Hi there. Are you friends with the bride or the groom?
I know the bride.
Jaimie just looks beautiful tonight, doesn’t she?
Sure does. How do you know Jaimie and Paul?
We’re Paul’s aunties. I’m Deidre, that’s Sandy, that’s Donna (she’s drunk), and over there is Moira. I’m the second oldest one.
Pleased to meet all of you. I’m Pete.
Are you here alone, Pete?
How did you end up at the family table?
I’m actually not sure…
Well we don’t bite. We’re the cool table! Right Donna?
I believe it. Table 11. Cool table.
You’re bored. Talk to me. Who do you know in this room?
I think I know the really scruffy-looking fella over there. Can’t remember his name though. And this Middle Eastern chick smiled and waved at me earlier. I think I was on her flippy cup team once. I think we’re Facebook friends. This married couple that I’m close to was supposed to show up, but the wife actually gave birth this morning.
The nerve! And how long have you and Jaimie been friends?
Ten years I’d say. And we were like BFFs for at least five of those years.
Yeah. I played basketball with her boyfriend during college, but we didn’t become close friends until after they broke up. I spotted her at a bar and she’s staring blankly at this touchscreen video game where you’re supposed to figure out how many objects are different between these two nearly-identical pictures and she sighs and says, “I just want to meet a nice guy,” and I’m like heh well I’m a nice guy and then she sighs even louder and says, “but you’re Pete,” and I just shrug and buy her an amaretto stone sour and tell her the striped button down shirt backwards baseball cap guy with the sideburns at two o’clock has been checking her out and she says “I know,” and “how’s my hair?” and a half hour later she’s slow dancing with him to a techno remix of “California Dreaming”, followed by her standard disappearing act right before last call, followed by AOL Instant Messenger away messages that contain sad, cryptic song lyrics a week after finding out Mr. Right is either married or a teenager or a scumbag, followed by me calling her up and referring to her by her last name only and insisting that we go out and get hammered, but it can never be a simple evening of drinks with a buddy of hers, you know, it’s always this impossibly dramatic night where some douche asks for her phone number and then she gets super drunk and embarrasses herself and asks me every three minutes during the ride home if I think that dude likes her or just wants to get in her pants like every other guy does, and I have to come up with new and creative responses each time, and after a dozen repeats of this I go through this phase where I’m like yo I don’t want to be your straight gay friend anymore and I’m questioning if we’re really truly BFFs or if I’m just a convenient shoulder to cry on, a pet named Pete, I’m thinking all this until that one night when the bouncer threw us out after she had puked red stuff all over the dance floor so I ended up dropping her off at her place and carrying her inside and I saw what her apartment looked like for the first time and there was a collage on her refrigerator with all of her friends and I was in there, and in her living room there was a framed picture of us together, with the words “BFF” etched on the bottom of the frame, and I was like huh. I guess she really did care for me.
Yeah. It didn’t stop us from drifting apart over the years, though. Life happens, you know? I grew up, and she grew up too. And then she met Paul. I’ve come to realize that through our friendship we were playing the roles of adolescent archetypes: the self-destructive, vapid heroine in search of meaning and direction; the asexual, unassertive nice guy. When the symbiotic nature of our connection ceased — Jaimie snapped out of her twentysomething doldrums and pursued her career in law enforcement, while my personal growth came when I realized that deep down inside I’m really an asshole and was only using her to validate my desperate self-view as a man of integrity and loyalty — we sort of went our separate ways.
This salad looks delicious, doesn’t it?
That’s not to say that we’re a sham, and that five years of being BFFs meant nothing. I was a little late for the wedding ceremony earlier, and I’m sweaty and running up the steps into the church, still adjusting the buttons on my vest, and as soon as I’m busting through the doors to get inside, I see her in her wedding dress, about to walk down the aisle, and we make eye contact, and it’s weird because we know all these things about each other so we just kind of give each other this smile, this wow-is-this-really-happening? smile.
What a story. So what do you do for a living?
Now of course, one could argue that my reflection on all this is a classic case of cognitive dissonance, but seriously, have you seen her feet? Of course you haven’t. She’s got hooves. It’s nuts. I’m just kidding. Or am I?
Do you dance?
In front of the mirror on my sliding shower door at home, wagging my junk around like I’m a Chippendale, yes. At weddings, no. Ever since my early teens, as soon as the dance floor opens up I immediately bolt and hide in a men’s bathroom stall for three hours.
Mmm. Is that an invitation for some cougar-on-Asian-boy action?
Nopers. My last statement, and in fact, this entire thing, is all just a tawdry device to share unimportant information about myself. The latter being my analysis of an important friendship dynamic that was crucial to the emotional development of two completely different people, the former being yet another example of my debilitating neuroses that caused me to seek said friendship.
Your writing has gotten so weird lately.
Yeah, my friend Natasha in San Francisco is going to cringe at this “self-aware, postmodern” bullshit I’m attempting.