She overdone but she wants you think she’s effortless. Like a t-shirt and jeans.
She’s not. She’s a complicated wrap dress coupled with various undergarments for shaping and girding.
“We really missed you at happy hour.”
“I thought for sure you’d make it this time.”
“We’d love to see your face.”
So, against your better judgment, you show up the next time. You don’t have anything to wear for her sort of occasion. You work. You write. You wear clothes that accommodate that lifestyle. You don’t really know what “cocktail attire” means. But you have a black dress you wore as a bridesmaid, and you hope that’s good enough.
Before you get there, you’re already put off. Drinks shouldn’t cost more than $5. But she doesn’t play that way. She did that thing where you always take the straight and narrow. Where you work for someone else. Where every brick has been laid to get you where you’re going. Where you jump through the hoops and have it made.
She’s in the center of the room. You knew she would be. She always is. She needs the attention. The validation. The notion that you only see her from the outside.
You grab a drink at the bar first, cursing the lack of beer on the menu. Before you get your wallet out, she swoops in.
“Let me get that! I’m so excited to see you.”
The bartender puts it on her tab and you’re so irritated that she thinks she has to do that. It’s part of her largesse. Remember how far above you she is. She wants you to know that.
She needs you to know that.
It’s the foundation everything else rests upon. She’s better than you because she took the straight and narrow. She’s jumped through the right hoops.
You hate the phrase “human capital.” But damn. Ain’t it fitting.
The bartender passes you the drink, something too sweet and decorated.
Her arm is around you, whisking you into the center of the room. There was a time when you were friends. You enjoyed the same things. You listened to the same bands that told you to live life on your terms and not give in to the man. You begin to wonder if all of that was lost on her, or if maybe she just didn’t hear the lyrics. Or maybe she just didn’t understand them.
“Where have you been?” She asks, eyes bright and smiling, but underneath it is the air of a worried parent. It’s irritating. She knows where you’ve been.
“Writing,” you say, sipping. The flavor makes the word “cloying” come into your mind like a neon sign. You mentally note what a good word that is, and how you’d like to use it somewhere. Maybe to describe a person. Their tone of voice…
She rolls her eyes. Her face takes a shape that’s meant to convey “good natured,” but it really just makes you mad. “I wish I had time to write,” she says, shaking her head.
You both work the same 40 hours every week. Of course, she thinks hers are more important.
You could tell her that she has time. You could tell her to quit going out. To quit scheduling parties. To quit taking so much damn time to get ready. You could tell her a lot of things.
But they don’t register. You see that now. If it’s not on the path that’s laid out, she can’t see it.
So you just shrug, and listen to her chatter. Eventually someone better comes along, and you are mercifully allowed to slip away. You leave, calling in a to go order at a sports bar on the way home. You plan to drink a beer while you wait for it, just to get that sweetness out of your mouth.
Your phone chirps. One new message.
“Where’d you go? I want to introduce you to this guy. He’s a lawyer and he owns his own house.”
You don’t respond. You realize that everyone else who doesn’t get what you’re doing has fallen by the wayside, and it’s odd that she hasn’t yet.