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It's Complicated

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Ford Prefect had found a number of excellent things to say regarding Earth's pubs, over the years, reflecting more on their offerings than their environments. Even the most raucous of pubs in Britain could barely hold a glowlight to some of the boozeries Ford had visited in his time - and the best part was, he'd done nearly all of that on the job - but what they lacked in charm, they could more than make up for in drinks.

Perhaps it was just that he wasn't picky, or that his palate was suffering after seven local years without a proper Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster; whatever it was, Ford didn't care to think about it too closely, not when he had a number of variations on the theme of alcohol to choose from.

It served him well in this particular pub until he tried to strike up a conversation with a group of football hooligans, and made the apparently cardinal error of finding one of them mildly appealing. Another of the group seemed to have the good grace to look as annoyed as Ford felt, but that hardly stopped his companions from using every insult at their disposal and very likely making up a few more, while they were at it.

And all that just because Ford occasionally found something attractive in male-shaped Betelgeusoid* beings. Really, it wasn't as though he had any interest in shagging a mattress.

*He could hardly think of them as humanoid; Betelgeusians were there first, as far as he was aware, and he'd certainly been there first in any case.

***

Ford Prefect had this to say on the subject of sexual orientation on Earth, but the final editors of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy stripped most of his research from the amended article: Backwater.

Well, mostly backwater, with exceptions in largely individual cases. The vast majority of human governments view homosexual pairings with trepidation at best and open hostility at worst; the individual humans are rarely any better on the matter. (Don't even ask about anything involving more than two people. The ones who don't mind the idea are on the cultural fringes, and some of them have rather frightening prohibitions on any other sort of having fun, especially getting drunk.)

Local rumor seems to indicate that the current state of affairs is an improvement on past attitudes. Despite that, humans only recently ceased classifying same-sex attraction as a mental disorder, and nearly all of them can't grasp the concept that one might be attracted to more than one sex. Additionally, those going without sex are generally assumed to be making some sort of major sacrifice, even if they're perfectly happy to go without.

And now that I've pissed off yet another man twice my size just by trying to pay him a compliment, I've had enough of this bloody topic. I'm going to get more drunk and hope that wipes the bad points of said research from my memory.

***

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has this to say on the subject of sexual orientation: It's complicated.

It isn't complicated in the way that many social neuro-networks use the phrase, though a number of romantic entanglements with that label feature all manner of orientations. After studying the matter for quite some time, leading Galactic scientists reached a conclusion that was bleeding obvious to most sentient beings: While the drive to propagate the species leads most to their standard reproductive arrangement, whatever that may be, the majority of beings have at least some interest in sex that stands no chance of producing offspring. This ranges from the truly pansexual, or those not held back by much of anything in terms of species difference, to those who prefer the company of their own intra-species sex. And some members of species that participate in sexual reproduction are much happier going without.

In any case, most species throughout the Galaxy are tolerant of these differences in orientation. Only the most backwater of sentient beings believe that the majority of their species is strictly interested in a relationship with reproductive potential.

This is not to be confused with gender identity, which varies from culture to culture.

***

"Bloody backward planet," Ford said, and toppled over. Fortunately, this part of the field hadn't been used as a cow's latrine lately, and in his rather extensive stargazing experience, animals rarely aimed for beings out lying in the field.

Of course, it had been that kind of a day so far, so he could only hope he didn't become a target anyway.

"Too right," a voice said, as its owner sat down in the grass next to Ford; he thought he recognised the young man from the pub, but he'd had so much whiskey he couldn't rightly say. "Sorry about that, mate, Rick's usually better at keeping his mouth shut. And the rest of them are terrible at thinking for themselves when they're pissed."

"I've heard worse." And he had, out in the Pleiades, but he'd been able to hitch a ride out of there the next day. Seven bloody years of this kind of thinking with no way off the planet in sight was beginning to grate.

"Still, he shouldn't have said that. Think he forgot it cuts me deep, too, and he could've left it at 'thanks, but I'm not interested.' He'll remember after I don't talk to him for a week."

"You'd do that because he insulted a perfect stranger?"

"Us unemployed actors have to stick together, yeah?"

That pulled Ford back down to earth - in a manner of speaking - but his companion looked nothing like a fellow hitchhiker. Either he'd done a better job of blending in than Ford himself had, or he really was an unemployed actor.

"Right," he said, feeling it was a good answer to the question either way, and took another swig from the bottle of vodka he'd bought on his way out of the pub. It was no Janx Spirit, but it was the closest thing to that Ford had been able to find on Earth, and it did the trick in a pinch.

"Haven't you had a lot to drink for one night?"

"My livers can handle it. Anyway, it's been that sort of day."

If the young man noticed Ford's use of the plural in relation to his livers, he didn't comment on it, making him by far the most sensible human Ford had talked to to date (if he wasn't, in fact, a hitchhiker). Instead, he leaned back and started watching the stars himself.

"What made you come out here, anyway?" he said, after a while. "Aside from getting away from Rick before he decked you, I mean. Can't have been the scintillating company of the cow patties."

"I'm looking for flying saucers," Ford said, and braced himself for the standard reactions humans had to that statement. Even as sensible as this one seemed to be, no one took a question like that at face value--

"If you find one, I'll go along."

Ford felt a little like that answer had sobered him up a bit, and took another swig from the bottle to counteract that. "You would?"

The young man shrugged, as best as anyone could shrug while lying down in a field. "There's got to be a better place out there for people like us. So if you find one, why not? I don't really have anyone keeping me here."

Ford grinned. "I'll keep that in mind."