed food on her plate!"

"Chicken," Megan said in horror. "That was *chicken*."

Theresa swiveled in her chair to face Joey. "I'll have you know, I'm close with my family because I *want* to be!"

"I want to be close with my family, too! Doesn't mean I gotta sell socket wrenches!"

Chandler slung his napkin into his lap. "Oh, we've disintegrated into competition over *table manners* now?"

"Sure? Why not? Since you don't have any! Who brings up porn at dinner?" Monica cried, throwing her hands in the air.

"I haven't eaten meat since I was eleven years old..." Megan choked.

"Sometimes, you have to make sacrifices for things that are more important!"

"Well, I happen to believe that my *dreams* are important!"

"Um... you guys?" Megan whispered. "Could you... um... let me out of the booth?"

"Since when is mentioning porn a social taboo! It's not like Joey wasn't in one!"

"You were in a porn?" Theresa gasped. *That's* the 'acting career' you left your family for?"

"Oh, way to go, Chandler!" Monica screeched.

"Seriously, please, let me out of the booth..."

"Excuse me..." Aletha said, leaning over their table. "Um, excuse me..."

"I wasn't... doin' stuff in the porn!"

"And you call yourself a Catholic!"

"Out of the booth, guys. Seriously. Scootch."

"You're, um... being very loud, and really disturbing the other guests..."

"Nice, Chandler, now you've sicced the waitress on us!"

"I'm not the one screaming! Well, okay, maybe I am a little, but..."

"EXCUSE ME!" Aletha bellowed.

The other five's mouths snapped shut abruptly.

"You are being *very* loud, and you are disturbing the other guests. If you don't lower your voices, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

She placed her hands on her hips. "Now will you guys agree to be quiet? Seriously, my manager's super-pissed. I promised her there wouldn't be any more trouble from over here, and..."

Aletha's eyes widened as Megan lurched forward and projectile vomited across the table.

***

Aletha turned around as the dark-haired guy at Puke Table came up behind her and caught her by the arm.

"Look, um, Aletha..."

"You pronounced my name right," she said in shock.

"Yeah. Um. I am so, so, so, so sorry. So sorry. About that... with the yelling, and the puking, and the... god. I used to be a waiter, was one for years, I just..."

He looked down in horror. "Oh, god, we got puke on you."

Aletha laughed, dabbing at her skirt with her rag. "Yeah, well... it's more appetizing than some of our food. Believe me, getting puked on... not that unusual...!" She grinned. "Although usually, they're about twenty years younger than your friend over there."

"Oh, she's not my friend. She's one of my *two* disasterous blind dates."

"Two? That explains the yelling."

"I'm Joey, by the way," the man sighed, pressing a credit card into her hand. "Look. I'd really appreciate it if you'd just charge everything to me. And give yourself a *huge* tip."

"How huge?" Her eyes twinkled.

"Uh, let's see. We got you in trouble with your manager... yelled and screamed... puked on you... I'm thinking 500%?"

"Well," she laughed. "Do feel free to come back anytime! Ask for my section!"

"Seriously, I mean it. I'd cry otherwise. You don't wanna see me cry, I'm really good at it."

"You can cry on command? I'm impressed."

"Well... no. Not in *these* pants, anyway."

He patted her arm as the confusion spread across her face. "Anyway... I'm sorry. And thank you."

***

Aletha pulled the register tape out, tearing it off in one practiced motion and tucking it around the man's card, walking back onto the floor.

They were gone.

She ran out the front door, looking around, but the denizens of the Puke Table were nowhere to be found.

Her eye fell on the forgotten credit card in her hand. As much drama as had been going on with that group... how many hours would it take for that nice man to notice he'd left it? And her shift was over in twenty minutes.

She could leave the card here for him... but honestly... she didn't trust her co-workers that much. It was one of those limitless Platinum cards, the kind you could get into severe trouble with.

"Joey Tribbiani", she read off the front, then flipped it over.

Oh, dear god. He'd written his PIN number on the back of it! She couldn't, couldn't leave it here now.

She made a decision, nodded to herself, and crossed to the floor phone, dialing Information.

"I'd like a listing for 'Joey Tribbiani', please?"