Stay away long enough and you're bound to be surprised.
A week in the planning stages, my rendezvous with Pru (I love the sound of that) finally touched down tonight at Magpie, where I arrived first and snagged the last of the sex. Meaning that when Pru made her debut in a fabulous new coat with a faux-fur collar looking like Daisy out of "The Great Gatsby," she wasn't able to enjoy a glass of M. Lawrence "Sex" Brut Rose with me.
Who'd have thought there'd be a run on Sex just before the anniversary of the virgin birth?
It was a good thing we'd arrived when we did because the tiny restaurant was soon filled to capacity with us snugly wedged behind a trio at a bar table by the window. After beginning with a seasonal toast, I paired my pink drink with a green plate of arugula, apple slices, goat cheese and bacon crumbles in a blood orange vinaigrette while Pru, as expected, was constitutionally unable to resist a good-sized bowl of crispy Brussels Sprouts.
Our first order of business was trying to recall when we'd last laid eyes on each other and, unbelievably, it had been the first day of November for the Bootleg Shakespeare performance. For sooth, those seven weeks had flown by.
But we are nothing if not pros at this friendship thing and soon resumed familiar rhythms.
Despite the fact that I'm not the book club type, one of our first topics was "Gone Girl," a book I'd read (despite my usual avoidance of popular contemporary fiction) and immediately insisted she read so we could dissect it.
I'd tried delving into it with a millennial and found myself at loggerheads with her about certain themes. Not so with Pru who, like me, was unable to accept the notion of sustaining a relationship with a sociopath simply because they "got" each other. We'd both closed the book depressed about the future of the species.
From there, we moved on to the subject of her male coworkers and their constant search for bargains; several of them had found a great deal on gun oil and snatched lots of it up. And by snatched, she meant that one guy had bought 30 bottles of it. That's a lot of well-oiled guns.
The funny part was that when her friend showed her a bottle of the stuff, she looked at the back label only to see that it wasn't really gun oil, it was sexual lubricant. That's a lot of well-oiled, um, weapons.
Being the theater lovers that we are, we'd both seen "Mame" and compared notes on what a stellar production it had been. I was hardly surprised when she told me she'd followed the play with a viewing of the movie in order to enjoy all the pithy dialog that didn't make it into the musical.
What I was surprised about was that she'd had male company for her "Mame" viewings since she's been on the wagon dating-wise for some time now. Apparently, having a smart, funny man she's known since college squire her around is something that began during our protracted separation.
And because this is the 21st century, she was even able to pull out her phone and show me pictures of a handsome guy with a great face. I told her I'd talk to him at a party based solely on the fact that he looked interesting. That seemed to please her, not that she needs my approval.
She dazzled me with her plans for a trip to Europe come April, a journey by train from Paris to Venice, then London and back to Paris. It's intended as a celebration of an important birthday, so she's pulling out all the stops. April in Paris, what better way to forget a meaningless number?
When it was gift time, she got crafty and I got smart-assed. She'd made me a jar of tuberose organic sugar scrub, knowing how much I love the scent of tuberose, which reminds me of my mother's front garden when I was young. To me, no rose smelled as intoxicating as tuberose.
I was even given instructions on where to scrub for best results: elbows, she said, knees and bottom. Seems it's all well and good to be smart and a good conversationalist, but sometimes a woman has to fall back on her soft parts. I wasn't surprised at this advice; this is the same friend who lectured me a while back about not wearing enough mascara.
Meanwhile, I'd bought her a cozy pair of sky blue pajamas with white polka dots...to tease her. There have been countless times when I've asked her to do something fun at night, only to be told she's already in her PJs so she can't possibly think of leaving her bed and Kindle. Tonight, her reaction was, "This is wonderful! My other pajamas are in the laundry. I'll wear these tonight."
At least I'd gotten her out beforehand.
She delighted in telling me about a recent night when she'd woken up so overheated she'd considered taking her pajamas off and sleeping naked. "I heard a story on NPR about how sleeping naked is good for you." In what ways, I wondered? She couldn't recall and hadn't done it but wanted me to know. It must be true if it's on NPR.
When she ordered coffee, I shocked her by sharing that I'd begun drinking hot tea, a first for me after a lifetime of eschewing hot beverages beyond hot chocolate. "Who are you?" she laughed, leaning in and scrutinizing me.
She said the exact same thing later in our conversation when I told her about a couple of the popular movies like "Gone Girl" and "Top Five" I'd seen in her absence. "Apparently if I leave you alone, you go mainstream!" she wailed.
Apparently if I leave her alone, she becomes a flaming redhead, a most becoming color on her. When I inquired if she'd had a lot of compliments on it, she beamed. "Men seem to love it!" I don't know many men who don't appreciate a redhead. She observed that I was looking rather reddish myself.
Indeed. I don't have a big birthday coming up and I'm not thinking of taking up with a friend of 30 years, but it never hurts to get noticed. Or appreciated.
And just for the record, I do wear more mascara these days. Thanks, Pru. But not pajamas.