Have you ever mingled as though friendship was entirely based on strategy? Not because it really was, but because you’d drawn up the blueprints and was unable to leave them underground. Maybe for survival’s sake, you’d started making a tree with everyone’s name, and then began connecting them to relations. Soon you’re writing little side notes and taping up souvenirs to the correct branch. There are penned-in jokes and passing comments that get squeezed into whatever space you have left.
It isn’t until later on, when you take a step back, that you see you’ve been writing in circles around the framework, drawing a bulls eye.
On New Year’s Eve, Blair was talking about fixing up his car with decal. He made a reference to Flint but quickly dismissed it, as he was one-on-one with me and no doubt felt like his words would be pointlessly spent on someone who wasn’t paying attention.
“..and take it up to Industrial. That’d be cool. *pause* This cheese dip is good.”
(Me, realizing I’d heard a familiar word) “Industrial Ave, the quarter mile.”
“YEAH! I got a TICKET up there, man! How do YOU know about it?”
And you want to say, “Because the world you so carelessly brought into this kitchen and hit me with, was mine.”
That was the end of that, until the phone rang this afternoon.
It seems that after years of my absence, Justin has given the Latin Princess my phone number. Does he know I can’t count the number of times I’d have rather taken off with her and her beautiful friends than drone around in that 69 Chevelle with a crew of amateur drag racers? It isn’t like him to give anyone else something they want; I bet he thought she’d never reach me.
I think she said “Lance’s ex girlfriend”. That means no Shenanigans brawls with Big Bad Dave or anyone else from the circuit of the first born in those families – the untouchable parallel clique. She might have the brat, too. Jesus, how old is she, now? And what are the odds that “making an afternoon of it” will mean anything promising for me if she’s just the evil mommy with breast implants at this point?
Already, such terms of status and how I can acquire more.
“Justin is going to Japan for a year,” she mentioned in a way that I knew he’d been around, making her laugh. Something having to do with Justin’s time in the service has bumped him up to a more respectable caliber amongst his brother and older cousins. “Everyone’s worried, ‘oh, he’s an alcoholic, he’s an alcoholic’ but look how everyone else was, at his age”…
Justin went to work on this facade before he ever enlisted. He’d throw a house party, nurse a beer and hard lemonade and then his lanky ass would stumble through everyone else’s empty bottles while he boasted. There was some time away with tanks and camels before he returned to base with his “new” catch phrase, “I’m such a fuckin’ drunk.” “I’m an alcoholic.” I hate people like that, but he has always been this important, happenstance glue…
Jason likes popcorn-flavored jelly beans. Drew likes the Insane Clown Posse.
I haven’t seen Bryce since his dad came out of the closet and left his mother. I haven’t seen Jake since I jumped in the pool for one last wrestling match (me, getting battered and bruised) before driving home to tend to the unfortunate reappearance of someone who said they wanted to be with me, forever, again. The last time I saw Cameron, he was grieving on the pleather couch, having lost his best friend in a fatal car accident.
And I’d joked with myself, “ Sure, NOW you’re a sitting duck. Now that I have to go.”
I have three days to get dressed up to sit at a table with Nicolasa. Three days to entertain poorly suppressed memories. Three days to decide how much an unfinished game means to me, and if I want to play, at all.