On Sunday, I call J and ask him if he wants to go to the Landmark bookstore. Yeah sure, he does, and I'm ringing the doorbell to his apartment at 11 a.m.
He opens the door, dressed in cargo shorts and a t-shirt that has four thin, disgruntled-looking guys on it. It reads the 'Dead Kennedys' but there's no picture of Bobby, Ted or JFK on it. I mention this to J, and he looks as me as if I'm a retard (yes, I know the PC term is 'mentally-challenged', but since I'm only thinking it in my head and not saying it out aloud, I'm sure I can get away with it without being burned at the stake). I have been, since birth, compulsively curious about facts that are totally useless and irrelevant to my existence, so I persist. "Look it up," is all he says.
He smells of last night's stale smoke and cologne, mingled with sweat and something unidentifiable.
"J, " I say (and I can say this to him because we're chaddi-buddies) "have you had a bath today?"
"No, of course not. It's Sunday" he says, by way of an explanation. I blink, taking a few seconds to digest this, because I'm sure it was said with the intention of making sense.
"So is that a religious thing?" I ask, "not bathing on Sundays?"
"No. It's a guy thing" he says. "It's a me thing. I don't shave on Sundays either" he says, rubbing his hands over his stubbly jaw rather proudly, and defiantly, I think. I should know stuff like this about a guy I've been friends with ever since he puked all over my dress at my third birthday party, right? I'm disgusted by this blatant disregard and total lack of personal hygiene, so the words tumble out before I can stop them. "So do you even not shit on Sundays? Is that a part of your 'guy thing' too?"
J, without moving a single facial muscle--"Nah, that I do. Sometimes even more than twice."
Ewwwwww! Information overload. I did not need to know that.
"Could you at least comb your hair?" I implore, and then squeak miserably, "please?"
"Sure" he says, and he runs his fingers thorough his hair. It looks exactly the same as before.
"NOW!" says a voice inside my head, and I let the words fall carefully, like dropping the last coin I have into the telephone slot.
"Oh, did I tell you? M called me earlier. She'll be meeting us there later. Is that okay?" I ask, my eyes widening innocently. I can see his ears twitch involuntarily, like a dog's, and then " M? No, that's cool, " he says nonchalantly.
M's this girl that J has a thing for. He's been completely and irrevocably in luuurrrve with her for about 1 year, 3 months, 1 week, 6 days and, oh, about 8 hours. He turns into a blithering blob of self-concious jello everytime he's around her- a fact, he believes, that has totally escaped everyone's attention.
J hasn't stepped over the threshold as yet. He's considering something, and a voice in my head (one of the many that live there) says, "That was so below the belt!"
"You know, you're right" he says, heading back towards his bathroom. " Since we're going out and all, I guess I should change my t-shirt."
Splashing. Closet doors slam. Something falls. He curses. He emerges, dressed in jeans and an ironed shirt, with matching shoes and belt, and smelling of something divine. 'Joop!' I'm guessing. Total time taken -12 minutes and 53 seconds. The stubble's still there, but I have found it in my heart to somehow be more forgiving about that now. He's even combed his hair, and looks sweet, like Mama's little boy about to be taken out for ice-cream on a Sunday evening.
We reach the store, and he pretends to shop. Once I have picked up whatever I want, I give it to him to hold, and go to the washroom. I hold my hands under the dryer and dry one finger at a time, brush my hair, re-apply my make-up, check if there's anything stuck between my teeth. Nice and slow. I come out eventually and say, "Let's bill this stuff." He can bear it no more, and he bursts out with " Er...did M call?"
My hand flies to my mouth and I roll my eyes. Ladies and Gentlemen, and the award for Best Actress goes to...
"Oh, she called while I was in the washroom. She can't make it, because she needs to do some stuff for her mom. I told her it was okay. Maybe next time." There's a loud crash, and invisible pieces of his shattered heart fly everywhere, scattering all over the floor and hitting other shoppers in the eye ( I imagine). "But, since we're here and you're looking so good" I continue, as I link my arm through his and walk out of the store, "why don't we go for lunch to someplace nice? My treat."
He sighs. 1 year, 3 months, 1 week, 6 days and 11 hours now. Tick-tock, tick-tock.