“An iPhone, a puppy, and a fruit basket”

When Dennis told me he’d invited Tess over for our traditional Sunday dinner I just gave him a half-smile in return and said she was a major babe. Not that she isn’t though, but to be completely honest with you I thought it was kind of asinine from his part, not to mention a little rude, given that Tess had ditched me a few months ago after one particularly terrific night out, no explanation provided save for a rather uncharacteristically blunt brush-off in which she claimed she was going to be unavailable for the ensuing four or five weekends from that day on.

It’s not that I was holding any kind of grudge against her. I wasn’t— the brush-off notwithstanding, Tess probably remains the sweetest person I know— It’s just that I was pretty sure it would inevitably get kind of awkward at the dinner table and in fact it did for a while, but once we finally got to the bottle of champagne any lingering awkwardness gave in to our discussing feasible replacement gifts for the Wise Men to present baby Jesus with.

Dee said the way he sees it, the birth took place at some boutique hotel and the parents were divorced, so if he were one of the Wise Men, he’d probably give an iPhone, which prompted me to suggest how about an iPod, an iPhone and an iPad?
Tess remarked it was probably better off as an Apple commercial instead and I agree, then we’d pretty much settled on an iPhone, a puppy, and a fruit basket.

Either way, that’s how we handled the awkward bit in it.

Still, that said, at some point during dinner Dennis asked Tess if she was seeing anyone. I think he might have done it on purpose just to piss me off. Dennis does that kind of thing sometimes.
She said no though, and went with the old familiar routine of how hard it is to find a decent guy these days, etc. I’m not judging her for saying that but it was kind of lousy. Of course our eyes never crossed when she said that. Maybe it wasn’t intentional. Or maybe it was. I’m not sure.

Still, in the end she gave me a ride home and it was pretty cool because we really hit it off when we’re alone, as if saying our lines on cue from a script. She even joked of our getting into another bet and stuff. Which is how we went out in the first place: We were at this nightclub once, when we came up with this wager of sorts to determine if the barman was gay or not: If she had the guts to walk over to him and sort of flirt with him, I’d take her to see Cats, front row and all that. And she did, and I did, but somehow we didn’t. I mean, not in the end.

And last night, when she pulled over to the curb we sort of looked at each other for a second too long and that’s where it got really awkward. I’m such a cretin at figuring out non-verbal communications, sometimes I think I might have Asperger’s or something.

And then as she left and her car disappeared up the street among this sea of bright lighting leftovers from Christmas it started to rain and the oil in the asphalt glistened like soiled, marred rainbows on the ground and each droplet from the rain distorted them further more, making them ripple irregularly, and made me think of all loose ends being yanked off their 2010 tombs and filing up to bite me in the ass in 2011.
—a leitmotif, urged as a gift to the newborn year ahead, if any, in lieu of the iPhone and the puppy and the fruit basket, so help me god.