The Christmas Story

January 25, 2022

The Moment of Truth

It's 3 pm on a Friday, and I have this sudden urge to go dress shopping. I never have this urge—body image issues do wonders for my wallet. But I need a dress for Nate's best friend's wedding.

 

My one faithful $10 on-sale event dress has been worn to every possible occasion in the Holyland, and I think people are starting to catch on. Does God ever where the same kaftan twice?

I flop my body on the couch and sigh heavily. "I just can't seem to find a dress for the wedding." I lower my eyes slowly, hoping to give off a pathetic vibe. It's working. Nate looks at me, gets up, and heads to the door. He slips on his shoes and grabs the car keys, "okay, so let's go." 

We're now stuck in traffic. I knew this was going to happen, but I didn't care. It's not my fault there's a wedding every week. Sure, I don't have to go, but I'm never one to say no to a steak dinner.

 

"I just love going on car rides with you," I say indearingly, intertwining my fingers into his. Hopefully, this move will distract him from the bumper-to-bumper lineup ahead of us. But I don't think he's buying it. Fuck.

With my feet comfortably perched up on the dashboard, I start questioning life. "I just don't get why we need to go to everyone's wedding."

"You have to go," Nate replies, "they come to all your events."

In all fairness, I have yet to host an event. To be honest, I just don't have that family comradery that Nate has. And with over 600 family members, there's always a reason for him to celebrate. But what does he want from me? My family consists of twelve people. Twelve. There are more links in a package of sausage than people in my family.

"How much money do you give for each wedding?" I ask curiously. "Like is there an unspoken code?" 

"You think we can remember who gave what?" He looks at me with concern—like I'm the crazy one. "No, every family has an event book."

"An event book?"

"Yeah, you know, like a book where you list down how much money people give you for each event." I look at him blankly. "So," he continues, "you know how much to give them back."

Sounds complicated and time-consuming. I appreciate the times in elementary school when everyone just gave each other $20—there was no fucking around. It was a simpler time. 

"So wait, after every event, you need to write that shit down? But you guys have like 600 people at your weddings!" I can feel the heat rising up my neck. I'm furious. Why? I don't know. Possibly because I may have to do this one day.

 

But the real anger is coming from knowing that this season's fashion trends do not compliment my body. Enough with the satin! It clings!

While I could choose to calm down and end my rant, I gonna keep going down this rabbit hole. While I continue talking, we stop at a red light, and I'm beginning to realize Nate's not listening to me anymore. I glance over to see his eyes intensely staring in my direction. 

 

I follow his stare with my eyes meeting two flamboyantly dressed men in a small park. One is wearing brown bell-bottom corduroys with an orange vest, and the other, a bright pink jacket with jeans. They're walking casually through the small park on the side of the road, approaching a large flock of pigeons.

"They're gonna do it," I say out loud. "Mmhm," Nate replies. I expected more of an answer, but I'll let it slide. We watch and wait.

The man in the pink jacket excitedly hands over his coffee cup to his friend, immediately darting towards the flock of pigeons, hands stretched out to both sides with his head tilted back. He looks magnetic; he looks free.

The flock of pigeons anxiously escapes into the air as he continues to run through them. I wait for Nate to encourage me to join the flamboyant man. We're stuck in traffic anyway; why not join in? I can already hear the conversation in my head.

"Look at him! It looks so fun!"

"You should go..."

"You think? I don't know..."

"Go run with the pigeons, Natasha. Go."

And there I go, unleashing myself from the seatbelt to join the man in the pink jacket, chasing pigeons side by side. 

That didn't happen. We're still watching from inside the car. Lame, I know. 

Nate lets out a laugh, "oh man, that's great. He's enjoying life."

The flamboyant man in the pink jacket stops running, goes back to his friend, and takes a sip of his coffee. They share a couple of words and start to walk in our direction.

Inspired by this man's sense of freedom, Nate rolls down the window, waiting for them to walk by.

 

"What are you going to say to them?"

"Wait," he says, as they walk by.

 

"That was great!" Nate joyfully yells from his seat.

The two men stop, their faces dropping in disgust. "Ugh," the man in bell-bottoms says. With an equal look of disgust on his face, the other simply stares in silence

I slump in my seat, "oh my god, they think we're losers," I mumble. "Drive!"

"I can't drive anywhere!" Nate says, trying to remain calm.

"Roll up the window," I murmur, trying hard not to let my lips move.

"No," Nate replies with his hands covertly covering his mouth. "It'll look like they won." 

I grab my phone and start to swipe the black screen. Yes, that's it. You look like you totally have friends now. Keep pretend swiping. 

The light turns green, Nate hits the gas. 

"What just happened?" I said with confusion. "I don't get it."

"Are we...losers?" Nate asks.

"No. Worse." Desperation fills my eyes, "we're old."

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