|Holiday Shopping and Idle Gossip|
“I’m so glad you called me today, Allison,” Kyoko said as she sipped her coffee and nibbled a flourless chocolate cookie. She and Allison sat in the corner booth, their shopping bags nestled at their feet like slumbering puppies. “I’ve been so busy at the firm lately…I feel like I’ve hardly seen anything besides the inside of our conference room since Labor Day weekend. It’s about time I got caught up on gossip.”
“Well,” Allison said, drawling coyly, “Noelle told me that Roxie hooked up with some guy on Halloween, and she hasn’t told Javier.”
“Oh, that’s pretty juicy,” Kyoko said, “but what’s the big deal? They’re not exclusive, are they?”
Allison shook her head. “But Graciela told me that the guy really wants to be. He’s crazy for her. But, you know Roxie. She won’t give him a snowball’s chance in hell.”
“Shh,” Kyoko said nodding towards the front door, “Here she comes.”
Just then, Roxie and Noelle walked into the cafe, shaking snowflakes out of their hair and carrying shopping bags.
“Hey,” Roxie said as she and Noelle slid into the booth, stuffing their parcels under the table next to Allison’s and Kyoko’s.
“Where’s Graciela?” Kyoko asked.
“She’s at home, trying on her grandma’s bridal gown,” Noelle said. “Her mom found it in the attic and Graciela just fell in love with it.”
“Five hours of trying on dresses at White Elephant Weddings. Five hours of ivory chiffon and seed pearls. Five hours of my life that I’ll never get back and she decides on a dress that was in her house all along!” Roxie groused and tore her menu open.
“Oh, come on, Roxie,” Kyoko protested, “She’s your best friend.”
“So? That doesn’t mean I should be the one to help her pick out wedding dresses. I’m not cut out for it!”
Kyoko rolled her eyes. Roxie persisted: “Kyoko, if you had a best friend who was a narcoleptic snorer with a deviated septum, would you ask her to sit in the coutroom while you were trying a case? I don’t think so.”
“She has a point,” Noelle said. “I don’t have the kind of attention span to sit there and really give an honest opinion on a dress that’s going to be worn on the most important day of someone’s life. And besides, Roxie’s not Graciela’s only friend.” Noelle paused as the waiter approached the table.
“What can I get for you ladies?” he asked.
“I’ll just have the spinach salad, dressing on the side.” Noelle said, handing back her menu.
“I want grilled cheese and fries….and…a chocolate milkshake!” Roxie nodded emphatically and snapped the menu shut.
“Roxie, grease and sugar are not the answers to your problems.” Allison said. Roxie said nothing. Allison and Noelle watched the waiter walk away, then exchanged glances.
“Anyway, as I was saying…I really think wedding dress shopping is more of an Allison job.”
“Oh, no…it reminds me too much of my wedding…to that cheese-shopping bastard…”
For a moment no one said anything. The only sounds were the clinking of silverware and of Bing Crosby singing “Baby Its Cold Outside”.
“So, what did everybody buy?” Noelle asked.
“Well,” Allison said, “I got some special shampoo for Mitchie. The groomer she told me that she has sensitive fur.”
“Sensitive fur?” Roxie asked. “Is it falling out?”
The waiter brought Noelle her salad. As he walked away, Noelle whispered, “Damn, that is one cute waiter.”
“Are you going to ask him out?” Allison asked.
Noelle nodded, still staring at the waiter’s back, “I think I will.” Just then, Roxie’s cell phone chimed. She flipped it open and found a picture message from Graciela. In the grainy, postage stamp sized picture, Graciela wore her grandmother’s dress, and smiled angelically.
“Aww, look how beautiful she is,” Kyoko said. “Roxie, even you have to admit it–that dress is so much better than anything from White Elephant Weddings.”
Roxie remained silent. Graciela had sent another message, this one just one line of text: Javier knows about James. Roxie felt a pea-sized pit in her stomach suddenly expand to the size of a cantaloupe.
“Rox?” Kyoko asked. “Are you ok?”
“Yeah. I’m fine.” The waiter brought her french fries and grilled cheese, but the food had no taste. Sight and sound blurred and she sat in a cocoon of numbness, even when Allison and Kyoko twittered when Noelle asked the waiter for his phone number. The ugly confrontation she thought she’d avoided had suddenly resurfaced, like a game of Whack-a-Mole. Roxie grabbed her phone and texted Graciela: How did he find out. Seconds later, Roxie’s phone jingled with Graciela’s response, and a cold shaft of ice shot up Roxie’s spine: I told him.