I have a friend who’s hot

I have a friend who’s hot. I’ve thought so for so long that I can no longer recall what initially attracted me to her. I’ve thought so for so long that I can no longer recall whether I liked her just as a friend first (I did), if her physicality became sexy to me because of how she acts (it did), or if I thought she was irresistibly beautiful (she is) and our friendship grew from there (maybe it did).

I have a friend who’s hot. We’ve known each other for more than 20 years. We became friends in high school. She was the one who painted not just her face but her entire (beautiful, sexy) body for football games. She was the one who dragged me along to the grocery store to buy flowers for a guy she liked. She was the one who was always up for a party. She was the one who tried to get me to sneak a beer with some cute guys when we were 17. She was the one who was always ready for an adventure.

Now listen up, this is important. This friend of mine? She’s smart. Intimidatingly smart. If there’s one thing that’s hotter to me than her body, it’s her mind. I have to work hard to keep up with her intellectually, and I never get tired of it. I always feel just a little less smart than her, and somehow my brain interprets that to mean that I’m just a little less sexy too. I know, it’s not a contest. But if it was, she would win.

That’s cool with me. I have a friend who’s hot, and she makes me work harder than I usually do. She makes me want to be just like her, even if I never quite get there. I have a friend who’s hot, and she makes me want to be just a little imperfect so she can always be hotter than me.

There was this one time

There’s this guy I know. I’m not going to give you too many details. Suffice it to say, you probably don’t know him.

There’s this guy I know, but I don’t know him that well. I’ve known him awhile now, but he’s always been at the fringes. He’s a guy, which is problematic for me. He’s a guy, so I don’t know him that well. This is not a statement about him, only about me and how I’ve always relegated guys to the fringes.

There’s this guy I know. He’s always interested me. Because he’s a guy, I’ve never given him much mental space. Since he’s a guy, I’ve mostly ignored him.

I’ve mostly ignored him for several reasons: One, guys scare me. That’s a long-established fact. Two, I’m married. My definition of marriage has long excluded giving mental space to men other than my husband. I’ve never bothered making friends with guys. Three, he’s married too, off-limits in my world. So I’ve mostly ignored him.

There’s this guy I know. I’ve observed from afar that he is good looking, hot even. I’ve observed that he is funny and friendly. Very friendly. I’ve observed that he is a great husband, a great dad. I’ve observed all this without comment, without action. I’ve just noticed it.

Years ago, there was an incident. This was a long time ago, before this guy became a dad, long before I became a mom, before I was even married, even before I began to actively relegate interesting people to the fringes. I’m not going to give you too many details.

There was a large celebration. Something horrible happened to me and I was crying, in public. This was a celebration, so all of my friends were there. My real friends, the ones I don’t ignore, don’t relegate. All my friends saw what happened, they saw me crying. They stood there, shocked, unmoving. All of them just stared at me, except for this guy I know. This guy I know, he didn’t say anything, but he did hug me.

There was this one time that this guy I know hugged me. I didn’t know him that well; I still don’t.

Sometimes a lot of knowing happens in one hug.

There’s this guy I know.

Movie night

I wrote this for a friend. Sorry about the obnoxious purse comment, S.

Portia got her nails done right after work: long gel tips, hot pink, no art. She didn’t have the cash. Not since Sven had dumped her last week on the street corner in the rain, like she was some whore.

I’m not, Portia reassured herself as she dashed home to pick up supper before the movie. She sighed as she pulled her second to last Lean Cuisine out of the freezer, and she groaned when she saw that it was chicken with mushrooms and potatoes. They were all chicken with mushrooms now, Portia surmised. She tried not to be fatalist as she carefully dabbed the buttons on the microwave. Gotta protect the nails, she thought. They gotta last til I find a new guy, she rationalized.

Portia pulled the steaming Lean Cuisine out of the microwave, burning her wrist as she did. “Shit!” she screamed, even though Sven wasn’t there. No one to kiss it better, Portia thought sadly. She shook it off, wrapped the food in a towel, and tossed it into her large purse before heading out to the theater.

A girl’s gotta do something to keep her spirits up, Portia told herself as she made her way over to the multiplex. Gotta put yourself out there, girl, she thought. Portia knew she was right. She was a survivor.

Portia put her movie ticket on Sven’s credit card. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt me, Portia joked to herself. She sat near the back of the theater, plunking herself down next to an older man with a graying beard. Portia liked how strong his hand looked on his soda cup.

“Hi, there,” Portia flashed him a smile when she had gotten her jacket off. “I’m Portia.”

“Michael,” the older gentleman replied.

So far, so good, Portia thought as she opened her purse. Damn, the mushroom sauce had leaked out of the Lean Cuisine. Portia could have cried. Now her purse would smell like fucking Lean Cuisine for God knows how long. Portia actually felt tears welling up as she pulled out her fork.

“Here you go, young lady,” Michael handed her a neatly folded, clean, white handkerchief. “Don’t make a mess now,” Portia thought she detected a hint of a drawl. Oh, a real southern gentleman, she thought with glee, scarfing down her Lean Cuisine.

Fuck Sven, Portia thought. You can do better, girl. Portia gulped down her last few bites, eyeing the silly commercials on the screen, then she shoved her Lean Cuisine tray under the seat in front of her and kicked it away with the tip of her high-heeled boot.

“So, Michael,” Portia turned to her seat mate, “what do you do for a living?” Portia neatly folded the dirty handkerchief and tucked it into Michael’s jacket pocket with her hot pink manicured fingers. He looked surprised.

“A gentleman never discusses what he does for money,” Michael upbraided her with a frown. Portia was nonplussed. She slipped her pink manicured hand around his neck and trailed her fingers through his thick gray hair.

Portia liked this guy. She tossed her smelly purse a few seats away and cozied up for the movie. The lights were going down and Portia needed more Lean Cuisines. Fuck you, Sven, Portia thought as she laid her head on Michael’s shoulder. He smelled good, like fresh cut wood. See, Sven, Portia thought. I can do better.

Michael used a firm hand to push Portia’s coiffed blonde head off his shoulder and he stood above her in the dark theater. “Good night, young lady,” he said as he picked up his coat. “Enjoy the movie.” He made his way out of the theater as the movie began.

Damn it, thought Portia with a toss of her head. Not even a second glance? What a jerk. She reached for her purse as she surveyed the theater for better options. She eyed a youngish-looking, dark-haired hottie a few rows up and then let out a little scream when she found her purse was missing.

Portia stood up and shouted into the darkness. “I hope whoever stole my purse likes mushrooms!” Then she sashayed up a few rows and sat down next to the hottie.

“Hi, I’m Portia,” she smiled and offered him her pink-tipped fingers in the darkness. He slipped his buttery fingers around hers and pulled her hand down into his bucket of popcorn with a grunt.

Fuck you, Sven, Portia thought yet again, regretfully, before she shoved a handful of popcorn into her mouth. “Yum!” She whispered into the hottie’s ear as she laid her head on his shoulder. She had to think of those Lean Cuisines. And a new purse.


Go back and get it

Let me tell you a story about when I was a kid. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ve known Geoff since I was little. We were, much like we are now, best buddies. At some point our moms broke off their friendship and I thought that I had lost Geoff forever. Years went by until we reconnected in college, and when we did we gave all the credit to fate even though friends really brought us back together.

This year I’ve been able to reconnect, separately, with two people whom I love. Two people whom I had written off as lost, people whom I’ve loved but not loved quite enough, people who loved me but whom I thought didn’t love me quite the way I wanted to be loved. Both relationships were imperfect and difficult, and they scared me.

This year I decided to take a chance, to be honest, to open up to these friends. I realized that I missed them and that I couldn’t continue until they knew that. I went to these friends and let them know how much they mean to me. And do you know what happened? Those friends have come back to me.

I still believe in fate. I think the universe will find a way to lay the things we need out of life in our paths at just the time we need to find them. But I’m revising myself. I also think that we have the power to ask for what we want and we have the ability to get what we need for ourselves. The hardest part is admitting our fear.

It’s important to remember that it’s always possible to go back and fix our mistakes in life. Sometimes all it takes is a simple apology, a hug, or an “I love you.” Sometimes it’s as easy as accepting our own imperfection. Sometimes it’s a matter of letting go of what we think we have and trusting in fate to bring it back if we truly need it.

I’m serious. Many things are out of our control, but you’d be surprised by how much power we have. To my two old friends who are new again, thank you for teaching me this. Now go ahead, give it a try. I dare you to go back and fix something in your own lives.

Please forgive me or I’ll give you another lizard for Christmas

Looking back on it, of course I bumped into her at the craft store. My heart was still pounding with the memory of texting her just minutes earlier from the parking lot. “I’m sorry,” I wrote. The thought that I might see her there at the craft store even crossed my mind as I walked through the door and lifted Nate into a cart. Usually it would be a good thought, but this time, no. It breaks my heart to admit it.

“Hi,” she said halfheartedly as we met at the end of the aisle near the cake decorating supplies. I maneuvered the cart around a large metal stepladder; we may as well have been in city lockup together.

“Hi,” I answered, knowing full well that she was angry. It felt strange to have my best friend angry with me at all and the week before Christmas it felt surreal. “What are you buying?” I asked, trying to sound lighthearted.

“Scrapbooking supplies,” she answered.

“I’m getting decorations for Anna’s birthday cake,” I announced unasked.

A minute later we parted, still uncomfortable, still in a fight. It’s funny that we bumped into each other just then, how the universe keeps bringing us together like that. Did I ever tell you that I first met her weeks before my mom suddenly died? At the very moment when I needed a friend the most, she appeared.

When I was a kid, I never wanted a best friend. Something about the idea of having one freaked me out. Now I try to forego labels at all, instead just trying to be the best friend that I can. I think it’s worked. I’ve done such a good job insinuating myself into her life, supplying the ingredients for fun, that she trusts me to be there all the time, not just for the everyday get-togethers, but for the birthdays, the holidays, all of it. Our friendship is such a success that she can believe that her semi-Jewish best friend will come to Christmas dinner at her house unannounced and without an invitation.

And when I can’t be there? Well, this friend who never fails to surprise me, who had a whole secret life before the one she has now, who has had adventures, who has messed up and fixed herself, and who even used to own a pet lizard, well, she surprises me yet again. She stops speaking to me the week before Christmas.


Is that weird?

When I was a kid, I had an imaginary friend named Hippa Zakka. She lived in the wall under the dining room window.

I used to plan imaginary feasts with her as my guest. I’d set the table for the two of us and prepare our pretend meal. Hippa and I would set out on grand adventures in our Winnebago. We’d read together. She shared all of my toys.

Hippa Zakka was always ready to play with me. She was up for anything. I played with her for many years, even after I’d started school and had real friends.

Hippa never let me down. She never ignored me, never broke a promise. She was always fun, never mean. She was just right.

Hippa Zakka taught me a thing or two about how to be a good friend.