“Whoa, language, angry lady. Your husband is rubbing off on you.”
At that she giggles and I have to roll my eyes again. I believe that even if the person can’t see you roll your eyes, they can tell.
“Never mind,” I quickly say, “you pervert.”
“Seriously,” she says. “I won’t talk about it. Just tell me.”
And so I launch into it. To her credit, she doesn’t say a word until I’ve caught her up to speed, breathless and angry all over again.
“Wow,” she says. “That…well, I won’t talk about it. But…seriously?”
“Stephanie,” I warn.
She groans. “Okay, fine. But you have to come out tonight. You can’t be there alone.”
“Maybe you didn’t hear the part about me not having a babysitter.”
“Bring Ava along!”
I almost laugh. “Yeah, right. To a bar?”
“Well, maybe not the bar, but we’re meeting at our place first for an hour or two, for pre-drinks. At least you can come to that.”
“I can’t even afford a cab and my car is still messed up.”
“Don’t worry about it,” she says. “I’ll take care of you.”
“I don’t need anyone to take care of me,” I tell her, feeling my hackles go up.
“I know, but still. I’ve got you, okay? That’s what friends are for. I’ll get a car to you and you’ll come here and we’ll have a nice time with friends and we won’t discuss anything you don’t want to. Please. Don’t make me beg.”
“But I like it when you beg.”
“So does Linden.”
“Okay, TMI, I’m hanging up now.”
She giggles again. “Sorry. All righty, be ready at 6pm. We’ll have appies here so don’t worry about dinner either and I’ll fix something up for Ava. And by that, I mean Linden will since he’s the only one who knows how to cook. See you soon and hang in there. You’re going to be okay.”
I hang up the phone not at all wanting to be around people, even if they are my friends. But I also don’t want to have a staring contest with that half-drunk bottle of wine either and spend the evening wallowing in feelings of panic and inadequacy.
Luckily as I take a quick shower and get ready for the evening, I feel my spirit perk up a bit. It’s probably because I haven’t gone out in a really long time and there’s something about dressing up that makes me feel like I’m in my element. I bring out the waves in my hair, squeeze myself into a pair of skinny jeans and a white fluttery, off-the-shoulder top, add a pop of red lipstick and I’ve got this sultry señorita look going on, even though with the freckles on my nose and my English rose skin, I’m the furthest thing from it.
Ava is beyond excited to go to an “adult party.” She seems to copy my lead by spending a lot of time picking out an outfit, even though in the end she wants to wear her SpongeBob pillowcase. I put her in a purple dress instead and we head downstairs to wait for the cab to show up, booster seat in tow.
When I see a navy blue Mercedes pull to the curb, I wonder if Stephanie ordered the priciest Uber in town.
The car parks and I hold Ava’s hand, remaining at the door to my building until I know for sure they’re there for us. When the driver’s side opens and a tall gentleman in a suit gets out, I know it can’t be for me. No Uber driver dresses that well.