At some point, over the last few years, I became one of Those People who carries a big tote bag, and talks about the latest workouts, and drinks her water out of an omnipresent glass water bottle (because BPA is bad), and has Lunches and Dinners and Drinks Things at fancy places.
Basically, I went from being a Garden-Variety Yuppie Asshole to being an Insufferable Yuppie Asshole.
Anyway. This summer has been busy with all the Lunches and Dinners and Drinks Things that are the hallmarks of the Insufferable Yuppie Asshole lifestyle and so last Tuesday, I had my sesquiennial Lunch with Frederic.
It seems that we get together every year and a half or so to “catch up.”
We are different, now, in most ways, and in the fundamental ways, we are still very much the same. But not…angry anymore. Not hostile in that way that fuelled our passionate fires. Now, we are just…friends.
So I had picked the Pool Room for our meet-up, partly because I had graduated to a new level in Yuppie Assholedom, but also because they’ve got this gazpacho that I sometimes dream about.
When the day of our lunch came, I hadn’t washed my hair. I was wearing flats. My skin was breaking out because I was pumped so full of analgesics that I was practically oozing naproxen. There was a time when I would’ve cancelled because I was so afraid that Frederic would see me with so much as a hair out of place. Now, my skin was erupting like I was 13 and I just didn’t care.
We met in the entrance of the restaurant, and ascended the staircase to the host stand together. The maitre d’ greeted me by name, probably because I’d made a number of bookings there lately; probably because I eat a lot of gazpacho.
And we were seated for lunch.
I ran out of hair stuff this morning, Frederic confessed, And my shoes broke, so I’m wearing these weird, orthopaedic shoes.
I smiled, and sort-of laughed, because even after knowing each other for so long and having gone through so much together, we still had these idealised versions of each other in our heads. We were still afraid to be messy, and ugly, and have a spots and unfashionable shoes, and All That.
We stared at each other for a moment.
Are you engaged yet? Frederic asked. My eyes caught his wedding band, and then flashed down to my own naked marriage finger.
Me? No. Not really in any rush. We like where we are; not in a hurry to change things.
People ask me that a lot, especially over the last two weeks since Andrew has gotten married: So when are you and Paul going to make it official?
I don’t think either Paul or I feel like we are lacking anything in our lives or our relationship because we aren’t married. I admire the hardware that the married girls sport, but otherwise, I am pretty ambivalent about That Whole Thing.
Also, I have observed that people seem to feel unhappy in relationships when they believe they must be on some sort of march to the finish. But I have found one can enjoy people and partners for what they are, where they are, and one need not necessarily be in perpetual motion.
Once I figured that out, I felt a lot more…free.
I guess that was really how I had found myself sitting face to face over gazpacho with a man who had once broken my heart in that punchyouinthegut kind of way. Back when I believed everything had to go somewhere, interactions between Freddy and me were downright weird. I could barely tolerate looking at him because I was so devastated about the way things had or hadn’t gone. But now, we were just two old friends who had been to the front and back, sharing stories; talking about our partners; inquiring as to what had been going on and what came next.
At the end of our meal, the waiter came out with the big plate of cotton candy, which Frederic eyed suspiciously.
Don’t worry, I said, It’s not on the menu, but when they get to know you, then they just bring it to you. Also, there’s ice cream in the bottom.
And we ate it. That was it.
There was no drama; no high emotional or sexual tension; no massive or horrible news to break. We were two old friends having lunch.
There had been so many years of grief and loss and fear and fear of loss; so many years in perpetual motion, and now we were just still. Now we had just run out of hair cream, and had spots on our faces, and were wearing orthopaedic loafers.
It occurred to me, too, that I had spent so many years blaming Frederic for everything – his drinking, his lying, his inability to accept things. It was not until recently that I could bear to accept that I also had to shoulder some of that blame.
We had been friends for nearly a decade. Things between us had never really gone anywhere. In truth, they really hadn’t had to. What we were looking for had been in front of us the whole time.