The smoosh name was Jeff's idea. They'd been hiding from Big Mike in the console games department at the time, with Jeff wearing a false mustache and Lester a derby hat to throw him off the scent. So far, it had worked. Big Mike hadn't pestered them to help customers for a full half-hour.
The key to successfully hiding from Big Mike, Lester had figured out long ago, was keeping Jeff distracted. Otherwise, he'd do something loud and stupid and blow their cover. Like that time with the mink coat and the Italian ketchup. Big Mike had put them on store opening for three solid weeks after that, and lord knows Jeff was not equipped to open the store after a night with the sauce. So Lester took it upon himself to make sure Jeff didn't do something... Jefflike, by keeping his Jeffly mind occupied.
"So what do you think of Brangelina?" he'd asked, though he knew already that Jeff agreed with him that Brad was way too hot for Angelina. They'd never last long term together.
Jeff made that funny harrumphing noise he made when he was thinking, then said, "They'll never make it. He's way too hot for her. Like Sarah was too hot for Chuck."
"I know, right?"
"Their smoosh name sucks, too. Brangelina sounds like a carnivorous plant." Lester laughed.
"Hey, if we had a smoosh name, what would it be? Leff?"
"No, you idiot. We'd be Jeffster."
Jeffster. Lester liked the sound of that.
Dreidl was Lester's idea. Jeff had gotten bored with online poker and needed a new outlet for his compulsive gambling. As a kid, Lester had always played dreidl with pennies or walnuts, but what was stopping him from playing for Benjamins? Okay, Georges and Abes. And it didn't hurt that since nobody could tell the difference between a Gimel and a Nun, it was even easier to cheat at than Scrabble.
And Lester sure didn't want a repeat of the Strip Scrabble fiasco.
Jeff knew that Lester was cheating, of course, just like Lester knew that Jeff cheated at poker. The cheating didn't affect their relationship at all. In fact, one might say that Jeff trusted that Lester would cheat him. It was the social glue that held their friendship together.
The only time Jeff didn't cheat was at Missile Command. That was sacred. Lester understood that, too.
The still was Jeff's idea. His thesis was that the cheaper the alcohol, the more you could drink without going broke. It was hard to argue the point. But at a certain price point, even Jeff couldn't chug the stuff available in stores. So to get something drinkable for cheaper than boxed wine, they had to start making their own.
They couldn't do it at Lester's place because of his bastard landlord. The guy was a crazy Russian antisemite. He could smell liquor a mile away and he always wanted a cut. Jeff wasn't about to let that happen.
They couldn't do it at Jeff's because... well, Lester wasn't sure exactly which park Jeff was sleeping in this week, but the cops who patrolled it were barely tolerating him and they weren't going to tolerate an illegal alcohol still.
So they installed the still at the Buy More. Morgan and Big Mike were none the wiser, since Lester still had the copy of the store keys he'd made back when he was assistant manager "just as a precaution". They snuck in the equipment over a couple of nights and assembled it while drinking from the bottle of Montezuma Gold that Jeff had splurged on.
The night they drank the fruit of their labors would go down in legend. Even Jeff gave up alcohol for three weeks afterward, and Lester learned that when Jeff was sober, he was a lot more sociable. For the last week before he returned to boxed wine and brita-filtered vodka, he was the best worker at the Buy More.
Lester was glad when Jeff returned to normal.
The beach was Lester's idea. Not that either of them needed an excuse to ditch the Buy More for the day to do something more interesting, but so many crazy things happened at the Buy More that they'd found recently that they had very few reasons to ever leave. From hostage crises to cage matches, they were getting complacent. They needed to find a new venue for their hijinks. A day at the beach seemed like the perfect plan. What could go wrong?
Well, for starters, Lester hadn't realized how quickly Jeff would burn in the sun. Even after slathering himself in some sort of greenish goop that thoroughly scared away any ladies who weren't frightened by the chest hair, those UV rays still got through. So Jeff spent most of the day lying on the backseat of Lester's car, howling in pain.
Not a problem, Lester had said. More ladies for me. He'd stretched out a towel on the virgin sand and flopped down and got down to the serious business of girlwatching. Skimpy red bikinis passed by and he shrugged indifferently, awaiting better prospects. Yellow halter tops filled near the bursting point danced past his eager eyes. Finally, he zeroed in on a miniature blue thong and the gorgeous, tanned woman wearing it. He got up in her face and started introducing her to the Lester magic.
Which is how he ended up sitting in the front seat of his car, listening to Jeff's moans and keeping an icepack on his black and blue face.
The band was Jeff's idea. Somehow while he was drunk one night, he'd managed to get one of the stereo systems at the Buy More playing Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" on a continuous loop. Nobody could figure out how to turn it off, not Lester and not Big Mike and not even Chuck, when he finally returned from a mysterious install job that Jeff couldn't remember him scheduling.
Even after Morgan pulled the power cord out of the wall, they couldn't get the power chords out of their head. So Jeff said they ought to start a band, and sometimes, it was just that simple. They started with '80s songs because Lester already had the right hair and Jeff already had the keytar.
Lester was nervous the first time they performed, but Jeff gave him another drink of his Jail Juice and a pep talk, in his fashion. It was paraphrased from Remember the Titans, but it was the thought that counted.
"You rock all night! If you sing a wrong note I'm gonna take every last one of you out. You make sure they remember forever the night they heard Jeffster! play." It was corny, cheesy, slightly incoherent, and it made Lester ashamed he'd ever considered not being part of this.
It was smooth sailing from there. They were real, genuine, rock out with your cock out guitar idols. Nothing could top that.
There was no other possible name for the band except Jeffster! Though after the wedding they'd given a few moments of thought to the name "Sam Kinison and an Indian Lesbian." Long band names were in these days, after all. But no, they were Jeffster! through thick and thin.
Jeff got chills every time he remembered the time he'd said, "Watch me for the changes" in his best Marty McFly voice. Being a rock god was awesome.
The cholent was Lester's idea. Big Mike had been slaving with him and Jeff for hours over the slow cooker to produce samples that would start moving product. And then Chuck had walked over and put the kibosh on their meal. Frozen okra? What was he smoking? But Lester suggested he pull out his bubbe's cholent recipe and at that point, Big Mike was willing to try anything.
In homage to the Patel side of his family, it was a vegetarian cholent, without the chunky slices of meat his grandmother's recipe used. But it was still heaped with rib-sticking potatoes, lentils, beans, carrots, all stewed together overnight. Big Mike made Jeff and Lester stay with the pot to make sure it didn't burn the Buy More down, but that was okay. They already spent a lot of nights in the store, and it was always better to have permission.
In the morning, Big Mike took one bite and a beam crossed his face. "This is a miasma of flavor," he declared. "I'll say this, Lester. You Jews know how to use a slow cooker."
"This is food from the old country. A real meal, to fill you up, my bubbe always said."
As an added bonus, Big Mike's lunchtime nap extended through most of the afternoon, leaving them only Morgan's watchful eye to evade.
The kiss was both of their ideas. It was dark, the Buy More was closed, and they were sitting together on the couch watching Temple of Doom. Then Jeff mentioned that he could smell Chuck and Sarah's pheromones on the couch. Lester wrinkled his nose, but for some reason they both found it kind of a turn-on.
When they got to the part where Willie is about to be lowered into the pit of lava, Jeff found he was holding Lester's hand. From there it was natural. They'd done everything else together. What harm could a kiss do?
When they came up for air, Lester sniffed the air cautiously. "Jeff..." he asked. "Are you sober?"