Her place is furnished in shades of gray: black and white shoji screen doors, battle-ship iron curtains and sheets, and hand towels and pillow cases cloned from my linen closet. Even her pile of clothes on the floor, the exact same tangle of muted earth-tones that adorn my body. We are two souls cut from the same colour palette. Where her world ends my world quickly begins.
We spend our nights drinking whiskey and wine, out and about so much so we start to know Uber drivers on a first-name basis. We spend our mornings in her bed hiding from the sunlight, our bodies tangled and curled around each other. As the sun creeps higher in the sky we’re propped up on pillows our fingers mashing our phones as we Clash our Clans side by side. She paints my toenails bright ruby red while we’re sitting on her couch watching House of Cards, branding me as off limits to any other woman who might see me barefooted and toes-curling. And I’m okay with it. I’ve all but resigned myself to this lifestyle, and the slowly blurring lines between me and her.
Everything is going great. Until that fateful night we hung out with her friends. I’d heard stories about most of them, the flamboyant best friend, the supporting cast of kooky co-workers, and that one guy who likes her.
– – – –
Her friends were friendly and forthcoming, with quickly lubricated first impressions within a few rounds. I start to imagine a future with these people: beach days and barbecues, surprise birthdays and that one big celebration where she wears the white dress and I dress up like a James Bond penguin… but I digress. I am ready and willing to assimilate fully into her world. We wandered, quick-comrades from one bar to the next, and that’s when I met– him.
He was a cro-magnon of a man, someone who might’ve been able to brute force his way into girl’s panties in grade school, but now as adults, his kind were quickly going extinct; hunted to the ends of the earth and replaced by men of words and thought, ambitions and dreams beyond “gym and drugs” and “pose in selfies trying to look, thug” and you could tell he liked her– a lot.
Somehow this Cro-magnon managed to pull her away from me. The second they made eye contact she strolled right up to him and smacked him right across the face, then proceeded to argue like a pair of over-emoting Sims:
I was left to make small talk with her clique of friends I just met less than a half-hour ago. Granted, and I’m a moderately proficient conversationalist given the right dosage of alcohol and necessity, but it was unnerving to abandoned so quickly into the night.
She and Cro-magnon come back to the table after what seems an eternity of being left adrift. I’m curious, who is this man that is able to draw so much of her scorn? I get my answer right away. He’s a one-upper and a boaster. Any story told, somehow he’s got to tell a bigger one, in a way that makes him sound amazing, usually at the expense of someone else. He also calls women, “feee-males” as in “I was talking to this feee-male…” or “I was getting freeaky with this feee-male” or “This feee-male was super into me…” (and yes unfortunately, those three stories happened, consecutively)
She smiles over at me and holds my hand, as if to say, ‘yeah I get it, this guy is scum but he’s my friend so we need to put up with him’. We’re on the same page and our lines blur again. It’s not just me seeing this. But in a few minutes he has her pulled off to the side again, and they argue for another half an hour. And I am left to fend for myself again.
This is weird. Very weird, fuckin’ weird.
(Aaand that’s my second Rent quote in the Mirror Match Saga)
Her best friend ends up apologizing to me. Not ‘I’m sorry this doesn’t normally happen’, or ‘I’m sorry something big just came up which is why they are arguing’ it’s more like… ‘I’m sorry this is how our world is’
– – – –
The night is coming to a close, and I’ve been stuck amongst her friends for most of the evening. She and Cro-magnon resurface again. Good, we’re getting the hell out of here. As we’re walking out of the bar through the parking structure, Cro-Magnon is telling her to punch him, which she does with great satisfaction. Can I get in on that action?
She and I are ready to take our Uber home, when Cro-Magnon insists we all pile into his little Nissan. Under the guise of a chivalrous gentleman, and he wants to give us a ride home. I’m too tired to argue at this point. We all pile in, she on my lap, and his punky friends. And we get out at her place, and they all pile out. I guess we’re all going in.
I get up to use her restroom, and I can hear his muffled voices:
“What a scrub. You think I should give him cracks?” I hear Cro-Magnon through the bathroom door. “Just my left hand, 50% powah.”
“Stop…” I hear her giggle.
“Wat? I won’t hurt him… that much.”
You’re going to let him talk about me like that?
I wash my hands and exit the bathroom. He is still sprawled out across her couch, with her sitting about five feet away, cross legged in the middle of the floor. I wrap my body around her and give her a solid kiss on the cheek before lowering myself to the ground with my head in her lap and the rest of me curled around her like a snake on the branch.
“How long have you guys been friends?” I ask him, trying my best to sound innocuous and friendly.
“A couple years.” he mutters.
“That’s a long time.” Do I like her? Or do I want to beat him? I can’t tell the difference anymore.
“We just met, what… three weeks ago, babe?” I’ve never called her babe before. “…and we just hit it off so well.” I give her bottom a playful slap. I watch him shift uncomfortably. Babe. I used it with her for the first time as a weapon. Something about this feels unhealthy. “We were just strangers, and now look at us.” I give her a gentle kiss.
“It’s funny you guys never dated.” I turn my head up to look at him. I watch his face darken, his eyebrows furrowing downwards like two clenched monkey fists. The implication of course, is she never wanted to date you. She glares at me. It’s too late. I’ve endured him too much. All night of his sorry ass kidnapping my date, and story after self-aggrandizing story inflating his ego like a balloon, and I am ready to be the sharp prick. My mouth is already on this unstoppable trajectory of attack. “I suppose once a girl decides you’re just a friend there’s really no escaping that.”
“What do they call it babe?” I poke her playfully. She wants no part. She ignores me and focuses on the soft glow of the television. “Y’know where you’re in that zone of just being friends….” I tap my chin in mock contemplation.
“Ah, friend zoned.”
He rises from his sitting position. I think he might strike me, while I’m lying here sprawled in her lap. If he hits me, he kills the snake and snaps the branch in one fell swoop.
“Goin’ out to smoke.” He says. And leaves.
“You shouldn’t antagonize him.” she scolds me.
“You should stick up for me.” This is our first fight.
Which means she won’t.
Bump it with: