by Jonathan Prykop, 1996

I'm pumping gas in the center of the city,
One of those oily, fuming gas stations
Begging you to do your duty, and leave.

So I'm dutiful, I fill 'er up, 
Go pay the scummy attendant
Who comments on the weather, 
Ain't it a shame, the team lost the pennant.

I hurry back to my car, to leave as quickly as possible
Back to heavenly sterilized Suburbia
(Lord knows what infections you'll pick up here)
When I see him for the first time.

His car is facing mine, the hood up
He pulls the long rod from its workings
And wipes it with a window-cleaner blue paper towel

Oil checked, he stands back up
And I see him in all his glory
From the bottom, up:  

Black shoes, white socks
I'd never see back home
Polyester pants a horrid shade of aqua
That was obviously first discovered 
By a fat beer-guzzling guy named Jim
To paint his brand-new used truck "Bess".

A bowling shirt (I think), brown-with-red-seems,
A name sewn on the lapel, Joe
Or maybe it's a uniform, for some second-rate job
I wouldn't know;  I don't bowl

He runs a greasy hand across his sweaty chest
And wipes his nose on his sleeve
His sludge hair is slicked back with some something
Of which I'm better off unaware

But the thing that disturbs me the most
Is his beard, if you can call it that
Because it's barely there, scraggly and sparse
Light brown like fuzz that's grown too long

I want to shout "Shave it off, goddamn it!
It doesn't work, you just weren't meant to have facial hair!"
But I don't, I put the key in the ignition 
And prepare to drive away

But he shuts the hood of his car
And I see inside, There sits chickie
A female, a girl.
I'm overcome with revulsion, from one thought:  
"My God, he procreates."

Mind you, my thought was not of sex
I mean, sure, I was surprised that this 
Badly dressed, barely adult boy was getting some.

It didn't matter, you know, it was with
This painted-up red-and-black haired bitch
Who stared out through slits of eyes
To say, "I'm as ugly as I feel inside."

I didn't care that they probably had sex
But there was one thing, one thing that bothered me
That I couldn't make go away:
They procreate.

Have children, you know--
The sperm enters the egg
And there's a kid, half him, half her,
And suddenly I'm firmly pro-choice.

Because I'm sure they have feelings,
They can't be all bad,
Just bottom of the stack, scum of the empire
They can't be blamed for having pathetic lives

But probably the best two seconds of that guys life
Will be the two seconds before he conceives his kid
And as for chickie, what of her life?
Well, we can't find meaning for all.

Because we all have dreams, 
But there aren't 200 million fulfilled dreams in America,
So some of us will only have drugs, food, 
And sex

(But mind you, I wasn't disturbed by the sex
 More power to him, if you ask me)

It's just that, no matter how hard they try
Sex will probably someday lead to kids
They may even, at some grandiose delusional moment
Think they want kids, think they deserve kids

They might be good people, might even go to church,
But overall they don't look very smart, or rich
Oh, I know looks can be deceiving, but they also tell a lot
And I'm overgeneralizing here, to make a point

So this kid will probably grow up, lead a meaningless life
A lost soul stuck in a body, in a place
Where he has no possible future
Besides drugs TV food sports and sex

I've been to Europe, I've read Deleuze,
I've seen a Renoir and appreciated the intricacies
Of it's fine brush strokes, blended colour.
A six-figure education made me a civilized man

All paid for by my rich mommy and daddy
Which I can pass on to my son
I procreate, and in good conscience
Not to overpopulate, and only what I can support.

Do they even realize their idiocy!?!?
Have they ever left this city?
Can he give me a single purpose to his life
Outside of working, to bring his family money
For drugs TV alcohol food sports cigarettes, comic books, and sex

They'll have a kid, maybe two, maybe three,
Who will have more kids
None will get good educations
None will probably know, or even care
About Dante's allegorical journey into hell

And the kids will have more kids
And the average intelligence of our country will continue to go down
With life's only meaning in drugs, food, and sex

And in my well-trained, rational mind,
I begin work out a solution
To balance the morals, and make it all fair
So that all of my actions and thoughts can be justified
But I can't find a solution that doesn't involve 
Killing them all, or at least selectively sterilizing them
And keeping tabs until they die off naturally

My heart fills with panic, I realize that will never work
My pulse starts to quicken with worry
As chickie steps out of the car, fixes her skirt
Hobbles over to the gas-station attendant and speaks

He throws her a quizzical look, then sighs,
And hands her a key from a rack,
Then she waves to her lover with a confident smile
And opens the bathroom marked "Boys"

It takes me a moment for the truth to set in
That they can't possibly procreate at all
That, though thousands like them may become man and wife
No matter how much these two try, I'm safe

For a second I'm filled with exciting new waves 
Of confusion and middle-class nausea
For I know that there's something here, maybe a cure 
That my large IQ white diploma can't comprehend

Maybe there's a solution here, maybe there's not
But for now I just drive away
For Lord knows what infections a good man can get
In a gas-station, deep in the city.