Hey, Arnold was created by Craig Bartlett, and is the property of Viacom Inc. No infringement on their property is implied nor should be inferred.
Thundercats and related character was created by Ted Wolf, and is owned by Time-Warner Inc. No infringement on their property is implied or inferred.
Transformers and all related characters are registered trademarks of Hasbro Inc. under license from Takara/Tomy Ltd of Japan. No infringement is implied or inferred.
The Marvel Comics character, "Wolverine", and "The Uncanny X-Men" are both property of Marvel Comics Inc. No infringement on their property is implied or inferred.
Edgar Rice Burroughs created the character Tarzan. No infringement is implied or should be inferred.
Salvador Dali painted "The Persistence of Memory".
You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine was performed by Lou Rawls. No infringement on that property is implied, nor should be inferred.
The instrumental Morning Dance was composed by Jay Beckenstein, and performed by Spyro Gyra. No infringement on their property is implied, nor should be inferred.
The song Give Me the Night was composed by Rod Temperton, performed by George Benson, and is owned by Warner Brothers/Rhino Records. No infringement on their property is implied, nor should be inferred.
The author name, "Pointy Objects" and the name "Antoinette" both belong to the authoress Pointy Objects, who granted me permission to use her names in this story.
Glad to be in sneakers instead of heels, she knocked as best she could on the door of the modest one room apartment he lived in with her foot. She had a key, but couldn't reach it to save her life because her hands and arms were full of bags.
Doing well to get everything up there in one trip to begin with, if she had thought beforehand, the key could be ready in her hand, but it wasn't, so unfortunately, gravity, and Newton's theories on such were unequivocally winning the match in hard fought increments.
Aggravated, the weighted woman could have put the bags on the floor to unlock the door, but as she studied its filthiness by her standards, thought better of it, and continued struggling with them.
The manifest of her burdensome load was a duffel bag slung over her shoulder, and in her arms, a few groceries she knew he needed, a hot birthday dinner that managed to leak during the drive over, and a bottle of pre-chilled medium priced champagne. Dessert was a pre-made, two person butter cream iced cake with pink and purple flowers, along with a single white striped yellow candle stuck in the middle of it; because that was all that was left.
As an added bonus to the un-masculine color scheme of the confection, the name piped out onto the top of the cake was "Tad". She hadn't noticed the mistake on the cake until she was in mid-town rush hour traffic at a stoplight, and by then she was too late to either go back to ask for a correction, or complain; so she just accepted the cake as it was. She was running dreadfully late after her last class of the day when she bought it anyway, so she sensibly decided to use the misspelled name as an object lesson in not being fully prepared, and too rushed.
The birthday boy would probably get a gargantuan kick out of it anyway, she figured, as he had a unique sense of humor.
"Sweetie?" The impatient woman began tapping the door with her foot repeatedly. "It's me, please come open the door." She hoisted one of the paper bags further up into her arm with the aid of her thigh.
As she heard a muffled response, there was an uncomfortable warmth growing outwards on her side, and the anxious woman was sure that the grease from something in the bag of Chinese food was already starting to seep into her top, it was getting rather hot, and she yelled with dire urgency, "CURLY!"
Gratefully, she heard locks quickly click, and just as the apartment door opened, she lost her grip on the bags, but Thaddeus quickly caught them before they hit the floor. As he led the way inside the tiny apartment, she closed the door behind her and locked it back securely. Her adventuresome boyfriend wasn't exactly living on ground zero of Crackville, but some of his neighbors seemed sketchy, and she would trust them as far as she could pitch them.
While the curious man peeked in the paper bags, she followed behind, pulling the warm, stained section of her clothing away from her skin with her free hand. "Just look at this, can you do anything with it?" Resigned to the probable fate of her favorite red sweater, she wistfully sighed, "It's not dry clean only, but it's probably already ruined, isn't it?"
Thad quit nosing in the bags long enough to study the stain, and dismissed the threat it posed with confidence. "Nah, it's alright, that'll come out with no problem at all." Confidently he added, "In fact, I'll treat it right now before it even has a chance to move in."
The clever man placed the bags on the kitchen counter and turned to his girlfriend as she plucked the bottle of champagne out of the smaller bag. "Okay, gorgeous, give it up."
Opening the refrigerator to place the bottle inside to chill a little more, she smirked, "You wish." Before removing her clothing, the suspicious girlfriend pulled the curtains to the window over the kitchen sink closed. "You know how that old perv across the way is so interested with what goes on in here."
"Give him a break." With a cocked brow, the handsome man smiled and slyly declared with the deepest tone he could muster, "I would be too."
She tugged off her sweater, handed it to him at arm's length, and turned her head to the side dramatically. "Be gentle, Thaddeus, this is its first time."
Thad shook his head. "And you call my poor neighbor pervert." He then sprinkled water on the affected area, and after squirting dishwashing detergent to massage with his fingers, he pressed the sweater flat upon a sheer mat to soak. "Okay, we'll let this sit here for a little while, and let the soap lift the grease out, then I'll hand wash it, air dry it, and you won't even be able to tell the stain was here by tomorrow morning."
"You're being a bit presumptuous, aren't you?" She asked.
He scratched his head. "Well, no, I think it'll work." Thad added with pride, "Mr. Grascanard has me treat the grease stains on the cloth napkins at work before we send them to the cleaners all the time, and my special soap trick always works." Thinking she might find interest, he added, "It even removes lipstick."
Curly's girlfriend saucily replied, "I meant about me sticking around with your crazy butt all night."
The artful quipster looked upwards with his hands on his hips while dismissing her teasing with an obvious tone, "Like you can actually stand to be away from me for single second to begin with."
After seeing her expression, Thad distracted his girlfriend by motioning with his head to the chest of drawers in the opposing corner of the room as he took hot aluminum trays of food out of their greasy brown bags.
Turning to take in her svelte form, he was going to make a suggestion about his girlfriend's black brassiere, but thought better of it and settled for something even more impish. "I know I can't talk you into walking around here topless," The woman's nostrils flared as she exhaled forcefully out of them, and Thad prudently suggested, "So go ahead and grab one of my extra shirts."
She walked over to the dresser in the corner, but stopped short and instead took up the half-folded grey cotton State College T-shirt laying on the bed her lover slept in.
Fondly taking the soft shirt into her hands, she wadded it, pushed her face into it, and inhaled deeply. Throwing her face into olfactory heaven, it smelled like the cologne she had given him, combined with his scent, and when she pulled the clothing over her head, she was completely enveloped in it.
There would have been a time in the distant past in which she wouldn't have been caught dead wearing a plain shirt like that in private or public, but now it truly was a guilty pleasure.
It was a bit big on her, but still, she loved to wear it, and had even gone as far as to try begging the common clothing off of him numerous times so that it could help soften the cruelty of their increasingly few and far between durations apart.
Utilizing her best efforts, ranging from seductive bribery to violent threats, and despite the fact that he said he loved her more than anyone else he knew on the face of the Earth, Curly selfishly refused to allow her to have the shirt, his reason being she wouldn't come see him if he gave it to her.
Then she looked around and then down at the shining floor as it was reflecting the last of the amber hues of the hot sunset, readying for the cool, haunting kiss of moonlight. "You waxed the floor."
In the kitchen area, Thad replied over the space of the small apartment as he lightly sighed, and put up the groceries she had bought for him, ashamed that he couldn't pay her for them, and that she knew he needed them, "Yeah, yesterday, worst things I had to do was move the couch and roll a couple of rugs out of the way."
This was true, as the room was sparsely furnished. In the corner near the kitchenette, there was a small table with two chairs, set in anticipation of her arrival with two of everything to eat with ready.
The only other appointments she would consider being furniture, was in front of her, a familiar, comfortably warm, neatly made bed; and beside it stood a chest of drawers and a floor lamp.
On the opposing wall, there was a television set on a stand in front of a well-used couch. Beside the television there was also a large, used multi tier book, radio, DVD and compact disc rack that he finally relented and let her buy for him a year ago from a consignment shop.
Other than a few posters of the cartoon and comic book hero characters taped onto the wall he admired, a cracked mirror, some of her first, admittedly terrible paintings, and a framed print of "The Persistence Of Memory" by Dali that she had given him as a joke; Thad's light blue painted walls were starved for the food of art.
Then her attention focused on the multi-media rack and the radio sitting on it, she had given the radio and speaker system to him as an early birthday gift a couple of weeks prior. Their favorite local station, M-JZZ was softly crooning with a love song sung by Lou Rawls, and the light display on the radio jumped with blue bars, accentuating the bass and treble lines of the music playing.
The generous woman had tried in vain to give her boyfriend money to live on numerous times or get him other furniture and the clothing he needed but Thaddeus would stubbornly not allow it at all. He had accepted the radio system only grudgingly after a forceful insistence, but she was glad he was both enjoying and using this gift at least.
Usually, the sneaky little toad took her gifts back to the store she bought them at, and returned the money to her later.
She tried not to let it hurt her feelings, or irritate her, knowing his pride prevented him from accepting help from her. Despite the fact that she had not gotten her way in many of the arguments over material possessions, she did respect Curly for his honesty, decency, and desire to earn his own way in the world.
Still, she worried about him constantly, and hated to see him struggle so, hurting her to know that he had to choose between comforts and eating, because she loved him.
Thad had told her many times that he felt as if he were taking advantage of her when she bought him food, and expensive things like the rack and radio as well as box sets of his favorite cartoons, cologne, and compact discs. Finally, at his insistence, she quit most of the gift giving except on birthdays and Christmas.
However, like this evening, she did find one sneaking way to make life a little easier for the man she loved. She would buy him groceries from time to time so he could save a little money for emergencies or pleasures, her excuse being that when she was over, which was quite frequently, she ate his food and needed to replace it.
Now, she knew that she was more than welcome to what Thad had, but insisted on doing such. Eventually he grudgingly accepted that kindness from her because he knew he wouldn't win this argument, it pleased her to do it, and frankly, he truly did need the help.
He worked like a dog juggling school, a job busing tables at Chez Paris, and with the added schedule of his interesting nights, it was a wonder that he managed to make ends meet at all without giving up one of the three.
A deep voice resonated from the kitchenette area full of mischief in an impeccably imitated British accent, "I'm not sure if you're aware, but you're late, and I'm extremely angry with you, Rhonda Wellington Lloyd!"
The raven-haired woman turned in Curly's direction as he carried warm food to the table, and while fingering inside a wax paper bag, he crammed too many fried noodles into his mouth crunching, "Actually, I was starting to wonder if I needed to come and rescue you."
Rhonda cut her eyes at him, but Curly pretended not to notice as he pointed at the cake he put on the table in curiosity. "And may I ask, my fair lady, just who is this Tad person?" She grinned as he said, "Your other boyfriend that I urgently need to go beat up?"
Rhonda responded in an innocent tone, "The man behind the counter at the bakery thought I said Tad instead of Thad, so there is no need to worry that your position in my heart is in any jeopardy, Wise Guy." She smiled. "Besides, I don't think you could beat yourself up to save your life." She stroked his un-flexed bicep with her index finger, coyly suggesting, "You're so big and strong you know."
Thad responded without thinking, "I could beat myself with no problem at all!"
Rhonda had an incredulous look on her face, but then her eyes lit with perversion, and she burst out into wicked laughter when she twisted what he said in her mind. That, of course, was the furthest thing from what he was thinking, but his dirty minded angel, whose many guilty pleasures included sleaze, could turn almost anything innocent filthy.
A talent was both a blessing and a curse, at least as far as he could tell.
Actually blushing, Thad was saved by an announcement on the radio. "This is Nocturnal Ned saying a happy hello to all you populous in the metropulous sending out special salutations, and a soppy shout out to all you happy hepcats in love. It is six o'clock, which means it's time for an hour of music requests from music lovers who are lovers. Speaking of such, here's an old favorite by George Benson called "Give Me the Night" dedicated to Thad from Rhonda who wishes you a happy birthday, and Nocturnal Ned does too."
"Aww, Honey!" Thad said as he tightly embraced the considerate woman and kissed her cheek. "You remembered my birthday!"
Not to be outdone, Rhonda replied as she playfully pushed him away, "Happy Birthday, Smartass! Keep it up and you'll be spending it alone."
Rhonda turned to walk away, but Thad wrapped his arms tightly around the love of his life once again to prevent her escape. After a short, false, and wholly un-convincing struggle from his girlfriend, Curly was finally able to place his lips on her cheek. "Oh, heartless one," He joked as he whispered in her ear, "you wouldn't really leave me alone all by myself today of all days would you?" With a cajoling look, he finished, "Hmmmmm?"
The loving woman reciprocated by wrapping her warm arms around Thad, and soon the two began to sway in unison with the music. Smiling, Rhonda slyly replied, "I might," Thad backed his head away in mock shock, held her at arms length, and then inspected his unlikely lover with false incredulity. Rhonda cooed as her eyes rolled upwards with a smirk, "Unless you do some convincing for me to stay, of course."
Rhonda couldn't help but blush as he slipped his arms back around her and tightened his grip. "Convincing?" The debonair man put his hand on the small of her back, pulled her closer to him, and she sighed softly when their bodies met. The enamored woman nestled her scarred cheek into Thad's chest while he rested his smooth chin against her forehead. The amorous man queried slyly, "Aren't I out of the 'me convincing you' stage and you into the 'I worship the ground he walks on' stage?"
Miss Lloyd rolled her eyes conceding defeat, it was a special night, and he was right in the indisputable fact that over the course of a couple of years she had become his fool. "Oh, alright, I'll toss you that one because it's your birthday," She raised an index finger in warning, "just don't tell anyone else."
The mischievous man nodded. "Deal."
Rhonda turned her gaze upwards and sought out his grey green eyes. They were so beautiful to gaze into, the bright windows to the selfless, gentle, warm, and caring soul that dwelled behind them.
She never realized just how empty her life and she was before he appeared in her life.
Thad had truly taught her how to live, and be a better person.
The grateful woman was so surprised that she had realized both that and found him before it was too late. She hated to admit that it took awhile, and it made her question how intelligent she was at times.
There was considerably more to life than being moneyed, keeping up appearances, trying to impress, and marrying well to do.
Thad was the man she wanted to share the rest of her life, have children, and grow old with; she had never felt this about anyone else she had been with until now.
God knew she had plenty of experience, and she felt shame as she thought on it.
Ms. Lloyd certainly wasn't a stranger to the male sex, in fact, there was a time when Rhonda changed men like people changed clothes. With all of them, she thought she knew what love was, or they were merely an accessory to pull her look together, but the dark, honorable knight who held her in his strong arms at that moment had taught her just how foolish she had been.
As she stole loving glances at the handsome man she danced with, she could toss away the expensive clothes, the car parked outside, the credit cards, and money just to be with him.
Rhonda held no illusions, it wouldn't be easy, but she could do it for him.
Better to live in love a pauper, than rich in a loveless gilded cage.
Before then, Rhonda had never found anyone she valued more than the material. Now that the educated woman had, Thad was worth more than all the riches of the world to her, and she would trade him for none of them.
Brooke and Buchwald, her parents, were more than a little surprised at their daughter's choice in boyfriend to say the very least, and they suspected Thad's motivations for his interest in her. With time however, they saw no motives in him other than loving Rhonda, so they both came to accept the son of a dry cleaner seeing their only golden child. Soon enough, Brooke and Buckley fell victim to the same charm in the gentle man that Rhonda had, and eventually came to love him as a son. They were so in favor of the match in fact, that they had even allowed Rhonda to leave Princeton with their blessing to enroll in State College so that she could be closer to Thad, which completely surprised her.
Rhonda loved Thad enough to move back to Hillwood City that was for sure, but she was happy to have any reason at all to get the hell out of "The Garden State" and back home! She did not like Princeton at all, any of the people there, and she was terribly homesick.
Looking as if she were in another world, Thad asked as he gently pulled her chin up, "What are you thinking about, My Lovely?"
Rhonda lovingly drew the man's face closer to hers, and craned her head to whisper in his ear, "How fortunate I am to know Thaddeus Gammelthorpe." The smitten woman traced her long fingers down his scarred cheek to his chin.
To Curly's great pleasure, the flawless beauty in his arms raised her head, her full, red lips found his, and the two of them stood still in the middle of the floor, mouths locked together, and eyes closed for what seemed like hours.
When finished both were breathless.
As they resumed slowly swaying in each other's arms, she gave the kind man a warm gaze. Soon she was running her hands up his muscular back to rifle her warm slender fingers through the shiny raven hair at the nape of his strong, sinewy neck. As she did, Rhonda said in a heartfelt manner, "I love you so much, and I don't know what I would do without you."
Unexpectedly, Thad then took Rhonda down into a dip as she grabbed onto his broad shoulders and smiled at his intent gaze. "Well," The crafty man said with a wink, "Let's hope I never find out."
After pulling her upwards into a spin, and then another tug into his arms, she felt the gentle brush of his free hand over her buttocks, then a mischievous squeeze that pulled her closer to him, and with that she giggled wickedly.
Thad cracked a naughty smile. "You liked the tushy grab, huh?"
Rhonda giggled, "I was just thinking of your birthday present, but I'll show you that a little later."
Thad moved his hands to the small of her back again as they continued to move slowly, "The radio was my gift, Sweetie. I appreciate everything you do for me, Rhonda, I really do, but you know I don't want you to spend your money on me." He cast his eyes downwards, "Especially on food," Exasperated he admitted, "I feel like I'm taking adv,"
To avoid a most unwanted argument, Rhonda interrupted her boyish lover with an index finger on his lips and an honest confession, "You could never do that to anyone, let alone me." She motioned with her head towards the table, "C'mon, Tarzan, let's eat dinner before it gets too cold."
Wisely dropping it, he followed Rhonda, and even though he had protested, Thad was more than just a little curious as to what his surprise birthday present was, especially since it had to be 'shown'. The interested man thought about the succulent possibilities as his imagination began to stray into wonderful places.
Thad hoped it was slinky lingerie, it was his birthday after all, she hadn't been over to see him in an entire week, and he was going through the devastating effects of Rhonda Lloyd withdrawal. Thad thought perhaps he had done something to anger her, and called with his hat in his hand apologizing for something he wasn't clear that he had done or not. Of course, Rhonda told him that he was being absolutely silly, that she wasn't angry but simply busy, and would come see him as soon as she could.
As such, Thad put the misunderstandings of one week and a half ago out of his mind, and soon enough, the two of them happily sat down for his favorite meal of General Tso's chicken, vegetable lo mein topped with egg foo young gravy, fried noodles, and shrimp egg rolls.
"I've been looking forward to this all day." Rhonda said with flirting eyes as she took a pair of cheap chopsticks out of a thin red paper wrapper, and arranged them in her slender, nimble fingers.
"I know!" Thad said with a grin. "There's gonna' be cake!" Rhonda playfully flicked her crumpled chopstick wrapper at the man, and he jokingly scolded as it missed his head, and hit the floor, "I swear, 'Rhon, I clean up the place, and it takes you less than a minute to make a mess."
Rhonda replied as she looked upwards with a funny smile, "You are such a girl, Curly! Nag, nag, nag..."
As the two dined over the course of an hour, they chatted over important worldly matters, weighty topics such as, how many times the Sword of Omens had been broken, and why Cheetara and Tygra was a much better couple to ship in fan fiction rather than Cheetara and Lion-O. Who was the better leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime or Rodimus Prime? Finally, which of the trinity was better, adamantium clawed, bone clawed, or re-adamantium clawed Wolverine?
The two ceased the spirited discussion when they heard the next surprising announcement on the radio. "As all good things tend to do, passionate paramours, all good things must come to an end, so with great regret I must inform you that the final musical dedication of the hour, "Morning Dance" by Spiro Gyra, is to a cool hepcat named Arnold from Helga who hates you."
Nocturnal Ned finished with a mumbling afterthought, "That can't be right,"
As a steel drum introduction stylishly began the classic jazz instrumental, Rhonda and Thad stopped eating, and immediately burst into loud guffawing laughter. "Oh, my God!" Rhonda declared as she put her chopsticks down on the plate and put her hand over her mouth laughing.
Thad announced after wiping his own, "If that's hate, I don't want to see them despising each other."
The woman sitting across from him cocked an eyebrow. "We've already seen that."
Thad answered, "Yeah, I guess everyone living in the neighborhood has."
Rhonda continued. "I simply cannot believe those two are actually dating now." The woman remarked.
Thad had a grin of knowledge on his face. "People say that about us, 'Rhon."
Rhonda shook her head and argued, "That's completely different, Thad! We're like the odd couple, but pretty normal." Rhonda continued with her palm facing upwards making the argument of, "Helga and Arnold together though, well, that's like cats and dogs making out or something! It's an anomaly of the laws of nature."
Thad gave his lover a strange look. "I bit the head off of a chicken once."
Rhonda valiantly tried to justify his past behavior. "That was just the one time!" Only too happy to change the subject from Curly's popularly defined past as a childhood geek, she kindly mentioned, "I just hope Arnold and Helga can be as happy together as we are."
Shaking his head, Thad smiled, and mentioned in passing. "Oh, don't worry, they are."
Rhonda's head popped up out of her plate. "What do you mean?"
Thad blushed, and tenuously dismissed, "Nothing."
Rhonda leaned forward with extreme interest. Along with sleaze, gossip was her other guilty pleasure, the vestigial remains of her youth, and Thad knew that he had started something that wouldn't be dismissed easily, if at all.
"You better tell me or else, Crispin Gammelthorpe!" Rhonda's eyes flashed.
Seeing as Rhonda was quite serious with a yet as unknown, but dreadful threat that required the usage of his middle name, Thad began to explain cautiously, "Well, when everybody went to the beach house,"
Rhonda edged closer in her seat with excitement in her eyes, and asked with prurient interest, "Yeah?"
"Gerald said that he and Phoebe wanted to spend some time alone with each other, and that Arnold wound up having to stay in the section of the duplex that Helga and Phoebes were sharing."
Rhonda grinned wickedly and folded her hands on top of the table, "Juicy, please continue."
"Well," Thad matched Rhonda's posture and scooted forwards in his chair, starting to enjoy relaying the hot gossip himself. "Neither Helga or Arnold were happy campers about that at all as you can imagine, probably because they knew what was going to happen, even if they didn't."
Rhonda looked at Thad strangely, as his conjecture became more complicated, "Everyone could see that they're damn near inseparable except for them, but for some reason on the night in question both of them had regressed to arguing again."
Rhonda flung up her hands in exasperation, "About what?" She counted with her fingers, "One, I thought they had finally run out of things to fight about, and two, they had already gotten over all their past issues."
Thad added, "They were squabbling over the usual stupid stuff that they used to when we were all little kids, like who pulled the best April Fools Day prank, him or her, who hit harder, Wolfgang or Ludwig, and whose fault it was when Mr. Green's shop window got broken."
"Oh, good Lord!" Rhonda rolled her eyes with the obvious, "That's just foreplay!" Curly leaned back in his chair and chortled at the irreverence of Rhonda's speculations. "You can cut the sexual tension between those two with a knife."
Thad wiped his eyes and smirked, "Not any more."
Rhonda's eyes widened with the statement as Thad picked up his story. "Anyway, Gerald said that night they were really angry with each other and just ripping into each other viciously about who was really responsible for saving Mighty Pete, something that happened after Arnold and Gerald saved the neighborhood from getting torn down, and something else that happened where I work, strangely enough, and,"
Rhonda's held up her hand, "Wait, what happened at Chez Paris?"
Thad shrugged, and declared with real regret, "God I wish I knew! It's got to be one hell of a story." Curly slung out a hand, "Anyway, Arnold and Helga were at each others throats, really going at it, but then Gerald said that just as quick as the argument started, it ended in abrupt silence. I mean, he said that you could literally hear a pin hit the floor. Shortly after that, they heard Helga's Corvette start, then peel out of the driveway with the wheels squealing. Gerald and Phoebe figured that Helga was really pissed off, had finally had enough of Arnold, and just left to go back home or something. Anyway," The man paused for effect. "You're going to love this part, 'Rhon,"
Unable to speak, Rhonda's attention was full as she silently waved the backs of her hands and fingers towards Thad, hurrying him to continue. "The next morning, Phoebe needed something out of hers and Helga's room, but she didn't want to go by herself because she thought Arnold might not be up yet, or coming out of a shower, so Gerald went with her to check."
Rhonda was ready to fall off her seat by then, while waving her arms emphatically. "Well? What happened?"
Thad shook his head, and milked the air of suspense for all it was worth. "Do you really want to know?"
Rhonda almost yelled, "Spill it!"
With a mischievous grin, Thad finished the story, "Well, they both called out and no one answered, so they thought that Arnold might be taking a jog along the beach, or something. Phoebe walked into the bedroom, Gerald followed, and as it turns out, both Helga and Arnold were there." Rhonda's attention and eyes were as wide as they would go as Thad informed with his index finger pointed upwards, "Miraculously, and against your laws of nature I might add, the two of them had managed to patch things up with each other."
Thad cracked a wide grin, "They were together actually."
With the speed of a super computer, Rhonda instantly ruminated over the million possible meanings of the word 'together', each definition becoming more lurid by the moment.
She finally asked with an eyebrow raised, "Together, or together, together?"
Thad grinned wickedly. "Together, together, like right in the middle of togethering."
Rhonda's eyes and mouth opened wide. "Arnold and Helga were doin' it?"
Thad had to laugh at the immature innocence of the phrase; he honestly had not heard it since middle school. Rhonda raised her index finger in triumph, and the vindicated woman purred, "I knew they'd hook up!" Nodding in satisfaction, she added, "Just like my origami marriage predictor said they would!"
Thad allowed the digression from his story, "How many times did Arnold take the test?"
Dryly, Rhonda answered, almost not believing it herself, "A hundred and ten times." She suggested soberly, "They were so screwed, right from the start!"
Thad snickered, "So were we."
Rhonda lightly smacked Curly's arm as he continued, "Phoebe hasn't spoken to Gerald since last week over it. It's the angriest I've ever seen her at him, actually."
Thad laughed as Rhonda questioned, "Well why?"
He gathered himself and finished his story, "Phoebe of course tried to salvage what dignity she could for Arnold and Helga by trying to drag Gerald out of there, but he refused to budge. Added to that, Gerald was laughing at, and teasing them about their abrupt change in relationship dynamic."
Rhonda declared, "That rotten booger! I'd be mad at him too!"
Thad laughed loudly while thinking of the imagery, barely able to continue, "You know it had to have been really embarrassing for Arnold and Helga to be caught disarmed like that, especially after how they've both played the overused 'We're just friends' card for almost a whole year." Curly adeptly noticed, "They've obviously been in love with each other for just as long." Shaking his head, he ended, "I don't see how they were able to hold it off for as long as they actually did."
Rhonda shrugged. "Well, you know Arnold. I suppose he felt obligated to Ashley, and they've been together for a long time, his conscience wouldn't allow him to just kick her away for Helga because he's too decent for his own good." Thad's eyebrow rose. "Helga was probably parroting Arnold's 'just friends' line for noble reasons too because he was still with the guttersnipe, and she didn't want to interfere with what she erroneously thought was Arnold's happiness."
Thad said nicely, but truthfully, "I really didn't like Ashley a lot."
The scowling woman across from him told it like her much too nice boyfriend wouldn't, "Ashley Carter is a card carrying bitch!" Thad backed away from Rhonda's uncharacteristic ire as she rolled her eyes, "She was so wrapped up in herself, and how she looked!" Thad did a double take at the woman he loved as she added, "She was extremely rude too!" Rhonda raised her aristocratic nose in justification, "The way that gutter slut treated someone as good and sweet as Arnold Shortman is reason enough to not like her."
Thad was grateful that Rhonda wasn't so fashion obsessed anymore.
The style savvy woman added with a raised index finger, "She also mixed red and orange together frequently," Rhonda tapped a freshly polished red nail onto the table to accentuate her point, "even Nadine knows better than to do that!" After a long drag of tea Curly had over-sweetened again, she ended, "Seriously, she looked like a walking citrus stand!"
'Then again...' Thad thought as he continued aloud, "Well, after his and Phoebe's discovery, Gerald said Helga dove under the sheets to hide, and Arnold's face looked like he was sunburned. Instead of leaving, Gerald decided to ask the two of them if that meant they were a couple now."
Thad laughed as Rhonda asked with even more interest than even he could have anticipated, "What did they say after that?"
Thad smiled widely, "Gerald said that Helga popped her head up from out under the sheets, turned to Arnold with one of her famous glares, smacked him with a pillow, and said, 'This had better mean we're a couple, Football Head!' "
The couple laughed, and then the pondering woman quit abruptly, making a disturbing observation. "You know, if Arnold and Helga get married they'll reproduce someday." After a swig of Curly's liquid sugar to steel her nerves, she ended, "That's a scary thought."
Thad laughed and added, "I think it's cute that they're together!" Rhonda cocked an eyebrow as Curly indulged his rather colorful imagination once more. "We'll get married and have a kid, and then our kid might marry one of their kids, then if those two kids have a kid, their kid will bully all the other kids in the neighborhood, and bite off chicken heads." Thad said with perverted satisfaction and a shrug. "It's evolution."
Dryly, Rhonda shot back, "No, Curly, it's sick."
She then said in a wistful voice, "I wonder what kind of cake Courtney will want." She worriedly considered, "I hope Dioli's is still in business then."
Unable to wrap his mind around the expensive wedding Rhonda had already started planning, for a child that didn't even exist yet; Thad gave her a funny look. "Courtney?"
The woman nodded. "Yeah, Courtney, our wonderful first baby girl."
Thad remembered with an odd face. "Isn't that the name of that egg you and Harold were paired off to look after?"
The woman nodded. "Yes, what about it?"
Thad looked at Rhonda incredulously. "You want to name our first born daughter after the fourth grade egg baby you had with Harold Burman?"
Rhonda smiled. "I've had that name picked out since I was little, and I didn't have that egg with Harold. To top it off he ate the blooming thing!"
The woman smiled and said wistfully, "Courtney Brookley Gammelthorpe."
Thad looked at Rhonda funny, "Brookley?"
The woman nodded and pointed from side to side with her index finger, "Yeah, Brookley after mom, and daddy's nickname Buckley, because I draw the line at calling our baby girl Brookewald." Thad snickered, and wisely, Rhonda noted, "You know that mother and father will both be upset if we don't name a kid for one of their names." She shrewdly planned, "This way we'll kill two birds with one stone, and avoid a great big family hoo hah while we're at it."
Rhonda's heart was set, so Thad conceded defeat, but with an addendum. "Okay, we'll name our girl Courtney Brookley, but I get to name our boy what I want to."
"Deal." Realizing just what liberal license that entailed, Rhonda backed up with a guarded tone and squint in her eye. "Wait a minute, what's his name going to be?"
The overzealously expectant father thought for a moment, then exclaimed with certainty, "Artillery. Artillery Wheeljack Gammelthorpe."
Rhonda said to Thad's shock, "Artillery is an interesting name, but why 'Wheeljack'?"
Thad sighed and rolled his eyes as if Rhonda should know why without even asking. "I'm naming him after my favorite Transformers character of course, Silly."
Rhonda shook her head, "Okay, Artillery is really cool, I'll give you that, but we are not going to be picking names for our children out of your toy collections!"
Thad grinned. "Can we at least call Courtney 'Cheetara'?"
Thad laughed loudly at Rhonda as she growled, picked two fortune cookies out of the take out bag, and tossed the man across from her one of them. "Here, we'll argue about the name thing later on when we have to worry about it for real." Rhonda blew her bangs out of her eyes. "We're not even married yet, for God's sakes."
The man smiled. "Well, what are you doing for the rest of your life after college?"
The woman grinned, and gave the clever reply of, "Babysitting you I guess."
Curly grinned, and in unison, the two of them pulled the noisy cellophane wrappers apart, took their sweet contents out, and cracked the cookies in half to reveal their sage advice. Rhonda placed half of her cookie in her mouth, and asked as she munched, "What does yours say?"
Thad placed thin wire framed glasses on his face, and studied the tiny slip of paper he held between his fingers. "One man's justice is another man's enslavement.'"
The woman looked impressed. "That's apropos for you, Big Guy."
Thad placed the fortune to the side of his empty plate and asked, "What's yours say?"
Grateful to be wearing contact lenses, Rhonda held up the slip and recited, "Life is fleeting, live it to the fullest.' With a disappointed lilt, Rhonda observed, "Well, that one was boring." She shrugged, balled the slip of paper in her fingers, and placed it by the side of her plate.
As Thad gobbled down the rest of his cookie, and she slowly ate the rest of hers, he looked at Rhonda across from him with a twinkle in his eye with a shameless suggestion. "I wanna' see my gift."
Toying with him, Rhonda looked upwards as she spoke, "I thought you said you didn't want a gift, that the radio was enough."
"I know I did," In a childlike whine the grown man admitted, "but I still want it."
Rhonda laughed. "Don't you want your cake first?"
Thad smiled devilishly. "I want dessert first."
Rhonda picked up the dirty dishes from the small table and nodded her head towards the cake sitting to the side. "Well, that's why I bought it."
He watched Rhonda walk towards the kitchenette with a pouting lip, and Thad couldn't see it, but she was smiling. As she drew a sink full of warm sudsy water to place the dishes in, she wondered, "What do we need to do about this top?"
The man jumped up and exclaimed, "Completely forgot about it! Tell you what; I'll take care of that, if you wash the dishes."
As Thad hastily set to work retrieving her Caprini sweater, Rhonda gathered the food from the table, re-sealed it, and put it into the small refrigerator knowing that if she didn't do it then, it would never get done.
Spying the bottle of champagne she had forgotten about she asked, "Would you like some bubbly?"
"Sure!" Thad answered as he wrung out the corner of the sweater and placed it on a sheer mat to dry. "It is my birthday." He craftily added just to make sure Rhonda didn't forget.
Rhonda looked on the shelves of the cupboard, and then asked, "Do you have any flutes?"
"Where in the world do you think you are, Rhonda, the Ritz?" She rolled her eyes at Thad's response, wondering why she asked indeed, and got out two small glasses from the cabinet.
"It's your birthday, so come pop the cork." He came from the laundry area wearing a pair of X-Men boxers, and Rhonda was impressed as Thad did a runway turn in them for her amusement.
"Wow, I must rate for you to put those on." The woman said jokingly, "There's not a hole in the seat of them."
Thad took the bottle of champagne out of the woman's hand with a knowing smile and unscrewed the metal cradle that protected the cork in the bottle. "Only the best for you, Miss Lloyd, and they're clean too!" He winked, and then took a dishtowel that was hanging on a hook beside the sink and twisted the cork back and forth until a muffled POP registered. With a shake of her head, Rhonda turned with a smile to finish the rest of the dishes and place them on the rack to dry.
As she did, the experienced man put the towel over his forearm, and poured the effervescent fluid down the side of the glass he picked up; and served her first. The woman eyed the muscular man and took a small sip from her glass as he poured himself a serving.
Rhonda held up her glass to Thad's, and proposed a toast, "Happy Birthday, Sweetie, here's to many more." They clinked them together gazing into each other's eyes. "What are you doing?" Thad said nothing as he maneuvered behind her, and put his free arm around her waist to sniff her deliciously fragrant raven hair. "And why in the world do you still insist on doing that?" With mild annoyance Rhonda added, "You've done it ever since we were little kids, and it's weird!"
Thad tickled his nose with Rhonda's locks and inhaled deeply again. "I can't help it! You smell really good, and I am a sick, twisted little freak," Playfully he offered with a kiss, "So you'll just have to deal."
Soon, the two walked over to the couch to sit with their glasses, and the half-full bottle of champagne, and as they drank, they stole kisses and gave loving glances to one another from the bottoms of their glasses.
Soon enough, the champagne was gone, and they sat in comfortable silence enjoying the giddy warmth created by it, and each other's company.
"So," Rhonda asked already knowing the answer. "What would you like to do now, birthday boy?"
The man slyly responded with hope in his voice, like a child that wanted candy, "Can we go to bed now?"
Rhonda rolled her eyes, and then said dryly. "My God, you're a smooth talker, Mr. Gammelthorpe." As Thad laughed, Rhonda sarcastically remarked, "I just can't believe a line of girls aren't pounding down your door every night."
He knew he shouldn't, but that never stopped him before. "You tried to beat my door down tonight, Ms. Lloyd."
Rhonda's response was a frustrated, "Oh!" earning her even more loud laughs from the naughty young man.
In frustration, Rhonda got up, walked over to the side of Thad's bed, and picked up her overnight bag. "I'm going to go change."
Thad smiled at her wickedly over the back of the couch, and assured, "Take your time."
Thad leaned back in bed impatiently with his hands behind his head, watching his digital alarm clock slowly count time.
It was twenty minutes later, and he wished that he had not made such a foolish suggestion about Rhonda taking her time, because she took and ran with it. He thought of asking what was taking her so long, but he didn't want to piss her off.
Just as he was about to ask anyway, Thad heard the bathroom door open, but before he could turn to gaze upon his scrumptious dove, Rhonda requested, "Close your eyes, Sweetie; I'm going to show you your present."
Feeling like a little kid at Christmas, and like it was his birthday, because, well, it was, Thad closed, then covered his eyes with his hands in anticipation, wondering at all the magnificent things that his gift could possibly be.
It had taken her a long time to be ready, so she might be in some achingly sexy, slinky lingerie, dressed in tight black vinyl like one of his favorite comic book vixens, or just completely stark raving naked, drenched in some kind of delicious chocolate.
Perhaps it was a scrumptious melding of all three, hell, a guy could hope couldn't he.
With each thought that passed through his mind, the more excited he got, and when he was about to lose complete patience and peek, Thad was set free from wonder.
"Okay, Birthday Boy, you can look now." The naughty girlfriend said with a girlish giggle.
Thad removed his hands, opened his eyes, and to his surprise, there was no slinky lingerie, no fanciful comic book costume, and Rhonda was free of any sort of chocolate coating.
The woman he loved was doing something unique though, and a genuine first, something she hadn't ever done to him before now.
In shock, Thad asked, "My gift is that you're mooning me, Rhonda?"
Barely able to hold it together much longer, Rhonda requested with a breaking voice, "Put on your glasses, and look closer."
Curly complied, squinted, and then said dryly, "That's not real."
Rhonda laughed aloud, and borrowed a catchphrase from his best friend. "You better believe it, Bucko!" Curly rubbed his eyes beneath the frames of his glasses, got closer to her round white buttocks while staring, and finally favored her with a testing poke on the area of interest.
She pulled away with mild horror, "Don't stick your nose in my crack!"
Still unable to process just what he was gazing upon, Thad replied, "I was nowhere near your crack that was my finger, and nice try, I know that thing is just temporary!"
Rhonda reached into the top of her nightgown and produced a receipt dated a week and a half ago to 'Antoinette's Tattoo Parlor'.
The man stuttered in surprise, "B-but that was just a joke! How...that's not,"
Rhonda smiled. "Believe me, Dearest, I didn't imagine pointy objects pricking my rear, that tattoo is real!"
Rhonda Lloyd laughed loudly at Thad's gob-smacked expression as he remembered what he thought was merely an innocent but silly conversation from a week and half ago.
Pulling her attention away from the adventures of Lion-O and his band of heroic Thundercats on the television screen, Rhonda sidled up to her handsome hunk on the couch and kissed his cheek.
"What do you want for your birthday, Sweetie?"
Thad grinned wickedly. At first she had merely been dropping hints for ideas, then Rhonda had taken to just asking him off and on for weeks wanting to know what he wanted for his birthday.
Despite his sentiments on not wanting a gift at all, the well-meaning woman had annoyed the living hell out of him with it.
Readying for the next time she asked, he had been planning his response for a good long while and he couldn't wait for Rhonda's reaction.
She might hurt him, but it would be worth it, and Thad knew that after he made the suggestion, Rhonda asking him what he wanted for his birthday would stop completely. "Remember when we were kids and I blackmailed you into being my girlfriend?"
The woman cut her eyes towards him menacingly. "Yes, I believe I do remember something akin to that happening in my youth, Turd Rocket. What of it?"
Thad replied with mischief, "Remember that shirt I had printed that I made you wear?"
Rhonda pronounced dryly, "How could I forget?"
"Well," The man said wickedly, "What I want for my birthday, Rhonda, is a great big 'ol tattoo that says Curly's Girl," Thad slapped Rhonda's right buttock cheek, not too hard, but enough to tingle, and then rubbed it, "right here, in a red heart with an arrow going through it, just like it was on the shirt."
Thad's intention was merely the irritation Rhonda, and expecting her to either leave or strike him, he was surprised when his uncharacteristically forgiving girlfriend simply cuddled closer to him and said smiling with a wink,
"You got it, Baby."
Thad continued to study the tattoo, and finally after a period of silence, he gathered himself enough to declare in a flabbergasted tone, "You've ruined your ass!"
Rhonda turned around with a laugh mimicking the shocked man, "I didn't ruin my ass!" She imitated Stinky Petersen's accent perfectly, "I just have a purty drawin' on it now." With a raised, perfectly sculpted eyebrow, she specified, "A reminiscent artwork from our shared childhood memories that you requested for your birthday, I might add." Rhonda gave the man a sly look. "Just ask yourself, Thaddeus Gammelthorpe, how many women would follow their man's extremely bizarre request of permanent physical possession of her person to the letter?"
Thad smacked his hand on his head and said with hope, "You can get it removed if you want to, can't you?"
Rhonda shook her head. "I could, but it's staying here 'til the day I die." As she put her hand on Thad's cheek, gazing deeply into his eyes as her forehead touched his, she added genuinely, "I truly am Curly's girl, you know."
Upon studying Thad's dumbstruck expression in depth though, Rhonda began to think a little more on the tattoo, and stumbled upon a thought that her boyfriend might be too polite to mention. "Is this ink on my behind going to interfere with my attractiveness to you?" Only then did she begin wonder if she had taken this playful proof of her indelible love for him a bit too far.
Curly smiled widely, and forcefully exclaimed, "Oh, Hell no!" Rhonda backed up from the sudden positive outburst, as her lover continued with a creepy grin on his face. "I'm just sorry I won't get to look at it wherever and whenever I want to!" True to form, he named the most bizarre places he could think of that would both horrify and shock his mostly proper girlfriend, "Like on the subway, in class, in the park on walks, during Mass, and while eating dinner at your mom and dad's!" The woman's eyes widened in freakish terror when he added, "Gotta' tell ya', 'Rhon 'Rhon, I can't wait for us to show it to them!"
Rhonda let out a yelp when with no warning; the frisky man bounded up from his sitting position, pulled her down onto his lap, yanked up her nightgown, and kissed the tattoo for an extended amount of time, with a loud wet noise.
Rhonda scrambled away from the much too happy, insanely cackling man as he struggled to keep her in bed. "I can't believe you just did that!" Thad guffawed as Rhonda made a face. "That is so incredibly gross!"
Thad caught her arm and pulled her back down towards him, "Is it, or does it thrill you?"
The two shared a wicked grin and tumbled backwards together laughing.
Later, after looking at the tattoo a little bit more, along with everything else, Rhonda crawled back into bed with Thad wearing her beloved State college shirt.
As she did, Rhonda held two forks, and the misspelled birthday cake lit with one candle for her boyfriend to blow out.
"Make a wish." Rhonda requested with love in her voice.
He looked at her with a funny smile, and admitted to his wild lover, "After tonight, I'm afraid to."
Ultimately, Thad did make a wish; one that he hoped with all his heart would come true someday as he blew out his glowing yellow candle.
With that, Rhonda and Curly sat side by side, each taking turns feeding bites of the small cake to each other until it was finished.