Joe Smith liked the title “World’s Fastest Human,” so he began using it.
Whenever he met a stranger, he said, “I’m Joe Smith, World’s Fastest Human.”
Some strangers laughed. Some strangers gave him funny looks. Some strangers nodded, although they probably hadn’t heard him. No one asked him to clarify, probably because they thought it was obvious that he wasn’t, in fact, the world’s fastest human.
Before her twenty-fifth high school reunion, his girlfriend said, “Could you quit the joke?”
“What joke?” he asked.
“The world’s-fastest-human joke. It was funny the first few times, okay?”
“No, actually, it wasn’t,” she said.
“It wasn’t supposed to be,” he said.
“So why are you telling people you’re the world’s fastest human?”
“Because it’s true.”
She smiled, thinking he was joking, thinking their conversation was over.
At the reunion, he introduced himself as the world’s fastest human. At the dance at the end of the evening, the DJ said, “Here’s a fast song for the world’s fastest couple.”
But Joe’s girlfriend wasn’t there to dance the song with him. She’d run off with her high school boyfriend.
At the end of the evening, Joe stood by the front door of the hall where the reunion had been held and asked everyone who passed by if they could give him a ride back to his hotel. His girlfriend hadn’t only run off with her former boyfriend – she’d run off with their rental car.
Anthony “Big Tony” Antonucci, who’d had too much to drink, said, “If you’re the world’s fastest human, why don’t you run back to your hotel?”
“I’d prefer a ride,” Joe said.
Big Tony said, “Fuck you, Flash Gordon.” Two and a half minutes later, he drove into a tree.
In the end, the World’s Fastest Human walked back to his hotel. His girlfriend was in their room, penitent. “He broke up with me,” she explained, her cheeks tear-stained. Joe got the story: her old, new, and now old again boyfriend and she had had the same argument that had broken them up twenty-five years before. It was about a girl (now a woman) named Trixie.
“I’m sorry,” said Joe’s once-again girlfriend. She offered Joe make-up sex and he accepted.
They made love for a long time.
“Thank God,” she said, smiling, when it was over, “that you aren’t the world’s fastest human in bed.”
She fell asleep. Joe stayed awake, ruminating on how no one had ever asked him what he was the world’s fastest human in. He could never know for sure, of course – the world was a crowded place – but he would have been willing to bet fifty bucks it was true. ♦