All of your friends are getting married. You have a wall planner which came free with a pre-rent inspection carpet servicing. Speckled on it are jokes, like Don’t Tweet At Celebrities Day (Mar 21), but mainly engagement parties, weddings, baby showers, largely clustered around September, June, late October. “I would forget otherwise,” you said. “I don’t really want to know.” It is Thursday, and you have good news.
I catch the bus over. I am younger than you. The adverb is something we don’t talk about, but it would not be ‘a little’. All of my friends are presently working at Vodafone, or spending the money from doing it. Ahmud, for example, just went to Peru. He sends pictures of himself on the internet, coked to the gills, usually near a ruin he'll mispronounce on Snapchat.
I told you once I was playing the long game, which was to say, I wasn’t making any decisions this week. That was two years ago. You have not asked if my policy position has changed. Instead we find Basil Zempilas’ wedding video on Youtube. Everyone was dressed in white and dancing to ABBA on a cruise ship in the Greek islands. The videographer seemed to be perched at the peak of the mast. You said “Well, I didn’t learn anything from that.”
Already this year: your cousin’s wedding, which was rained out, and your Mum sang ‘Horses’ at the reception; Kim and Mark who made you fly to Sydney, where you needed a tetanus shot; Amanda and Tim, which you refused to take me to, and the fake wedding in Steve’s backyard, which was carnage.
You say, someone delivered your new phone today in the post and asked you if you liked the Rolling Stones as you closed the door. I reminded you about the locksmith in Dunsborough who said we “looked like Yahoo Serious fans”. My friend Claire always called Jack her ‘slam piece’, even after three years. We have never called one another anything much. I know how Dan and Lucy broke up because they couldn’t listen to music together without being reminded of the things they weren’t talking about, the bad things. They split for good twenty minutes into a drive up north, halfway through the first Crowded House album.
Neither of us remember the night we met well. I know the house we tried to break into, and the scar on your thumb from the window. There isn’t a story we could tell. After Basil’s wedding dance finished, I told you how my sister met her fiancee at the Casino. She had fallen in with a crew of backpackers. By the pokies, or maybe the sports bar, someone had come and punched Tom squarely in the skull and concussed him. Geneva was having a bad night anyway, so when the medic asked for a volunteer to sit and talk with him ‘til he recovered his senses, she put her hand up. And that was that. They still have dinner at the sports bar that overlooks the spot on that same date, every year.
You say, Ben’s sister Erin had been trying to break up with this guy who worked in selling watercoolers, or something, and found a pregnancy test in his medicine cabinet. She was mad. “What kind of guy who lives alone keeps a pregnancy test?” She took it to spite him, but it was bad news, or good news. Big news. He heard her weeping, came in — he had to break the door down, you assumed — and asked her if she wanted to get married. She looked up and screamed at him. “No!” And then said yes. Now that they’re married and expecting again, she was telling Jonny “we need to find another story to tell the kids. Something involving the foreshore.” Or maybe he just told you, and you told me. I’m forgetting my edges around you again.
We tell a lot of stories, but we do not feature in them together. We do not keep an anniversary. You tell me your good news. You’ve just gotten out of debt and are looking to get into more, the kind you drive or has windows facing the sun in winter. Not the kind that comes from leaving your data on roaming in Thailand, or lying to Centrelink. We needed a funny way to celebrate your solvency. “Let’s go to McDonalds,” I said.
Standing at the board, you said and I thought “this would have been funny a year ago,” so instead we walked back to yours, stopped at the Charles and bought a bottle of champagne. As we entered the driveway, night began to come on, as it must, no matter how much I dawdle by your side.