I avoided this party: I didn’t open the evite, didn’t mark it on my calendar, and looked for some sort of acceptable excuse to stay home. In the end, though, I had no conflicting plans, and Mr. Faraway was available to go with me, and nobody got even marginally sick, so when the text arrives a few days beforehand, from my friend who is turning 50, I reply, of course I’m coming.
Mr. Faraway and I arrive, and it’s a small group. I only know two people other than the hostess, and it turns out the Mr. Faraway also knows a couple of the guests, so he is no longer at my side when the couple rush up to greet me. The three of us chat about how much the kids have grown and what they’re up to and our various home ownership and automotive woes and who we’ve run into lately. The husband – who is a Facebook friend but never actually interacts with me on Facebook – seems to know everything that is going on in my life, and it occurs to me that Facebook has a usefulness I’ve overlooked: Cliff notes for making small talk at parties.
I talk the wife – who isn’t on Facebook – out of buying a Mini.
The wife tells me she ran into The Departed at Trader Joe’s.
Do you remember that weekend we all went camping? And his son was so mean to the other boys?
It was more than ten years ago, but I remember: Kids were all playing nicely, adults were chatting around a picnic table, when suddenly The Departed’s son made a beeline for another boy and pushed him, hard, off a swing.
She continues: I asked him about his kids, and he said, he’s grown up a lot since the last time we went camping.
It’s an odd thing to remember – we’d all seen each other dozens of times in the decade since then – and though I’m not convinced my former stepson made a better impression, I’m sure that the eyerolls he gave in response to questions about school and girlfriends, made a different impression.
You could pass them off as nerves, if you wanted to.
The wife concludes her story: she asked The Departed if he lived nearby. He said yes, but he wasn’t at his apartment most of the time.
His behavior was so strange. Why, she asks, did he insist on both telling her something and making her read between the lines? Why not just say you’re seeing someone?
No reason at all, since he knew it would be repeated back to me, eventually.