Complicated by Jennifer Anthony

20 December 2008

Kyoko had asked Noelle to meet her at the New Museum in Nolita.

The official story was to see Elizabeth Peyton’s Live Forever exhibit. But the real reason was to show off the woman she was dating. Elise seemed to be too good to be true. Kyoko wanted an objective opinion, and she knew Noelle would give it to her.

She and Elise waited for Kyoko on the third floor. Her friend was late as usual, but Elise didn’t seem to mind. She was a friend of a friend of the artist, and already seen the exhibit twice. In fact, she looked a bit like an artist herself in her black DKNYC trenchcoat, thigh-high boots, and beret. Kyoko was hoping that this outing would be short and sweet, since Elise’s clothes were begging to be torn off her body.

Noelle arrived out of breath and blustering apologies. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “I took the subway.”

“No problem,” Kyoko said. She pointed at her girlfriend. “Noelle, I’d like you to meet Elise.”

Elise took Noelle by surprise by stepping forward and giving her a quick hug. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Noelle shot Kyoko a stern glance over Elise’s shoulder and lied, “I’ve heard a lot about you, too.”

Kyoko had kept most of the information about her new belle to herself, wanting to savor it. She also wanted her friend to form an opinion based on her own thoughts and feelings.

“How about we take a look at some of the work and then grab some lunch at Café Gitane afterwards?” Elise suggested.

Bingo! First point. Kyoko knew that Noelle loved the café.

Noelle nodded enthusiastically. “Perfect! I’m starved.”

They begin to saunter around the exhibit, stopping at each piece to stare, reflect, and offer comments.

Elise stopped to stare moonily at a watercolor likeness of Georgia O’Keefe. “Beautiful,” she said. “Profoundly simple in sepia.”

But Kyoko was transfixed by Zoe’s Kurt, an oil painting of Kurt Cobain. “Ah, Kurt,” she said. “I was such a fan.”

Elise stepped up beside Noelle and nodded in mutual appreciation. “He was brilliant. This painting always reminds me of my ex-husband. Kind of looked like that.”

“Sorry?” Kyoko said. “Husband?”

“Ex,” Elise corrected. “Ex-husband. I was married ten years ago.”

Kyoko had suddenly lost all interest in the artwork.

“You never told me about all this,” Kyoko said.

Noelle, sensing that things were about to get uncomfortable, took a step closer toward the artwork, trying to make herself very small.

“I didn’t know who I was then. He was a good guy – a great guy, actually. But we drifted apart. And I realized I was really attracted to women.”

“Whoa. Confessions at the gallery,” Noelle mumbled.

Kyoko stood with mouth hung open. “I’m having a hard time believing you would never mention this.”

“It was a long time ago,” Elise said. “I was a different person. If you can believe it, I was a straight liberal. And now – huzzah! A gay Republican.”

By this point, Noelle’s interest had been piqued and she could no longer remain silent. “You have led one interesting life.”

Elise’s laugh was dry. She looked pensively at the artwork. “I guess you could say that. But I can’t complain. It’s been rich.”

“Maybe you could give me some dating advice about my man,” Noelle said, ignoring the annoyed looks that Kyoko was shooting her. “The other day I found out that my boyfriend – I guess he’s my boyfriend, at least – had joined a scooter club. The same scooter club that his ex belongs to.”

“How did you find all of this out?” Elise asked.

Noelle could feel herself blushing. “I – I followed him, actually. And that’s when I spotted his ex-girlfriend.”

“Well, were they making out or something?” Elise asked.

“They weren’t even talking. She seemed as surprised to see him there as I was.”

Elise waved her hand dismissively. “Then there’s your answer. He’s probably done nothing wrong.”

Noelle wasn’t ready to accept this rationale. “But why wouldn’t he tell me about it? He goes off and buy a scooter, then joins a club that his ex-girlfriend just happens to be a part of, and I’m supposed to believe it’s just a coincidence?”

“Could be,” Elise said, matter-of-factly. “Have you asked him?”

It was Noelle’s turn to turn her attention to the artwork.

“You haven’t talked to him, have you?” Elise asked.

Noelle shook her head.

“Just talk to him. Chances are, there’s nothing to it,” Elise said, adding, “Guys aren’t so complicated.”

Kyoko’s silent treatment was over. “Oh, sorry. I suppose I’m too complicated?”

Elise smiled and kissed Kyoko with her full lips. “And I love every complication. You are the finest art in this whole place.”

“Looks like you’ve got a keeper, Kyoko,” Noelle said.

And Kyoko, with all of her complications, fell just a little harder.

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