DID HE SAY HIS WIFE? By Karen Uffelman

DID HE SAY HIS WIFE?

By Karen Uffelman

“Did he say his wife?”

Trina gave me the look that I hate.

“What. The. Fuck.”

“I thought you knew,” I whispered.

If Trina could have set my hair on fire with her eyes my head would have been smoking.

“I mean, I thought you knew. Shhhhhh.”

This evening was not going to end well.

SO MY WIFE, CAROLINE, IS THE GENIUS OF OUR FAMILY. SHE’S TUTORED BOTH OUR BOYS IN LATIN AND FRENCH, IN ADDITION TO RUNNING THE MOST SUCCESSFUL LAW PRACTICE IN SEATTLE. I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT, BUT I’M A LUCKY MAN.

“Boys? He has kids? He’s married and he has KIDS?”

A couple of middle-aged League-of-Women-Voter types in front of us turned and looked Trina up and down. One of them held a finger to her lips.

“Dude, how could you not know this? He’s running for lieutenant governor. He’s got his family’s pictures on his frickin’ website and 1 million pieces of direct mail that I designed for him. I invited you because I thought you’d like this party, not because I want you to make a scene in front of my client… can youplease keep your voice down?”

Trina set her wineglass down a little too hard ad the base of the glass shattered. Luckily it was white wine that spilled everywhere and no tablecloths were sacrificed. People were looking at us. I tried to give my most reassuring smile. Eventually folks turned back to the speech

“You are not my friend, Maya.

“I am totally your friend, Trina. I know he flirted with you a lot at what’s-his-name’s party, but I thought you were enjoying the attention and I assumed you knew he’s not actually available. He acts like a player, but he’s harmless.”

Trina gave me another one of her I’d-like-to-cut-you-to-pieces stare. She’s my most beautiful friend – runner’s body, big, expressive eyes, perfect teeth. But lately, she’s been a little rough around the edges. A little too much makeup, seems like she’s lost weight, she probably ought to not dye her hair so often. I know I haven’t been as attentive a friend as I should be, and I feel guilty about it, but I can’t really listen to her complain about her life anymore. I really just want her to settle down with somebody and be happy and not so frickin’ high maintenance. Inviting her tonight was my effort at being a better friend, but was clearly a mistake.

I turned my back on Trina and tried to listen to the candidate, Richard Belkin. Self-satisfied the way politicians so often are, but seems like a genuinely good guy, and quite handsome. I liked having him as a client. I could understand why Trina was disappointed that Richard wasn’t single. I looked back at her with what I hoped was a convincing sorry-let’s-make-up smile.

She stepped around the table and hissed into my carefully flat-ironed hair, “Until tonight, I thought Richard lived in a condo in Belltown. By himself. Until tonight, I thought he was just an attorney, not a political candidate.”

“He is an attorney,” I whispered back, “but he lives in Bellevue, not Belltown.”

I started to get a bad feeling in my stomach.

“Tonight he’s sleeping in his condo in Belltown, because that’s where he invited me to meet him after his ‘work event’ you asshole.”

She said “asshole” a little too loudly, and those same event attendees who had noticed her breaking the stemware now looked at us again. I did a repeat performance of my reassuring smile. With a little less success this time.

“Trina,” I said, my voice hushed but, I feared, still audible, “don’t go. It would be a mistake for both of you. Just chalk it up to poor judgement on his part.”

“Or maybe mine, Maya. Because this will be my ninth date with Richard. Ninth. Which means I’ve slept with him seven times. You know, seven, because I’m such a nice girl and I don’t FUCKING sleep with people on the first two dates so I can make sure they’re really interested and not like, oh, I don’t know, MARRIED or something!”

How had she gone out with Richard Belkin nine times without me knowing?

She could see the gears turning in my head and blurted out, “Because you are the WORST friend in the world! You pretend to care about me, you fit me in here and there, you introduce me to fucking MARRIED MEN, watch us flirt, and don’t clue me in. You SUCK, Maya!”

By that time, most of the people in the room were looking at us. Richard was still carrying on at the front about his kid’s field hockey team or his feelings about local B&O taxes, I’m not sure which. Trina’s mascara was running in thick black streams down her face. I was trying to calculate how much it was going to cost me to lose Richard as a client.

“Come on, Trina, let’s get out of here,” I said.

Trina wiped her face with one of the nice hotel napkins and took my arm.

“I’m not fucking voting for him,” was all she said.

“I know,” I said, “I know.”

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About bbcstudiowrites

This blog is me archiving the BBC Studio Writers Workshop.

Posted on May 26, 2016, in Fiction, Seattle, Short Stories. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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