He’s young in that way that teenage girls find attractive, fizzing with ginger enthusiasm, wiry, laughing, his arms beaten with a couple of tattoos. They come into the bar, feeling daring, drunk before they hit their drinks, maybe a little under age, and vie to pick him up, their phone numbers written in lipstick on the back of his neck, butterfly smudges that all start with six-oh-four. They rarely last more than a night.
He talks about girls, I talk about boys, we find a middle ground where we both get to air our complaints and offer advice. Our dissatisfactions live as mirror images, as perfect bell-curve opposite as narrative could ever wish, satisfactorily littered with cussing and laughter. Though we have dissimilar grievances, it helps. I taught him the term emotionally unavailable and he, in return, assured me that the strangely puritan streak I seem to have hit can’t last forever, if only because I’m far too stubborn.
Eventually we found ourselves sitting at a table full of strangers with one of my dearest friends, samurai movies playing on the wall, music too loud to hear, uncertain entirely how we came to be there. From across the piano shaped table, too far away to say anything, he winked at me when no one else was looking, in on the joke of who I was sitting with. I couldn’t wiggle free, he caught me. What else are friends for?
Later, I thought of how much I need, how little, as the man I had been sitting with fell asleep lying in my lap, tired from an overly long day. “Oh, three meager words, how they can mean the world.”