It was a lovely day in Betelguese. Arthur, with his head inside a newspaper, was sitting in a corner of the restaurant at the end of the universe. His retina caught the reflection of a female figure in his spectacles. Turning, he saw that the female figure had a familiar face - it was Tricia, his good friend; and she looked upset.
"Tricia", bellowed Arthur, drawing the attention of all the patrons of the restaurant.
Tricia acknowledged, walking towards him with a sad, burdened walk, not unlike that of a daily- wage earner who just lost his day's pay. She took the chair opposite Arthur's and sat down, taking a tissue to wipe a single tear that rolled down her cheek. Arthur asked: "Hey, what's the matter?"
Arthur had met Tricia through a professor of History at the Vogon University. Tricia, a student of art, was writing a thesis on the significance of art in Arthur's religion - Whotheheckisgod. Arthur, a self-confessed fan of anyone interested in his religion, was more than happy to answer her questions. They got along so well that they continued to meet even after Tricia completed her thesis, sharing a bond that Arthur shared with very few women. Arthur was Tricia's vault - a storehouse of her feelings, secrets, anecdotes and darkest thoughts.
Still sobbing, Tricia said: "Zaphod broke up with me this morning. He said he was no longer in love with me, and that I should go and find someone else. How could he do this to me!? After all the years we spent together!? I think he is with that b*ch, Trillian!"
Tricia and Zaphod had been going steady since their high school days. Zaphod was the only guy Tricia had dated, and her vault was full of plans for their marriage, children and the like. Trillian was the captain of the college cheer-leading squad, and made no secrets about her 'love' for Zaphod.
Arthur exclaimed: "My god! I'm so sorry!". The ridiculousness of invoking something that doesn't exist got to him, and then, handing a tissue to Tricia, said, "Why? What happened? You guys were so good together!"
Tricia replied: "Don't you understand? We weren't in the same league!"
"What league!?", asked a confused Arthur.
"Leagues", replied Tricia, rather impatiently. "I wasn't in his league...or to say it in geek-speak, I wasn't in the same level as Zaphod!"
"Oh. How do you know what league anyone is in?" asked Arthur, his curiousity overcoming his concern for his friend's distress.
"That is easy", replied Tricia. "In geek-speak, it is a function that takes a person's looks, age, bank balance, intelligence, figure, face, colour, smartness, popularity, confidence, and many such factors, and returns an integral value which indicates the person's position in the social ladder."
"Neat.", commented Arthur. "So, why weren't you in his league?"
Tricia replied: "You see, he is a football player. That gives him immense popularity. And he is smart. Me? I'm just a geek who gets straight A's. " [with a sad tone] "Guys like him don't fall for me... "
Confused, Arthur asked: "So, football players and cheerleaders are at the top of the social ladder?"
"Yeah. Add movie-stars, rock stars and basketball players to the list and you have the pharoahs of modern society. And remember, no one wants to date someone below their league. The least that is expected of a prospective partner is that he/she is at least in one's own league."
"No wonder." thought Arthur. Then, he asked: "How do you move up in the social ladder?"
Tricia replied: "That isn't easy. Plastic surgery is an option. Another option is to dumb down. A third is to become a guitar player, or a sportsperson. Ofcourse, money helps, but you only attract gold-diggers. Oh, and then, there are the social jet-pax."
"Social jet-pax?", Arthur asked increduously.
"Yes. jet-pax. Like winning a million dollars in a lottery. Or, in high school, having your parents buy you a cool car."
"Ah." Arthur was now seeing ladders and rungs everywhere. Then, as quietly as he could, he asked: "What about software engineers? Which rung are they in?"
Tricia smiled, knowing the consequences of her answer. With a flourish that only she could muster, she said, "Why don't you tell me when you find out?", and walked out of the restaurant.
PS: With sincerest apologies to Douglas Adams. But hey, 'inspiration' is the sincerest form of flattery, isn't it!?
PS-2: Geez! What have I done! I've imitated the 'inspired one'!!!
PS-3: Now a mythical friend of mine is salivating (PS-3)...
X-box: To be fair to the competition. I just noticed that my orkut profile says I'm 100% sexy. Considering the number of girls I know, and considering that you need at least three votes to get such an entry, this is a scary figure, to say the least!
X-box 360: Zimply. To complete the quintet.