“There’s this moment when you’re doing something and as you’re doing it, you realize how insignificant everything is. And I was walking, carrying a box of tomatoes while my boss was in front of me on the phone talking about ice cream and cars. Ice cream and cars, I mean, nothing could be more insignificant. But I’m walking, holding these tomatoes, and I just think about Nick. And I’m just thinking ‘Fuck me, he’s not even relevant.’ But I’m thinking about Nick’s boyfriend, how stupid his boyfriend is, and I’m like ‘Is this how our lives are working out? Like a Taylor Swift song?'”
“Sounds stressful.” Ruth said
“It’s really stupid.”
“No it’s not. So, you thought about Nick. You’ve always liked him.”
“Uh, well yeah. He was like my mentor his senior year, my freshman year…” I stop to catch my breath. Inhale. Exhale.
“You took a breath, what was that all about?”
“It’s so stupid.”
“Anthony, nothing you say here is stupid. Please, feel free to share your story, no judgment is coming from me. Just observation.”
I sigh. “Maybe, I don’t know, maybe he would have been bad for me. Nick, I mean, no, maybe we wouldn’t be a match. But I ‘ll never know because he loves this other stupid boy.”
Damn, that “stupid boy“ is my so-called friend, and I’m just gonna talk about him like this? Aren’t I supposed to be happy for him? Fuck that…
I’m sitting in this office, clutching a plush pillow that was next to me on the couch, not knowing if I should lay down or not. Ruth’s cream-colored sweater contrasted so beautifully with her mahogany skin. I hope I can look that pretty in the future.
“Anthony, does Nick know about this?”
“Oh God, no. I’d never tell him. He’s still an Obie, no matter how much I think I like him.”
“What does that mean?” She’s staring so deeply in my eyes right now…
“Son, always remember to look someone in the eye when they’re speaking to you.”
“I had bad acne as a kid. I always looked down to the ground. It scarred me for life. I had no self-confidence.”
I listen silently as we walk to the grocery store.
“Don’t be like me,” he says…
“He wouldn’t know what to do?”
“Is that a question?” Ruth chuckled. Her laugh was hypnotic. Figures I would have to have a mental breakdown to meet someone so inviting. But that’s her job, right? To be inviting…
“It’s stu… I mean, I can just see him freaking out if I told him. Like a typical Obie freakout like “Oh, I didn’t know you felt this way, oh, that’s so sweet, I’m in my own place, we can talk about this, remember your worth and value,” I say it all in one breath. “I don’t want to deal with that.”
“I think this is something good for us to come back to next week, Anthony.”
I look at the clock. 11. Shit. Already over. Next time.