keep your palms flat
I married a boxer to keep me from fighting
I married a brewer to keep me from drinking


Fry wakes up in the morning and scratches himself through his dingy underwear. He uses his left fake hand to do it. Everybody knows that fake hands don't have pores and stuff so they don't really get dirty. He once had to haul Dr. Zoidberg out of a trash can when he got stuck there and everybody else refused to touch him, and even that smell just slid right off without even soap and water.

"It's like magic why not," Zoidberg had burbled, bug-eyes wide as the others watched from a safe distance. "Not even my mascu-line stink-gland can affect them!" He'd pronounced "masculine" all wrong, making it rhyme with "fishing line". Zoidberg always got words wrong when they had to do with human anatomy.

"Like the way your stench affects us, you disgusting pauper crustacean!" Hermes had yelled, voice squeezed as he pinched his nose. "Get out of here and don't come back until you only smell as awful as you usually do!"

Fry had stared at his hands, marvelling. "Yeah! Like magic," he'd said. "Or like Luke Skywalker, except with less Darth Vader and more dinosaurs. Oh, and I lost both my hands instead of just one. And I wasn't trying to save the universe. Plus I don't think I was wearing pants."

"They're not magic, Fry," Leela had told him. "They're just cheap plasticoleum hands. I could pick some up at the drugstore if I wanted them badly enough. Which I don't."

Leela doesn't understand, though. Fry doesn't just use his hands for scratching himself and unclogging the toilet and petting stray dogs; he uses them for bigger things, too. Grander things. He can handle dark matter without any problem of lingering odours, he can wipe down the furniture if the Professor's sat in one place too long, he can use the Smell-o-Scope and not get distracted by his fingers smelling like chili fries. He can do a dozen different things and come away untainted, like getting fresh clean hands every single time. It's a kind of magic to be able to do that, to not worry about what's gone and what you've been through.

Bender comes out of his closet-room and Fry sits up, blinking. "Mornin', roomie," he says cheerily, and Bender grunts, "You still here?"

"Hey, my girlfriend used to say that too!"

Bender's eyes swivel to stare at him. Fry's used to reading emotion into them, although they're just pixels on ceramic. "I told you not to compare me to meatsacks from your stupid-time!" Bender says irritably. Forty-two percent of his statements are said irritably; Bender calculated it one day. Eighteen percent are said "nastily", thirty-seven percent said "angrily", and the last three are taken up with "smugly." Bender had made a resolution to work in "ass-kickingly", but hasn't managed to expand his capacity to over 100 yet.

"But she was a lot like you," Fry shrugs. "She liked to stay out all night, get wasted, and go on violent rampages."

"We-ellll," Bender says. "I do like violent rampages. Did she ever get so drunk she tried to slam your head in her compartment door?"

Fry nods. "Yeah, except we called it foreplay." He gets up and stretches with his back to the vast window, turned resolutely away from the panoramic view of outside. It's hardest to face New New York in the morning like this, before he's had time to adjust. There's too much New and not enough York for his liking.

When Fry goes past Bender, he gives the robot an affectionate pat on his cold, hard shoulders. Bender's eyes follow him and even that little motion results in a slight creaking noise. "You need oiling," Fry remarks, and Bender says, "you need shutting up, sicko." He jabs one tubelike finger at Fry for emphasis, then creaks off to get ready for work. Fry watches him leave, waits until Bender's completely gone. He lifts his fake hands to his face and inhales deeply, the distinctive sharp brushed aluminum robot-smell everywhere, right up in his nose and his brain. That smell of metal is the only thing that stays.