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"Bitches," short story excerpt

Tuesday 5/10/22

I said to a buddy of mine once that he has to make sure to tell his two girls not to try heroin. If you do heroin once—if you just try it—chances are you will die from it. I’m being serious, but I’m also joking. I extend the joke, because it’s about us now and not about parenting, and we’re going back in time to when we sat in bars and no one talked to us and we talked to each other. We viewed that as pathetic at the time, but I can tell that my friend wants this memory to be some commentary on our relationship—thick and thin, and all that—but that's easier for him, because he’s gotten what he wants out of life, even if he’s discovered that what he wanted hasn’t made him happy.


He romanticizes those days now. I am less happy now than I was then, by a lot, but I was not happy at the time. I just didn’t know what was in store for me.


“And also not to be a slut,” I say. “Tell them no threesomes.”


We’re not really talking about his kids or anyone’s kids. You could say we’re speaking in the abstract, or I am, and he’s playing along with this vibe of the past which I myself am playing along with, but for a different purpose. “And tell them to be good people, and not bitches,” I conclude, and thus our badinage fizzles out until the next phone call, and we move on to sober, sobering life; in other words, the ostensible reason why one of us has called the other. This is the meat of our talks, a description rooted in truth that nonetheless makes me think of people who say the term, “walnut meat,” which sounds so knowing and accurate, especially when they say it with confidence and without betraying any indication that it rings as incongruous.