“Oh, hey,” I say, my voice filled with trepidation. “How’s it goin’?”
“Oh, you know,” the small man shrugs his already hunched shoulders. “Same as usual.”
I sit down next to him perched on the edge of a large sectional couch, sipping my drink awkwardly. “That good, eh?” We both chuckle humorlessly. Across the crowded room, a racous laugh cuts through all of the other conversations. We look up together. Somebody has just said something funny to the biggest group in the room. The laughter is echoed by other groups, no one wanting to look like they were left out of the joke.
My companion rolls his eyes and sips his drink. He mutters under his breath, “They think they’re all that…”
“Hiya!” A trio of girls giggle in chorus as they smile and toss their hair at my friend and I. “We’re Rachel, Sarah and Tiffany,” they say, each girl giggling on cue. “Do you wanna come over and hang out with us?” We glance at the corner that they point to with their shiny manicured nails. My friend strains in his seat, trying to get a good look.
“Nope,” he says, watching his ice cubes float.
As the girls teetered away on their flamingo legs in high heels, another man takes a seat on the coffee table facing us. “Hey.”
“Hey,” we say back.
“Fun party.” It’s not a question. It’s not a conviction. He just says it and it lays there like a squashed bug we’re all staring at on the carpet.
More laughter makes the three of us look over again. Practically everyone in the room is trying to work their way into the inner circle of the big group. Not us. We’re still sitting here imagining what our toes look like in the ends of our shoes. We watch for a minute, our fingers wet from the condensation on the outsides of our glasses. I hear a small gasp from my friend on the end of the couch that makes me look over at him.
His eyes are wide open and his mouth is hanging slack. He sits his drink down on the table next to the other guy and stands up as if he’s being pulled by an invisible string. His eyes never leave her. What he sees in her, I’m not sure. She kind of looks like the female version of himself. She’s rooted to the spot, staring. He hasn’t yet taken another full breath. Suddenly he’s talking to her with his face, his hands and even his feet moving. They’ve obviously hit it off because she’s responding in the same fashion. It’s like a weird dance to watch them connecting like they’re long lost school mates or something.
The other guy and I look at each other, wishing we could find a soulmate that easily. In the game of Scrabble, there’s not much hope for an X and a Z. Once the Q finds his U though, he’s set for life.