Friendship Is For the Dogs

In the depths of a basement, she made her way down. Was told the strange setup would all be “worth it”–that despite appearances, this really was the best Chinese food in town. She should have known better than to listen to the type of people that would be friends with her. If, in fact, you could really call them such. Because, last time she checked, not a one of them would probably show up to her funeral (or, for that matter, chip in to pay for the Barbie pink casket she wanted). And that’s how you could really determine the mark of a bona fide friendship. But still, we do what we have to in order to not feel so alone. Even if she often experienced far more isolation in the midst of Judd, Merrick, Kelly and Mackenzie. Naturally, all of them had slept with one another in some permutation or other, somewhere along the line. Vera, true to the purity of her name, had opted out, though both Judd and Merrick had made their attempts. Even Mackenzie had one night when she was drunk and bored enough to find the will to grab Vera’s tit. Vera backed calmly away, and it was never spoken of again. Though who could say if Mackenzie even chose to remember it? She could be quite selective with the information and visuals she decided to process. Which is perhaps why she had been the one to select this so-called restaurant, fittingly without a name or what even seemed to be a tangible address.

But Vera went along for the group outing because, in her estimation, it had probably been too long since the last time she had interacted with anyone other than the characters in her favorite movies. Yes, she preferred to watch the same ones on rotation, starting with Barry Lyndon and ending with Cecil B. Demented. Yet despite the fact that people like Norma Desmond, Sugar Kane, Holly Golightly and Clementine Kruczynski could engage and entertain her for weeks on end, she knew she ought to at least attempt “socializing.” This, in general, tended to mean sitting mutely as everyone in her friend circle prattled on about their own frivolities. Even if she did have something “juicy” to add to the conversation, it’s likely they would barely register what she was saying–something in her decibel levels not interest piquing enough. That was her theory, anyway. Or maybe she just ran with a crowd populated solely with self-involved assholes. Was there any other kind of asshole?

As they all make their way to the table, there is, appropriately, only four chairs, and the surly Chinese waiter makes no effort to offer Vera one as she scans the room awkwardly in search of a seat without a buttocks spilling out of it. She finally finagles a stout, out of place stool from the corner and takes her ironic position at the head of the table, though she has absolutely no authority over this group or what they do. And what Mackenzie failed to mention about this particular restaurant is that its “shtick” is to have the very dogs roaming around the premises that they use to cook some of the food items on the menu. Had Vera been made aware of this beforehand, she perhaps might have been even less willing to attend. Yet the foolish need to not be branded a pariah got the best of her once more, only to bamboozle her in the end. There were three dogs running around at the moment, a medium-size brown one, a shaggy, small black one and a medium-size tan spotted mutt with white fur. They all seemed especially fond of Vera’s particular area, flocking to her every time the non-speaking waiter slapped down an appetizer–the dogs immediately gobbling up Vera’s before she could even take a bite. Rather than try to do anything about it or offer some of theirs, her “friends” instead laughed their heads near off at the sight of her culinary slight. Why had she agreed to this? Why would she come anywhere that wasn’t in her own bed as a result of her vibrator?

By the time the fifth appetizer had been devoured from her plate, Vera had reached her threshold for tolerating humiliation and being the butt of this quartet’s puerile joke. “I have to go,” she declared, tossing her napkin on the ground after taking a large gulp of presumably contaminated water. Kelly gave her a fake sad face and insisted, “Oh come on, you have to admit this is hilarious.”

“Is it? It must be so fucking hilarious I forgot to cackle like a hyena.” It took all her mental strength not to telekinetically flip the table over as she bolted up the stairs and back out into the fish stench of Chinatown.

***

The lunch had soured her on her time thus far in New York. She was exhausted. That was why she so frequently had to stay inside with her movie character friends. Being out among others who did not seem to know their lines was too infuriating, too draining. Well, no more, she decided. There was no reason for her to be here, not since she completed that worthless degree at the New York Film Academy. So why continue the charade of believing that living in New York had any cachet other than to be catalogued by “outsiders” as being part of a huge cluster of megalomaniacs?

She’s in Times Square ahead of schedule, knowing her bus won’t leave from Port Authority for another three hours. She’s at the movie theater with two suitcases now. She figures they can’t really judge her, at least not the type of ilk that goes to the movies in the day. Who the fuck are they to eyeball her up and down as she struggles to make her way into the aisle while wielding her luggage as best she can so that it is situated as out of the way of the footpath as possible?–not that there’s any human traffic at this hour–1:30 at the cinema in Times Square. It’s filled with hoodlums and that rare breed of office worker bold enough to have risked seeing a two hour film on their one hour lunch break. She would never be that pathetic at least, relying on the crumbs of fantasy to get her through the bleak reality of her day. But then she remembers she has no friends and no plan other than a destination.

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