“My life is a travesty,” I moan.
“What’s that now?”
“My life. It’s a hollow, meaningless farce marked by intermittent, brief glimmers of hope.”
“Yikes,” Mary says. “That sounds serious.”
I shift the phone from one ear to the other. “Guess what I did for lunch?”
Mary takes a breath. In my experience, she does this every time she’s getting ready to mess with me.
“Let me think,” she says, with what is surely a smile on her face. “You ate?
did you eat for lunch? No, wait. I can do better than that.” She laughs softly to herself. “Gimme a minute. Lemme think.”
“Mary –“ I warn.
She cackles over the line. “Okay, okay,” she says. “What did you do for lunch?”
I take a deep breath. “I tried on pants.”
A hush goes over the line.
I nod. Surely she is nodding, too.
she sighs. “I am so sorry.”
“Fourteen pairs of pants, Mary. Fourteen pairs of pants.”
“And you didn’t buy a one, did you?”
There’s a brief pause as we consider the heartbreak that pants-shopping can cause.
“Not to mention,” I say, having started a separate but parallel conversation in my head, “the pants I’m wearing today look like I pulled them out of the hamper.”
“Pfft,” I say. “You know I don’t do that anymore.”
We laugh the laugh of people who have worn swimsuit bottoms as underwear.
“So, what then?” she says. “Tell Mary about your current pants.”
I shake my head in disgust, something I’m sure transfers over the phone. “You know those pants that look good when you put them on, nice and smooth, and they get baggier and baggier, get weirder throughout the day?”
“Yep,” she says.
“These are them.” I glance down, pull at the fabric around my belly. “These looked pretty sweet at 6:30 in the morning.”
“And now?” she asks. “We talkin’ grapefruit smugglers here?”
“Yep,” I say. “I look like an unmade bed.”
“Probably find a homeless guy sleeping in your lap later.”
I smile, snort into the receiver. “There’s room for him now, I tell you whut.”
“Seriously, though,” she says. “Pants be traitors.”
“You got that right.”
We smile a telephone-smile at each other. “You feel better now?”
“You know,” I say, “I believe I do.”
“Well all right,” Mary says. “Then my work here is done.”