Read My Best Man Online

Authors: Andy Schell

Tags: #General, #Fiction

My Best Man (10 page)

BOOK: My Best Man
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“It’s a good thing you’re just friends, because unless you get dick job and rob a bank, she’d probably drop you like a salad.”

“No shit,” I chuckle.

“Still… I know I’ve heard that name before,” he says, scanning his memory again. “Amity Stone.”

“I’m not in the running anyway,” I go on, “because she has new boyfriend. Some guy named Matt Hunter goes by Hunt. He’s this strapping redheaded boy with great teeth who comes up in his BMW 2002 and hops out like he’s hopping off a hors el The weird thing is that he’s a fraternity brother of the last guy dated some dude whose balls smell like Brie cheese.”

Randy spews out a chunk of pickle.

 

I continue. “He’s really friendly to me in a very sexual kind of way, which I thought was hot until Amity told me he admitted he used to go to gay bars with a couple friends who would wait out in the parking lot while he would flirt with a guy inside, lure him out to the car with a promise of sex, and then beat the stuffing out of him with his friends.”

“How sick is that?” Randy says, disgusted.

I bite a chunk of pickle. “I know. Amity told me so nonchalantly, as if to say, “Isn’t that funny, Harry?” I got pretty angry about it, and it really disturbed me that she looks at him as if he’s the finest man in the world. But then I realized, that’s how she looked at Troy, the other guy, and he didn’t last long. So I just kept my mouth shut.”

“I know who she is!” Randy says, almost choking on his beer as well as his epiphany. “She’s the girl from CCT who sued the professor.”

“What do you mean?” I ask, taking a swig of beer.

“Amity Stone. She slept with her professor at a Christian college in Fort Worth, and he ended up giving her a B in the class, so she sued him,” Randy says excitedly. “Of course she expected an A. And from what I heard, she gives the kind of blow jobs that earn all A+.”

I’m uncomfortable that Randy is treating Amity as a juicy gossip tidbit. “Who told you about this?”

“My friend Kevin. He went to CCT. He said they kept it low profile, but it still made the papers. She sued the guy for sleeping with her and not giving her an A. He lost his job, and the university settled out of court, and she got her grade changed to an A.”

“Well, she should have sued,” I say defensively. “I would have.”

“You blew your professors for better grades?” he asks.

“I should have,” I answer as if it’s perfectly normal. “How much money did she get?”

“No one would say. But Kevin heard it was like a hundred thousand or something. I can’t believe she’s your roommate! Kevin said she’s hysterical. He met her at a party once. He said every guy at the party wanted to go home with her.”

“I told you she’s great.” I can’t help but wonder what she did with all the money.

“He said she was coked out of her mind though,” Randy cautions. “Is she still doing that stuff?”

Maybe that’s where the money went up her nose. “No, she just smokes pot like the rest of us,” I assure him.

“Be glad,” Randy says, taking another sip of beer. “Cocaine is fun, but it sure grabs hold of you.”

On the flight home I think about our conversation. I guess it’” no surprise that Amity has a reputation. The truth is, she’s the kind of woman who has a reputation the moment she walks into a room. I just thought it was a more fun-loving and innocent reputation the one Randy described. Who knows, maybe the story has become i, legend over the last few years and been blown way out of its on proportions. I mean, how many students have slept with their sors? Thousands? Millions, probably. Amity was smart enough make a deal out of it, that’s all.

Still, it gives me a bit of pause. My father took me aside

I was very young and explained in plain English that all my there would be people who would associate with me because my money. And he constantly drilled caution into me in that re But hell, I don’t have any money now. And frankly, it’s who is the provider at the moment, putting a roof over my for a reduced rent. She sees my life, my car, my clothes. She’s too smart not to notice I have nothing to offer. Not at the moment at least.

 

GHAPi|R

EIGHT

arch rolls around, and Jacqueline, Amity’s friend from the airline, starts coming around again. One fallow day, when the tulips are trying to peek out of the ground, and the magnolias are thinking about blooming, and the dormant ragweed is envisioning the coming summer kill, she comes over and we all sit in the living room two of us on the floor and whoever in the wing back and drink icy Stolichnaya from the bottle we keep in the freezer. Jacqueline can drink. Like a pro. And she likes to smoke cigarettes while explaining the latest thing she’s learned. She waves a cigarette around and says, “Do you know what a peninsula is? It’s land surrounded by water on three sides. So here’s the land,” she holds the cigarette out, “and on three sides is water. Here, here, and here. Water, water, water.” She puts the cigarette back to her lips, takes a sloppy drag, leaving lipstick smeared on the filter, and continues. “Water, water, water, land. Land, water, water, water. A peninsula is “

“OK, Jackie!” Amity shouts. “You’re beatin’ that horse to death”

Jacqueline is beautiful in her own unusual way. It’s not just that she’s six feet tall. It’s that every part of her is long. Her fingers, nose, legs, eyelashes . they’re all long. And her hair is thick and

 

luxurious, like the hair of those girls in shampoo commercials. And she has a wide, lush, pouty mouth. Amity still has never told me why Jacqueline moved out on her so fast, other than to say they were having problems in their friendship. I guess they’ve patched things up.

“Can you believe how boring that debate was last night?” Amity asks. “That Walter Mondale is about as exciting as a day-old biscuit in lukewarm gravy.”

We watched Gary Hart, Walter Mondale, and Jesse Jackson debate each other on television last night for the Democratic nomination for president. “You don’t care about taxes and Medicate?” I say sarcastically. “What is Medicate?” Jacqueline asks. “You always read and hear about Medicate. Medicate. What is Medicate?”

“It’s when you’re old, and you poop your pants, and the government pays for your diapers,” I tell her.

“Cool.”

U “

“I could definitely spend a night with that Gary Hart g y,

Amity says. “Which one did you want to sleep with?”

“I can’t believe it. You play that game too?” I ask, laughing. “Well, being a white boy from the Midwest, I kind of have a thin for dark, exotic men.”

“Don’t tell us Jesse Jackson!” Amity yelps.

“All right then. Gary Hart, but only when he has a really tan.” ‘

“What’s wrong with Jesse Jackson?” Jackie asks. “I think he’ sexy.”

“Mrs. Jesse Jackson,” Amity mocks dreamily. “Jacq Jackson. Jackie Jackson. JJ.”

“And if he wins,” Jackie decrees with a jutted chin, I’ll be the First Lady, and it’ll be a White House full of ice-cold Stoly and fat doobies, and Kevin Bacon and Daryl Hannah will come to dinner and Corey Hart will sing for us. Corey Hart.”

 

“Wouldn’t President Jackson rather have Eddie Murphy and

Rae Dawn Chong come to dinner while Aretha sings?” Amity asks. I’ll determine the guests,” Jackie proclaims.

“So you’ll be a queen, like Nancy Reagan?” I ask.

“Speaking of queens,” Amity jumps in, “Queen Noor is coming to Dallas later this month.”

“Who’s that?” Jacqueline asks, throwing down an icy shot of vodka.

“The Queen of Jordan,” Amity answers, taking the bottle from

Jacqueline and filling her little shot glass.

“Where’s that?”

“It’s in the Middle East, right, Harry?” Amity says. “Right,” I say. “It’s not a peninsula though.”

Jacqueline complains, “I just was trying to explain what a peninsula is. When you have like this piece of land that juts “

“OK, Jackie that horse is never going to get across the finish line! Forget about peninsulas, girl. You and me need to be taking our lessons from the queen,” Amity tells her, getting back to business. She downs her vodka and shudders as if she’s having an orgasm. “She was an American girl, a Princeton grad, architecture, and she knew exactly what she was doing. God, I wish I could have concentrated in school. I just wanted to fuck the professors.”

Of course I immediately think of the professor story Randy told me. And realize, in her own way, Amity is confessing the truth. We laugh and snort our Stoly. Jacqueline snubs her cigarette out and lies down on the hardwoods. “So how is she the Queen of Jordan Almonds?”

Amity’s eyes flash with intrigue. “The king divorced his first two wives, and his third was killed in a helicopter crash, so they say.”

“What do you say, Amity?” I ask, fascinated that she always seems to have a take on things.

She’s been reading Wired, the biography of John Belushi, and

 

she’s taken to raising an eyebrow, one of his famous moves. It makes whatever she says seem more significant. “Those divorces were getting too expensive. He did something to that helicopter!” Left brow high.

“Sugar in the gas tank?”

“Probably, man,” Jackie says, doing leg lifts. “Who’s gonna know? Who’s gonna check it out? He’s the king.”

Amity continues with her lesson. “Lisa Halaby, the American girl, was his architect on a project, and she worked some kind magic on him and got him to marry her. She worked it big time.” “You’ve been doing your homework,” I say.

Amity looks at me with mysterious conviction. “Harry, it’s a fairy tale life. I love fairy tale lives.” She stands up to head for the kitchen and accidentally releases a little fart. “Oops,” she regally, like Queen Noor. “The queen has spoken.”

Jacqueline and I lose it.

In Amity’s white Ford Granada that is nearly as old as Volkswagen, Amity and I head down Northwest Highway Northpark Mall. Even though it is gray and rainy, Amity with her sunglasses on. She points out the many Mercedes, Ja and BMWs zooming around us on the four-lane road.

“A person’s car is a reflection of his lifestyle,” she says ously. Then she yells, “And look at this piece of shit we’re in! People are going to think we’re homeless!” She laughs screams and swerves into the fast lane.

I hold on to the door handle. “Homeless people don’t cars, Amity.”

“They do in Dallas!”

Somehow I believe her.

“Who sees your house?” she asks. “Nobody if you don’t ask them over. But everybody sees your car. A man can live in a as long as he’s driving a Mercedes.” Mer-sigh dees

 

While on the subject of cars, I tell her about JT, the BMW salesman who struts his stuff at the gym.

“You know he’ll let you do it!” Amity says. “Buy a car from him; then break it in by fucking him in the backseat.”

“I don’t need a new car.”

“Well at least go on a test drive,” she urges, eyebrows raised. It’s not a bad idea.

She pulls the Granada into a parking space at the mall, cracks her window, and decrees, “Power nap!” Then she reclines her seat, shuts her eyes, and within thirty seconds she’s asleep. Out. Completely dead to the world. And I sit there, while the rain drizzles down, and she Z’s out. I’m not tired, so I watch the studly valets in red jackets park the Mercedes and BMWs of large-haired, starving ladies wrapped in fur coats to shield themselves from the blustery, arctic, Texas spring days that sometimes dip below fifty degrees. Burr. They need those fur coats, in case their German sedans malfunction, and they’re stranded on the side of the road during a blue norther. Sure, they have car phones, but it’s hard to dial when you’re freezing and the chances of breaking a nail are greater under stress. Though my mother is the Kansas version of these women, there’s something a little more lifelike about her. Maybe because she lacks the hokey accent.

“Out!” Amity blurts, springing up like a corpse from a coffin.

“Ahhh!” I say, grabbing my heart. “You scared the shit out of me!”

“Power nap’s over! Out of the car!”

I feel at home as we head down the escalator, past the mannequinlike saleswomen who use their ring fingers (because all a ring finger does is hold a ring, so it’s cleaner and less stressed-out, Amity claims) to smooth eye re firmer onto prospective clients’ hopeful faces, and into the Mid-Life Cafe, as Amity calls it, where she orders a tuna salad on loose leaf lettuce, so I do too. My mother

 

used to take me on trips to Kansas City to shop at department like this, until my father told her to stop or I’d turn out queer.

I notice Amity sits taller in her chair at Maxwell’s than she at home. Taking a cue from her surroundings, she reapplies lipstick. First, she uses her white starched napkin to wipe off red stain from her lips. By the time she’s removed the old her napkin looks like a blood-soaked tourniquet. Then she opens a compact to access a mirror. Using a ruby-colored pencil two darker than her lipstick, she lines the outsides of her lips, expandin their borders by following the cosmetic manifest destiny. Then takes the actual lipstick and sensually fills in her lips with a that resembles M&M red dye #2. Then she takes the tournic and blots her lips several times, making it bloodier still. She by doing a final check in her little, feminine purse mirror.

Then the food comes, and she wipes it all off and eats.

And when she finishes eating, she performs the whole again.

I notice as we walk out of the cafe that almost every woman the place is holding a blood-soaked tourniquet in her lap and into a little purse mirror.

Before we leave the mall, Amity tells me she wants to get watchband replaced. I follow her into the upscale watch store, she approaches the salesman. Staring at her with a pissy look his face, he painfully asks, “May I help you?” He might as be saying, “Is there any help for you?” He’s fluffy and

His dyed-blond hair has been blow-dried and sprayed into a meringue. The manicured nails of his pudgy little hands poke dently out of his expensive suit sleeves, and the ring finger of left hand is adorned with a showy diamond wedding ring in shape of the state of Texas. His fine cologne hangs over the like an impermeable velvet awning, and I imagine it’s called Saleswoman Man.

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