“Umm, you usually chime in about now to reign me in,” said my friend who joined me on my patio last night. As I refilled her glass of scotch which was old enough to have children in grad school, I nodded for her to go on; she put her cigar in her mouth and gestured with her hands the closing of an imaginary zipper which bound her voice into silence. In defeat, I looked at my watch and noticed that I had been sitting for forty minutes and only had occasional ‘uh-huh,’ ‘yup,’ and “and then what happened’ contributions to our conversation.
“It was just an enormously longer day than I was expecting,” I exhaled as she blew the smoked of her preferred heavily spiced cigar in my direction.
“Ok, I know about work, your family, those in your care, and your one friend who is suffering from depression which you have, for some reason, taken on the responsibility of his well-being on top of everything else,” she paused again for another drag of her cigar and shifted her chair towards me. “But something else happened, didn’t it?”
“It was simply a case of Friday not coming soon enough.”
Her reach still dumbfounds me to this day as her hand made quick contact with the back of my head, followed by the expression of more violence to come if I didn’t open up.
“It was an accumulation of woes and injustices which all descended at once unexpectedly,” this seemed to have calmed my friend’s intentions for further violence as she sat back and continued to hold in her last intake of well-seasoned smoke. “Remember when I finally got back to you as I settled in that Starbucks to avoid rush hour traffic? Well, on top of reading about how forensic science had fatally failed good people, I closed the issue of the Atlantic only to be greeted by a local Ukrainian journalist’s accounts of forgone journalists at her side. Their hope, discussions about their lives continuing to be building forwards with new cars and plans for concerts, was then all brought down by a group of friends simply annihilating a common friend of theirs a few tables over.”
“Nope. Normal office workers with your customary base leased luxury vehicles parked outside.”
“So, what in the fuck was wrong? Besides these bitches being gossiping little fucks,” she said as I could see she now understood why I didn’t want to share any of this.
“Their friend showed up a few minutes later and they all simply acted as if they loved her. There were no sideways glances at each other. No coughs to point out her mannerisms that they made fun of. Not a single indication that they genuinely did not like her. She, on the other hand, was genuinely relieved to be amongst ‘friends’ and was taken aback by them. She even admired them. She admired the privilege to be amongst them.”
“Holy fuck. Kathy was right about you and your empathy levels for strangers being off the charts,” she said as we both reached for our glasses and downed the four-fingers deep scotch that was expensive enough to force one to adjust their following week’s grocery list of fresh produce. Whenever we mentioned her name, we inhaled whatever abusive substance was within reach in her honour.
“It just made me think about all of the useless friendships that we’re in. Think of all the social circles that entrap us to be in the periphery or sphere of influence of some fucking shit humans. Are we really that desperate to fight off being alone in order to put up with the constant cost-benefit analysis of ducking and weaving in-between all these ungrateful people?” My friend simply smirked, and I knew what she was thinking.
Our mutual friend, who is no longer with us, certainly did not. We both started laughing as we reminisced for a further thirty minutes about how she constantly put people in their place with only us knowing that she had her off-hand in her purse clutching her taser, just hoping for the insubordinate and ungracious jerk in front of her to step out of line again.