By the time Anderson emerges from the men's room, Jon, Stephen, and Rachel have already joined Keith at the table, and Keith shoots Anderson his best told you so look over the top of Jon's head.
Anderson refuses to acknowledge it. Instead, he frowns and gestures to Rachel, who has taken his seat, with a sideways nod of his head.
Keith shrugs. With anyone else, it would be sheepish, an apology for letting Rachel take the seat, but this is Keith, so the shrug is an extension of his told you so glance. Anderson's lost seat isn't Keith's problem or fault, and Anderson could still be sitting there if he hadn't insisted on standing around in the bathroom.
Anderson rolls his eyes. They refocus just in time to see Rachel grin and elbow Keith before she raises her glass and nods a hello. Her greeting doesn't escape Jon and Stephen's notice, and they turn around in their seats.
"Andy!" Stephen calls, waving him over. He's grinning broadly, arm stretched across the back of his chair, but as Anderson approaches, Stephen schools his features into a stern expression. "You're late, Cooper."
"I'm really not," Anderson says, reaching for the remaining chair. It's at the head of the table, between Keith and Stephen, and Anderson's knee brushes against Keith's when he sits down.
"Yes, you are," Stephen insists. He nods his head vigorously, like it's directly related to the trueness of his argument. "You're tardy to our first-ever phallus party."
Keith's eyes nearly bug out. "Our first-ever what?"
Anderson shifts in his chair and tugs uncomfortably at his ear. His face feels as pink as Keith's looks. "I don't know, Stephen," Anderson says slowly. "I mean, how is Rachel here right now if it's a phallus party?"
Rachel leans back in her seat, looking around Keith to address Anderson. "Rachel took the subway," she volunteers. She scrunches up her nose. "Then Rachel stopped talking about herself in the third person like Bob Dole."
"And Bob Dole sold Viagra," Stephen says brightly. "See? Phallus party. And not just any phallus party, but a phallus party I beat Anderson Cooper to."
"To which," Keith says through gritted teeth. "It's not and you didn't, but if you're going to insist on saying it, at least do so using proper English. It's a phallus party to which I beat Anderson Cooper."
Hearing Keith say those words goes a long way toward changing Anderson's opinion on Stephen's latest flight of fancy. "Huh," Anderson says thoughtfully, barely suppressing a smile as he nudges Keith's foot under the table. "You know, you did come before me."
The blood drains from Keith's face while simultaneously rushing to his ears. "Good Lord," he mumbles, somewhere between astonishment and dismay. "I beat Anderson Cooper to a phallus party."
Rachel pats the back of Keith's hand. She doesn't seem to notice when Keith flinches, but Anderson does. He knows Keith is remembering what he used that hand for a mere twenty minutes ago.
"Aw," Rachel coos, her voice full of sweet condescension. "It's okay, Keith. I'm sure Anderson has come first plenty of times, and it's always a phallus party around here."
"I think you mean 'sausage fest,'" Jon says, and he takes a pull of his beer. "Anderson had a good point, though. What's a lesbian doing at a phallus party?"
Rachel leaves her hand on Keith's as she turns to Jon and raises her eyebrows. "I'm pretty sure that's between me and my girlfriend." Frowning thoughtfully, she presses her lips together and tilts her head from side to side as she reconsiders what she just said. "And Keith. But only because he hates when I tell him things."
Stephen rests his elbows on the table and leans toward Rachel. "You can tell me things any time," he says, waggling his eyebrows.
"I wouldn't," Jon warns, gesturing with his drink. "He'd enjoy it too much. Me, on the other hand..."
"Wait a minute," Stephen says. "We’re getting off track here. Wasn't this just a phallus party? How did it go from a phallus party to a--"
"No," Keith interrupts. "You are not alliterating the next part of that."
Stephen feigns innocence. "Why? Is there something wrong with a Sapphic shebang?" He pauses for a second and revises his joke. "Or a Sapphic she-bang, as the case may be."
Jon shakes his head. "Not Sapphic shebang," he says. "Lesbian luau. That way, everybody gets lei'd."
Rachel rolls her eyes and reaches for her glass, finally taking her hand away from Keith's. "It doesn't have to be an either-or situation," she says, taking a sip of her drink. She is watching them carefully over the top of her glass. "Lesbian or phallus party, I mean. At the risk of being TMI here--"
"Stop." Keith's strangled command is dangerously close to a plea.
Rachel tilts her glass toward him and shoots a pointed look across the table at Jon and Stephen. "I told you he hates when I tell him things."
"I'll handle this," Jon assures her, sitting up straighter. He rolls his shoulders and stretches his neck before angling himself toward Keith. "Look, Olbermann, if you don't start taking a more active interest in your lesbian friend's sex life, the Board of Heterosexuality has officially authorized Stephen and me to revoke your straight guy card and all the privileges it affords."
Anderson doesn't miss the fleeting glances Rachel and Stephen trade across the table, and he can't quite stop himself from asking, "What?"
Rachel and Stephen trade looks again. Rachel is biting down on a smile when she says, "Nothing."
It's Anderson's turn to feel the blood drain from his face. "You know," he says miserably.
"Well, not until you said it like that," Stephen says. His smile lights up his entire face. "By the way, we should really play poker sometime."
Jon narrows his eyes at Keith. "Know what?" he asks, using the careful, suspicious tone of a man in search of confirmation.
Anderson doesn't look at Keith. He can't. Instead, he watches Rachel and Stephen exchange glances yet again.
This time, it makes Stephen snicker and look down at the table. Then he turns his head slightly toward Jon and says, "That Keith and Anderson are having a private phallus party."
Rachel presses a hand over her mouth to stifle her laughter, and Keith's head whips around. "You knew?"
Rachel takes her hand away from her mouth and uses it to smack him on the arm. "Yes, I knew," she says, rolling her eyes at him. "I just can't believe you didn't tell me. Hell, I can't believe you thought we wouldn't know."
"I didn't know!" Jon protests, defending himself more than Keith. His shoulders slump. "How did I not know?"
Stephen laughs and slings an arm around Jon's shoulders. "If that surprised you, just wait until you hear about me and the Board of Heterosexuality..."