Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tea and Coffee

They glared at each other over their steaming cups of tea and coffee. He lowered his paper to stare and she looked away from her morning show to shoot him a angry frown.
As he got immersed himself in the large sheets again, she glanced at the date on paper only to realize, it had been twenty years since they met.

It was 1988 and it was the first day of college. As the world was moving towards computers and cell phones, she had walked in carrying her old back pack and favorite book. First days were annoying anyway, she thought. Introductions, ragging sessions and worst of all girls behaving like bimbos and guys like macho asses. She couldn’t believe she had joined an Indian college. If only her dad had sponsored her, she would be in Oxford right now, drinking English tea and eating creamy cones.

“If only, dad had not insisted, I would have been part of the latest movie to hit the theatres, instead of being in college” he thought. Still, girls in chiffon salwars, were something to be appreciated. As he sounded his usual wolf whistle, at the new ladies parading past him, he caught a angry look. Tall, gangly and an absolute geekish new girl was glaring at him.
“You really don’t think that was for you ,right?” he asked
All he heard back for a sharp, quick “Jackasses, all men are jackasses” before she stalked away.
“God help the guy who catches that one”, he thought before he rode his bike fast before a girl in red chiffon dress. “Definitely potential this year” he thought

As the year rolled, he took part in all the usual culturals - “Madras Model”, “Model of the century”, “Men as Models”. “Men – The new models” and nearly won all of them. But that’s when he saw her, the love of his life – Akila.

A nymph is sea green chiffon, with her hair floating in waves around her, she made his every dream come to life. One little problem, was her infuriating friend “Gayathri”. She was the tall nerd, whom had interrupted his perfect first day and was constantly interrupting his love life. Analyzing his speech and his English, he called her Webster when she wasn’t around. She hounded the English professor, enough to give them free classes, as he was home with a headache.

Gaya, as she was called by her pals, observed Abhi as he danced around Akila.
“What an Idiot, God put a couple of extra muscles in his abdomen, instead of his brain” she thought.

As Gaya looked at him, she was reminded of King Kong, a huge ape beating his chest.
Abhi was nauseatingly good looking, if you went for structured good looks. But that wasn’t the worst part, he thought he was god’s gift to women, and that’s what she hated.
“Well poor Akila” she thought, “at least her children would be good looking, but they definitely won’t be the brightest ones in their class”

As she pushed herself off the bench, to get to class, she glanced over to see Abhi, on his knees, presenting Akila a blade of glass. “Cheap Idiot can’t even get a rose for her birthday” thought Gaya, before she caught sight of her English professor hurrying into class.

As the college year grew, so did the dislike that Gaya and Abhi felt for each other. Akila ensured they were in separate rooms otherwise, all you could hear was “Nerd and Geek” versus “Ape and Snob”, in all their sentences. But Akila loved both of them dearly, one as a good friend and the other her true love. They were equally stubborn, undoubtedly loyal to her but unfortunately just as sure that the other was bad for her.

Their tension came to a head the final year at college. Gaya had just got Akila coffee, when Abhi rushed in with his prepared cold ice tea.

“Drink your coffee Aki, its becomes cold quickly” Gaya urged Akila

“Babe, common in this Madras heat who drinks coffee anymore, try the chilled tea, it’s the coolest thing to do” Abhi pushed

“Coolest? that’s not even a term , muscle boy” Gaya said

“How would you know, did you ask your friend Shakespeare and Shelley, whom I’m sure like the English professor ,are hiding from you in their graves ” shot back Abhi

As the scene got heated, so did the college interest in their little spitting session. Akila had moved back in horror of the scene unfolding in front of her.

“At least I know where I would find their graves. Other than the mirror, college, home and of course the local bus stands and beach, do you even know any other places?” Gaya asked

“Oh, just because I don’t my nose stuck in the books doesn’t mean I don’t know the world. Your only friends are those books, because they are the only ones that can stand you” Abhi retorted

The last remark, hit really close to home for Gaya. She didn’t have many friends and she was always insecure about the ones she had. Instead of the hurt turning to sorrow, it turned to mind numbing anger. She didn’t realize what she was saying in anger, and in doing so she broke Akila’s trust.

“At least I didn’t get thrown off a movie set , because I fooled around with the directors fifty year old wife” she yelled.

As silence settled around her, she actually saw the tears in Akila’s eyes and humiliation in Abhi’s. As the mutterings and giggles started, Abhi stood his ground and just stared at her. The dislike has turned into hard cold hatred. As Gaya turned to Akila, she saw remorse there and hurt at being betrayed.
The next morning and Gaya decided to apologize to Akila and Abhi. But they both never turned up. She found out that Abhi had transferred out that morning and Akila was at home sick. Even though she found Aki and apologized, their relationship was torn forever. Abhi had left, promising to return but Akila was heartbroken at the separation.
The years passed by and Gaya one day got a note from Aki saying she was getting married but she couldn’t give her an invite , because she was scared Gaya would mess everything again. Gaya though had graduated to become a copywriter at Oxford University Press. Her dreams were finally coming true. In another year she would transfer to the London branch. But till then she had to get out of all the grooms her parents were arranging for her to meet. It was easy till now, none of them liked her attitude and she was fine with that.

“Gaya, get dressed quickly, they will be here any minute” her mother yelled up the stairs. As Gaya wore her green chiffon sari and pinned on Jasmine strings on her hair, she prayed for another unsuccessful meeting session with a prospective groom. Her mother entered the room, gave a quick inspection and pushed a tray of coffee on her.

“This time young lady, you don’t get a choice to say no. These are people from very good family. The boy is an engineer in Chicago and has his own company. If he says yes, you will say “Yes”; understood?” came the threatening tone, from Gaya’s five foot mother.
“Your father and I are too old to see you remain single for another year, if you say no, then your dad will surely have another relapse”

On that note, Gaya’s mother left her in her room alone.

Gaya walked into the living room , with her head lowered and praying that the groom would want to talk to her alone . She didn’t even see any of their faces, it didn’t matter to her, she just wanted him to hate her and then leave.

As she moved into the kitchen where the discussion with the groom was to take place, she was thinking of all the things to say to turn this “US guy” out of her house

“I like tea, what about you?” came a male voice

As she gasped and turned around, she looked into the brown eyes of Abhi. For the first time in her life, she was speechless. Well at least she got one of her wishes, the groom hated her. As her breathing came back to normal she asked


“She married a doctor. Said she couldn’t trust the film types” he replied

“What are you doing here??” Gaya breathed out

“I have waited 6 years for an apology, just wanted to get it at the most humiliating opportunity for you” he said

If it wasn’t for the tone, Gaya would have apologized without him asking for it. But this just spiked her anger.

“Well it all turned out for the best. Aki got a good person, so I won’t apologize” she said

“Think about it, I give you till tomorrow afternoon” he said
“If not?” she shot back
“We get married, I know about your Oxford deal, you dad praised the way you got that assignment so quickly. But with this marriage, you would be Chicago not Oxford, so think about it” Abhi replied .”I waited all these years for an apology and I am not going to stop now, don’t underestimate revenge my dear”

Gaya couldn’t apologize and her parents refused to hear her opinion on the groom.

Each of them stubborn, waited for the other to back down.

They got married 3 months later on a hot summer afternoon.

As Akila walked down the reception aisle to congratulate them, juggling her 2 year and 5 year old, she murmured to her husband, “They are so stubborn; they probably kill each other in a year”. Their first year, they nearly did

Gaya came back to the present when Abhi set his tea down, she called their eight year old down for breakfast.

“You shouldn’t have called my client’s wife a blond bimbo to her face” Abhi growled
“Well, she was and if I am always such a problem, why don’t you just divorce me?”She shot back
“Not till you apologize for that day in college” he replied
“That will NEVER happen” Gaya said

Abhi neatly folded the paper , put it down and kissed her across her cheek and with a smile he said “I know, and I thank God for that everyday ”

“King Kong” she growled, reaching for her coffee

“Nerd” he replied, sipping his tea

Friday, June 13, 2008

Evenings with Mr. Iyer

Mr.Iyer shrugged into his short sleeve blue shirt and took out his cane. It was four 'o 'clock and it was time for his evening walk. As he moved towards the lift, his wife called out to be back early for dinner at 7.He didn’t need reminding, but she always did that. They had been married thirty eight years, and but their conversations mainly revolved her daily reminders and their granddaughters. As he started walking around the apartments, towards the fountain where, he could spend an hour reading his morning paper again.

People started moving away from him once they saw him. Mr.Iyer’s temper was known to one and all. Be it a 5 year old child who jumped into his way trying to catch the ball or the neighborhood grocer, who innocently parked his cart in Mr.Iyer's car spot, their ears were reddened by his loud outbursts. Mr.Iyer knew what people thought of him and he liked it just fine. He felt fear indicated the respect that they had for him.

As he sat in his favorite spot, all alone, looking at the editorial column and cursing the editor for the umpteenth time for backing the current ruling party, he noticed that a child of about 8 was sitting opposite him. The boy didn’t even bother looking at him, but just sat throwing stones into the fountain. Mr.Iyer let him do it for fifteen minutes and then signed, raised his voice and said
“This place is only for senior people, go play with other kids”.

To his surprise, the child looked up, glared at him and kept throwing the stones.

Mr.Iyer was disgruntled. Even his son never glared at him that way, and now he was a grown man of thirty. He raised his voice even higher and said

“Didn’t you hear me, leave now or I’ll call your parents”

The boy didn’t even bother looking up this time, but the stones and the splashes started getting bigger and louder.

Mr.Iyer finally thundered “Get up now!!!” He was sure the entire apartment heard him.

The boy looked up, glared and spit out

“My parents pay maintenance too, and as per the society bylaws, this part of the apartment complex can be used by anyone”.

Mr.Iyer was shocked. First, no one ever responded to his outbursts, and second this child actually had read the society bylaws. No one did either of those two.As Mr.Iyer grabbed his paper, and stalked back home half an hour earlier, his temper was raging. Its only when he got to house he realized, the boy was still at the fountain, but he had left!

Through the next week, the boy kept coming back and throwing stones into the fountain. Mr.Iyer was sure it was just to annoy him. If Mr.Iyer had his way the boy deserved a real spanking. That’s when he decided to speak to the parents. At least those people would be afraid of him

The next day instead of going to the fountain, he knocked on the door, where the new neighbors had moved in. The door was opened by a sleepy maid. On enquiring about the residents, he was rudely told that the father was on an assignment abroad and the mother would be back late from her meeting. As he walked back to the fountain, he was sure of the reason for the insolence .He had no discipline in his life.

Mr.Iyer decided that he would teach that boy discipline.

As he sat with his paper again, the boy was across staring morosely into the fountain. Seeing Mr.Iyer he brightened up and then started throwing rocks into the fountain.
Mr.Iyer cocked an eyebrow at him and said

“When I was your age, I would have got walloped by my father for being rude to elderly person”.

The boy stopped and looked at him

“Well, at least you had dad around to wallop you”

Mr. .Iyer said “Young man , it seems, that you have never been walloped in your life, so you don’t know !”

“Well, you haven’t spent the last year speaking to a web cam, instead of your dad, so you don’t know!!”.

Mr.Iyer didn’t know the right response to that, so silence reigned for some time.

Suddenly Mr.Iyer heard music, the boy was blaring it through the cell phone.
“So all kids have these cells nowadays, no wonder you don’t know how to talk to people”

“Well that needs to taught by adults, and with you all constantly busy, it’s easier to message than talk” ,pat came the reply

Mr.Iyer was tired of this little smart mouth.

“Don’t you have homework to do?” he asked

“Well did it at school, while waiting for the driver to pick me up. He’s always late, so he can ask mom for overtime pay”

“So who helps you with the homework at school?”

“I don’t need help; these problems in school are so easy. Dad is sure I am genius or something, but in this country he says I can’t grow to my full potential” said the boy puffing with pride.

Mr. Iyer was angry, not at the child but at the father. He had lived through the Indian Independence movement in 1947 and wore his patriotism like a second skin.

“Well don’t say that. This is the country of Gandhi and Nehru, every person can become whatever they want to be”

“Did you ?” asked the boy

Mr.Iyer was dumbfounded. That was the question that had haunted him from the day he retired five years ago. His life had been a steady stream of duties from the day he lost his father at eighteen, He had looked after his six siblings first, then his children and somewhere in there his dreams had withered. He felt angry at everybody - his family , his friends and his colleagues the day he retired. Forty years of hard toil didn’t mean anything. His siblings had their own lives, his children grown and left as soon as possible and his wife, was content in spending the rest of their life alternatively between TV soaps and prayer sessions that lasted days. His colleagues refused to respond to his calls, the day after he quit.

Mr.Iyer didn’t talk to the boy after that . But funnily enough for the next month , the child would sit opposite him everyday and play his video games, or read a book. Not talking , but only silent acknowledgement when their eyes met.

One day the Mr.Iyer was in his usual place, but the boy was missing. He came later, eyes swelled up , clearly he had been crying.

Lowering his paper, he said “did someone finally wallop you? Even if they did, boys don’t cry”

Tear stained face looked up and said “No they didnt !! I am not crying, I have an allergy”

On Mr.Iyer’s silence he continued , sniffing and leading to what happend

“The teacher made a grammar mistake today at class. I corrected him. He looked at me and told me he knew better and I was wrong and that’s why children need school, to learn ,not to teach. Then he asked me to stand up on a bench till lunch time”.

Mr.Iyer said “That doesn’t sound bad!. Lots of times teachers scold kids”

The boy got up in agitation and said “All I do is study and read.If I am not good at studies, then I am not good at anything. . I hate that teacher, and he was wrong. I wish I can make him stand outside the class on a bench for a whole day”

Mr.Iyer smiled and said “Do you know what I did to my fourth standard teacher, who walloped me for talking in class. I climbed up on the roof, waited till he walked in the corridors below and poured purple ink on top of his bald head. He looked like an eggplant for the whole week”
That visual started the pair laughing and the first smile broke through.

Mr.Iyer surprised himself, by offering to teach the boy cricket, so he would be involved in something other than reading all the time. Well he thought to himself that would at least discipline him to a certain extent.

Everyday now, Mr. Iyer looked forward to his fountain time. “That boy” , as he called him, was a quick learner. He had picked up “reverse swing” in a couple of days. That boy was Richard Hadley in the making, he was sure. Without knowing it, slowly a trickle of kids started coming through to the fountain. A club formed and Mr.Iyer as coach, used his voice to ensure that all had chances to play and learn. While the interested played, the others quizzed Mr.Iyer about independence, his days playing cricket on madras roads and days before cellphone.The booming voice now rang with laughter rather than rage. Mrs.Iyer had to come down to see what made her husband smile so much nowadays. She was drawn into the circle of children , that she became the official storyteller of the bunch. Mr.Iyer never knew his wife had the talent to weave tales , that sometimes he found himself listening as eagerly to her stories, than any of the kids around

A couple of months later , he noticed, that “the boy” didn’t come down to play. He wanted to go and check up on him, but his time was occupied by the club matches played with the neighboring apartments. A few days later he noticed a moving truck and he saw the boy helping to load it. As soon as he saw him, the boy disappeared. The truck moved out that night and so did the family.

The next day a card was stuck to the door. It said "open on Sunday". Mr.Iyer was sure it was from the boy

On Sunday, Mr.Iyer woke up at the crack of dawn to open his card. It said


“Mr.Iyer I didn’t want to meet you before I left, because I would cry and I know you said boys don’t cry !. I brought this card for my father, but I have to give it to you. You made me smile you were my friend and taught me a lot more than all my teachers did. Could you please let other kid know how you stole mangos into class or walked at the independence march, we never get to read that in the books . Every time I see an eggplant now or play cricket, I will be thinking of you”

Aditya (That’s my name, not “You Boy”)

As tears slipped down Mr.Iyer’s face, he realized men did cry. He started to teach the boy discipline but the child had taught him about his own life. He moved towards his blue shirt, but this time the spring was back in his step after forty years.

Friday, June 6, 2008

A room with a view

Tess turned up her collar against the cold and stared at the red brick building. It would be good being back in school again. She remembered the last time she was in school, “Tess the Mess” was the taunt she had lived with her whole life. Her parents didn’t have too much, so she usually had to make do with whatever she had. A quickly sown up tear or run down pinafore made sure she was properly clothed, but sure didn’t protect her from the remarks of the kids in the class.A new school, a new beginning was all she was hoping for

As she stepped in the classroom, the silence settled over the class in a minute. She walked to the blackboard and in big, bold letters wrote down “Miss Tess Jennings”. She smiled and thought “gosh it was better to come back as teacher, than a student any day”. As she introduced herself to the 30 odd fourth graders settled in, she scanned their faces. Trying to memorize their names, as the roll call went on. Her brain was trying to match the description given by the third grade teacher, Ms. Geddie, to each of the students.

Amelia Hollindase – “The pretty one and she knew it, so be careful”
Richard Smith - “Always trying to please the teacher, you might have an apple sitting on the table everyday”
Brenda Gayheart – “Be careful of her mother , she will pull your hair out if she thinks you have given her daughter a bad grade”

And so she went on till she reached William Stevenson. That boy ,with his gangly limbs and head of unruly red hair was the one she was most interested in. He had been a straight ‘A’ student till the second grade, then his parents split up. After couple of months, his grades dwindled and then he didn’t he participate in school basketball , which he loved. Ms. Geddie had been concerned and called his parents. As the meeting slowly burst into an abuse match between the parents, Ms.Geddie had suggested Will set up an appointment with a psychologist . So Will had been in therapy for the last 9 months and in class he still was a now a "B” grade student . He would always stare out of the window even when the teacher was taking a lesson. Ms. Geddie had always excused him feeling sorry for what he was going through.
As Tess came back to the present, she caught site of Will, still staring out of the window. With Will being the tallest, she couldn’t even pull him to the front of the class to actually look at her when she taught . Tess had taken a couple of classes in psychology in her grad school and she was sure she could sort through whatever emotional tangle this poor boy was going through.

The next week , Tess reached home, carrying the bulk of homework assignments the class had submitted the day before. As she read through each of the essays about “Great American heroes”, she could make out some of them were actually written by the parents. When she reached Will’s essay, she thought it was extremely well written by the child himself, however the handwriting was illegible. She could hardly believe a ten year old could write this bad. As she pulled down her psychology 101 textbooks, she wondered if it was 'Parental Alienation' syndrome. Communication was the first to die in an alienated child and the only way to help him she thought was to open communication channels for this child. As she quickly put into a project plan to help this alienated child, she felt confident she was on her way to being a good teacher. Early next morning, she rang up Will’s mother and later his father. She then spoke to the other teachers in school. They were all going to pay attention to Will from now on and try to get him to participate. During class, she was quick to compliment Will on any answers given and give him extra attention. In contrast to helping him , the attention started to make him do worse. He now stared out of the window all the time, even during lunch and even stopped talking to his other classmates .The more he withdrew, the more Tess paid attention to his work and attitude.

Finally two weeks before summer vacation, Tess graded Will’s paper only to find he hadn’t even filled in the basic details. He had left it all a blank. She was angry and frustrated, 6 months she had tried her best but this child kept slipping. The next day after class, she asked him to stay back. Handing him the paper , she kept quiet waiting for him to say something. But as he continued to stare into his shoes and the silence stretched into 15 minutes, Tess finally broke it .

"What’s the matter with you” she asked. “We all are trying to help you out but you keep wanting to hold yourself back. Don’t you want to do well , have friends or even be back on the basketball team” .

As he slowly looked up, she gazed into a pair of dark green eyes. Funny she had never know how his face looked up close till now.

“Help me, Help me??” He asked. “All you have done since you came here, is make my life miserable, talking to me all the time. Now all the kids call me Tess’s pet. I was ok till you came; now my life is miserable”. As the words sank into Tess , she cringed with regret. She forgot how cruel the kids could be , especially to someone they thought the teacher liked. Shaking her head she said “I’m sorry, I just wanted to help you. You are so bright and intelligent, I don’t understand why you don’t do as well nowadays”.

For the first time since she had been there, she saw a smile breakout on Will’s face. “You really think I’m bright” he asked, she enthusiastically nodded . The she asked him a question that every kid and teacher wanted to know. “Why do you stare out of the window? There is nothing there but an empty field and two rocks”. As those green eyes rested on her , he said “Well you know you’re the first person to ask me that !. My parents, teachers and even the psychologist never asked me that one”. As she waited for an answer, his gaze again wandered to the fields in the view.

“Well” he said “I can’t see the blackboard ,alright!!! ”.

He continued “ So instead concentrating on something I can’t see, I look at something close , like window sill but concentrate on what you are saying.It helps me to study better ”.

As his answer thundered through Tess’s brain she called herself a hundred kinds of fool. All the teachers, the parents and the psychologist were so concerned with his mind, that they didn’t even think of the simplest thing, it was staring at them right through his big green eyes.

“Why didn’t you tell us” she asked.

He shrugged and said “I would look like a dork with glasses , and anyway my parents have far bigger stuff to fight about”.

“So you’re not angry at your parents” she asked.

“Of course not, most of my friends have parents who are not together and this way they don’t fight all the time. I had my friends to talk to, but because of your constant attention, they keep teasing me all the time ” he replied

Tess smiled. “Ok, do you want to be Tess’s pet forever. If you don’t want ,then ,you need to get a pair of glasses” she replied.

As Will mused over this, he finally said “I think Dork is better than Tess’s pet”.

Tess felt as if a great weight had been lifted off her shoulders. “ I will ask your mom to take you to the ophthalmologist tomorrow, but you have to retake the test on Monday to get a better grade ”.

Will shrugged and turned to leave. But before he walked out, he suddenly turned ,smiled and said “Thank you”.

As Tess pulled out her cell to call his mother, she felt she had learnt her first teaching lesson. She now knew to always ask the student first before putting Sigmund Freud into action , because teaching didn’t always adhere to the text book answers, it required common sense and heart to sometimes see a situation clearly.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Wedding Dress

As Jenny quietly moved down the pews, buzzing with excitement for the upcoming wedding she quietly took in the beautiful roses draped all over church. It was Patrica’s wedding day today and she was thrilled for her. She was happy that someone had accepted Pat and loved her. She had always pitied Pat. An only child with all the comforts that only super rich parents could give her, Pat always seemed lost to her. Searching for something or someone to love her as she was, not where she came from. Pat had always wanted to be the most popular in school but could never get there. Eeven with all the thousands of dollars, her dad had immersed into her sweet 16th birthday. Jenny had to convince most of the class to show up . Pat with all her tantrums had broken every classmates last nerve, and Jenny had to promise a free class period to get them to the party . Her friend, Lisa had always told Jenny, she was too soft !

As she and Pat moved into their various colleges, the emails had always kept them in touch . Jenny now had a lovely flower shop in downtown jersey and in love with a wonderful man , a singer on his way to stardom, she was sure. Now she was invited back as one of the bridesmaid, though she had no idea why !. As she hurried towards the brides dressing room, she nearly tripped over two old ladies huddled by the landing. As she apologized and smiled. One old lady, looked at the other and said “Why couldn’t Joe marry a nice one like this brunette , not the crazy blonde above”. As the other nodding, quickly agreed and said “Well you know, its for all the millions she blackmailed out of her dad”.

Jenny shocked quickly ran up the steps. Oh she had always known about Pat’s getting money out of her dad through every possible means , but everyone else knowing about it shocked her further. Pat had been ruthless with anyone is her way. Be it friends or relatives it was her way or no way.
Jenny felt sad for Pat, as most people were always acting false around her. As she entered the brides room, she was greeted with shrieks .Now this felt more like a wedding. Pat in her yards of silk lace looked really pretty. The other ladies had already changed into their bright pink gowns. Jenny would rather be dead than caught in it, but she had to because Pat had asked her. Pat rolled her eyes, when Jenny entered her vision. “Always late Jenny, don’t you know its my wedding”????. You were supposed to help me dress”? she yelled in her pitched voice. As Pat’s mother tried to calm her down, Jenny apologized. She tried to divert Pat, by telling her how beautiful she thought Pat looked and how gorgeous the church seemed. Pat seemed momentarily happy for the compliments. That’s how Jenny survived with Pat, constant compliments. As the ladies started getting in line, Jenny prayed that she was'nt the first in the line. She wouldn’t want to be right in the front of God, knowing all the whispers going on behind her. As the photographer called Pat for the pre-wedding snaps, the bridesmaids were left alone in the room. A tall redhead, who was currently working her way through a Manhattan and a fry spoke suddenly. “Well I would give this marriage, 9 months at the most, anyone else on the bet?”. Jenny watched in horror, as each of the ladies started putting in their bets ranging from 15 days to a year. When it came to her turn Jenny couldn’t do it and could only shake her head mutely. The redhead, Laura, who was the maid of honor , looked at her and said” maybe your new , but we have known Pat for 3 years”. Jenny had known her the last 13 but really didn’t want to volunteer that information. Laura continued talking about all the things Pat had done in her life including blackmailing her father, pushing her brother back into drugs and taking a friends boyfriend just on a whim. Jenny was sure all this was confided in secret to Laura, but it sure seemed that Laura didn’t take it that way. Now Jenny knew why everyone downstairs, was abuzz with Pat’s miscreant attitude. The conversation suddenly shifted when Pat reentered the room, aglow with her pictures being taken. Jenny was trying to walk in her shapeless pink gown, when Laura shoved her Manhattan in her hands to hold. Simultaneously Pat turned around and the shots of Manhattan splattered onto Pat’s train. As Jenny was the one holding the glass in the end, Pats enraged eyes met her’s.

Pat's tirades were legendary. People who were 20 miles off could hear her and get a migraine. She started off with Jenny’s background, her upbringing and finally hit home with her usual “everyone is jealous of me”. Jenny apologized, but as Pat’s tirade grew, so did Jenny’s anger. She had put up with this attitude through her life, defending this girl against her own friends and finally trying to protect her against the world’s view of her. As she opened her mouth to tell her about her so called maid of honor who was blackening Pat's name, bridesmaids and friends who were betting against her, she caught sight of Pat’s mothers. Tears in her eyes, reflecting her shame of her own daughter and apologizing to Jenny simultaneously. She couldn’t go through with telling Pat off. Jenny continued to apologize, while the wedding planner quickly cleaned up the spots on the train with some white powder. As everyone rushed to tell Pat she looked fine, while rolling their eyes behind her back. Pats mother just held Jenny’s hand and muttered a quick thank you.

As the procession moved towards the church, Jenny murmured a hail Mary for the God looking out for her. She had friends who would say stuff right to her face, but would protect her back from bullets if necessary. As the wedding progressed, and bride glowed and the groom got drunk, Jenny got into her little Volkswagen to run back to her flat. She wondered if a true friend would have told Pat about all the people who were thrashing her, but she then smiled because Pat would never know a true friend till she actually became one.