Just going to put this out there, Bryan is not talking to me. He hasn't for three weeks now. I have been avoiding this, this way that it is. It's nice to be nice to the nice, they say. But it's also fun to be fun with the fun. I prefer fun over niceness, any day, but right now, I am having no fun. Nor am I being nice. But that has not changed. I have stalled, convinced and unconvinced myself of the current state of affairs. The state of Bryan and how he is avoiding me like the ex-girlfriend that I never was. Not that I wanted to be, or anything. But the bro isn't talking, walking, or cooking for me any longer. He's not even copying my homework, which is probably the biggest wowza of them all.
I still see him a lot. Being who he hated. Last week, he was wearing a scarf, for goodness sake, a man scarf. My old pal who used to moan and groan on days he had to wear dress pants is now a marf wearing, rich girl courting, tool. Why would anyone inflict this on themselves? I'm feeling things I've never felt before, for example, I kind of want to growl, like a jungle cat. Never have I wanted to behave like feline until that stupid, stupid girl crashed my party of goodness and love.
So I think that I'm a little bitter.
"Wow, Sophia, Bitter much?" James apparently agrees, as we make our way to my apartment.
"Yeah, well you would be too if you saw you best friend wearing a scarf."
"I did see my best friend wear a scarf. It was gross. But I've made my peace with it. I can't say I hate him all because he has begun dressing like the Jonas Brothers."
"When can you say you hate him?"
"When he marries that bitch."
"My word! Talk about James blunt over here!" Damn it. I am so funny.
"I'd shoot myself if I was James Blunt. Just saying."
"Good to know. So If I inherit powers that give me the ability to change you into somebody else…"
"Like in Phil of the Future…"
"Yes, exactly like Phil of the Future. Anyway, I wouldn't change you into James Blunt, because I don't want you to kill yourself."
"That's really sweet, Sophia. Can you kill yourself if you're morphed?"
"Not sure. We'd have to ask Phil." We walk in silence for a few moments. I notice James trying to walk in the footprints left in the snow by the person before him. I attempt to do the same, but my set leads me into a Mongolian restaurant. I don't much care for Mongolian food. Finally James pipes up.
"Did you know I've never gone to your house before?"
"Stop lying, James. It will send you down the wrong path."
"No really, I've only gone to Bryan's, and then we all just hung out at your place."
"Well that's very interesting information. I will log it into my Pokedex and get back to you."
"I was just trying to break the silence and then you had to go all chop suey on me, and you don't record what places you've been on a Pokedex, a Pokedex is used to keep track of which Pokemon you've sighted."
"Well Professor Oak will be very ashamed."
"Yes. Yes he will be. Is your dad home?"
"Of course not. But his Lady of the Night is."
"Oh." Quaint little James, his pretty eyes widened in fear of the hooker he soon would be meeting. He is so kind, but just so… traditional. In his eyes, "Hookers are like walking billboards for sin. Hookers are bad people who need to find morality through our savior Jesus Christ." He revealed this at Bryan's homecoming after party this year, at the point of the night that James' rum and coke became rum and rum, and we all found out how he is secretly religious.
"I've actually been getting to know her. She's very kind, actually. Were kind of pretty much buddies now."
"I'm sure we will become great pals as well, me and the woman who sells her body for money. That's the type of people I love to chill with."
"Of course, that's why we've been friends for so long."
"Yeah, right, because you're a hooker too."
"I think inside, we're all hookers."
"Me too. I'm a hooker too." Everyone has their own way of dealing with my burdensome sarcasm, James' way is my personal favorite, and because he just agrees with everything I say.
"Well I know this is the 'first time' you've been to my apartment, so here it is." All I get is a smirk out of James and we climb the stairs. By the second story, I can already smell warming aroma of June's baking. "Smell that, James? That's what walking sin smells like when it gets a spatula in its hand."
"I bet the apples smelled good too."
"I have no idea what you are talking about, bible thumper. Get in there."
The moment the door opens the array of rows and rows of Christmas cookies that cover our countertop flood my vision. Some look like Christmas trees the green sugar sprinkles glittering lightly in the recess lighting of my kitchen. Others like Santa big blobs of frosting, meant to symbolize his immense belly (it kind of looks like he is preggo, but I won't tell June,) and there is a cooling rack of snowball shaped cookies. I poke one. It crumbles. I pretend like nothing happened. While I am deeply fascinated with the cookies, James is fascinated with something else. Even polite little James cannot overcome the power of June's boobs.
"H-h-hi. I am James. I come from… Chicago."
"Hello James, I'm June. I come from Dayton."
"Sweet…" James says, still distracted by the breasts of plenty in front of him.
"…and they're from Los Angeles." June says with confidence. I feel like it would be necessary for her to have a list of things to say when guys won't stop staring at her big buddies.
"Oh, oh, I'm so sorry. I am not a perv like… no I am sorry I just, do you want? How can I… I, I need to um…" James starts a bundle of sentences, snaps out of it and then clears his throat, "Did you make all these? They look delicious."
"Why yes James, I did make these. Would you like one?"
"Yes please." June hands him a Santa cookie with a napkin under it. I take reindeer one, because they're made of chocolate, and I have learned that in the presence of chocolate, June will devour it like it is the last source of cocoa on the earth.
"Thanks, June. We'll eat these in my room." I explain, leading James to the door. June winks at me implying naught, which James accidentally intercepts and causes him scared puppy eyes to go into full throttle, "Don't fret pal, nothing is going to happen," I reassure him, rubbing his back as though he has just forgone a terrifying emotional experience.
"So, we can talk about it now." James says as we sit on our bed with our cookies. Well, his cookie, I have already swallowed mine whole.
"Talk about what?" I ask. James points to my dresser, which is now covering my window.
"Talk about why you have decided to rearrange your room this way."
"Now we can talk about it, why not before on the walk over?"
"Were sitting now, so it's ok."
"You can't talk about how your best friend has cut off all communication for two weeks now, standing up?"
"No. I don't think you can."
"Oh alright then. Now that we can talk about it, I'll tell you about it."
I go through the same crap that has been bouncing of the thin walls of my mind for weeks, how everything reminds me of him, and it kind of feels like being stabbed. And how it's killing me on the inside to be on the outside. I cry which does not float my boat, but does the opposite, so I stop that quickly. James looks concerned and distracted at the same time as if he is some algorithm in his head to explain my current state. When I am finally finished with my long overdue pouring out of the heart, I look down, to signal the end. Then I get kissed.
It makes me feel jittery and awkward and wrong. It's wrong. It could never be right. James must have known this.
"James… I, I kind of have a—"
"I am in love with Katelin, and you are in love with Bryan, Sophia, its so painfully clear, here we are, trying to fog up the glass, you with Stanley, and me, who is apparently kissing my friend who I am not romantically interested in, it doesn't help at all, you know that, you know that, Sophia, we are both so wrong and mixed up, and none of the puzzle pieces are fitting, you know mine never fit, so I guess its not so different because Katelin never liked me, I don't think she will ever in her life where as you and Bryan fit together so well I am concerned you are related in some way, and you probably know why you love him, right, well I don't, I don't know why I'm in love with Katelin, she is not nice to me, and she's not even that hot, you know I've kissed hotter, and what is there to do but fake ourselves until we finally find ourselves?" James says so quickly he has forgotten to breathe, therefore he is panting.
"I do not. I do not love Bryan. I'm sorry, I don't and I never will. Especially now. Especially now," I deny, lying like a rug, "But that doesn't matter. I get that you can't let Katelin go, but James, you still should be yourself, no matter what she's doing."
"I try," he adds, "But I'm not too good at it. You know she has a new, whatever, boyfriend, or whatever. He wears guyliner. I saw him. It was gross. Much worse than a scarf. I used to love how realistic and strong she was. Now I don't even know what she's doing. Dating and more with some random guy, just to what, be cool, make herself fit in with Bryan and Brianna? I don't understand why she's with him and changing like this. She's slipping. And I can't save her, because she won't listen to me, she never did. I can't come to her rescue, and that's the only thing I'm good at. Being a man, and I'm certainly not that anymore, because I am sitting on this fuzzy pink blanket, whining about my problems, and during this whole thing, I have managed fit my massive feet in your Ugg slippers."
I look down. He most definitely is wearing women's footwear. "Yeah, and your stretching them out," finally, getting a chance to smile, I say, "and rescuing people isn't the only thing your good at."
"What else am I good at?"
"Well, you're good at track, and you're also good at kissing."
"Yes. It was probably as awkward as that time in freshman year when Grady Fleishman announced to the whole class, including the teacher that he got high for the first time over spring break. But the kiss was good. Nice hand placement."
"That awkward? Geez, then I guess it's a good thing put my hand on your boob, because that's where I usually put my hands when kissing."
"I'm sure you do. I'm really glad that we've moved on from depressing stuff and back to joking and sarcasm," I say, not sarcastic at all.
"Really? Me too." He smiles, and we sit in silence for a bit, until a rap song comes up on my iPod, which has been playing in the background the whole time. "Did you know I can crump?"
I am dumbfounded. I knew James was a good dancer, but crumping was not a style of dance I would expect him to be proficient in. He's a little to white. "I don't believe you."
"Watch me," he taunts, kicking off the Uggs. Before I knew it his arms and legs were moving in all directions, and it was insane. I felt that at any moment he would slip on the hardwood floor and his dancing days would be over. But he kept on dancing like his heart would explode if he kept still. His socks slid across the flood constantly following the beat. At one point he got really intense and all up in my face. It was scary, but even more it was magnificent. I was speechless, and disappointed when the song ended.
"That is mind boggling awesome, bro. When did you learn this?"
"When I was taking the SAT Prep course, after the first session I decided it was just very stupid and I thought I should take hip-hop dance classes, because I thought it would be more productive."
"Yeah… you are weird. Why didn't you tell anyone?"
"I was pretty sure they'd tell me I was weird."
"Well you are, but your also pretty darned awesome, so it cancels each other out. You're just normal now. Why did you show this to me now?"
"Well because I poured my soul out, kissed you, and also I farted. I did not want to leave you with any of those impressions. The only stronger image I could think of was white boy James crumping."
"When did you fart?"
"That is gross. And you're weird. We've been friends forever James. You shouldn't have to worry about what impression you leave anymore. You shouldn't have to care what I think."
"I'll always care what you think Sophia," he says, being so sweet, my ears tingle, "You know, I should probably go home. My mom is making dinner and it should be ready soon."
"Oh that is just so fun. Do you want me to walk you out to make sure my hooker doesn't douse you with sin on your way out?"
He gives me a look that said, "Of course not silly," but his expression swiftly changes to the scared puppy again, and says, "Yes."
The snow is blowing sideways, and could at any moment lift James up and take him away. Hopefully to somewhere warmer.
"Have fun!" I yell out.
"Thanks, bud I will." He says turning back, getting in one last pop lock. I chuckle. He looks at me and then looks up at my apartment, and then at Bryan's. That blink-and-you-miss-it glance hit me with the force of the world's largest sledgehammer. Apparently, an afternoon with a kid in the exact same boat with me wasn't therapeutic enough to make any progress.