Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.

Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.

Elsie

Oh, crud. “Excuse me a moment please.” I left my my boyfriend talking to our more punctual guests and scooted toward the foyer. Why isn’t Brian howling? Brian stood just inside the front door, looking uncharacteristically shy. His party-hardy best friend, Damion, stood in the middle of the foyer. He stared straight at Angelica. Big surprise there, I rolled my eyes. Didn’t think she’s so pretty she could shy-up Brian and Damion. Angelica caught Damion’s gaze. She and her fiancé, J.P., made it to him just before I did.

“Brian! Damion!” I tried not to let my irritation with myself for missing the entrance of guests come through in my voice.  “I’d like you to meet-“

“We’ve met.” Damion and Angelica answered in unison. Damion stuck out a hand to J.P., “except you.” J.P. smiled widely and shook Damion’s hand. They grasped hands warmly for a moment before releasing.

That’s nice. He must have been looking forward to meeting J.P.

Brian walked forward and shook briefly with J.P. “Hey man, nice to meet you.”

I smiled around at the group, not sure what I should do now. Every other time this sort of thing happened at one of my parties, the people involved just fell naturally into conversation, but not this time. I took the reigns and tried to steer them into the natural course. “I didn’t know you knew each other. When’d you meet?”

Angelica smiled. “Back in college. Damion and I used to have lunch together between his Statistics and my English Lit. Do you still eat tuna fish every Tuesday?”

Damion hesitated a minute. It seemed like he felt shy around Angelica for some reason. Or maybe it’s J.P.? J.P. isn’t what I call imposing, but he has a way about him that makes people feel respectful.

Finally Damion shook his head. “Never.”

J.P. wrapped an affectionate arm around Angelica. “Maybe you and I can get together for lunch some time. You can tell me what kind of antics my lovely lady was up to in the old days and I can bring you up to date on her new antics.”

Angelica gave J.P. a playful shove. “Stop it!” she squeaked.

Damion shook his head, “I don’t really do lunch anymore. Too busy these days.”

“Too bad,” J.P. shrugged.

Angelica smiled that perfectly charming smile of hers again. I guess I can’t blame guys for oggling her. “It was nice to see you, Damion. Maybe we’ll run into each other another time.” Together, she and J.P. wandered back into the living room.

Damion turned to me. “It was nice to see you, Elsie. I just dropped by to say hello, though. I gotta meeting with a potential client tonight.”

“Well, thanks for stopping by.” Damion rushed out. I waved at Brian as he followed. Those two were usually the life of the party. The meeting must really be stressing him out.  

Damion

I swung open Elsie’s door, ready to party hardy. I worked really hard this week and I planned to seriously enjoy myself tonight. Then I spotted Angelica. What’s she doing here? Brian saw her, too. I was just about to turn and walk back out the door when she saw me. She and her latest conquest descended on us at the same moment Elsie chose to come over. Great. Now I have to be civilized.

“Brian! Damion! I’d like you to meet-“

“We’ve met,” I answered, not bothering to cover the ice in my voice. I stuck out a hand to Angelica’s newest Sap. I wanted to size him up, “except you.”

The guy smiled obnoxiously and shook my hand. I squeezed just enough to remind him that Angelica belonged to me first. He squeezed back. Yeah. He’s the type to hurt her. Good. She deserves it. I pulled back.  Brian shook hands with The Sap. “Hey man, nice to meet you.”

I shifted my eyes to take in Angelica. Still so beautiful on the outside. Has she changed? Not likely.

Elsie interrupted my thoughts. “I didn’t know you knew each other. When’d you meet?”

Angelica smiled that venomous smile of hers. “Back in college. Damion and I used to have lunch together between his Statistics and my English Lit. Do you still eat tuna fish every Tuesday?” she teased.

I wondered if I should bother answering a question so obviously intended to wound me. She made those sandwiches herself, pretending she cared for me. She even lifted the last bite to my mouth seductively on more than one occasion. I decided to stab back. “Never.”

The Sap wrapped a possessive arm around Angelica, “Maybe you and I can get together for lunch some time. You can tell me what kind of antics my lovely lady was up to in the old days and I can bring you up to date on her new antics.”

Angelica gave The Sap one of her coquettish shoves, a mocking habit she developed to make men feel strong and superior, until she crushed them. “Stop it!” she squealed. How did I ever think that noise was attractive?

I shook my head again. I gotta get out of here before I punch him. Or maybe slap her.  Either way… “I don’t really do lunch anymore. Too busy these days”

“Too bad.” The Sap shrugged, like he cared.

Angelica smiled at me again, “It was nice to see you, Damion. Maybe we’ll run into each other another time.” For the thousandth time  I mentally kicked myself for ever getting involved with her. Finally, she dragged The Sap away.

Gotta get out of here. I made up an excuse for Elsie.  “It was nice to see you, Elsie. I just dropped by to say hello, though. I gotta meeting with a potential client tonight.”

“Well, thanks for stopping by.”

I wondered if she set this up on purpose. She couldn’t possibly be as surprised as she seemed. I stalked out the door and pulled my iPhone out of my pocket. Brian caught up with me. “You okay?”

I set my jaw, “no problem,” and deleted Elsie from my Facebook.

 

 

Brian

I geared up to sound off my usual party howl but stopped short when I saw Angelica. What in the world is she doing here? I thought we got rid of her five years ago. Damion stared at her. I stepped forward, intending to whisper, “Cummon, let’s just sneak back out,” but Angelica spotted us. She brought some goon along.

Elsie slid over to introduce everyone. She always made sure everyone at her parties got introduced to everyone else. Obviously she didn’t know about Damion and Angelica. “Brian! Damion! I’d like you to meet-“

“We’ve met,” Damion and Angelica answered in unison. Damion stuck out a hand to the guy with Angelica, “except you.”

Angelica’s boyfriend grinned smugly and shook Damion’s hand. They squeezed. I glanced down at Dmaion’s hand, still wrapped in the other guy’s grip. His white knuckles and blood-infused fingertips told me what I needed to know. He’ll definitely be the loser if he starts a fight. I better try to get him out of here. I stuck out my hand to get the guy’s attention on me. “Hey man, nice to meet you.”

Elsie smiled graciously around at all of us. “I didn’t know you knew each other. When’d you meet?”

Angelica smiled. “Back in college. Damion and I used to have lunch together between his Statistics and my English Lit.  Do you still eat tuna fish every Tuesday?” I wondered if she was intentionally trying to hurt my pal by bringing up their frequent dates and those nasty sandwhiches he choked down once a week to please her. Or maybe she actually thought of it all as a joke. English Lit. always seemed like a major for stupid people to me.

Damion hesitated a minute, holding back. Finally he shook his head. “Never.”

That’s right. Don’t let her hook you into something stupid again.

Angelica’s boyfriend wrapped a protective arm around her. “Maybe you and I can get together for lunch some time. You can tell me what kind of antics my lovely lady was up to in the old days and I can bring you up to date on her new antics.”

Another English Lit. major, I’ll bet. Things went from awkward to bad. I watched Damion’s reaction, keeping my guard up and holding my breath.

Angelica gave her boyfriend one of her pretend shoves. “Stop it!” she whined.

Damion shook his head, “I don’t really do lunch anymore. Too busy these days”

I exhaled. No fight tonight.

“Too bad.” Angelica’s boyfriend shrugged, not really disappointed.

Angelica smiled that man-eating smile of hers again, “It was nice to see you, Damion. Maybe we’ll run into each other another time,” she menaced. She pulled her boyfriend back to the living room, shutting Damion and me out.

Damion made some excuse to Elsie and ducked back out the door. Elsie waved at me and said something, but I didn’t catch the words. I caught up with Damion. “You okay?” I asked.

He fiddled with his iPhone. “No problem.”

Good. He’s over her for sure now.

 

Angelica

It’s Damion. I couldn’t believe my eyes. My heart fluttered. I looked at J.P. and felt guilty for the rush of old feelings. Best to introduce them. I tugged J.P.’s arm gently in the direction of the foyer. In the direction of Damion.

Elsie reached him at the same time I did. “Brian! Damion! I’d like you to meet-“

“We’ve met,” I answered a little too warmly as memories flooded my mind.

Damion reached out to J.P. “Except you.”

J.P. smiled brightly and shook Damion’s hand. They grasped each others’ hands for a moment before releasing. Maybe they’ll be friends? When they let go, Brian stuck out his hand. “Hey man, nice to meet you.” I smiled at Brian, remembering the time he put a plastic bug in my tuna sandwich to get back at me for making Damion miss a cram-session before an exam.

I looked at Elsie to see if she set this up, but she seemed to be at a loss. “I didn’t know you knew each other. When’d you meet?”

I smiled , still thinking of the old days. “Back in college. Damion and I used to have lunch together between his Statistics and my English Lit..” I almost blushed when I asked, “Do you still eat tuna fish every Tuesday?”

Damion hesitated a minute. He must be thinking of old times, too.  Finally he shook his head. “Never.” Because of me? Because I’m not the one making them anymore?

J.P. wrapped a comforting arm around my shoulder. He probably understood this meeting brought up sad memories. “Maybe you and I can get together for lunch some time. You can tell me what kind of antics my lovely lady was up to in the old days and I can bring you up to date on her new antics.”

I didn’t appreciate that last part. My antics, to J.P., included innocent mistakes, like the last time I tried to surprise him by washing his whites. It wasn’t my fault someone left a red sweater stuck to the side of the machine. I shoved him hard. “Stop it!”

Damion shook his head, “I don’t really do lunch anymore. Too busy these days”

Should I be disappointed or relieved?

“Too bad.” J.P. shrugged, obviously disappointed.

I wanted to kiss J.P. for that. I remembered my ecstasy when he proposed.The guilt of carrying a torch for an old flame got to me and I started to feel awkward. I decided to find someone else to talk to. I smiled at Damion again, letting him know how much I appreciated our past friendship “It was nice to see you, Damion. Maybe we’ll run into each other another time.” Hopefully it’ll get easier. I slipped my arm into J.P.’s and nudged him back toward our friends in the living room.

J.P. looked down at me, uncomfortably aware of my old feelings for Damion. “Old boyfriend?”

I bit my lip and shook my head. “No. He never asked me out.”

 

J.P.

Angelica grabbed my arm and pulled me toward the door. I hid my surprise at what I saw. That man… I knew him from somewhere. I smiled and searched my memory, trying to find a name or some piece of information to hang a conversation on.

Fortunately, Elsie came to the rescue with an introduction. “Brian! Damion! I’d like you to meet-“

“We’ve met,” the man and Angelica answered in unison. I caught a sentimental note in Angelica’s voice. Then it hit me. Angelica kept a picture of this man in her apartment. Several pictures, in fact. I made a mental note to try and talk her into getting rid of them before our wedding.

Brian, or Darren? Drat! Why can’t I ever remember names? stuck out a hand to me. “Except you.”

I tried to smile, but it felt more like baring my teeth. I shook Darren’s hand. He squeezed hard. I recognized the challenge and squeezed back. Harder. Maybe unnecessarily so, but no way would I let him woo Angelica away from me based on old memories she obviously held dear. When Darren gave up, the other guy stuck out his hand, too. We shook briefly. “Hey man, nice to meet you.” He seemed okay.

Elsie smiled around at us, picking up on the awkwardness. “I didn’t know you knew each other. When’d you meet?”

Angelica smiled a little too sweetly at Darren. “Back in college. Damion-“

Damion, Damion. His name is Damion. Got to remember Damion.

“-and I used to have lunch together between his Statistics and my English Lit. Do you still eat tuna fish every Tuesday?”

I grimaced inwardly. He really loved her love if he ever ate her tuna sandwiches with such frequency. Damion hesitated a minute. It wondered if he struggled to suppress fishy flashbacks or lingered over some more luscious memory. Finally he shook his head. “Never.”

Can’t blame him.

I wrapped a reminding arm around Angelica, encouraging her to forget this guy. I searched my mind for ways get rid of him cordially. Got it!  “Maybe you and I can get together for lunch some time. You can tell me what kind of antics my lovely lady was up to in the old days and I can bring you up to date on her new antics.” And if the invitation itself doesn’t deter you, I’ll make sure our first lunch together does.

Angelica shoved me with surprising vigor. Drat! She caught me. “Stop it!”

Thankfully Damion shook his head. “I don’t really do lunch anymore. Too busy these days”

“Too bad,” I shrugged, trying not to look relieved.

Angelica smiled again. I considered punching Damion then and there for showing up. “It was nice to see you, Damion. Maybe we’ll run into each other another time.” I hoped not. A wave of relief flooded me when she slipped her arm in mine and led me away from Sweet Memories Man.

“Old boyfriend?” I asked, already knowing the answer, but trying to mask my jealousy.

“No.” No? A sudden wave of protective indignation flooded my chest. “He never asked me out.” I amended my earlier mental note: I’ll take the pictures down myself tomorrow. She doesn’t need guys like that cluttering her thoughts.

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