I slide into the booth, trying to untangle my sunglasses from my hair with one hand while I unbutton my coat with the other.
“Sorry!” I say, “I know I’m late, but I’ve been hungover as balls for two days and couldn’t get anywhere near my blog, I could only face bad movies and deep dish Dominos. How are you, anyway? Honestly, I feel like I haven’t talked to you properly in ages, it’s been just all Fiji blah blah blah for forever.”
I pick up the menu and flip flip flip until I get to the drinks page.
“Let’s get milkshakes!” I say with an exaggerated dorky grin, then screw up my nose and put my head in my hands.
“I’m sorry,” I groan, “that’s just way too hacky, isn’t it, to make a reference to the blog title. I just can’t help myself. A shoe-horned, winking, awkward shout-out? Nothing’s funnier. Except maybe a Dad pun. Or maybe lowest-wit sarcasm. Or making references to things that were funny ten years ago. I’m still persisting with That’s What She Said, even though Wikipedia says it’s been ‘ancient’ since 1973. 1973! That’s almost 40 years of it being uncool, and yet I can’t stop myself from getting it out.”
I chew on my bottom lip and look at the milkshake list. “Ok, well, obviously I’m getting the caramel one, I don’t even know why I’m pretending to read this”.
There’s a piece of hair in my face, hanging over one eye. As I talk, I battle with trying to untuck it from under my fringe.
“So, anyway, after writing a thirteen-part-epic about everything I ate in Fiji, I’m kind of… adrift. My sister emailed me last week to ask what I was going to blog about when I’d finished talking about my holiday, and I said I didn’t know, probably just go back to what I used to do? And she said, what was that? I’ve forgotten. ”
The waitress takes our orders and I try to read her tattoo without making it obvious that I’m trying to read her tattoo. She sees me staring and says, “it’s Voltaire”. I nod, wondering if I’m allowed to ask her what font it is, or if that’s too personal. Before I’ve decided, she’s gone.
“Anyway, I can’t even remember how to write these things, either, if I’m not transcribing events. How do blogs even… work? It’s just first person, right? But without putting us somewhere? I just… talk? About what? I feel like I can’t just leap back into regularly scheduled programming. It’s like when you have a fight with your friend, and then you technically patch it up, but then you see them again and you’re like, um, how about this weather, and they’re like, yeah, and then no one says anything for what feels like a really long time, and then when they pretend to get a phone call you’re thrilled, and you realise you haven’t been breathing properly.”
Our milkshakes arrive in huge vessels, giant vases full of thick creamy goop with fat green straws poking out. It’s a test of good a milkshake, how thick the straw is, and I’m delighted to see that I’d probably manage to get my pinky finger into these ones. Another test of a good milkshake? If you can tip the glass upside down and the gloppy mass takes a moment to start moving.
I guess, if we’re being honest, I just want to drink melted icecream.
I sigh and scrunch my face up. “Is this too much, making you come out for a virtual milkshake? It’s all terribly self-indulgent, isn’t it, and it’s not like I can say that I studied at the IIML to get away with it.”
“Should I have just told you a story about Annie? Who, before I forget, is on Twitter now? Ok, I can do that. So we went out with some friends on Saturday. Annie had started drinking on the bus on the way home from work, and by the time dinner rolled around she was definitely drunk. She was in this little peach dress, and at one point she hauled her leg up onto the table to show us her snakeskin shoes, all while trying to keep her knees together. Meanwhile, there’s tables of families all around, and a guy behind her says ‘ooh, do THAT again!’ and his wife is definitely not happy about it, storming off to pay the bill. But instead of chasing her, he poses for a photo! The next day Annie’s looking through her phone pics, and has no memory of any it happening.”
I’m slurping the dregs of thick caramel from the bottom of the cup, deciding that if I’m going to pay $6.50 for milk, I am going to get every last drop in, even if the rattling sucking noise I’m making is definitely unladylike. I finish it and push the cup away, deciding that I won’t slide my finger around the inside to get every last little bit, because I caught the bus here and I haven’t washed my hands since.
“Ok, I could definitely drink like, at least six more of those. But after Fiji… Jesus. I told you how much I ate, right? I think something in my brain is broken. I read once that bees are the same. They don’t have that internal signal that tells you that you’re full, like, they will just keep eating until they explode. Hold on, I’ll find it.”
I dig my phone out of my pocket, tapping Bees Eat Explode into Google, and I scan the links.
“Woah. Um, ok. Sooooo apparently bees genitals explode during mating? And I can’t find anything about food, it’s all just genital explosion. Aww, poor little bees. Do you think their junk grows back? Or do they have to live as little bee eunuchs?”
That hair is still in my face. I try one more time to fix it before giving up and rummaging for my wallet in my handbag.
“My shout, ok, to thank you for indulging me in this? And next time things’ll be back to normal, I promise.”