I broke up with Chrissy through a text. I knew it was insensitive, but it was the third time in fourteen months we’d broke up and I wasn’t up for the obligatory “date” just to give her the boot. That would have been pointless. Chrissy knew we weren’t made for one another; we’d only ever had sex. Not that I was complaining about that, but pretending to be a couple was plain stupid. Besides, during those few times we had broken up, I had dated four other girls as well as hooking up with Corey, and I had seen Chrissy out with several other boys. I knew she’d be fine with it.
Her text response was: K.
It was shorter than I expected. Way shorter. Some part of me hoped for something along the lines of “Oh, really? Are you sure? I’ll miss your huge dick fucking my dripping pussy.” But that was just wishful thinking on my part. It was my fantasy, not reality. In reality Chrissy gave me a one-letter reply: K.
I pocketed my phone and headed down the steps. My hard-working mother, meticulous and self-sacrificing, was in the kitchen washing dishes much like she was every morning of my existence. I yawned and wandered over to the cabinet and took out a glass.
“It’s about time, sleepy head,” my mom said. She was normally talkative and full of energy in the morning, on the contrary—I was not.
I looked her way and smiled groggily. “Good morning.” Two words were all I could muster.
My mom dried her hands and walked up behind me. I felt her head on my back and her arms squeezed me around my middle. This was the way she hugged me every morning if I was busy pouring juice or standing by the toaster. On the rare occasion I would turn around and hug her like a normal son, but mostly she hugged me from behind. She wasn’t bothered by the method as long as the hug was had first thing. I kind of liked the affection, even if I wasn’t a kid anymore. She released me and commented, “Morning was about three hours ago, Nicky, now it’s afternoon.”
“What?” A jolt of panic prompted me to stop pouring my juice and whirl around to find the clock. Nine forty-five. My terror defused, I grumbled, “No it’s not. I still have fifteen minutes to leave for work. That signifies it’s still morning.”
She patted my back and went back to washing the dishes. Of course, she couldn’t allow the silence to linger long. Mom had a hard time doing that. “For a person who got up at four thirty,” she explained, “to get your father off to work, who has done three loads of laundry and ironed six shirts and four pair of pants, it’s the afternoon. One of these days you’ll realize how cushy your life is, mister. It must be nice having an extra long weekend ahead of you. Will the family see your face, or will you sleep through it all?”
I swallowed a mouth full of juice and set the glass down. “Mom, I know I live like a king, that’s why I’ll never leave.” I joked. Truly, I did know how good I had it at home. It was the one thing I had going on that I didn’t want to change. “And yes you’ll see me this weekend. You asked me to take off on Monday, so I put in for it weeks ago. And it’s not my fault my normal Saturday off this month falls on the same weekend.” I chuckled and continued, “The boss was actually a little peeved about that. It was funny.”
My mother didn’t see the humor when she said, “But you were off yesterday. Working three days a week must be nice.” She dried a dish and put it away, la-dee-da. She rarely gave me a break about the comfort I enjoyed, except, she also didn’t try to curb it. I secretly think she’s jealous.
I instinctively defended myself by saying, “Hey, Sunday we’re closed because the owner is a Christian. Don’t mock his religion, Mom. The schedule has always been like this since I started, why are you busting my chops about it now?” I wasn’t sure where the conversation was leading, and I wasn’t overly enthused about asking, but I did when she remained silent. “Mom, what are you getting at?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know.” She was all “apathetic” and that bothered me. My mom always had an opinion and when she held it back, it was most likely because she thought I wouldn’t like it. “You sleep all day. You go to work, barely. I mean,” she sighed, “I know you work almost forty hours a week now, and I’m glad, but we hardly ever see you. When you come home, you go out with that girl—”
“Chrissy and I broke up,” I interjected. It was like a knee-jerk reaction, the comment popping out on its own.
I noticed her shoulders come up. “Oh… well, I’m sorry about that, but I’m sort of glad. She wasn’t really… right for you.”
I knew my mom. What she was saying without saying it was that Chrissy was a tramp. I knew that. When she came over my house all we did was make-out in my room before dinner, and then she’d make small talk while she groped me under the table. She was even hornier than Dawn, come to think of it. It wasn’t that Chrissy didn’t know how to respect my parents; she was simply tactless.
“You don’t have to worry, Mom, I’m not seeing her anymore.” I sincerely hoped not. I had meant it the other few times we’d broken up, but somehow that itch just kept showing up and Chrissy knew how to scratch it.
“Oh, good.” Mom was pleased. I enjoyed hearing the perky sound that returned to her voice. She continued, “Chrissy took up a lot of your time. Whatever happened to your friend Corey? He hasn’t been around in ages.”
Of course my mom liked Corey. He was super social. Plus, he knew decorum. Around the parents, Corey put on a straight face. He didn’t flirt. He didn’t grope me and he certainly didn’t kiss me in front of them. We looked like buds. And Corey really was my friend, sort of. We talked… sometimes. Mainly the long conversations were at the dinner table when he stayed for a meal. When we were out, it was all fucking and grunting and very few words. But over dinner, I had learned about his family and upbringing and things he wanted to accomplish in life.
Oddly, I felt a pang of longing. Hearing his name out of the blue reminded me I missed him. The few times we hooked up in the past year were sensational, but they never lasted. Corey wasn’t looking for a boyfriend. He was up front with that stipulation and I was fine with it since I was straight most of the time. Besides, I had Chrissy to fall back on.
“Um, Corey moved to DC,” I explained. I grabbed a pan out of the cabinet and put some water on for Ramen noodles—my staple of life.
“Oh,” she responded sadly. “I’m sorry, dear. He seemed like such a nice boy. You don’t have too many guy friends over, I guess I was glad to see you had at least one.”
“I have friends. Paul at work is pretty cool.” I tried to be up beat about it, but really, that fact nagged me all the time. I basically didn’t talk with anyone outside work.
“Well, maybe you could invite him to dinner sometime.”
She was all cheery and optimistic and I hated squelching her bliss. “Mom, guys don’t have dinner with their buddy’s families. It’s just not done. I’m not in high school.”
“Well, all I’m saying is that, if you ever decide to bring over a buddy to watch sports with your dad or something, he will be welcome to stay for dinner.”
“Watch sports?” I arched an eyebrow. Something fishy was going on in Denmark and I was starting to figure it out. “You just want me in the living room so you can watch what I’m doing.”
“No…,” she tried to say but relented, “okay, yes. I didn’t like you and Chrissy up in your room doing who knows what with the door closed. It’s just not a good example for your little sister. At least with Corey, I knew you weren’t having sex on the bed I’d just made.”
I nearly choked. “Mom!” I coughed a few times expelling juice from my lungs.
“Sorry for being so blunt, but that girl wasn’t quiet. I heard you a few times down here when I came home with groceries.”
The thought of my mom hearing me have sex was just gross, but in some ways a relief that she fixated on Chrissy. My shock, and near death experience from choking, was from her slight reference to me having sex with Corey on my bed. Because that did happen! “Mom,” I tried explaining again when my hacking-up-a-lung attack had subsided. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for you to hear that. It won’t happen again.” And I meant it.
“Good,” she replied. “Now, if you excuse me, I have to get ready for Zumba.” She kissed my cheek and headed out of the room.
“Bye, Mom. See you after my shift.” I called after her, still standing at the stove stirring my noodles.
“Okay,” she called back, her voice drifting down the hall. We were one of those “yelling” families that hollered through the house. And, on occasion, we texted each other from one room to another in the house. No one ever seemed energetic enough to walk and find the person they wished to converse with—ha ha, that would be stupid.
After adding the flavor packet, I drained the juice, poured the noodles in a bowl and sat down to eat. I had five minutes.
My phone buzzed. It was a text from Mary-Louise. Hey, I’m throwing a party this weekend. It might be one of the last few. My schedule changed and I’ll have less time for fun. I guess I have to be a grown-up now.
I grinned. She’d moved to Alexandria, Virginia after she graduated. Not that Alexandria was all that far away, less than two hours south wasn’t bad, but I still hadn’t seen her in months. Some of the regular crowd drove down a few times, but it hadn’t interested me. It was a lot of money in gas just to drink and get laid. I could do that right here. But then again, she was my friend.
I texted: Nah, I’ll pass. I work a lot too.
It wasn’t a lie. Since I had gotten the job at Papa’s Pizzeria, I worked fulltime and that included practically every weekend. It was the first forty-hour job I’d kept longer than two months. My mom even told me she was proud of me when I’d hit the ninety-day mark and had gotten a raise. So far, it’d been seven months in a row of employment for the Nickster! Oh, yeah! I was so stoked.
Mary-Louise texted back: We will miss you! :^( How are things with Chrissy? Still seeing her?
No. Broke up this morning.
Sorry. :^( She wasn’t right for you anyway.
Can I ask you a question? I had to know. We’d been friends for years now and she was the only one of our usual crowd I hadn’t slept with. I needed to know why?
Ok, so, I’ve known you for years. Why is it we never hooked up?
Mary-Louise took a long time responding. So much time that I had finished my noodles, threw on a work shirt, and was in my car before I received a reply. She wrote: I really thought you knew, especially since you were close friends with Corey. I’m a lesbian, Nick. I was dating Shawna my senior year. I’m sorry if that freaks you out. I hope not. You’ve always been so non-judgmental.
“Shawna?” I questioned out loud. I pulled into work and parked my car. I was baffled. I had fooled around with Shawna a couple of times and I never knew she was a lesbian. Fuck me!
Before getting out of the car I texted a response: No, I didn’t know. And yes, it’s fine. It doesn’t bother me if you’re gay. At least it explains why you never went out with me when everyone else was taking a turn. I hope you’re happy.
I am, thanks. What about you and Corey? Anything ever happen with him?
Corey. Why does it keep coming back to him? I texted: He moved to DC and I haven’t seen him since New Years. But I think he’s fine.
Too bad, you made a cute couple.
“We weren’t a couple,” I complained out loud as if she could hear me. Now she was just agitating me. I’m not gay, M-L! I tended to shorten her name in text to initials. Mary-Louise was just too long. And even when we spoke, I sometimes shortened it and she didn’t mind.
Oh! No, of course not. I’m sorry. I just thought you and Corey had a thing going. I’m sorry if I was wrong. Please don’t be mad.
No, I’m not. Just frustrated. I do miss Corey, but it’s not ’cause I’m gay for him.
Okay. I believe you. Listen, I gotta go. But I hope you find someone better for you than Chrissy. She’s so trashy. You deserve better!
Oh God, no!
I locked my car and walked into work feeling glum. Why did M-L think I was gay? Do I look gay? I think not! Breaking up with Chrissy was a good thing. But missing Corey… I shook away the feelings that bubbled up concerning him. Denial was best.