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Waiter, Bring More Wine

(You can listen to this piece on S2E23 of the podcast.)

“Did you see Charlotte?” Ming asked, leaning against a tall cocktail hour table nursing a soda. The class reunion was now in full swing, and after the initial hellos, people began falling into their old cliques as if 25 years were mere minutes separated from one’s best friends.

“I saw Charlotte when I checked in—she looks great.” said Tabitha as she took a sip of wine. A waiter walked by with olive tapenade atop bruschetta, and both women grabbed one.

“I know, right? Doesn’t even look like she’s been through a divorce and rebab! Skinny wench—she’s always been perfect. She’s even pulling off that orange lipstick she’s wearing,” Ming sighed.

“The lipstick’s undeniable. But everything else? Pills and Botox,” Tabitha reminded her bestie. They nodded and took a bite of their food. A waiter came by with wine, and Tabitha took her second glass of the night while Ming, as designated driver, stuck with her soda.

“Ladies!” a voice called out from behind them.

“Jeff?” the women exclaimed, though Ming’s voice rang loudest as she’d dated Jeff way back when. Everyone had been surprised when the guy voted “biggest flirt” by their senior class ended up married with two kids by twenty-four.

“How’s it going?” he asked as he handed out warm hugs.

“Peachy,” Ming said with a grin and cheeky shoulder shrug. “What about you? Where’s the wife?” she asked, cupping her hand above her brows, and swiveling her head back and forth in a searching motion.

Jeff shrugged. “Our youngest isn’t feeling well, so she stayed back this time. You?”

“He’s on a business trip,” Ming said. “The usual.”

“And I’m still playing the field like I’m sixteen,” Tabitha said.

They chuckled as a waiter came by with a tray of smoked salmon appetizers. They all grabbed one, and a silent moment passed between them as they inspected the crowded room of old peers.

“You know,” Tabitha said, finishing her bite of food. “We were just talking about your old flame, Charlotte. You two should head to the photo booth and recreate the prom queen and king photo.”

Ming rolled her eyes. It had been a senior year scandal that Charlotte had stollen Jeff from nerdy Ming right after homecoming. Though Ming and Jeff’s friendship recovered, Charlotte occupied the paradoxical space of both resentment and admiration.

Jeff chuckled lightly. “That’s high school reunions for ya. Always dredging up the past.” He then focused on the tray of prosciutto-wrapped figs coming their way. Tabitha nodded, and grabbed more food from the passing tray, but Ming didn’t move, her eyes set on Jeff’s collar.

“Is that lipstick, Jeff?” Ming asked.

Tabitha paused, mid-bite. Indeed, a distinctive orange hue peeked up from inside his collar. She looked at her best friend then back at Jeff whose hue reddened. Tabitha clucked her tongue in amusement, smile widening in conspiratorial glee.

“You’ll need an Uber tonight, Tab,” Ming said quietly before motioning to a waiter across the room who promptly sauntered over with the night’s selection of wines.

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