"How about this one?" Kelly asked, turning her laptop towards me. I squinted judiciously.
"Umm. . .he seems. . .nice." I concluded with an enthusiastic nod.
Kelly furrowed her unlined brow.*
*Bitch swears she hasn't had Botox but her forehead is smoother than a Ken doll's genetalia. I call bullshit.
"What do you mean, 'nice'?" she queried. "Nice as in 'upstanding citizen and devoted father' nice, or nice as in 'bears a shocking resemblance to Leonard Nimoy after a stint at the burn unit but I'm sure his personality makes up for it', nice."
"Ummmm..." I hedged. "The other one."
Kelly narrowed her eyes and continued to scroll through her daily matches on Match.com. "How about this one?"
I peered over her shoulder. "Cute. . .but why is he wearing a mohair sweater at the beach in Hawaii?"
Kelly squinted at the picture and realization slowly dawned on her face. "That's not a sweater, Jen. I. . .I think that's his chest hair."
Grabbing the laptop from her hands I perused the photo carefully. "Oh. . .well. . .I suppose it's not that bad."
"Not that bad?" Kelly cried. "What am I, Jane Goodall?"
I laughed. "Maybe you could convince him to keep his shirt on. . .forever."
Kelly sighed glumly. "No, eventually the heat would get to him and it would come off. Don't forget that we live in Sasquatch country. The last thing I'd need would be someone following us on a hike and taking grainy pictures of my date."
"Valid point." I conceded, continuing to scroll through her daily matches. "There are an inordinate amount of dog pictures on here." I noted. "I mean, I get the whole 'man's best friend' thing but aren't you looking for HUMAN companionship here. This reeks of bestiality."
Kelly snorted. "Oh, Girl, PLEASE! Don't even get me started on the amount of men posting pictures holding some giant tuna they caught. Oh yeah, Baby. The thought of you coming home to me smelling like the Champagne Room at Jiggles gets me hot."
I shuddered. "Aaaaand, vaginal analody for the win. Well played, Kell."
"What's well played." Gina asked as she strode over to our usual table at Starbucks.
"Kelly made her first feminine hygiene analogy." I beamed. "I've never been prouder of her than I am at this moment."
"Ahhh," Gina purred, patting Kelly's hand. "The student has surpassed the teacher. Well done, Grasshopper."
Kelly nodded her head reverently while I got up and limped to the coffee bar for a napkin.
"What happened to your leg?" Gina asked, with a tilt of her head.
I plunked into my chair with a grimace. "Pulled hamstring."
Gina narrowed her almond-shaped eyes and fixed me with her best cross-examination gaze.*
*Gina is 5'1", weighs about 90 lbs. soaking wet and looks like an extra in a Hello Kitty commercial but when she is in the courtroom she can bring a grown man to tears. It is a thing of beauty to behold...unless you're on the receiving end of it.
"There must be a 'Jen's a dumbass' story behind this." Gina surmised. "So let's hear it."
I sighed. "Well, let's just say that when you're out with your friends and you meet a group of 21-year-old male cheerleaders, it is not necessarily wise to mention that YOU were a cheerleader in your fecund youth."
"Oh, no." Gina moaned.
"Oh, yes!" Kelly smirked.
"And," I continued, "when said male cheerleaders suggest throwing you into the air to see if you can still do a Liberty heel-stretch, the proper response is: 'Why, no, I couldn't possibly. For, you see, I am no longer a lithe and limber 16-year-old cheerleader, but rather a 42-year-old woman with bad knees and even worse judgment, so I shall bid you adieu, kind sir'."
Gina smirked, "And, your response was. . ."
"Okay!" I stated with a roll of my eyes as Kelly and Gina chuckled at my stupidity. "Hey!" I cried defensively. "I'll have you know I could still do it! Like. A. Boss."
"Yeah!" Kelly snorted. "Then you pulled your hamstring. Like. A. Moron."
"Whatevs," I sniffed indignantly. A win is a win, bitches." I turned to Gina in time to catch her glancing surreptitiously at her phone.*
*We have a strict fatwa on cell phone usage when we're together. Every time I see a group of people sitting together tapping on their phones I want to go all "Hulk SMASH" on their narcissistic asses. Are you waiting for a kidney? Because, if not, quit checking your phone every ten seconds like a fat girl on prom night and start being SOCIAL , Boo Radley.
"Are you needed in surgery?" Kelly drawled with an arch of her brow.
Gina sighed. "Just seeing if my mom has returned any of my calls. She's pissed at me again."
Kelly shook her head in amazement. "I don't get it, Geen. You're gorgeous, successful, you're a freaking LAWYER for sobbing out loud, you are married to an amazing man and you gave her a grandson right out of the shoot. You're a freaking parent's wet dream."
Gina shoved her phone into her Coach bag with a huff. "It's an Asian thing. We're taking Milo to Japan next week to meet some of the clan and apparently we forgot to inform the second cousin of mom's great aunt's daughter. Now I have officially 'disrespected the family'."
I shook my head in amazement. "Damn, Girl. That kind of shit makes me glad I'm a Cracker."
Kelly smirked. "Word, my Cracker."
"Yo, Cracker," I countered, throwing up a gang sign. "Why don't we hop into my Ford Escape and do a drive-by at the Barnes and Noble."
"Fo shizzle, mah crizzle." Kelly replied gravely. "Hey Cracker, hook a bitch up with a soy latte."
"Pfft! Cracker, PLEASE!" I snorted with an Oprah head move and dismissive wave of my hand.
"That's what I'M talkin' about!" Gina crowed. "Preach on, Cracker!" Kelly and I regarded her with a stony gaze.
"Ummm, Gina." I explained seriously. "YOU can't call us Cracker. Only WE can call ourselves Cracker."
Gina frowned. "It's cool. I have lots of white friends and they're down with it, so it's all good."
Kelly shook her head with mock solemnity. "Oh, Honey. . .no. You can say 'cracka' or refer to us as 'the C-word', but you can't say Cracker. That's some racist shit right there, yo."
Gina chuckled. "I love you crazy bitches."
"Good." I grinned. "Because right now I can use all the friends I have."
Kelly frowned. "Brandon still giving you the cold shoulder?"
"Colder than a stepmother's tit." I sighed. "I know he's mad, but I still don't see how he wants to just throw away 8 years of friendship because I was HONEST with him. I know the truth hurts but why does it keep cornholing me?"
"He'll come around." Gina cooed consolingly. "And if not. . .well. . .he never really respected your opinion in the first place; and that's not someone you want as a friend."
I nodded sadly. "Yeah. . .I know. I just really miss the kid. He's like a loose tooth; it's kind of a pain and it gets in your way and drives you batshit crazy, but when it's gone you just feel this. . .void."
"Just do what I do." Kelly smiled, pushing the laptop toward me. "Fill the void with dysfunctional online relationships."
I pushed the laptop away in disgust. "No thank you." I snorted. My days of Match and e-'Harming Me' are over. I've decided to just enjoy my life, and if someone comes along who'd like to join me in that, it's cool. But I'm not actively looking. When you look, you settle. I settled once. . .never again."
Gina raised her eyebrows in amazement. "Daaaaaamn! Look at you being all zen and shit!"
I shrugged affably. "What do I have to complain about? I have great kids, an awesome family, a job I love, and freakishly awkward friends who make me look fabulous by comparison. What's not to be happy about?"
"Here, here!" Kelly shouted, raising her chai tea aloft. "Maybe I'll delete my Match profile today!"
"Really?" I grinned.
Kelly shook her head. "Nah, I'm just fucking with you. As long as there's a chance I might get laid during this presidential administration, the profile stays up."
Later that night, after the short people were in bed, I thought about our conversation. Gina was trying so desperately to gain her mother's approval, while Kelly was seeking similar validation from a man. And I was. . .relatively OK. While I was sad that Brandon could not see fit to forgive me or even meet me halfway, I knew that my true friends would always be there. And even if they weren't, I'd still be OK. Because, at the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirror and honestly like and respect the woman I saw staring back at me. I was pondering all of this deep-life altering shizz-nit when a soft tapping at my kitchen door jolted me to my feet. Peering out the side window, I was astounded at who I saw on my porch. I opened the door slowly.
"You're the last person I expected to see." I said.
Brandon tugged the brim of his ballcap and scuffed the ground with te toe of his shoe. "I still think you're a judgmental bitch." he muttered.
I crossed my arms over my chest and tossed my hair back angrily. "Yeah? And I still think you're an immature asshole."
He looked up at me, his brown eyes boring into mine. "Nag."
I narrowed my eyes, locking his gaze. "Dumbass."
"Harpy." he replied, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.
"Brat." I whispered, tears filling my eyes.
Without another word, he stepped forward and wrapped his arms around me while I cried. Finally, he stepped back and looked at the front of his shirt. "Dude, you got mascara all over me."
I snuffled softly and dabbed at his shirt with the sleeve of my pajamas. "Yeah, well. . .don't keep making women cry and it won't be an issue."
He frowned for a minute. "I'm still pissed." he said.
"Yeah, me too." I responded, wiping my eyes with the back of my hand.
"But I'm mostly pissed at me." he said with a sigh. "You called me on my shit."
"You TOLD me to!" I wailed.
Brandon sighed. "Whatever. Let's just hug it out. You've already jacked up my shirt already."
Gina was right. We both came around eventually. And although a part of me was resigned to the fact that our friendship might be over, I'm glad Brandon saw it as something worth saving. Because no matter how annoying, or immature, or dysfunctional your friends are; they are your tribe.
Even if they do show up right when "Project Runway" is about to start. . .then ask you to make them scrambled eggs. . .and then clog your toilet. . .