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Herbie by 94Smooth


I’ve been seeing an illegal alien.

Or you might say, "undocumented immigrant," depending on where you live and which way your politics swing. I mean, I don’t care at all about that stuff but suppose, if I lived in a red state, some people might want to flash their concealed weapons at me as they dial the authorities. In a blue state, who knows, some folks might throw me a potluck as they arrange a commendation from the governor. In my purplish state, I already know most people, like my family, would tell me to just keep it to myself and not rub folks’ noses in it. Which I’ve managed to do. Mostly.

And, technically speaking, I haven’t actually checked to see what specific law we may be breaking. I mean, Herbie is pretty much a loner, hasn’t taken anyone’s job, creates no public disturbances. Healthcare is not an issue, and even if you saw Herbie out in a park somewhere, you’d hardly even know Herbie was there. Still, I’m keeping this all to myself for now. Cause Herbie most certainly did not come into this country on a visa.

We met in my bedroom, Herbie and I, which sounds really odd but is not all that unusual when you think about it. Lots of people open aps and swipe right. Order groceries, arrange a hookup, it’s what we all do now. Of course, Herbie is different from the usual guys I’d been hooking up with, hairy lumberjack wannabes seeming to be the only model available these days. And those guys were drawn to me like narcissists to their mirrors. Although, really, I had no choice in the matter.

I come from hairy people. Like, dawn of humankind hairy people. Extra dose of Neanderthal genes hairy people. In every crack and crevice hairy people. You get the idea. Luckily, I suppose, there are enough people out there who seem to be turned on by an extra furry body type that I haven’t lacked for male companionship, if you know what I mean. But they’ve tended to be similarly hairy.

That’s one of the reasons Herbie was so immediately appealing. From the top of Herbie’s head on down, there’s not a hair to be found. Herbie is completely, utterly smooth, almost slippery. That contrast alone would have made we want to ask for Herbie’s number, if Herbie had one.

But it was Herbie’s sixth fingers that really sold me. What Herbie can do with those.

Okay, I’m being a little opaque here, so let me get explicit. What I’m trying to say is that, well, Herbie is a non-American being of color. Herbie’s color being green. Specifically, a deep, rich green. You’re getting that correctly. Herbie’s outer membrane, as Herbie likes to call it, is a Mom’s overfed rubber plant is about to swallow the breakfast nook green. Plus, it kind of glows in this ethereal way, which sounds weird but is actually sort of cool when you see it up close and kind of its own turn on really. Of course, I understand that might not be quite your cup of tea. But I can tell you with complete confidence you should never pass up an opportunity to go green, if you know what I mean.

So, yeah, we didn’t exactly meet through a hook-up ap. Although, I suppose Herbie must have been interested in me, maybe checking me out on some sort of extraterrestrial version of Grindr. Because Herbie did truthfully appear in my bedroom one night a few weeks ago looking for action.

As one would, I was pretty certain at first that I was just having some bizarre dream. I’d done a lot of yard work that day in the hot sun and then rehydrated with a couple of vodka tonics instead of good old H2O. (All clear liquids are not the same.) But beside the usual mind-melding, every nerve in your body vibrating, you say probing, I say lovemaking kinds of stuff you would expect to happen when a space alien pays a visit to your bedroom, there was also the other thing Herbie could do with those sixth fingers.

So, we humans have five fingers, right? I mean, usually. Well, Herbie’s sixth fingers are, how should I put this, uniquely talented. Some of the talents being exactly what you would expect and then some. But the other unexpected talent is that, in the process of doing their "thing," they also remove the hair anyplace they touch. And Herbie did a lot of touching that first night. Especially on my torso. It was like Herbie’s extra fingers were little lawnmowers, leaving behind furrows of smooth, hairless skin wherever they made contact. And trust me when I say it didn’t hurt a bit.

Of course, the whole fact that it seemed like Herbie was mowing my chest and back while doing everything else Herbie was doing and I had just been mowing my lawn reinforced for me that I was, in fact, dreaming, and should just roll with it.

It wasn’t until I woke the next morning looking from the waist up like a Chippendale’s dancer (okay, I’m exaggerating a little in terms of my musculature) that I began to think that maybe Herbie was a little more real than I’d initially thought. That sense was confirmed when I actually rubbed by hands across my chest and over my shoulders and found everywhere was newborn baby smooth, like my hair follicles have packed up and gotten out of Dodge smooth.

Let me explain. When I was in eighth grade I hit puberty hard, and the family curse began to reveal itself. By ninth grade, I was known as "Sasquatch," and that name followed me, and traumatized me, throughout high school. So, a week before I left for college, I decided that I was going to make a new me. My parents had gone to bed early, as usual, and I got some clippers and a razor and went to town on the lower forty-eight. It took hours. But by the time I dropped into bed, I’d gotten to see that there was actual beauty beneath the beast. I couldn’t wait until I woke in the bright light of day to enjoy the new, smooth me.

What happened? By the time I awakened a few short hours later, I was already one giant sheet of sandpaper, sporting a full-body five-o-clock shadow. There’s just no fighting my family’s genetics. So, being psyched about my lingering smoothness after my "dream" with Herbie pretty much outweighed getting weirded out that an apparent space alien had visited me in my bed. And I was pretty ready for round two when Herbie returned that night.

For the next few visits, then, Herbie was all about my legs and feet. I’m pretty sure Herbie enjoys the whole thing because Herbie’s sixth fingers actually made crisscrossing stripes, starting at my hairy toes (goes without saying) all the way up to my, well, you know. And Herbie took a few days to finish the job. If I’d happened to put on shorts during that fortnight, people would have thought I was wearing harlequin tights or something.

But don’t get the wrong idea. This isn’t just about rolling in the hay with my favorite Martian. I have been learning about Herbie through the whole communicating by thoughts thing. For example, Herbie likes plants for both studying and eating. I was a little worried at first that this might make Herbie some type of vegan cannibal. But then I figured that I eat meat, so it’s probably kind of the same thing.

Oh, and I think Herbie’s a guy, or, you know, male. But I’m not entirely sure. I mean, Herbie’s got a male part. Like plenty of a male part if you get where I’m going. But there’s also this other part that suggests that not all corners of the known and unknown universe draw terribly sharp distinctions around gender. I guess we’re getting less rigid about that here, too, so it goes to figure.

I should also note that Herbie’s name isn’t actually "Herbie." Herbie’s real name plays pinball against my synapses and doesn’t translate into sounds a human voice box could manage. So, I think of Herbie as "Herbie." You can pronounce it how you want, like "Herb," the old guy who’s always coughing two cubicles down from you, with an "ie" tacked on at the end. But for me, it’s more like "erbie," as in "packed with exotic herbs and spices."

Anyway, to get back to the hair thing, a couple of weeks into our nightly rendezvous Herbie started to go all swirly at the crown of my head. I’d been thinning a bit already and keeping it fairly short up top, my beard being an entirely different story, but still figured I was several years away from having to go the baldy route. Herbie, however, had other plans. As one of those extra special green digits went to work, the other being occupied elsewhere, I soon began to feel the breeze from the ceiling fan blowing across my increasingly exposed scalp.

Round and round Herbie twirled that intergalactic depilatory, taking me from early male pattern baldness, to sixteenth century monk, to full-on cue ball. As Herbie finished his work along the nape of my neck and around my ears, I thought I might lose consciousness from the overload of my pleasure centers. If having Herbie strip every hair off my head feels this good, I thought, then I don’t want hair anywhere.

Which was kind of a mistake given that (a) Herbie communicates with me by thoughts and (b), what with the language difference, Herbie tends to interpret my thoughts in a very literal way.

Before I could say "Holy alopecia!" my bird’s nest of a beard had been decimated, with my eyebrows also meeting their demise. The only hairs on my body Herbie spared were my eye lashes, which weren’t much to speak of to begin with. When I saw myself in the mirror the next morning, I couldn’t help but ask my nearly featureless reflection, who looks like the space alien now?

Of course, the real fun came when I had to go to work at the college library where I’m a clerk. The security guard asked to see several forms of ID, even though I’d passed him every day for at least two years. Then the head librarian hyperventilated and nearly passed out in the breakroom, thinking I was some cult member stalker who snuck in for a free cup of bad coffee. And later my one work "friend" told me that I looked like a giant vanilla-frosted cake pop.

On the upside, it’s a college library so it’s not like I’m going to get fired for making some atypical grooming choices. As long as I’m bathed and breathing, my job is pretty much secure. And I do like the whole smooth thing. A lot. Plus, there’s no longer the slightest chance in the world anyone anywhere would think to call me Sasquatch.

As for my relationship with Herbie, it’s good. We’re about a month in and still seem to have plenty to think to each other. Which isn’t to say that I don’t wonder about our future, with Herbie being an interstellar traveling scientist and my "career" being to stack books that no one actually reads anymore. And I do kind of miss my eyebrows, which were really my best feature. But Herbie seems to like me this way and keeps coming back every night, which is more than I can say for any of my previous hairy hookups.

Still, some nights, while I lie in bed awaiting Herbie’s arrival, I find myself pondering bigger questions about our relationship:

1. Is this just a fling?
2. Would my friends like Herbie?
3. Could I bring Herbie home for Thanksgiving dinner (and would Herbie eat only the sides)?
4. Should we be using protection?
5. If we break up, will my eyebrows grow back?

Then Herbie teleports, materializes, reanimates, whatever it is Herbie does to enter my bedroom without bothering with the door. Our smooth outer membranes meet, those sixth fingers get to work, and Herbie’s psychic presence begins to wrap itself inside and around, on top of and beneath me. As my senses start to tingle, I realize that I just worry too much sometimes and that eyebrows, and possibly breaking federal immigration law, are a small price to pay for the way Herbie makes me feel.




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