With school back in session, the coffee shop was the fullest it had been all summer. Rhonda and Katy sat at a table by the window. One with black coffee; the other, sugar and cream. One with a dry, overbaked scone with blueberries that looked like raisins; the other, a bagel and cream cheese.
Katy looked like a pinned up first-time professor in a short-sleeved red coat dress and wedged heels. Rhonda looked the most out of place in her ripped baggy jeans and “not a hugger” t-shirt, a pair that was in the dirty hamper that morning, but still smelled alright.
“It’s not fair,” Rhonda said shaking her head, and then again, “it’s just not fair.” She put her phone face down on the table.
“You know, marriage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
“How would you know? You’re a closeted lesbian.”
“I kissed a girl once, and I was in high school!”
“I’ve never seen you with a guy, Katy. Ever!”
“That’s because I don’t need a man to make me happy.” She folded her arms across her chest and turned her nose up to the ceiling.
“Well, I do.” Rhonda bit into her blueberry scone. Crumbs collected around the corners of her mouth, but she didn’t bother to wipe them away.
“You set feminism back 50 years.”
“You know, Rhon, you might find a guy worth marrying if you stopped acting like you were still 20 years old.”
“We can’t all be perfect like you, Katy.”
“I’m not perfect, I just…” Katy paused, looking at the straggly ends of Rhonda’s dirty blonde hair grazing the edge of her styrofoam cup, almost dipping into the coffee. With an audible sigh, Katy added, “When’s the last time you washed your hair?”
“Don’t do that.”
“Treat me like I’m a lost cause.”
“I’m not, I just—” Katy snatched the phone away before Rhonda could turn it over and continue to brood over the lastest Facebook engagement announcement.
“I wish people would be more real on social media,” she said while tapping her fingers on Rhonda’s screen. “All we see are these happy, perfect relationships, with their perfect hair, and perfect makeup and perfect engagement rings, and perfect in-laws who love them like family. People are innately selfish, and relationships are hard. Where’s the messy fights? The hitting below the belt? Bringing up past infidelity? Passive-aggressive status updates about mamas’ boys, and coddling mothers-in-law?”
“They usually post them in the middle of the night and delete them after an hour.” Rhonda belched into her fist then brought the coffee to her lips, sipping loudly.
“Why do I feel like you’ve done that before?” Looking over Rhonda’s disheveled appearance, Katy questioned, “Why do I feel like you did that last night?”
“Because, Katy,” she hung her head, as if a weight was sitting on the back of her neck, and looked up at Katy, barely raising her eyes past her chin. “I’m self-destructive. Obviously why I’m still single.”
“Aw don’t say that.you just haven’t met the—”
“Save it for your book!” Rhonda stood suddenly, nearly jumping from her chair, hair fraying. “I’m gonna go to the bathroom.”
Probably to throw up, she thought to herself. On her way, she caught the eye of the barista behind the counter. Definitely a freshman. Definitely too damn young for her. But that was definitely his number he’d written on the bottom edge of her coffee cup.
And definitely, if she was that desperate (she was), and drunk enough (she will be), a late-night booty she’ll regret later.