From Mary Lord French Fry:
"It’s like that guy you went to dinner with last week because he told you, at the bar, no less, that you were beautiful. You know you’re beautiful. But one guy’s drunk enough or bold enough to say the obvious, and you go out with him. Did you even have the slightest interest in him? Uh-unh. You just went out with him because he asked. You date like it’s a charity.” Bea held her champagne flute in front of her and watched the bubbles surface to the top. “Have you ever pursued a guy? Gone out with one because you think he’s great or funny? Smart? Or has it always been because they like you first?” She took a sip. “And how can you not know that everyone loves you? My god. You’re so ridiculous.”
“I like the guy from trivia. I liked him first. I asked him out because he’s smart and nice and fun and passionate about his job,” she said. “And I loved Cal.”
“I know you did. But don’t you think that maybe you said yes to him because he was so into you? Instead of what you felt, or didn’t feel, for him?”
She breathed in through her nose and downed her beer and turned again to Jacob setting up. No one but her sisters could assert such truths, she thought. And really only Bea. Michelle was never confrontational with her.
The guy who’d said that she was beautiful, Bea’s so-called “charity,” that Mary went to dinner with the week before, had shown her his self-published manuscript when she’d arrived on his front porch. He’d wanted her to read it all while he sat there and drank his Natty Boh. She flipped through pages, stopped
and read a poem here and there, but when she’d wanted to relate to him, compare her painting to his poetry, to talk about her art, he’d interrupted her. The second time she’d tried to talk, he’d gotten up to change the tunes. The third, to pee, and the fourth time, when he’d been going on about how bad the traffic was on his way home form work, she thought she’d tell her favorite traffic tale, but soon as she began, he asked, “You need another beer?” then left the porch and got himself a can.
The story that he’d missed: three years before when parked on 95 because some semi overturned, Michelle and Mary had the great idea to see how many objects each could stick onto her face. Michelle affixed a quarter to her chin, a Pepsi lid to her left cheek, an empty box of cigarettes on her right, a Thank You envelope to her forehead, a tub of Carmex to her brow, and squinched a pen between her upper lip and nose. On Mary’s face: a credit card, her phone, her lucky rock from Brighton beach, a dime and Starbucks lid. The worse part was, that no one in the other cars would look at them.
They waved their arms and honked, rolled down windows, but no one looked. They laughed and things fell off their faces. They’d recover them from the floor along with other stuff under the seats that they’d then add onto their face collage.
“It’s like Michelle and Griffin,” Mary said. “Though I can’t stand how much he drinks, I know that she adores him not just the fact that he’s in love with her. It hit me hardest once when Cal and I were over there for brunch. It was near noon, and Griffin was asleep when one of his coworkers called. Michelle said Griffin was in bed, which prompted some comment from the coworker about how he's a lazy fuck. Michelle went off on him, then afterwards when she’d hung up, she turned to us and said how much it pissed her off. She loved the fact that Griffin was the kind of guy who slept in late, and who the fuck were they to judge her man? And while she talked, I thought that if a coworker of Cal’s called me and Cal was still asleep, I would’ve just agreed about him being lazy, adding more complaints on top of it. I never would defend my man like that. I didn’t love him 'just for who he was.' I couldn’t love his faults as part of him. I’ve never felt that way for anyone except Michelle and you,” she said and touched her fingers to Bea’s upper arm.