photo shoot

Right after walking out, I told myself that the tipping point began when she mentioned a detail I didn't think worth recalling. And I did it right after Josh posed us in our fifth consecutive group photo, sandwiching shades of blond and red hair between our sloppy brunette waterfalls. Even in the dimness, I noticed that her teeth remained bared well past the shutter's clench, past the break in the photo huddle. Talking through what instantly became a grimace, she leaned into me with a conspiratorial whisper,

"I just remembered that I wore this shirt before. As a matter of fact it was a year ago, in this very bar. Shit."

"Shit." I instantly echoed her sentiment. She understood it as empathetic. And in truth she was right. Our expletives held the same root, which, were we not in a bar modeling fluffed hair and ratcheted boobs, might have sounded like, "I feel utterly resigned to what the heavy hand of fate has dealt." There we stood, she, accepting the embarrassment of being photographed in same shirt twice, and me, accepting the fact that our gatherings have become routine enough to bemoan that as a horrible turn of events. "Shit", as expletives do, stripped sentiment to such simple form that its universal function was acrobatic. Besides, who am I kidding? "Shit" says it best.

The amateur photo shoots, the horrible shirt or belly dance incidents, and the expletives grow old, but we can't seem to let go of the rituals or begin new ones. We won't let ourselves admit that we're passing time, constructing fun in the easiest (laziest) way we know how. Worse, I can see the same worn expressions on each friend's face when striking the tinny notes in our birthday songs, but we've lost interest in changing the record. Instead, just after everyone hoisted shot glasses in yet another toast, right after Bob offered me a sickly sweet potion with, "You in?" then skipped right past me at the first hint of a "no" headshake, I walked out. The crowd lumbered right, I spun left and kept walking. I made myself push through double doors and ignored the hitch in my step as I reached a Florida summer's perpetually wet pavement. My exit seemed abrupt, but I'd left hints. Like hugging my purse through at least a half hour of telling the stiff and helmet-headed waitress, "No Thanks. I've had enough."

As soon as I'd cleared the parking lot, I phoned David.

"I'm coming home."

The next thing I did was to text message everyone in the group. It was a shitty way out (translate that to: It was a cowardly attempt to save face after a rude exit).

"Drive Safe!" I wrote no "ly" at the end, but included a heartfelt exclamation mark.

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