“Jen.” I pull my pillow over my head. “Jen! Have you seen them? They were in the kitchen drawer last week. Did you move them?”
God, I’m actually going to have this conversation. I throw the pillow off my head and glare at him through sleep-encrusted eyes. “Yes, I saw them. Yes, I moved them. You don’t keep toenail clippers in the kitchen, you foul, filthy man.”
“So where did you put them?”
“From now on, we’ll be keeping them in the bathroom drawer. You know, like the rich people do.”
Completely ignoring the sarcasm in my voice, he retrieves the clippers and plops himself on the edge of the bed, snipping away as slivers of toenail fly across the floor. Some even land in the bed. Lucky me.
I roll over onto my stomach, hoping to recapture the bliss of tacos in the nonfiction stacks, but my irritation has rendered me fully conscious. Shit.
“I’m out of here,” Dax announces. He reaches over to slap my ass, like I’m the heifer he’s just entered at the county fair, and I flinch under the sheets. “Do you want to meet me after work at The Duck?”
“Umm, did you forget that my mom and sister are coming in tonight? We’re meeting them at Papasitos? Does any of this ring a bell?”
“Oh, shit. Yeah. Okay. Do you think they’ll mind if Ollie tags along? I told him he could stay over tonight—they’re replacing the carpet in his apartment.”
Ollie is Dax’s younger brother. He’s a sweet kid, but not someone I want my family to interact with—he’s one spliff away from permanent brain damage, and he manages to make Dax look ambitious, if such a thing is even possible.
“Dax…” I whine. I don’t whine very often, but I really don’t want to spend an evening with my mom and Jeff Spicoli. Seriously, the kid walks around in haze of smoke and Hot Fries crumbs.
Dax sighs heavily, but I know I’ll get my way. “Okay, I’ll see if he can stay with Jim. What time is dinner again?”
“Seven. Meet us at the restaurant, and don’t be late.”
“Yes, dear,” he says in his most nasal, hen-pecked voice. He leans over and kisses my neck, right behind the earlobe, the exact spot that makes my toes wiggle reflexively. “I’m sorry I woke you, go back to sleep,” he whispers. I give him a begrudging hum as he plants a few more hot kisses on my bare shoulder. “I love you.”
I hum again in response. I never give the ILY back to Dax. I know it makes me sound like a bitch, and maybe I am, but I have my reasons. First, I’m not sure if I love Dax. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been in love with anyone. And second, the ILY bomb has been the beginning of the end of every relationship I’ve ever attempted. When men hear it, they start to go all crass and lazy. And believe me, if Dax goes any more crass and lazy than he already is, he might lose his status as a homo sapien.
Once he’s gone, I stretch loudly and peruse my surroundings. Toenail clippings litter the floor and bed, and all the drawers in my beloved dressing table remain pulled out at funky angles. The toenail clippers have been tossed on Dax’s nightstand, right next to an empty condom wrapper and an almost empty bottle of Dos Equis. I slide out of bed and begin to tidy the mess.
He loves me.
But where has that gotten us?
I get to work at ten-thirty, only to find that Lucy isn’t in yet. I dig in my purple plastic messenger bag and use my stolen key to open her office door. Lucy still thinks she lost it when she dropped her purse off the balcony at Will’s apartment last summer. Dumping my bag on her lumpy side chair, I help myself to Frosted Flakes, soaking them liberally with the skim milk I find in her mini-fridge.
It probably sounds like I take advantage of Lucy, because, you know, I do. But here’s my thinking: cosmically, Lucy needs a bit of dissonance in her life. I mean, she’s gorgeous, smart, almost annoyingly sweet, and in love with her adoring boyfriend Will, who resides on a separate but equally irritating level of perfection. Not that I don’t love them—they are my very best friends. But they can sometimes be a bit too too, you know? So, if, for instance, I steal food from Lucy’s mini-fridge, or Post-it Note the rear windshield of Will’s Jeep, I’m actually doing them a favor. They need more adversity in their lives. Plus it makes me laugh.
I’m using a tube of L’ancome Definicils that I found in the lap drawer of Lucy’s desk when she stumbles in, dropping her laptop bag on the credenza under the window. “You know, if I had some funky eye infection, you’d get it from using that mascara.”
“Do you?” I ask, still swiping at my lashes, then blinking tentatively into my compact mirror.
“No. But I could,” she pouts.