“So,” she began, easing herself down in the leather armchair next to the one I occupied. “I’ve discovered all over again that some people should be drowned at birth.”
“Two questions,” I capped my pen and marked my place in my journal. “How could you possibly forget that, living where we do? And, why do I always miss these little interactions?”
She shrugged, gently removing the lid from her coffee. Running her tongue around the inside of the cup, she scooped the milk foam from the surface of her latte.
“Fifteen years I’ve known you, and that never gets boring.” I said, watching her unblinkingly. “So, what happened this time?”
“I know that’s why you insist on renting my friendship with lattes.” She swallowed the foam and was silent for a moment. “I was just informed that I shouldn’t call my baby a tumor by that dildo of a barista. It all started because he asked if I wouldn’t prefer some nice chamomile tea instead of coffee.” She slurped her latte carefully.
“Really?” I sipped my own coffee, mastering the urge to guffaw in the middle of the crowded coffee shop. “And what did you say?”
“I asked, ‘Does it taste like coffee?’ He looked at me like I was speaking Swahili or something. The answer, disappointingly enough, was ‘no.’ So, I asked again for coffee, and he asked if caffeine wasn’t bad for pregnant women. At which point I carefully and gently told him that it was a tumor.” She took another sip of coffee. “He was very upset and informed me that it was a new life and I had no right to call it a tumor. I tried really hard not to laugh at him–told him he had no right to call my tumor a baby.”
“Or snap his neck. So, have you settled on a name for the little tumor–or tumors I should say?”
“I think I like HAL and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” She replaced the lid on her cup and threaded a green plastic straw through the sip hole.
“Also their horses, if I remember what you said about the ultrasound.” I drank my coffee and stared at the artglass pendulum lamp shade over the hand-off plane by the bar. “As well as several Hindu gods and their avatars.”
“That, too.” She nodded. “I can’t believe he told me I shouldn’t call my baby a tumor.” She shook her head and stared out the window at the Walgreen’s sign across the busy street advertising the sale price of laundry detergent and Flu Shots. “If I’m pregnant, then it’s not only immaculate conception, but the longest gestation in the history of the species.”
“What is it now, a decade?” I shook my head in disgust. “One of these days I’m gonna be on hand to say some choice things when that happens.”
“Just about. I’ll sell tickets. There are plenty of people who would pay to see that.”
“Maybe you can convince the Social Security Office to actually give you insurance if they think you’re pregnant–then you can actually go to the doctor.”
“And actually get treated for whatever is wrong with me? They may cure cancer before that happens.” She said, shifting her weight gingerly in the chair and flipping her hair over her shoulder. Neither one of us said what else might happen before that.
“Pity there’s no cure for stupid.” I observed.
“Oh, there is, but it carries a penalty of jail time with it.” She raised her eyebrows significantly and looked at me sidelong.
“Hey, then they’ll have to treat you. Two birds with one stone!”
“There’s a thought.” She made a moue of consideration.
The beatings will continue until morale improves!