“Oh, god,” Claudia moaned. “Here she comes.”

Jeanette craned her neck. “Who, the bartender slash waitress?”

“Yeah. I can’t stand her.”

Claudia’s friend cocked her head. “How can you say that when you don’t even know her?”

“I’ve been coming here long enough. It’s my third place between work and home. I know everything there is to know about her despite never saying a word or even exchanging a meaningful glance, and I don’t like her.”

Jeanette was used to Claudia’s misanthropy and snap judgements and tendency to complain when she had nothing else to talk about. But she was also very bad about being baited into discussions with her friend because of them. “Explain please.”

“Look at her. She’s the lucky kind of girl that’s effortlessly beautiful no matter what she does to herself. I’ve seen her hair in every color of the rainbow and every length from Rapunzel to Yul Brynner. I’ve seen a piercing come and go and sometimes come again in every piercable membrane on her pretty little face, earlobe to septum. Every time she shows a little skin it’s either freshly inked or freshly de-inked.”

“And this is a problem because…?” Truth be told Jeanette’s skin crawled at the idea of someone jamming a needle into her that wasn’t filled with lifesaving medicines, but she understood that many people differed with her on that topic.

“Because,” growled Claudia, staring daggers at the barmaid, “seeing her effortlessly look awesome despite all that will make people get the wrong idea. They’ll start thinking she looks good because of all the mismatched clothes and awful haircuts and glitzy bod-mod, instead of crediting a very good hand of genetic cards. People who should never even look at a tattoo parlor will wander in. People who couldn’t wear a pixie haircut to save their life will try it out. Or, God forbid, some horny douches will pressure their girlfriends to look like Ms. Effortless with horrifying results.”

“So you think, in other words, that our barmaid’s good looks and penchant for alternative styles puts her at the eye of a hurricane that will destroy all that is good and dear about the fashion world for the more buttoned-down?” Jeanette drawled.

“Pretty much, yeah.”

“Well, that’s it. No more boilermakers for you,” Jeanette sighed. “And starting tomorrow, we’re going to try out the bar where the bartender’s a quivering mound of pale flesh.”

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