Discover more from Wrong Turn Lit
by Bucket Siler
On Mondays my new friend Jessica and I meet up for coffee because, as I’ve discovered in my 30s, Sensible Adult Women don’t have sleepovers. We don’t drive by our ex-boyfriend’s house at night and throw rotten eggs at his car. We don’t get into screaming fights on the sidewalk over a borrowed cardigan that was never returned, give each other matching stick-and-poke tattoos with sewing needles, smear our blood into each other’s veins, hold hands and skip, swap clothes, or take drunken bubble baths with our mother’s salt scrub and a six-pack of hard lemonades.
We sit at a coffeeshop and talk. I’ll admit that initially I found this arrangement suspicious. Surely, I thought, drinking a hot beverage with another woman could never compare to burning our teddy bears in a raging bonfire, or pouring pickle juice into a mutual enemy’s gas tank. But after a decade or so of adulthood, I’ve come to accept the Coffeeshop Chat as one of the shiny marble pillars of female friendship, and I feel grateful—I do!—that Jessica and I, being relatively new acquaintances, have bravely established this little Monday ritual so early in our relationship.
It goes like this: She orders, I order. The barista calls Jessica’s name, and she picks up her skim-milk latte from the counter. The same happens for me and I fetch my Earl Gray tea. Then we settle into our seats.
Ten years ago, I might’ve worried about how to fill the next hour. But as it turns out, Sensible Adult Women aren’t nearly as antsy as teenagers, and they have much to talk about. Who knew the depths we could plumb with nothing but dignified conversation? We have challenges, people! Issues. Patterns. We have grumpy bosses and nosy landlords and emotionally underdeveloped boyfriends. We’ve been working through our anxiety—like, really working, with a workbook—and we’re pretty sure we’re making progress. Plus, we finally realized our sciatica might be a symptom of a mild gluten allergy, which is, like, huge.
In short, adult life is surprisingly hard and we sensible ladies are here to Support One Another in its increasingly obnoxious and apparently unceasing tedium. Could you pass the cream, Jessica? Btw I can totally relate to your experience. *Presses hand over heart, tips head to one side.* Did I tell you about this crazy thing that happened last weekend?
Sometimes, we need two cups of coffee.
Sometimes, one of us cries.
But we never feel close, not really. Not like lying on our backs in her backyard looking at the stars, not like driving around town in circles smoking cloves out the window, not like staying up all night eating Oreos and watching Carrie. We’re too old for that now, and besides, here there’s always a table between us. Two rigid-if-stylish chairs keeping our backs uncomfortably straight, our feet firmly glued to the floor. And after an hour or so of talking talking talking talking talking talking talking talking talking talking talking, I get up from my seat feeling empty inside.
My throat is sore.
My ass hurts.
We hug—a nice hug, a polite hug, an awkwardly-long-and-then suddenly-it’s-over hug, a perfect par for sensible physical contact between two grown women, sleepovers and piggyback rides be damned—and I get into my car and drive home alone.
We won’t speak until next Monday, when we smile and hug and ask each other, How are you? and cross our legs under the table. She’ll never raise her voice. I’ll never call her a cunt. She’ll never lend me five dollars for cigarettes. I’ll never meet her mother. We’ll just sit and smile and talk until our teeth fall out and if anybody ever asks me, “Who was that woman I saw you with yesterday? The one with the gaping black hole in her face?” I can only hope—and I do hope!—that if I keep abiding by our strange new rules (never painting her toenails, never shoving her stupid boyfriend into a fountain at the mall, but earnestly listening and then shaking my head in dismay while she talks, because holy shit: life is truly exasperating), one day I’ll get to say, “Oh, that’s Jessica. She’s my best friend.”
Bucket Siler’s writing has appeared in Storm Cellar, The Offing, Atticus Review, Bracken, and elsewhere. She lives in New Mexico, where she organizes Santa Fe Zine Fest.
Wrong Turn Lit is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support independent literature, please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber today.