Sitting with my friends at the Mama Maria restaurant bar in the Bronx is a fully engaging event. It is the first meeting after some time, and we all have news to report, boyfriends to dish about, cellulite to point out, breast reduction and augmentation to discuss and vodka to drink. Do not know why it feels like a vodka night, straight up from the unpretentious glass that almost looks ugly next to the chilling martinis the bartender is preparing. it is simple really, i point, the bartender pours, i take a swill and we both smile with the knowledge of a job well done.
we talk quickly, interrupting one another and erupting in laughter here and there. one of my friends recently moved to another city to go live with her boyfriend. the other one is preparing to flee the coop pretty soon too. actually she’s only moving three blocks away, but the idea is the same.
strangely, we’re seeing more of our away friend now than we ever saw for the past two years. i guess when people are near, they do not think of getting together “because we can always get together whenever we want”, whereas when they are just visiting, seeing friends is one of the highlights of the trip back home. home is always the Bronx, this blackened kettle that brews such a wonderful tea and ferments the juice for all the corporate fodder of the east coast. the parents are still here, the old buildings and gossips have gone nowhere, and the only change are the addition of a staples and ATM branches in the area.
well, we go to fat complaints while we’re sharing chocolate souffles and napoleon, and sipping our drinks. i am good with my vodka, one of my friends is getting drunk on cranberry, and the other one swills her vodka and cranberry. now my cranberry juice friend has this annoying habit of complaining of a nonexistent stomach that only she can see protruding. i have forbidden her to speak on her fat issues, lest i turn violent and bite the wooden bar. she is the kind of person who drinks green tea and feels full with meals from a 2″ X 2″ container.
the other one jumps in of course. she is in the best shape of her life, shining with the security and warmth only new relationships bring. and yet, here come the waist fat jiggling, the imaginary face lines pointing, and the malformity! the horror! the shame! of the small breasts. we know each-other for a long time, we have each-other’s complaints down pat, yet it is still amazing to hear the visions we have of our bodies. if there was a mirror that could show images of one’s body, here is what it would show us:
a skinny wrinky broom with long hair, protruding belly and glasses; a fat bottom pear with nonexistent breasts & humongous head with bald patches; and mother Kong (huge hairy monkey with breasts the size of South and North Korea and thin chicken legs).
see, i do not want to hear my skinny friend complain because she is elegant and stylish, and my pear shaped friend complain, because she has the wonderful bubbly bottom my crush drooled about for a really long time, and yet they both do not want to hear about my weight complaint, because it is so unfairly distributed in strategic areas. and my skin! and her hair! and the other one’s lips!
i could continue with the exclamation points, but we are done with that discussion for the moment and continue to our next one: adopting the “rabbit”. once upon a time, my friend had a boyfriend who bought her a “rabbit”, a beautiful, pink contraception with metal pearls and “bunny ears”, quiet three speed and a lifelong supply of batteries. God knows what was going through his mind at the moment, and what image of her he got stuck on (he is the refused one who had to return the RING some years later), but the “rabbit” has made public appearances here and there, and it is talked about in a regular basis, just like any other A list celebrity.
anyway, her parents are coming, her boyfriend finally “popped the question”, and poor rabbit might be homeless pretty soon. we have to find a home for the creature. i am reluctant to adopt because i would treat it very badly and abandon it in a corner (my usual M.O.), and my other friend is undecided too. well, we’ll sleep on it. (no pun intended).
the night draws to a close, and our wonderful bartender is sleepily filling up some beer glasses for a bunch of guys at the other side of the bar. it is time to leave. we go outside and smell the wonderful night air. big soft moon, check; double straight vodka, check; empty streets, check; old dear friends, check. we burst into a wonderful rendition of “o sole mio”, (pavarotti eat your beard out!) just to make sure we have not lost the best part of our friendship, and to hold us until next time we meet.
then we kiss and split, each to her own nest.
my secret is still untold.