A forty-something man with slicked-back Gordon-Gekko hair, impeccably fitted Italian suit, and a Windsor-knotted tie sidles up to twenty-six-year-old woman in a classic LBD at the opening reception to a corporate executive weekend.

Excuse me. I see your “date” has left your side to refresh your drink and has handed you over to me. What's that? No one has ever “handed you over” to anyone? Oh, don't let the seamless transition fool you: You have indeed been handed over to me. Maybe you didn't realize it, but the minute you opted for the Pomegranate Margarita, gave your credit card to your “date,” and said, “this round's on me,” you entered my domain.

I understand your confusion. I don't think we've met before. Let me introduce myself. I am your third-party vendor. I know you thought you had a connection with that other corporate guy, the hugely successful one whose reputation is relatively unsullied, whose ubiquitous influence is felt in markets worldwide, whose name springs to mind for 97% of those who find themselves in need of a drink or a household electronic item on the fly.

What's that, you say? Ouch. Fuck off seems a bit harsh, don't you think? I'm only here to make your experience more pleasant, to fulfill your need and desire for another drink on my own terms, free of that other guy's strict rules and uncalled-for constraints.

Oh? Is that so? You'd like to cancel this transaction? Well, my deepest apologies, but not only am I strangely exempt from the cancel-culture at large, but the proverbial horse left the barn the minute you agreed to the Pomegranate Margarita that Mr. Clean suggested before he disappeared with your credit card.

He chuckles, grabbing her forearm, leading her away from the crowd. She struggles briefly until he pats his pocket, hinting that he's carrying a concealed weapon.

Yes, that's right. It's too late to go back to him. Notice he's nowhere to be seen? Not at the bar, not at the table, certainly not here with you. I am your only choice now, so perhaps we should get on with the task of fulfilling your order.

He leads her away from the reception, through a door that says “Employees Only,” down a dank, barely-lit hallway to a room at the end where a rowdy, unwashed biker crowd is playing pool, drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon straight from the can, and grinding tattooed body parts with their old ladies on the sawdust-covered dance floor. He saunters up to the bar and addresses the bartender.

Good evening, Butch. One Pomegranate Margarita for the lady.

He produces her credit card and winks at her, handing it to Butch.

Just put it on here, and don't forget the 5% transaction fee. Now, now, Miss, you tacitly agreed to this, remember?

What's that? You requested no salt? Well, salt comes with all our Margaritas. Cuervo Gold? Oh, no. We don't waste premium brands on mixed drinks here. Butch uses our house tequila. Smells like turpentine, you say? Well, to the uncultivated nose, perhaps. What's that now? No, you don't want pomegranate juice. Our similarly-colored cranberry juice concentrate is a much more economical and tasty substitute. Ah! Here it is. Thanks, Butch.

Go ahead, take a sip. A clean glass? Well, well, aren't we demanding? That wasn't specified on your original order, so a clean glass will cost you an additional $11 for re-stocking and expedited delivery. A full refund, you say? Don't be silly. This third-party vendor just fulfilled your desire according to the terms of our unwritten and constantly-changing legal agreement. Unacceptable? Hardly. I'm just following orders. Think of me as the Bad Cop to your “boyfriend's” Good Cop, the Alonzo Harris to his Jake. Your credit card? Here you go.

Now don't try anything sly like disputing this transaction or filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. But just in case you do, you should know this: that our headquarters is a rat-infested abandoned warehouse in East New York that happens to be condemned by the city, that our corporate phone number goes directly to voicemail, and that by using our drink-fulfilling service, you waived your right to file a lawsuit, class-action or otherwise. Plus, we're a Limited Liability Company, so our asses are totally covered.

Just remember who you're dealing with, Miss. It's not my first rodeo, nor will it be my last. Good luck finding your way back to Mr. Wonderful. It's been a pleasure doing business with you.

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